PASTOR KEN SILVA’S PASSING

It is with mixed emotions that I take this time to write on behalf of Connecticut River Baptist Church to let you know of Pastor Ken Silva’s passing. Yesterday morning at around 10 a.m., 29 September 2014, Ken was found at home, having passed away. He had succumbed to the strain of the pain he had been enduring for the past few years.

The mixed emotions are sadness at losing our dear brother in Christ – I shall miss his wisdom and guidance – but also joy. Joy because, as Paul noted in 2 Cor. 5:8, ‘We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.’

Yes we know that Ken is now present with the Lord. We can also be thankful in knowing his pain has ended.

We will still miss him deeply.

Blessings,

David H. Moses
Associate Pastor
Connecticut River Baptist Church

THE PAPACY OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

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In the Apprising Ministries piece On Contemplative Spirituality and Charismania I told you that the ongoing evangelical fascination with corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM)–along with its parallel track of charismania–is a major reason why we see the mainstream of professing Prostestant Christendom opening itself up for full fellowship with the apostate Roman Catholic Church.

For example, evangelical megapastor Rick Warren is on record embracing apostate Roman Catholicism as a viable form of the historic orthodox Christian faith. As I documented a while back in Southern Baptists Assist the Roman Catholic Church to Infiltrate Evangelicalism, Warren is hardly the only one aligned with/promoted by the Southern Baptist Convention openly and actively involved with this particular apostasy.

However, concerning Rick Warren’s compromised embrace of the Church of Rome, you can see it for yourself e.g. in Rick Warren Endorsing Catholics Come and Rick Warren on the Roman Catholic EWTN Network. The latter piece features a transcription of an interview conducted by Roman Catholic apologist Raymond Arroyo where Warren refers to Rome’s current Pope Francis as “our new pope.” Sadly, scores of people listening to leaders within Ecumenical Church of Deceit (ECoD) are now being led along the broad ecumenical road back to the Roman Catholic Church, the mother of this evil ECoD.

As it pertains to the Church of Rome’s papacy, for our purposes here, in that aforementioned Arroyo interview we find Rick Warren praising the late Pope John Paul II. Now let me bring you back to the Christianity Today article The Pope We Never Knew, which I first cited in The Deceivers of Roman Catholicism. CT author David Scott tells us that Pope “John Paul II’s biggest accomplishment was his ecumenism,” and further, that John Paul II:

is the same pope who called evangelicals in South America “rapacious wolves” for their evangelism of Catholics…

The pope who in his 1995 encyclical Ut Unum Sint invited input from non-Catholic Christians on the primacy of the office of Peter, is the same man whose Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1999 declared the primacy of Peter “immutable.” (source)

For your edification I have linked Ut Unam Sint right from the Vatican library itself. Now, as I’ve said before, anyone familiar with Vatican I could have told you that the Roman Catholic Church sees its Pontiff as the successor to Peter and that his office is never-changing, i.e. immutable. As we turn to Chapter 2 of Session 4 from the official record of the decrees of Vatican I we find that it begins with these words:

On the permanence of the primacy of blessed Peter in the Roman pontiffs.
(source, emphasis mine)

As such, it would certainly appear that John Paul II was acting as a hypocrite in 1999 and never had any intention of altering the supposed primacy of the Roman Catholic papacy–for Rome will never surrender this permanent man-made office–which is the very zenith of human pride! In our look at Rome’s official dogma concerning its papacy, let’s take a quick moment to consider the following from the Second Vatican Council held by the Church of Rome in the mid 1960’s.

This would be some 30 years before Pope John Paul II would have “invited input from non-Catholic Christians on the primacy of the office of Peter.” Please look very carefully at the following quote from Lumen Gentium – “Solemnly Promulgated By Holiness Pope Paul VI On November 21, 1964” where we’re told:

just as the office granted individually to Peter, the first among the apostles is permanent and is to be transmitted to his successors, so also the apostles’ office of nurturing the Church is permanent, and is to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops. (14*)

Therefore, the Sacred Council teaches that bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, (15*) as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ. (149)(16*)
(source, emphasis mine).

We must ask ourselves an important question here: If – “the office granted individually to Peter, the first among the apostles is permanent and is to be transmitted to his successors” – then do we really think that Pope John Paul II had any actual intentions of changing this dogma, which is the very reason the Church of Rome exists–period? And do you seriously think that Pope Francis is going to relinquish this position in his quest for unity?

If you are of such a mind, then you are a dreamer. The fact is, the Roman Catholic Church cannot change that dogma because the teachings of its popes has always been considered infallible. Although the declaration of papal infallibility as such wasn’t made until 1870 at Vatican I, Rome has always seen her pontiffs as teaching with infallibility when it comes to faith and morals:

While the the First Vatican Council defined papal infallibility in 1870, you must understand that the date on which a doctrine is officially defined is not the date on which it becomes true. Rather, it was always true.

It’s just that different aspects of the Faith are challenged at different periods of history, and when a challenge occurs or a serious concern or question arises, then the Church will settle the difficulty by formally stating what the truth of the matter is — to end the confusion.

So papal infallibility has always been true, and, moreover, was accepted and practiced from the earliest times. (source)

It’s vital for you to understand that the Roman Catholic Church sees its Pope as the head of all Christian churches everywhere; and this regardless whether they would be considered Roman Catholic or Protestant. Again, from Vatican I Session 4, it now becomes clear beyond any reasonable doubt that the Church of Rome is telling us this office of Pope is not simply a designation within their own communion.

On the contrary–we are specifically being told in no uncertain terms that this office, the Bishop of Rome, i.e. the Roman Pontiff–or the Pope–is truly intended for the entire Christian community. The Roman Catholic Church decrees that their Pontiff is the final and absolute authority within all of Christendom and that his role was forever instituted when:

4… [Jesus] set blessed Peter over the rest of the apostles and instituted in him the permanent principle… 6. of the sacred and apostolic primacy, upon which…the whole Church depends. (source)

Next we are further instructed that:

7. This doctrine is to be believed and held by all the faithful in accordance with the ancient and unchanging faith of the whole Church…

Chapter 1 On the institution of the apostolic primacy in blessed Peter

We–[the Church of Rome]–teach and declare that, according to the gospel evidencea primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the lord. [sic] (source)

For such are the empty words of the deceitful spirits and their teachings of demons in apostate Roman Catholicism (cf. 1 Timothy 4:1). And remember, Jesus already told us about such as these – You will recognize them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16). So, you really need to keep this information (from primary Roman Catholic sources) in mind as you consider that right now Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church is wooing his fellow charismaniacs into a supposed “unity.”

You need to know that he’s already making influential converts within evangelicalism, e.g. James Robison to Pope Francis“In Christ We are Brothers.” Now you have been properly positioned upon the battlefield from which to view the below message from Richard Bennett of Berean Beacon–himself a former Roman Catholic priest for 22 years–as he compares the Protestant Reformation to the papacy of the apostate Roman Catholic Church:

Further reading

POWER OF PRAYER

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But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit. (Jude 1:20)

As you might imagine, considering my ongoing health issues adversely affecting the writing and financial support here at Apprising Ministries, we’re spending a lot of time in prayer. No doubt you’re heard the phrase, “there’s power in prayer,” which is so popular right now in our postmodern culture ripe with silly superstition and self-centered “spirituality.”

That’s why it’s important to remind people such as this, who don’t know God through Jesus Christ, that there’s no power whatsoever in the mere act of prayer. No, the power in prayer resides strictly with God Who answers prayer; and not in prayer itself. Just as in the same way, we need to instruct them that faith doesn’t save anyone.

Saving faith is given by God by His grace alone, through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone on the Cross; and this is what leads to a saving relationship with God and repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ Name. Only faith in Christ saves; you can jump out of a plane without an actual parachute believing that you’ll land safely, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

With all of this thus understood, as Christians, it’s entirely appropriate that we can now look at the power of prayer. You need to know that in your witness for Christ, you are only going to be as effective for Jesus as you are active in your prayer life with Him. No matter how learned we may become, or how good our ability to testify and/or debate, no one ever accepts the Lord Jesus as their Savior apart from God the Holy Spirit empowering our witness.

And here we discover what was lost in this whole seeker sensitive and emerging evangelical ecumenical religion of social work. One simply cannot convince someone into the Kingdom of God through guilt trips that they’re not active enough in social causes. Nor can someone bring them into God’s Kingdom through excellent argumentation; because they are not in the Kingdom of Heaven apart from being regenerated, or born again, through faith in Christ.

Now, you can give your testimony; you can answer questions; you can share reasons why a person ought to surrender their lives to Jesus; but, if they ultimately accept Christ, that decision must originate with God Himself. As usual Dr. Walter Martin, a well-respected defender of Christianity, put it quite well in his little book Essential Christianity, one which I do highly recommend:

the human heart is like a locked door, but the lock is on the inside of the person. It must be unlocked by God the Holy Spirit.

If we really do love those in our family who are still locked out of the Kingdom of God by their sin, then aided by the Spirit, we’ll make the effort to seek the Lord’s favor and to develop a close relationship with Him through prayer. If we are earnest, and diligent, then remember the promise in Hebrews 11:6, God said He will reward those who earnestly seek Him.

While those rewards may be material at times, the Lord is always ready to reward us with spiritual blessings; a stronger awareness of His glorious presence, and a fresh filling of the power of God through the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 4: 23-31). If you’ll just ask the Lord, He is always ready to empower you in the Holy Spirit, and it is God Who is the Source of your power, not you.

If you wish to see loved ones saved, and other people you witness to come to Christ, then you need to develop a good working relationship with God the Holy Spirit. The original Greek of Ephesians 5:18 conveys to us that we should – be continually being filled with the Holy Spirit. This brings us around to our text verse  – But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, (Jude 1:20).

It’s important that we understand what Jude is trying to  tell us here. The following from the classic Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary is helpful and edifying in regard to what is means to pray in the Holy Spirit:

praying in the Holy Ghost–( Romans 8:26 ; Ephesians 6:18 teaches what we are to pray for, andhow. None can pray aright save by being in the Spirit, that is, in the element of His influence. CHRYSOSTOM states that, among the charisms bestowed at the beginning of the New Testament dispensation, was the gift of prayer, bestowed on someone who prayed in the name of the rest, and taught others to pray.

Moreover, their prayers so conceived and often used, were received and preserved among Christians, and out of them forms of prayer were framed. (source)

Now you should be able to understand that there’s no power in the act of praying itself; the only effectual prayer answered by God is that which is prayer by those who are born again in Christ and thereby indwelt by His Spirit. As one who has spent nearly 25 years in apologetics and the study of Comparative Religion, I can tell you that all religions pray. For that matter, there’s the old saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

In closing this, for now, while I do not agree with all of his theology, I think it’s safe to say the 19th century evangelist D.L. Moody loved the Lord. So, as it concerns this little encouragement on the power of prayer, which also leads to having a close relationship to God by spending time with Him, let me share the following wisdom from Moody:

Those who have left the deepest impression on this sin-cursed earth have been men and women of prayer. You will find that prayer has been the mighty power that has moved not only God, but man…

[Truthfully] there are many Christians in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, but upon whom He has never come in power; we need this secret power.

To those words, let me add — Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (cf. Revelation 22:20)

Further reading

UNITY IN THE BODY OF CHRIST

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Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ “ (John 3:3-7)

Read The Signs Of The Time In Which You Live

One of the critical functions of online apologetics and discernment ministries like Apprising Ministries is to scour the Internet for developing trends within Christendom and then point them out to you. For you see, because of its immediacy, the Net is moving at least six months or so ahead of what you’ll read later in Christian literature. Surveying the rising ecumenical spirit found in much of the visible Christian church right now, with its sordid love affair with man-centered church methods and corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, there is much reason for concern that the Protestant reforms of evangelicalism are not so subtly being reversed in order to find stronger fellowship with the Roman Catholic Church.

I discussed this not so long ago e.g. in On Contemplative Spirituality and Charismania and James Robison to Pope Francis “In Christ We are Brothers”. This is arguably the most important issue facing the Christian faith in our day. And we’re not talking about isolated incidents on the fringes of the professing Christian community either; for this kind of nauseating compromise is also glaringly obvious within the Southern Baptist Convention with some of its ministers and people they are actively promoting.

Take for example, the evidence documented within Southern Baptists Assist the Roman Cathoic Church to Infiltrate EvangelicalismRick Warren And Teachings Of Demons, and No Tears for Lost Roman Catholics, Beth Moore? But is this drift away from proper doctrine, e.g. sola Scriptura, the solution to true Biblical unity or is it rather a very dangerous compromise? In this generation all of us who are attempting to follow the Lord Jesus are going to be brought face to face with a couple of very crucial issues. There are a couple of vital areas that are certainly of prime importance as we attempt to share the true Gospel of Jesus Christ within a perverted postmodern society that is literally drowning itself in a sea of relativism and misguided tolerance.

Not necessarily in order of importance—the first one being the idea of “unity” in the Body of Christ. As in: How should we approach people of different faith traditions who would claim Jesus as their “Savior”? And the other issue would be the dogmas and the false gospel of the Roman Catholic Church. So, as you can probably see, these issues are, in fact, already intertwined. We who would call ourselves Biblical Christians will need to decide–once and for all–just what is the proper stance concerning the Church of Rome for those of us who are truly Protestante.

In other words, how should those of us who are Protestants view the Roman Catholic Church? For example, should we simply consider those who would claim to be Roman Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ who are worshipping in another Christian denomination that merely happens to have some doctrines we just disagree with? As one who monitors intel along the Internet I can tell you this is precisely the idea that the vast majority of evangelical writings I’ve captured lately would be trying to convey. They’re essentially charismaniac Protholics.

It can readily be seen that there are segments within the genuine Body of Christ that do have some fairly serious differences with each other and yet fellowship doesn’t completely break down among them. They still join together because they agree on the correct understanding of justification—the doctrine at the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself. And because these differences involve “non-essential” matters, in the interest of the correct understanding of unity within the universal (Greek—katholikos) Church, they are still willing to accept each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

However, a key question for our discussion here then becomes: Should this be the case with the Church of Rome? And in this generation we will need to come to an agreement as Protestants in our answer to that question because the Roman Catholic Church is a fundamental subject for those of us who are in the Body of Christ to come to grips with. This is especially true right now as major Progressive Christian leaders e.g. Living Spiritual Teacher and Emergent Church guru Brian McLaren—in fact virtually all in the Emerging Church movement—are expressing more than an eagerness to put aside all “doctrinal differences” in seeking to make peace with Rome.

And by the way, you need to know that the EC is busy putting the old band back together for its upcoming Christianity 21 (C21) apostasia-palooza this coming January. As you can see from the C21 Facebook page, through their excited announcement below, among the speakers will be the entire of the unholy EC trinity of apostates. That would be McLaren himself along with universalist EC pastor Doug Pagitt and his close friend Dr. Tony Jones, the progressive “theologian in residence” at Solomon’s Porch headed by Pagitt:

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My source who was there when the EC was originally launched tells me that the two most influential voices at the time were Mark Driscoll and Chris Seay. Notice that Seay is indeed among the C21 speakers; and even though the embattled Driscoll won’t be there, Driscoll’s former associate Darrin Patrick, Vice President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, will be. You’re kidding yourself if you think that these early EC leaders no longer wield any evil influence within evangelicalism; the truth is their spiritual cancer can be seen through how their teachings over the past decade and a half have actually infected quasi-contemplative charismaniacs like James Robison, and Beth Moore.

Those of us who would call ourselves Protestants must ask ourselves a very tough question: Have we lost confidence in the historic orthodox Christian faith that Luther and the Reformers risked their very lives to recover and defend? The time has clearly arrived to decide whether or not we are going to be obedient to God in representing His true Gospel to this lost world, or for the sake of tolerance, will we acquiesce to it to avoid conflict. For you see, the Roman Catholic Church undoubtedly is an organization which claims direct and unbroken Apostolic succession from Peter to their current Pontiff, the charismaniac Pope Francis; and it most assuredly does directly relate to the mandate that Christ gave to His true Church to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3, NKJV).

An Examination Of What Unity In The Church Means According To God’s Word—The Bible

The first thing we need to do is to look at the question: What do we mean by unity in the Body of Christ? Today it’s imperative that we define our terms to those we are witnessing to. And we obviously can’t do this if we’re not sure what these things mean in the first place. Sadly, right now this is the case with the average person who would see themselves as an evangelical Protestant. In order to discover what is meant by unity in the Church of our Lord, we will first need to find out the kind of unity Jesus was praying for in the Upper Room. For the root of all the confusion over this issue of unity comes from a fundamental misunderstanding about just what the Master meant by unity in His High Priestly prayer in chapter 17 of John’s Gospel.

As we examine this passage of Holy Scripture we will see Jesus praying for all those who would come to know God through the witness of His Apostles who were there with him in that Upper Room:

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
(John 17:20–23)

Here is Christ Jesus praying that all those who would surrender their lives to Him as Lord and Savior would then be united—that they would be one. This brings up another issue that we don’t have space to deal with in-depth here. What does it mean to “believe” in Jesus as Savior and Lord? Putting it simply, it means to totally commit oneself to Him alone. This encompasses what the historic orthodox Christian Church has always meant when we say we believe in Christ.

Let me now draw your attention back to verse 20 above—the middle of the verse. Jesus tells us He is praying for those who will believe in me through their word. The Greek word here for “believe” is pisteuo. The key to understanding what someone regenerated by God the Holy Spirit, which we also refer to as being “born again,” must do as far as believing is concerned would be this word pisteuo. By the way, pisteuo is most always translated as “believe” when it appears in the New Testament.

To the western mind to believe essentially means to acknowledge something intellectually. As in, “I believe in my heart that such and such is true.” It’s kind of a thought that you feel strongly about. But the word—pisteuo—in the vernacular of its culture actually means to totally trust in—and to “place confidence in.”1 So you can see that it’s really much more of a commitment than we in the West would normally associate with our believing something.

Now let’s look at verse 20 one more time for a different focus. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” The footnote in the famous Geneva Bible used by the Pilgrims, who played a part in the founding of this nation, is helpful at this point:

Secondly, [Jesus] offers to God the Father all of his, that is, all those who will believe in him by the doctrine of the apostles: That as he cleaves unto the Father, receiving from him all fulness [sic], so they being joined with him may receive life from him,… (source)

What applies here in relation to our discussion of unity in the Body of Christ is the phrase – “all those who will believe in him by the doctrine of the apostles.” This would be someone who believes in Christ according to what His Apostles taught. And this “doctrine of the apostles” is what we Protestants now refer to as Biblical doctrine. Someone who believes in Jesus Christ according to what Holy Scripture teaches is the one brought into that unity the Master is talking about in John 17:23 — “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

Since the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t teach proper Biblical doctrine, someone who holds firmly to the dogmas and sacramental system of the Church of Rome has excluded themselves. When you read this passage of Holy Scripture carefully it becomes obvious that this prayer was completely fulfilled in Acts chapter 2 as God the Holy Spirit came upon the believers on that Day of Pentecost when the Church officially began with power. In our text of John 17:20-23 Jesus is talking about what the Holy Spirit would do inside genuine believers; but at the time of Jesus’ prayer, God the Holy Spirit was still yet to come. In John 17 our Lord is praying for Him to come and indwell all people who will pisteuo.

And we must keep in mind here again that this would be all those people who will place their complete “confidence in” and “totally trust in” Christ the Lord alone as their Savior. This is why the doctrine of justification is without a doubt a most central subject to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a key factor as to why the Reformation had to happen in the first place. If you look at John 17:23 carefully you will see that first Jesus says — “I in them and You [Father] in Me.” And then He says — “that they may become perfectly one,” i.e. perfect unity. One would have to be in Christ as the Father was in Christ to ever even have this kind of unity. If one does not pisteuo in Jesus—that is to “believe” by fully trusting in Him by God’s grace alone; through faith alone, in Christ alone—then he has not been born again.

And, if he is not born again, then God the Holy Spirit does not indwell him (cf. Romans 8:9-11). As such then, he cannot possibly have this unity with God or believers in Christ that the Master is praying for here. Dr. Herbert Lockyer’s insightful comment brings out a critical point here:

Regeneration brings the Holy Spirit into the believing sinner. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9, KJV). “None of His.” How emphatic! Such a serious statement demands attention. Where the vital bond does not exist between the soul and Christ, the divine Spirit is not to be found.

Whatever virtues a person may possess or whatever attractions and qualities may adorn his character, if unsaved, he is destitute of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit unites us to Christ, making us “accepted in the beloved.” We are joined unto the Lord by one Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17).2

Spiritual Blindness Is Increasing And The Return To Purity In Christian Doctrine Is Imperative

Indeed it is a bit involved to understand, but as I said earlier, all of this is what was/is at the very heart of the Reformation itself. However, somehow this seems to have been forgotten by so much of the lukewarm evangelical community as well as within the visible Christian community at large. I think it’s very important for you to understand a couple of things here: 1) We are living in a world that’s filled with every kind of blatant sin imaginable because there is no fear of God in our immoral culture; and 2) the unbelieving world also sees a Christian church world-wide, which has also all but lost our own fear of our Lord’s awesome presence.

And unfortunately, in addition, the church of Jesus Christ has apparently even lost our fear of being a disappointment to our Master as well. It’s become obvious to those with eyes to see that too many in the seeker sensitive Church Growth Movement are striving to live in peace and in harmony with the world, when instead we should be the salt and light within it. As Christians we are to be the fragrance of the knowledge of [God] (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:14) as we stand with Jesus against this world system, just as He once did when He was upon His earth. As Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) used to say: The Christian faith was nurtured on the controversy it produced, and Jesus of Nazareth was the most controversial figure who ever lived.

Tragically, Satan has been able to deeply embed a twisted lie concerning tolerance into the very soul of our society. Of course we should be tolerant of other cultures and religious views here in our pluralistic world. However, the feigned tolerance of this society is in actuality quite aggressively hostile to the historic orthodox Christian faith. And the time has now arrived where we must confront false doctrine within our Lord’s church visible, and return to Gospel purity. And at the same time, Christ’s Christian community also needs to stop being wishy-washy and to make a firm commitment to start exposing the veritable cornucopia of false religious systems that are all around us. This also means that we are going to have to prepare ourselves intellectually to be able to confront their erroneous teachings, such as those of apostate Roman Catholicism.

Yes, we must face a hard reality here. It is true that many people infected by today’s Purpose Driven/Seeker Driven so-called attractional churches aren’t going to like it. They, with their fellow apostates, will cry that we are “intolerant,” and they will call us “narrow-minded.” But this type of self-centered people said the same kinds of things about Christ Jesus of Nazareth; so we are in the best company. For this is what He said — “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own” (John 15:18-19). You may draw strength from this: If someone who claims to know Christ hates you, then according to what our Lord and Master Himself just said, who is it that they actually belong to? Answer: The devil; whom God the Holy Spirit calls the god of this world (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4).

The Fact Is The Body Of Christ Does What Jesus Did

For the sake of our ongoing discussion here, it’s important to note that Dr. John MacArthur pastors a church in Southern California with members in the multiple thousands, all the while having nothing in common with the compromises of the Purpose Driven churches or the Emergent Church—one of its seeker sensitive Church Growth counterparts. Grace Community Church happens to be made up of more than 50 percent former Roman Catholics who have come to know Christ under MacArthur’s ministry.

So, regardless of what we may think about everything he may teach, MacArthur does know from first-hand experience what he is talking about when he says:

it’s so important to know this. In a time like this of tolerance…false teaching will always cry – “intolerance.” It’ll always say — “you’re being divisive; you’re being unloving; you’re being ungracious” — because it can only survive when it doesn’t get scrutinized. And it cries against any intolerance; it cries against any examination; any scrutiny, “just let us embrace each other; let’s love each other; let’s put all that behind us.”

False doctrine cries the loudest about unity. [So] listen carefully when you hear the cry for unity; because it may be the cover of false doctrine encroaching. And if ever we should follow 1st Thessalonians 5 and examine everything carefully (v.21) — it’s when somebody is crying unity, love, and acceptance.” (source)

While I don’t agree with everything he did, in his book What If America Was A Christian Nation Again? the late Christian statesman Dr. D. James Kennedy brings up an indispensable reality for the Church of our Lord in this timid and tepid generation we are currently living in when he says:

Jesus confronted sinners and we are to do it as well. But the day is coming when we might suffer persecution for doing so. For far too long Christians have been afraid to state their faith for fear of offending somebody.3

The seeds of what Dr. Kennedy is talking about have already been planted within the Christian church here in America. Sadly many evangelical leaders, misled by men like Rick Warren and his erroneous semi-pelagian (at best) Purpose Driven religion and former EC pastor turned spiritual guru Rob Bell—once a leader of the Jesus the social reformer movement—have been already taken in by this horribly mistaken delusion that love doesn’t confront wrong. And this is an especially false idea when it comes to wrong views about God Himself.

But Ask Yourself, Are You In The Body Of Christ?

In fact, in the Gospels we see Jesus of Nazareth confront false beliefs and man-centered religious leaders on a regular basis. Our Lord even made them so angry that they had Him nailed to a cross and then left Him to die! Keep in mind as well that Scripture tells us Jesus is God Himself in human flesh; and further, that God is love (cf. 1 John 4:8); therefore, Jesus is love in human flesh. The absolute truth is—and Christ Jesus told us that He is Truth—that while the Master was never offensive in how He confronted evil—the incontrovertible fact still remains—that our Lord offended many by what He taught, and by what He claimed.

There’s an interesting riddle about making decisions in life that goes like this. There were five frogs sitting on a log; and, suddenly four of them decided to jump off. So how many frogs are left on that log? The answer is all five. That’s because making a decision to do something is simply not the same as really doing it. For one to actually accomplish something an effort is needed, and it also requires a commitment. And so it is with the true Christian; making a decision to follow Christ is not the same as actually following him. As for those who are caught up in the self-absorbed seeker sensitive spirituality of the Ecumenical Church of Deceit, considering a minister of God’s Word, I must tell you the truth.

Please understand that mentally acknowledging Jesus as your consumer friendly “Savior” simply is not the same as being born again into the true historic, orthodox, holy and catholic (means “universal”) Christian Church, and believing—really trusting—in Him alone to save you from your sins. The sad and pitiful fact is, there are so many of those today who consider themselves Christians because they attend the Mass, keep the sacraments, do nice things for the poor, or once walked down an aisle, said a little prayer and they think — “I’m in, so now I can just do whatever I want to.” You know—the Gospel perversion often referred to as “once saved; always saved.”

However, those who would have this eternally fatal view need to consider the following from Jesus of Nazareth lest they be deceived:

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word — [of the message of salvation] — and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word — [as he learns of the cost of following Christ] — immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21)

It’s imperative as the spiritual darkness grows during this time of apostasy for us to realize that it is one thing for someone to claim to be a Christian. It is, however, quite another thing to have the life to back it up. For truthfully Holy Scripture clearly reveals that a claim in itself really means nothing. The Apostle James asks us:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him…  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead… But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:14,17,18)

The aforementioned John MacArthur tells us the truth when he says:

Shallow acceptance of the Gospel can be encouraged by shallow evangelicsm that promises blessings of salvation but ignores the costs of discipleship. If people just “make a decision” for Jesus Christ without accepting all His claims on their lives, they can become insulated from genuine salvation.

When superficial hearers first hear the Gospel, they have a euphoric religious experience, believing that at last God has met their felt needs. They are often zealous and energetic in church activities and eager to tell others about their new happiness.

But sadly for such people, all the change is superficial rather than deep-down in the heart. Their feeling are changed, but not their souls. There is no repentance, mourning over sin, or humility, which is the first trait of real conversion (cf. Matthew 5:3). Such a person has placed his or her religious house on the sand, and when the storms of trials and persecution come, the house crumbles and washes away (Matthew 7:26-27).

For the superficial hearer, God’s truth has penetrated only on the edge of the mind, but not the heart. That is why, when the high cost of salvation does confront the person, the Gospel can be as quickly renounced as it was once seemingly accepted. Spiritual reality has no root and thus can’t produce true spiritual fruit, which as Jesus soon makes clear, is the only sure evidence of a transformed life.4

No, this isn’t a popular message; but it is God’s truth for those who have ears to hear what the Spirit says. Yes, the doctrines of grace include the perseverance of the saints. However, this fact remains; according to the Bible, and despite what we are so often told by these false prophets of the inward-turned emerging church movement and their sinner sensitive counterparts in the PD/SD aka attractional section of the Church Growth Movement, the person who continues on in willful sin and prolonged self-ishness while professing to be a believer in Jesus Christ is demonstrating before the world that he never became a true Christian.

In other words, he was never even saved in the first place, and with such as these the true Christian has no basis for unity. And if you haven’t seen your own life change since you made your “decision” to follow Jesus, then it is you who have every reason to question whether you simply made a decision, or whether you have actually made the commitment to truly trust in the Lord Christ alone as your Savior. For it is written:

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
(2 Corinthians 13:5)

If you truly are in Christ…then…you will know what I have just told you according to the Spirit is the truth…

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. Joseph Thayer, Thayer’s Greek–English Lexicon [Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996], 511.
  2. Herbert Lockyer, All About The Holy Spirit [Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995], 137, emphasis mine.
  3. D. James Kennedy, Jerry Newcombe, What If America Were A Christian Nation Again? [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005], 80.
  4. John MacArthur, Daily Readings From the Life of Christ [Chicago: Moody, 2008], December 10.

“STAGE MANAGED” ECUMENICISM VIA CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER

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By Dr. Orrel Steincamp, The Plumbline Newsletter Archive

Unbelievable and largely unseen ecumenical coalitions and ad hoc alliances are forming. These alliances are being forged by a small cadre of seeker-driven mega church celebrity pastors/authors. These vision-casting celebrities are in effect acting as power brokers in forming ecumenical coalitions. As with all coalitions these players are attempting to gain something for themselves and their “ministries” and the expanding of their personal reputations. They are willing to exchange their platforms and pulpits with other celebrities of like class and clout. These platform exchanges often cross boundaries into false and even heretical territory.

Consequently, these celebrities become an endorsement of false teaching to the masses of low information evangelicals who are fans of these various Christian celebrities. The opportunity for these maneuvers is that classical evangelicalism as a theologically descriptive word is becoming near meaningless. Gregory Thornbury, now president of Kings College, states: “the evangelicalism I  signed up for is  gone forever….In fact many leading theologians today  see evangelicalism as a relic of a by gone era.”1  The vacuum created by the disappearance of classical evangelicalism, unfortunately, has been filled by TV ministries, bookstores, stadiums, megachurches and extended megachurch campuses and their media promotions.

These new media leaders have launched their own media outlets replete with fully equipped transportable entourages. If you can’t attend the events you can get it all on GodTV or  from these leaders themselves on a DVD, for a price. These efforts are the beginnings of a back door ecumenism, an unpublicized ecumenical convergence. A sort of reverse ecumenical big bang is upon us. There is an unseen and undocumented  ecumenical contraction in Christendom. This phenomena is unreported and even mostly an unspoken practical ecumenism. It’s as if there is a spiritual gravitational pull that draws even the most unlikely supporters together. There is a handy deniable component built into this in that it is promoted by sharing a stage or platform.

These coalition partners promote each other by inviting other celebrities to their platform of their megachurch or stadium conferences. Some rush in to say that such so-called “platform ecumenism” is guilt by association. It is that, but more so, their presence together on a platform shouts for all to hear a guilt by endorsement. It is like forming a shadow government. This ground level ecumenism is not the product of denominational leaders. In fact, denomination leaders in this postmodern era have been essentially relegated to the sidelines as the sheeple (the sheep as people) blindly follow their celebrities. They pay little or no attention to their unknown denominational leaders. Beyond that, many denominational leaders also join right in.

The sheeple are out there and they easily can be organized to follow their leaders. Indeed, sheep follow other sheep. However, the seeds of this home grown ecumenical gravitational pull didn’t merely burst on the scene from nowhere. One can actually trace this back many decades. The seeds planted earlier are now are maturing. The media mega stars are now stage managing, not only huge stadium filled extravaganzas, but in the process they are engineering a major ecumenical event without even using the term.

Not long ago the SBC-promoted Bible teacher Beth Moore referred to it as a coming “outpouring” of the Spirit.2The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was among the earliest efforts that pointed in this direction when it made a major ecumenical ground breaking decision to include Roman Catholic prelates on their  crusade platforms and assigned Roman Catholic responders to local Roman Catholic churches for follow up. Sorry, but it was in effect giving away a baby to a stranger.

The Charismatic Renewal

The Charismatic Renewal, of which I was a part, had the unintended experiential effect of promoting ecumenism. The best way I can describe this is the spectacle of Father Pearson pleading with the Virgin Mary to help a seeker be released in tongues. This did more to endorse Romanism that any words could convey.  What a sight when Roman Catholic nuns in full habits spoke at Full Gospel business meetings speaking in some unknown tongue. The believers that pray “in the spirit” together also stay together. This is ecumenism beyond any denominational sanction or effort. One could write page after page of the how we have gotten to where we are today. But now we have to consider some the very recent events that point to more ecumenical chickens coming home to roost.

Contemplative Prayer

“Spiritual Formation” has been taking evangelicals by storm for some years now. Richard Foster and his seminal book Celebration of Discipline has been an attempt to fashion a Roman Catholic-style Contemplative Prayer experience for Protestants. The often used term Spiritual Formation is simply a code word for  Contemplative Prayer. Contemplative Prayer itself is a revived form of early Roman Catholic mystic meditation; and these so-called “spiritual disciplines” actually date back to the early third and fourth centuries of Roman Catholic monastics called the Desert Fathers, who borrowed a form of transcendental meditation from interaction with Eastern mystics in Egypt.

The source of Contemplative Prayer, unquestionably, is Roman Catholicism. But ironically there are probably more evangelicals pursuing this prayer method than Roman Catholics themselves. In recent times Roman Catholic monks Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen have devoted their entire lives to this prayer method and now many evangelicals are devoting themselves to apostate gurus like Merton and Nouwen. Contemplative Prayer is essentially a meditative discipline with a desire to attain an altered state of consciousness by entering the “silence.” In this silence, and out of this silence, one supposedly attains oneness with God.

But entering the silence is not easy; and so, an innovative Roman Catholic monk Thomas Keating—a close friend and associate with the late Merton—employed a Centering Prayer technique of repeating a chosen word known as a mantra.3 What formerly took monks months and years can now be attained in 20 minutes of Centering Prayer and repeating a mantra over and over. In the silence one supposedly finds God living deep in their unconscious being.

The rub is this. This internal God is also believed to be deeply buried in the unconscious of every other human alive today on the planet and even actually inhabits all created things. So this form of panentheistic meditative ecumenism eventually connects the contemplative not only to Roman Catholicism but all of creation. Roman Catholic monks Merton, Nouwen, and Keating are like the trinity of Contemplative Prayer. The fact is, this practice of Contemplative Prayer only serves to blur the line between Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Peter Scazzero, senior pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens NYC, is an evangelical and graduate of Gordon-Conwell Seminary, who is a leading teacher among those evangelicals introducing this long neglected spirituality to mainstream evangelicalism. But Scazzero doesn’t mention Roman Catholicism; however, he quotes favorably—and often—in his books and teachings from the Contemplative trinity noted above. He also attends a Trappist monastery in Massachusetts each year.

Scazzero has also made available a skimmed down version of a Benedictine Daily Office for evangelical devotional use. Via DVD, Scazzero was introduced to our local AOG church. No one knew what it was all about but it did seem a little strange to a few. His pitch is that American Christians need to slow down from the daily grind and the best method is using the techniques of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism. Scazzero has held conferences for Rick Warren at Saddleback Church, AOG pastors, CMA pastors, and Focus on the Family, to name a few notables.

If people would note Scazzero’s dependence on Merton, Nouwen and Keating they would know the source of this apostate prayer technique.  For our purposes, Contemplative Prayer has proved to be a very effective ecumenical tool. You see, since it originates with Roman Catholic monastics, it inevitably tends to legitimize Romanism. For further information, the Net is full of solid works refuting the antibiblical practice of Contemplative/Centering Prayer.  In fact, I have an article that can be accessed on the net via Google at Plumbline Newsletter Archive called: Scazzero Scares Me.

Along this line, Dr. Gary Gilley informs us even the mystics who practice Contemplative Prayer are aware of the dangers of this type of devination:

Merton demonstrates that there is much to fear when we try to mix truth with error. Merton saw that Buddhism, a religion with little interest in theology or truth, offered the same mystical experiences that contemplative Christianity did. They both used similar methods…. In the end Father Merton came to the idea that because doctrine did not matter and only experience did…Buddhism and his understanding of Christianity was offering the same thing.

This is precisely the problem; Christian discipleship, according to the Bible, is found in the teaching of its Holy Scripture. Searching for something more from ancient and modern “holy men” can only eventually end badly.

The Elephant Room Initiative

The Elephant Room was the brain-child Rev. James McDonald, the megapastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago. McDonald’s idea was to bring together other celebrity megachurch pastors and have a television media event in which the celebrities spared with each other asking hard hitting questions. Someone described it as prize fight.

Television provided everyone with a ring side seat. No-holds questions barred. These episodes were full of hipster coolness. In Elephant Room One megapastor Perry Noble was challenged for his featuring the demonic band AC/DC’s Highway to Hell on during an Easter Sunday service. But in the end, the celebrities decided that Noble’s pragmatic prank was just a matter of personal choice. It appears that the real elephant in the room was an apparent disregard for the fear of the Lord.

McDonald surprised everyone in Elephant Room Two with his cheek in his decision to invite TD Jakes. Jakes was well known for his Word/Faith teaching and someone who denied the Trinity. Jakes has a well earned  reputation as a “Jesus only” modalist. In modalist teaching the Trinity is denied by teaching that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are just different “manifestations” of God. At various times the one person of God appears as a different mode or manifestation. The Father is manifested as the Creator, The Son is a manifestation of God as the Savior, and the Holy Spirit is the manifestation for the church age.

Pentecostal, Jesus Only followers are thus named “Oneness Pentecostals. McDonald and Driscoll, however, merely lobbed Jakes slow toss softballs and Jakes was allowed to say he believed in the Trinity but preferred to explain it with the term manifestations rather than persons. Driscoll and McDonald could have simply asked Jakes one simple question: “Do you think the Son existed before the Son came to earth at Bethlehem?” But, for whatever reason, that just never happened.

I have no idea what McDonald and the other celebrities actually had in mind when they staged the Elephant Rooms. But, for example, there is no doubt that the result let Perry Noble and TD Jakes off the hook. In fact, Elephant Room 2 was hardly over before the celebrity pastors were rushing to invite Jakes and other Word/Faith personalities to their own megachurch platforms.

Perhaps because Jakes was invited to McDonald’s platform another participant of Elephant 2, pastor Steven Furtick, was emboldened to invite Jakes to his Elevation Church, and also publicly called T.D. Jakes his favorite pastor. Joel Osteen, a Word/Faith megapastor from Houston, and Christine Caine from Hillsong in Sydney, Australia—a Word/Faith megachurch from down under—and other famous Word/Faith personalities were suddenly invited to a wide range of mainstream evangelical megachurch platforms.

The result was to mainstream W/F Heretics world wide. Now I will explain why I believe that Word/Faith teaching is heretical.

Mainstreaming Word/Faith Heretics

Word/Faith teaching was largely brought to us by Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003). Hagin actually based his views on the writings of E.W. Kenyon, which becomes obvious as we consider Hagin’s plagiarizing of Kenyon’s writings. Before Hagin began to promote Kenyon’s views he was an AOG minister. Hagin’s teachings then became known as Word/Faith. Until recent times Word/Faith has generally existed on the periphery of pan-evangelicalism on a parallel track.

But now, rather than a close parallel movement, it has essentially gained full acceptance within the mainstream of the visible Christian church. This is alarming, for Word/Faith teaching remains throughly heretical. Based on Kenyon’s works, Hagin taught among other things that when Adam was created he was a fully divine person and an exact replica of God. In the fall of Adam lost his divinity and the human race lost the potential of divinity.

Word/Faith teaching also asserts that when Jesus died on the cross He died physically; but more importantly, it holds that Jesus died spiritually on the cross and lost his own divinity. Jesus then descended into hell and was tormented by satanic beings for three days. Then the Father intervened and restored Jesus’ lost divinity and Jesus became the first born-again man.

According to Word/Faith theology, now anyone who is born-again is rewarded with restored divinity on a par with Jesus; and even God (that is God with a small g.) This is why Kenneth Copeland and others would aggressively proclaim their own divinity as “little gods.” It’s also why Word/Faith believers claim they can create new realities through their spoken words because, in their theology, they are now born-again replicas of The Father, even as Adam was before the fall.

Though not discussed openly right now due to criticism, this teaching is central to Word/Faith theology and widespread among the Word/Faith faithful and its TV network TBN. As the aforementioned Gary Gilley states: “Faith teachers like to teach that Christians are little gods.” It is true that this heretical teaching is emphasized by some Word/Faith teachers more than others, particularly Hagin’s successor Kenneth Copeland. But a web search can rather easily find this teaching in almost all of them; for example: T.D. Jakes And Joyce Meyer Teaching Word Faith “Little Gods” Doctrine.

The reason I call Word/Faith heresy is because it is changing and demeaning the work of Jesus completed on the cross. Below Gilley summarizes for us Word/Faith views about Jesus and His death:

1) Christ was re-created on the cross from divine to demonic. To put it in Faith vernacular, Jesus took on the very nature of Satan himself.
2) Your redemption was not secured on the cross, but in hell. In fact, many Faith teachers claim that Christ’s torture by all the demons of hell was a “ransom” God paid to Satan so that He could get back into a universe from which He had been banished.
3) Jesus was reborn (or born again) in the very pit of hell.
4) Christ was reincarnated through His rebirth in hell and that those who (like Christ) are born again can become “incarnated” as well. (source)

Consequently, this is all infinitely much more serious than, say, holding a different view regarding the time of Jesus return, etc. Once again, a simple question will do the job: “Did Jesus complete His atonement on the cross or later in hell?

Kenneth Copeland, James Robison, Brothers in the Lord with Pope Francis 

The late Tony Palmer is a former director of Kenneth Copeland Ministries in South Africa. Later Palmer became a bishop in an Anglican charismatic group of churches. As an Anglican charismatic, while working with Catholic Charismatics in Argentina, Bishop Palmer became a close friend of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the future pope Francis. Earlier this year the pontiff invited Palmer to the papal residence and recorded a message to Kenneth Copeland’s, annual pastors meeting at Copeland’s Eagle Mt. mega church near Forth Worth on his iPhone.

In this video message we witness pope Francis pleading in tears with those Pentecostal and charismatic pastors for a unity of brothers in Christ. Copeland responded by praying in “tongues” (with no interpretation following) to the group and asked Palmer to record a response (apparently this was all set up in advance) to the pontiff. Palmer then announced to these Word/Faith pastors that “‘the protest’ (code for the Protestant Reformation) is over, is it over for you?” As Palmer speaks, the over 1,000 Word/Faith pastors at the meeting can be seen standing and cheering.

A few days later, James Robison also televised this same iPhone message on his daily TV program Life Today with Tony Palmer as his guest. Shortly after this appearance on Robison’s program—which is highly influential in Pentecostal and charismatic circles—Palmer would arrange for a papal visit for Copeland, Robison, along with some other Pentecostal and charismatic leaders. Copeland later reported of the meeting: “I am blessed! What Jesus asked the Father for in John 17:21 ‘that we all be one in Him’ is finally coming to pass.” You can see this all for yourself right on the Net.

Sadly, it as Rev. Robert S. Liichow, himself a former Word/Faith preacher and “founder of Discernment Ministries International,”4 recently pointed out:

There are two major forces within the Church today; that of the Roman Catholic Church (1.2 billion members) and the Sign-gift/charismatic move- ment (584+ million members). The Pope himself is a sign-gift enthusiast as well as being a member of the Jesuit order. These two groups comprise the majority of the visible Church. (source)

Postscript: Not many days after the papal visit Bishop Tony Palmer was killed in a motorcycle accident in England. May God grant his family special grace.

These assorted media episodes are very visible and loudly, without words, they shout out: “I am essentially suggesting that this ministry is accepted.” This is simply guilt by endorsement; despite the fact some may retort that, even though we may have different styles and message emphasis, we are still only different battalions in the one army of the Lord.

All of these events noted above appear to have little specific planning, at least as far as we know. Indeed the megachurches are all about becoming bigger and more visible in the culture. Perhaps some of it is simply “keeping up with the Jones” and striving to increase one’s market share. But, in any case, the sheeple are just going along for the ride wherever the celebrity pastors and authors will take them. Unfortunately, the sheeple are undergoing reconditioning thus preparing them to be ready to follow their false brethren. It’s critical to remember that such as these never teach easily recognized and obvious error.

Paul referred to the Jewish Christians in Galatia who were calling for Gentiles to be circumcised as “false brothers.” Now keep in mind here that these “false brothers” believed in the death and resurrection of Jesus. But still Paul called them anathema (accursed). They only wanted to add circumcision to the salvation message. Seems small compared to praying to Mary, and re-offering Christ as a sin offering each time in the Roman Catholic Mass. Conversely, however, through their Council of Trent—specifically convened to refute the Protestant Reformers—the Roman Catholic Church today still declares anathema anyone who holds to “faith alone.”

False teachers have always folded ecumenical leaven into the whole loaf. But a little leaven leavens the whole loaf. What is happening today in platform ecumenism is the leavening of false teaching into an ecumenical loaf. This despite the warning of God the Holy Spirit I just referenced; specifically — A little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5:9).

And remember, as the Cardinals were in their holy conclave in Rome, Rick Warren called for prayer for God’s choice of a new Roman Catholic pope. After Francis was chosen, self appointed celebrity New Apostolic Reformation prophet Kim Clement would give his oracle: “This man has been appointed to join the hearts of the Protestant faith – Catholic – those who are Spirit-filled.”

Unfortunately for such as these, the spirit that’s filling and/or leading them is most definitely not God the Holy Spirit.

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. Thornbury, Recovering Classic Evangelicalism, Crossway, 2013, pp. 223
  2. For example see: Future Outpouring “Prophecy” Of Beth Moore. I also discussed this ecumenical event further in A Second Pentecost: Is There The Hope Of An End-Time Repeat Of Pentecost?
  3. Transcendental mantra meditation originated with Hinduism: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mantra, accessed 9/20/14.
  4. https://discernmentministriesinternational.wordpress.com/about-our-ministry/, accessed 9/20/14.

SATAN’S SCHOOLS OF DECEPTION

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Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way.

For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4)

Proclaiming The Truth Of Scripture Is the Antidote To Antichrist Doctrine

Leaving aside his penchant for reading mystics, some 60 years ago A.W. Tozer was dead-on-target when he wrote the following. In fact, I offer that there may be even more truth today in what he says below. While commenting upon Exodus 3:9-10 Tozer told us:

Yes, if evangelical Christianity is to stay alive, it must have men again—the right kind of men. It must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and it must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made.

God will hear the cries of His people as He heard the cries of Israel in Egypt and He will send deliverance by sending deliverers. It is His way. And when the deliverers come…they will be men of God and men of courage. They will have God on their side because they are careful to stay on God’s side.1

We live in a time of a skewed cycle of phony tolerance. This makes the professing Christian community ripe for rebellion against the final authority of God’s Word. However, compromise in Christ’s Name—though it is not actual Christian activity—has always existed within the visible church of our Lord. Consider this passage of Scripture, which instructs us that—rather than embracing false teachers and their mythology—we are instead to confront them:

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endlessgenealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 

Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (1 Timothy 1:3-7)

So, the following comment from Charles Spurgeon on these much-neglected verses, concerning the original liberals of his day, is a much needed reminder today:

How remarkable the times repeat themselves. When the same evils come, we must apply to them the same remedies. When a disease appears that has done deadly mischief in past times, physicians inquire for medicines that on a former occasion curbed that enemy.

We are bound to do the same in spiritual matters. We must see what Paul did in his day when the malaria of false doctrine is in the air… Let us not talk of inventing wise measures for the for the present distress in the spiritual world, but let us use the great remedy that was so effectual in Paul’s day.2

Submerging The Gospel For Comfort At The Expense Of Holiness

With all of this in mind then, here’s an important meditation that concerns the person of our Lord, Christ Jesus of Nazareth, and His glorious Gospel. You see, we already know that the other Jesuses3 in the Kingdom of the Cults are false; well, at least we used to. These are actually fairly easy to spot—although sadly even this is becoming more clouded with many evangelical leaders embracing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) as the so-called “fourth Abrahamic religion.” I showed you an early example of this back in 2010 in the Apprising Ministries piece SBC’S Richard Land Says Mormonism Is Fourth Abrahamic Faith.

For some evangelicals, it’s even worse; consider that Living Spiritual Teacher and leading Emerging Church guru Brian McLaren descended another level lower and even includes Mormonism as a part of Christianity, which you can see for yourself in The New Christianity Of Brian McLaren And The Emerging Church. However, in the real world, we really may look at this area of deception as the Jr. High/Middle School level of Satan’s myriad number of tricks. Remember, the Bible says the Christian is not ignorant of [the devil's] designs (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:11). If you need some assistance in spotting the counterfeit Christ of the cults you’ll find this helpful: Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

Now we come to the next level of Satan’s deadly deceptions—the liberal churches of the mainline denominations—which have already apostatized long ago. These would e.g. comprise the Episcopal Church, the Congregational Church, the Methodist Church—large sections of the American Baptist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and ever-increasing parts of the Presbyterian communities, just to name a few notables. When we reach this level—essentially the High School of Satan’s perverted Kingdom—we are now dealing with apostates in leadership positions as evidenced by the issues I’ve been covering at AM.

There is a bit more difficulty with deceptions in this area; like their fellow cultists, these people are also using the same words and terminology that true followers of Christ use. But you see, many of these apostates are doing so from respected platforms that are considered within the Christian church community of our Lord. So this means that one must be more knowledgeable in the Scriptures—in systematic theology—and in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in order to be able to decipher their false teachings and to see through their phony Christian façades. Which now brings us around to a rather startling thought. It has rapidly become apparent that the “middle of the road” churches—what we would even call mainstream evangelical churches—have also begun to apostatize.

I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised as my opening text does say — Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day — [the Second Advent of Christ Jesus the Lord] — will not come, unless the rebellion comes first (v.3). The King James Version reads — for that Day shall not come, except there come a falling away first. It’s way past time that people come to realize that even the Jesus preached by many mainstream postmodern postevangelical churches—supposedly bringing the Kingdom here now—is also but a figment of men’s imagination.4  It’s here where we come into Satan’s college level deceptions, and those who have eyes to see, are now beginning to understand just how far those professing Christians have drifted away from their “first love.”

A decade ago I tried to apprise people of this growing apostasy in The Falling Away of the Evangelical Church. And sadly, this is quite possibly what the Lord is saying right now to so many leaders within the evangelical camp — “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4-5). This is the tragic fact of this rather characterless generation: For whatever reasons, in recent years God’s message of salvation has been so softened it’s become benign. And a new brand of seeker sensitive Christianity has emerged, which Dr. John MacArthur dubbed Christianity-Lite in his book Hard To Believe.5

If you listen in the Spirit you may hear the Word of the Lord along the lines of, “Men have compromised My message; supposedly in their attempt to make My Gospel more appealing to unbelievers. But what they ended up doing, in order to justify their own lack of faith and commitment—the real reason why they have done so—was to make life easier and more comfortable for themselves.” And in time, because people weren’t studying to show themselves approved, this user-friendly “easy-believism” became accepted as if it is what the Bible actually teaches. But do you remember this — Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (Acts 17:11).

Please, do search the Bible to see if what I say is true; for it’s our hope that all of us will be doing what Christ asked each of us to do when He literally comes again to His earth. And Jesus Himself said — Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes (Matthew 24:46). Have you ever stopped to wonder about, and to truly meditate upon, the awesome holiness and majesty of Yahweh Elohim—the LORD God Almighty—as He is revealed in the Bible; most particularly in the Old Testament? Do you see how the Holy Scriptures are adorned with praise for the one true and living God? O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens (Psalm 8:1).

Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries; you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble (Exodus 15:6-7). Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding (Daniel 2:19-21). And have you ever noticed how the Bible lifts God up—and emphasizes His greatness—even at the expense of mankind? O Lord — grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes. (Psalm 108:12-13).

Now, let’s take a moment and think about today’s evangelical churches. Would you notice anything different? Is this what you will hear preached on Sunday? Does your pastor tell you that it is God Who is in control; and you on your own are a mere creature stained with sin, and absolutely helpless before Him. Jesus says — And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him [God] who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). O mortal man—purpose driven or not; a supposed “seeker”6 in the Emerging Church or not, do you fear the living God? Well, you should; for this is what the God says to everyone who does not have a personal relationship with Him, through the Gospel of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in the Name of Christ Jesus of Nazareth as their Lord and Savior.

Because, whether you acknowledge Him as such or not, my seeker driven so-called seeker friend — Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, nd every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11). O how much I do hope Satan was listening; for we, the undeserving saints of the Lord will—and sooner than we may even think—one day watch the defeated devil himself bow before our great God and Savior Jesus of Nazareth. And if you aren’t sure that you personally know Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you personally, have much to be afraid of yourself.

You won’t hear much today about Almighty God’s absolute holiness and majesty in far too many evangelical churches, who are now busy bowing before the narcissistic so-called postmodern culture of the United States of self-worship. This magnificent truth has been lost in these man-centered self-help centers masquerading as churches; mere hollow shells of lukewarm compromise, where more and more professing Christians are content in the The Ecumenical Church Of Deceit to seek for God, whatever their subjective concept of Him might be. And in many cases you wouldn’t even be able to hear the above truth—even if it was preached—amid the din of what Paul Proctor once called worshiptainment in these sinner-friendly playpens cleverly disguising themselves as churches.

But don’t they know that it’s our glorious and majestic, great and mighty, God Who controls whether they even take their next breath—or—not? And the Bible still sounds a clear and pristine warning:

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  (Hebrews 10:26-31)

The truth is that only by being regenerated by—and filled with—the Holy Spirit can you ever even hope to live for Jesus; or what do you think the Bible means when it says — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old sinful nature of the true Christian is dealt a mortal blow through God the Son’s finished work on the Cross and he is born again in his spirit; baptized in, and sealed by, God the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father. Soli Deo gloria…

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. A.W. Tozer, Tozer On Christian Leadership [Camp Hill: Christian Publications, 2001], September 18.
  2. Charles SpurgeonAt the Master’s Feet [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], September 16.
  3. cf. 2 Corinthians 11:4
  4. In professing Christendom today Christ Jesus the Lord has been essentially turned into  a sort of glorified social reformer, i.e. Gandhi With A Beard.
  5. MacArthur has also referred to this Purpose Driven/Seeker Driven evangelical sector of the Church Growth Movement as the new form of liberalism: John MacArthur: Seeker-Friendly Movement Is The New Liberalism.
  6. Actually Scripture tells us no one truly seeks God on their own cf. Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:11

THE KIND OF LOVE GOD HAS GIVEN

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See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

The Children Of God Come By Way Of The Cross

One of the truly amazing things about our loving Father in Heaven is when you consider that a Being as awesome as our Creator is even willing to communicate with us at all; and yet, God the Holy Spirit tells us—as Christians—in the Book of Hebrews chapter 4 — For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence [in prayer] draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Great reasons for us to faithfully go to Father in prayer, wouldn’t you say? O what a privilege and honor we Christians have as the sons and daughters of the one true and living God. There is a praise chorus many churches sing called Behold What Manner Of Love, which is actually a quote from the King James Version translation of 1 John 3:1 — Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.

Please understand that I’m not recommending the Amplified Bible; that noted, here it is actually helpful as commentary in bringing out the fuller meaning of 1 John 3:1 — SEE WHAT [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! The reason that the world does not know (recognize, acknowledge) us is that it does not know (recognize, acknowledge) Him.

Preeminent Bible scholar Dr. Leon Morris (1914-2006), a recognized authority on the writings of the Apostle John, points out in his commentary of this wonderful verse:

The wonder of it all arrests John. “Look!” he says, “Look at the love the Father has given us. We are called children of God. And we are!” The divine call in Scripture is often regarded as an effectual call, but John leaves no doubts. Not only are we [Christians] called God’s children, but we are such in reality. This has a consequence that the world does not know us. The incompatibility of the world and Christianity is a recurring theme in John’s writings. The world’s failure to know believers is not to be wondered at for it did not know Him.1

We Receive This Gift In Christ

Now, you might ask: “Are you trying to tell us in this politically correct inclusive culture in which we are now living that only people born again by personal faith in Jesus Christ, i.e. Christians, are children of God!” Let me say, categorically yes; that is exactly what I am telling you the Bible teaches. And so many say: “Well, that’s not very nice, in this age of moral relativism and postmodernism you really must include everyone; or it just isn’t fair.”

Whether it is fair or not, we must let God decide. And Genesis 18:25 states — Shall not [the LORD] the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” Look once again to the b part, or last part, of 1 John 3:1, from our text aboveThe reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. This is such a critical issue in our tepid generation that I must briefly make a couple of important points. First, the we who are called children of God make up the invisible and universal Church—those people called out of the world into the Body of Christ by being regenerated, or born again (cf. John 3:3-7).

These are the only people who are actually Christians according to the Bible. It’s very important that you remember this in order to really understand this verse of Holy Scripture. With this in mind then, let’s look at 1 John 3:1 again putting in the word “Christians” where it applies in the text – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that [Christians] should be called children of God; and so [Christians] are. The reason why the world does not know [Christians] is that it did not know him. 

Notice that the Holy Spirit says, through His inspired Apostle John, that only these Christians are children of God; contrary to the multitude of emerging evangelical false prophets that litter the landscape of the church visible today. Then the Lord explains to us that the reason the world, or the unregenerate, the non-Christian, does not know us — the Christians — is that “it” — the world, the unbelievers, did not know Him — God Himself in the Person of the Christ Jesus of Nazareth.

All Men Are Not Children Of God

They have no relation to us, because they have no relation to the Lord Who is head of His Church (cf. Romans 8:6-9). So despite the protests of non-Christians, no matter how sincere they may be, this is exactly what this verse means: Unless one has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work on the Cross of Christ alone, then they are still in the world. And, as such, if they are still in the world, then they have not been called out as Christians.2

And since these people are not Christians the Bible tells us — the wrath of God remains on [them] (John 3:36). No getting around that there in our opening text we see such as these are not children of God, nor do they even know Him; this is the sad fact Scripture teaches. However, this is exactly why we, who are children of God—His Christians—need to always be ready to tell the world about their grossly mistaken idea that all human beings are God’s children; and in addition, we need to pray for those who haven’t accepted Jesus personally.

Please remember that no matter how learned we may become—and the Lord knows we do need more educated Christians—no matter how intellectual one might be, it’s impossible to bring someone to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ by arguments alone. Since the human soul is locked from the inside we must pray for God the Holy Spirit to work within the person’s life.

And even though we know there is absolutely nothing we can do on our own to save anyone, we may find the strength to be persistent in our praying for the salvation of those to whom we are witnessing in these Words from our Lord Jesus Christ — “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. Donald Guthrie, J. Alec Motyer, Alan M. Stibbs, Donald J. Wiseman, Editors, The New Bible Commentary: Revised, [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1984], 1264.
  2. Christians make up a local church; the Greek word for church is ecclesia, which means “the called out ones.” And This gives you important background as to the meaning of the word Christian: http://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-a-Christian.html, accessed 9/16/14.

J. GRESHAM MACHEN: DESTROYING THE OBJECTION TO VICARIOUS SACRIFICE OF CHRIST WITHTHE GLORIOUS MAJESTY OF JESUS

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Thus the objection to the vicarious sacrifice of Christ disappears altogether before the tremendous Christian sense of the majesty of Jesus’ Person. It is perfectly true that the Christ of modern naturalistic reconstruction never could have suffered for the sins of others; but it is very different in the case of the Lord of Glory. And if the notion of vicarious atonement be so absurd as modern opposition would lead us to believe, what shall be said of the Christian experience that has been based upon it? The modern liberal Church is fond of appealing to experience. B

ut where shall true Christian experience be found if not in the blessed peace which comes from Calvary? That peace comes only when a man recognizes that all his striving to be right with God, all his feverish endeavor to keep the Law before he can be saved, is unnecessary, and that the Lord Jesus has wiped out the handwriting that was against him by dying instead of him on the Cross. VVho can measure the depth of the peace and joy that comes from this blessed knowledge? Is it a “theory of the atonement,” a delusion of man’s fancy? Or is it the very truth of God?

But still another objection remains against the Christian doctrine of the Cross. The objection concerns the character of God. What a degraded view of God it is, the modern liberal exclaims, when God is represented as being “alienated” from man, and as waiting coldly until a price be paid before He grants salvation! In reality, we are told, God is more willing to forgive sin than we are willing to be forgiven; reconciliation, therefore, can have to do only with man; it all depends upon us; God will receive us any time we choose.

The objection depends of course upon the liberal view of sin. If sin is so trifling a matter as the liberal Church supposes, then indeed the curse of God’s law can be taken very lightly, and God can easily let by-gones be by-gones.

This business of letting by-gones be by-gones has a pleasant sound. But in reality it is the most heartless thing in the world. It will not do at all even in the case of sins committed against our fellow-men. To say nothing of sin against God, what shall be done about the harm that we have wrought to our neighbor? Sometimes, no doubt, the harm can be repaired. If we have defrauded our neighbor of a sum ofmoney, we can pay the sum back with interest.

But in the case of the more serious wrongs such repayment is usually quite impossible. The more serious wrongs are those that are done, not to the bodies, but to the souls of men. And who can think with complacency of wrongs of that kind which he has committed? Who can bear to think, for example, of the harm that he has done to those younger than himself by a bad example? And what of those sad words, spoken to those we love, that have left scars never to be obliterated by the hand of time?

In the presence of such memories, we are told by the modern preacher simply to repent and to let by-gones be by-gones. But what a heartless thing is such repentance! We escape into some higher, happier, respectable life. But what of those whom we by our example and by our words have helped to drag down to the brink of hell? We forget them and let by-gones be by-gones!

Such repentance will never wipe out the guilt of sin–not even sin committed against our fellow-men, to say nothing of sin against our God. The truly penitent man longs to wipe out the effects of sin, not merely to forget sin. But who can wipe out the effects of sin? Others are suffering because of our past sins; and we can attain no real peace until we suffer in their stead. We long to go back into the tangle of our life, and make right the things that are wrong–at least to suffer where we have caused others to suffer. And something like that Christ did for us when He died instead of us on the cross; He atoned for all our sins.

The sorrow for sins committed against one’s fellowmen does indeed remain in the Christian’s heart. And he will seek by every means that is within his power to repair the damage that he has done. But atonement at least has been made–made as truly as if the sinner himself had suffered with and for those whom he has wronged. And the sinner himself, by a mystery of grace, becomes right with God. All sin at bottom is a sin against God. “Against thee, thee only have I sinned” is the cry of a true penitent.

How terrible is the sin against God! Who can recall the wasted moments and years ? Gone they are, never to return; gone the little allotted span of life; gone the little day in which a man must work. Who can measure the irrevocable guilt of a wasted life? Yet even for such guilt God has provided a fountain of cleansing in the precious blood of Christ. God has clothed us with Christ’s righteousness as with a garment; in Christ we stand spotless before the judgment throne.

Thus to deny the necessity of atonement is to deny the existence of a real moral order. And it is strange how those who venture upon such denial can regard themselves as disciples of Jesus; for if one thing is clear in the record of Jesus’ life it is that Jesus recognized the justice as distinguished from the love, of God. God is love, according to Jesus, but He is not only love; Jesus spoke, in terrible words, of the sin that shall never be forgiven either in this world or in that which is to come. Clearly Jesus recognized the existence of retributive justice; Jesus was far from accepting the light modern view of sin.1

J. Gresham Machen

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. This post was adapted from Machen’s classic book Christianity & Liberalism, which can be read online here: http://www.reformed.org/books/chr_and_lib/, accessed 9/13/14.

DO NOT BE UNEQUALLY YOKED WITH UNBELIEVERS

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Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 
(2 Corinthians 6:14-15)

So What Does A Believer Have In Common With An Unbeliever?

Well, this would seem clear enough; but unfortunately, not so today e.g. because evangelicalism made the fateful decision to embrace the apostate and sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church—with its “big tent” Progressive Christianity aka Emergence Christianity. This is the root reason why we’re witnessing such syncretism within the mainstream right now.

The tragic fact is that the EC brought in its core doctrine of anti-biblical Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism and spread it throughout the younger sectors of the evangelism. Then in On Contemplative Spirituality and Charismania I showed you the further progression away from sola Scriptura currently going on throughout the heart of the church visible.

Now you know why a couple of years ago we even saw Ravi Zacharias Says Word Faith Preacher Joyce Meyer “Such A Great Bible Teacher” God Is Using; not to mention evangelical superstar Prophet-Leader Steven Furtick Descends Down To Word Faith Heretic Rod Parsley. In fact, it’s so bad that major evangelical leaders James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll, his embattled comrade,1 want us to believe T.D. Jakes Repents Of Word Faith Heresy And Mythology.

Before we run down the rabbit trail, we need not get bogged down here judging the eternal condition of any of the aforementioned. For you see, according to the correct application of Matthew 18:15-17, when someone ignores the warning to cease the sin of promulgating false doctrine — if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:17).

It’s critical to understand here that teachers of Word Faith fables such as the aforementioned Meyer and jakes have long ago neglected to hear the church about their heresies and therefore now fit this passage. So, it seems a good time for us to look again briefly at the pertinent section of 2 Corinthians 6 as it concerns the historic context of these important verses from the Bible.

The following commentary on our text from Dr. Murray Harris proves a good place to start:

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (v. 14a). Clearly this is not an injunction against all association with unbelievers (cf. 1Cor 5:9, 10, 10:27). Paul actually encouraged the Christian partner in a mixed marriage to maintain the relationship as long as possible (1Cor 7:12-16). Rather, this is a prohibition against forming close attachments with non-Christians.

Paul’s agricultural metaphor (“You must not get into double harness with unbelievers”—C.K. Barrett) is based on the command of Deuteronomy 22:10 that prohibited the yoking of an ox and an ass for ploughing, and also on Leviticus 19:19 where the crossbreeding of animals of different species is prohibited. Although precisely what might have constituted a “diverse yoke” or “double harness” for the Corinthians remains unstated, it clearly involved compromise with heathendom,…

Paul is content to state a general principle that needs specific application under the Spirit’s guidance. In expanded form the principle might6 be expressed thus: “Do not form any relationship, whether temporary or permanent, with unbelievers that would lead to a compromise of Christian standards or jeopardize consistency of Christian witness. And why such separation? Because the unbeliever does not share the Christian’s standards, sympathies, or goals” …2

This passage will also have a clear spiritual application, which should become even more evident now through the scholarly commentary of Dr. Harris. Consistent with what Christ Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:22 — “The eye is the lamp of the body,” the more spiritually mature will understand that anything you allow into your life on a regular basis, which would grieve the Holy Spirit, will have adverse effects on you.

You might recall 1 Corinthians 15:33 — Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” where God quotes a proverb that even an unregenerate pagan could understand. And if the Lord’s warnings are ignored, then know this: You will also open yourself up to further spiritual blindness and possibly even demonic oppression.

The fact that Paul is simply using physical “marriage” to also illustrate a spiritual principle as well is obvious even to the rather conservative dispensational camp, who are certainly not known for any kind of radical spiritual excesses. By the way, my comment is simply to make a point concerning proper understanding of this passage, and isn’t meant disrespectfully toward my more dispensational brothers.

Here’s what Dr. David Lowery says in The Bible Knowledge Commentary put out by Dallas Theological Seminary, an organization which has been known for conservative/dispensational theology:

What hampered the Corinthians’ open, loving response, which Paul called for? (v.13) Answer: rival suitors vied for their affections and allegiance. Though verses 14-15 are often applied to various sorts of alliances (e.g., mixed marriages, improper business associations), Paul’s primary association was probably ecclesiastical. The rival suitors were possibly pagan idolators (cf. 1 Cor.10:14) or more likely false apostles (cf. 2 Cor. 11:2-4). In censure or affection Paul was equally candid (cf. 6:11).

The solution to the dilemma was for the Corinthians to separate from the false apostles. Whatever may have been their own and others’ estimation of their spiritual status, Paul considered the false apostles to be unbelievers (cf.11:13-15) from whom the Corinthians needed to separate. But Paul did not say that Christian should have no contacts whatever with unbelievers.

Earlier he argued the absurdity of such a position (1 Cor. 5:9-10). But religious unbelievers might lead believers astray from “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3), and the fact concerned Paul greatly.3

What needs to be clearly understood here is this: Whatever one believes in—whether it’s a false god, i.e. demons such as in Islam, or no god at all, as in secular humanism—that belief system is your religion.4 It just may be that we are, right now, at the beginning of an end. To be clear, I do not claim to know exactly what it is that has ended.

Could it possibly be the end of the Age of Grace itself? God knows; but this much seems clear, we appear to be at the end of our Lord’s patience with what’s passing as Christianity—and maybe especially so—here in amoral America. I sometimes wonder, is God now giving over the evangelical section of the visible church to their love of the self here in this pagan postmodern nation?

I’m sad to say, from my vantage point, there does seem to be a growing apostasy within ostensibly conservative sectors of Christendom:

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”

“For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened?” … For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (Jeremiah 23:16-18; 1 Peter 4:17)

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. Things are apparently so out of control around Driscoll right now that there’s allegedly been financial misappropriations: http://www.seattleweekly.com/news/thedailyweekly/954570-129/unearthed-mars-hill-memo-warns-of, accessed 9/11/14.

    In addition, it appears that his Mars Hill Church is closing its branches: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/mars.hill.announces.closure.of.three.churches/40422.htm, accessed 9/11/14.

  2. Murray Harris, 2 Corinthians, in Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols, [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992], 359, emphasis added).
  3. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 2 vols., [Colorado Springs: Cook Communications Ministries, 2000], 570, bold his.
  4. See: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion, accessed 9/11/14.

WHAT GOD REVEALS

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All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16, KJV)

There was great openness about Christ. There was an utter absence of anything like the Jesuitical plan of saying one thing and meaning another, or using expressions that had double meaning in them. It is true that our Lord did not explain to the great mass of the people all that He said to them, for they were so stupid that they would not receive it.

But, at the same time, there was nothing that His hearers really needed to know that He concealed from them. He carried His heart where all might read it and even in His common teaching to the multitude, there was, if they had but had eyes to see it, all that He taught to His disciples in the most private place.

There was no wish, on His part, to keep back any Truth of God that ought to be made known to those who gathered to hear Him. I have heard it said that there are certain Truths in God’s Word which it is better for us not to preach. It is admitted that they are true, but it is alleged that they are not edifying. I will not agree to any such plan! This is just going back to old Rome’s method.

Whatever it has seemed good to God’s wisdom to reveal, it is wise for God’s servants to proclaim. Who are we that we are to judge between this Truth of God and that and to say that this we are to preach, and that we are to withhold? This system would make us to be, after all, the judges of what Christ’s Gospel is to be! It must not be so among us, Beloved—that would be assuming a responsibility which we are quite unable to bear.

Every Doctrine of God’s Word is good! Every Truth in the Bible is precious! The omission of any one part of it, willfully, and with design, may so impair the whole of our testimony that, instead of being like Hermon, “wet with dew,” our ministry will be like the accursed Gilboa, upon which no dew descended. Whatever the Lord has taught you by His Spirit, my Brother, tell to others!

According as you have opportunity, reveal to them what God has revealed to you. Remember how Christ Himself charged His disciples, “What I tell you in darkness, that speak in light; what you hear in the ear, that preach upon the housetops” (Matthew 10:27). And, today, the sublime and majestic Truths of God which cluster around the Sovereignty of God are as much to be proclaimed as the softer, most tender and apparently more winsome words which tell of infinite mercy to the chief of sinners!

All truths are to be preached in due proportion—there is a time for this, and a time for that—and none must be omitted. There is a particular stone which is to be the key of the arch, and another which is to go on this side, another lower down and yet another still lower down—and the omitting of any one stone, because it does not happen to be of what we reckon to the orthodox shape for usefulness, may spoil the whole bridge and it may come down with a crash! Oh, that we may so build in our teaching that our building will last throughout eternity!

At the end of our ministry, may we be able to say, “I have kept back nothing; all that Christ taught me, I have taught to others and so I have made full proof of my ministry.” Christ was able to appeal to those who had heard Him and who could tell what His testimony had been. May God give us Grace to imitate Him in this respect!1

Charles Spurgeon

Endnotes

  1. An expanded version of Charles SpurgeonAt the Master’s Feet [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], September 6. It should also be noted that I don’t necessarily agree with everything Spurgeon says in the sermon Christ Before Annas from which this text is taken.

    However, I do fully agree with his over-all point that we should faithfully proclaim everything that God reveals to us in Scripture as we understand it. You can read this sermon from Charles Spurgeon in its entirety here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons49.ix.html, accessed 9/6/14.