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 delivers come…they will be men of God and men of courage. They will have God on their side because they are careful to stay 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.

CONSIDERATION FOR THE WEAKER CHRISTIANS

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For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

A Corrupt Christian Message Produces Unregenerate “Christians”

You may wonder why, as I continue to battle through many physical challenges,1 I will still so often draw your attention back to the Emerging Church aka the Emergent Church, the neo-liberal cult openly operating within rapidly apostatizing mainstream evangelicalism.

The reason is simple: Most simply have no idea of just how devastating the results have been for foolish evangelical leaders embracing the warped and toxic teachings of its superstars like Living Spiritual Teacher and EC guru Brian McLaren and his dutiful disciple Rob Bell.

As I pointed out a while back in On Contemplative Spirituality and Charismania, there’s no doubt whatsoever that through their propaganda the heart of evangelicalism has now welcomed in the practices of the corrupt Counter Reformation spirituality I’ve referred to as Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM).

We’ve also seen that, in addition to CSM, the ostensibly conservative Christian community has also begun to embrace hyper-charismatic excesses, i.e. charismania. Look for yourself at how Christendom is becoming increasingly ecumenical and many younger evangelicals are even inclusive.

One of the fruits of all of this compromise in Christ’s Name is the preaching of self-centered and self-righteous messages from mainstream Christian pulpits by pastors who are not even regenerated. We’re witnessing a fulfillment of 1 Timothy 4:1 right before our eyes:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.

Frankly, it’s well past time to freely acknowledge this. Such as these have severely crippled the spread of the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ within the evangelical sector of the visible church. Lord willing, I’ll continue to draw your attention to this as well as to continue exposing these vipers where I see them.

Here I wish to focus upon one of the results all of this has had upon the unsuspecting as these rebels against the final authority of God’s Word have, for years, been distorting the Christian faith. They’ve been sowing to the flesh in order to curry favor with fellow unregenerates in the culture at large.

To be clear I am on record criticizing his dalliances with the writings of apostate Roman Catholic mystics, however, A.W. Tozer is dead-on-target here—even though he was speaking of the Christian community of over half a decade ago:

Each generation of Christians is the seed of the next, and degenerate seed is sure to produce a degenerate harvest not a little better than, but a little worse than, the seed from which it sprang. Thus the direction will be down until vigorous, effective means are taken to improve the seed…

To carry on these activities [evangelism, missions] scripturally the church should be walking in fullness of power, separated, purified and ready at any moment to give up everything—even life itself—for the greater glory of Christ.

For a worldly, weak, decadent church to make converts is but to bring forth after her own kind and extend her weakness and disobedience a but further out…2

No one with even a modicum of discernment would argue with the sad fact that the professing Christian community completely ignored Tozer’s warning. Welcome to today’s Purpose Driven/Seeker Driven quasi-Emegent version of Christianity. Hence the reason why we should avoid many living Christian teachers.

As I begin to close this out, for now, we’ve heard so many of them trumpeting the freedom that the Christian has in Christ; and it certainly true that Jesus has set us free. It is written For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

However, the following verse is so often misappropriated today  To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law (1 Corinthians 9:21). That isn’t legalism; that happens to be Scripture.

We need to keep both of these truths in proper balance, which can only be done through the preaching of the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ. While enjoying his freedom in Christ the faithful Christian also strives in the power of the Spirit to  Abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

The great Bible commentator Matthew Henry’s comment on this verse proves helpful here:

This is a good means to prevent our being deceived with false doctrines, or unsettled in our faith; for our Saviour has told us (Jn. 7:17 ), If a man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God. Corrupt affections indulged in the heart, and evil practices allowed of in the life, will greatly tend to promote fatal errors in the mind; whereas purity of heart, and integrity of life, will dispose men to receive the truth in the love of it.

We should therefore abstain from evil, and all appearances of evil, from sin, and that which looks like sin, leads to it, and borders upon it. He who is not shy of the appearances of sin, who shuns not the occasions of sin, and who avoids not the temptations and approaches to sin, will not long abstain from the actual commission of sin.3

Yet Emergent evangelicals give this no thought in their attempt to find a version of the faith where they can be as worldly as worldlings—if not even worse. Neither do they consider what their conduct looks like to young, and weaker, Christians twisting an apt adage consistent with Scripture into a spiritual pretzel.

Rather than being in the world, but not of the world, far too many professing Christians today are of the world while reveling in the world. With all of this in mind then, I now leave you with the balanced teaching below from Church Reformer Martin Luther:

Because there are two different types of people, two different offenses occur. On one side the weak are offended, on the other side, the strong are offended. ]In the opening text above] Paul is trying to keep them both in the middle and avoid both offenses.

The weak are offended where something is done that they don’t understand and can’t distinguish from evil. Romans 14 deals with this situation at length. For example, when the weak saw that others were eating foods forbidden by the law is unclean, they did not dare eat these foods because they were inhibited by their consciences.

Yet they could not disapprove of what others did. Here Paul became a Jew with the Jews, a weak person with the weak to serve them through love so that they would become strong in Christ. On the over hand, the strong are offended when they become annoyed by the weak and grow impatient with their slowness and clumsiness.

Without consideration for others, they overuse their freedom in Christ, resulting in weak people becoming offended. It would be better for them to keep all the laws before offending one person. This is what it means to live by the Spirit.

What good does it do to use the Spirit of freedom against the Spirit of love? But you may insist, “We are free to do this.” Certainly. But you must put the weakness of your brother or sister ahead of your own freedom. It doesn’t hurt you if you don’t exercise your freedom.

Yet it hurts them if they are offended by your freedom. Don’t forget that the task of love is thinking of what’s best for others. Rather than finding out how much freedom you can exercise, find out how much service you can give to your brother or sister.4

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. I have discussed these previously e.g. in Christ Our Life—Soon To Appear and Latest Concerning Apprising Ministries.
  2. A.W. Tozer, Tozer On Christian Leadership [Camp Hill: Christian Publications, 2001], September 2.
  3. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-thessalonians/5.html: accessed 9/3/14.
  4. Martin Luther, Faith Alone [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], September 3.

TRUE ORIGINS OF THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL AKA WORD FAITH THEOLOGY

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By Anton Bosch, pastor-teacher

The True Origins of the Prosperity Gospel

The prosperity gospel has to be one of the grandest deceptions of all time. A Time poll conducted in the USA in 2006, produced the following statistics:

“17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31% – a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America – agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money” (Time, Sept. 10, 2006).

From America the message has permeated the whole world, most notably Nigeria where two of the biggest promoters are David Oyedepo, whose Canaanland church seats 55,000, and Enoch Adeboye, whose Redeemed Christian Church of God claims branches in over one hundred countries, 14,000 branches in Nigeria, and 5 million members in Nigeria alone. In 2008 Newsweek magazine listed him as one of the 50 most powerful people in the world.

The prosperity message has mutated into many variants that all share certain common traits and roots. A closely related teaching to the prosperity message is the “word-of-faith” teaching with its erroneous views on faith. Many regard these errors as the same thing and while they are related and claim to produce the same fruit, their doctrinal and historical roots differ.

The word-of-faith message developed simultaneously and parallel to the prosperity message, but its roots trace back through EW Kenyon to Christian Science, while prosperity’s roots trace back through Oral Roberts to Napoleon Hill. This article therefore only deals with the roots of the prosperity gospel which can be summed up as “give to God and He will give back to you” or “sowing and reaping”. (Word of faith is summed up in “name it and claim it” aka “blab it and grab it.”)

Fruits from Roots

Even to the casual student of Scripture it is clear that the prosperity gospel is another gospel which preaches another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4). This message preys on people’s greed and lust for money and lures the greedy into a religion which worships Mammon rather than the true God. The fruit clearly defines this as a doctrine of devils.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). But what are the roots of this teaching? The conclusion of this brief article will shock you, but should not come as a surprise.

Roots

Most of the modern proponents are second or even third generation prosperity preachers. Most of them will have been influenced, either directly or indirectly by one of three men: Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003); Kenneth Copeland (1936-); or Fred Price (1932-). These three in turn were influenced by Oral Roberts (1918 – 2009), who has to be dubbed the father of the prosperity Gospel.

Hagin, Copeland, Price

In 1967 Kenneth Copeland attended Oral Roberts University (ORU) where he also worked as one of Roberts’ pilots. This afforded Copeland the opportunity to see Roberts in action at his healing crusades and to learn first-hand from Roberts. But during his first year at ORU he heard a tape of Hagin and he and his wife, instantly became disciples of Hagin.

Like the Copelands, Fred Price also credits Hagin as the greatest influence in his life and ministry. Thus almost all prosperity preachers trace their roots back to Kenneth Hagin. But where did Hagin get the teaching from?

In his book How God Taught Me About Prosperity (1985), Hagin says: “The Lord Himself taught me about prosperity. I never read about it in a book. I got it directly from heaven” [Emphasis his]According to Hagin, he received this revelation in 1959.

But by the time Hagin received his “revelation”, both Oral Roberts and AA Allan had already been preaching the message for about ten years. (Hagin and Roberts were based in the same city – Tulsa, Oklahoma.) Allan published quite a few books promoting prosperity, while Roberts was using his radio ministry and campaigns to spread the message. Allan was the first to refer to poverty as a “spirit.”

But in the long run Allan’s influence on modern prosperity teaching was relatively minor and short-lived in comparison to that of Roberts. For this reason we will not pursue the AA Allan thread even though his legacy of greed, lust and drunkenness confirms the source of the teaching. In the light of the fact that both Roberts and Allan were promoting this doctrine long before Hagin, Hagin’s claim that he had not been influenced by any man is therefore not true.

Oral Roberts

This brings us to Oral Roberts. During 1947 Oral Roberts had come to a crisis in his life and ministry. One morning he opened the Bible and was struck by 3 John 2 (“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers”). This was a kind of epiphany for Roberts. Roberts and his wife would look back at that moment as “the point of embarkation.” Soon after this revelation, Roberts would receive what he believed to be practical confirmation of the fact that God wanted him to prosper materially.

Through the agency of Roberts’ neighbor who owned a Buick dealership, Roberts was able to acquire a brand new Buick. The neighbor, Mr Gustavus, managed to get a very good price for Robert’s old car and helped him to get a new Buick at “dealer’s cost,” which was not much more than they got for the old car. This was in the postwar months when new cars were practically unobtainable.

According to Roberts the “new car became a symbol to me of what a man can do if he would believe God” (David Edwin Harrell. Oral Roberts: An American Life). Roberts immediately began to preach the prosperity message. By 1954 he was promising refunds to people who gave him money and who did not receive the amount of their gift returned to them, from an unexpected source, within a short period.

In 1955 he published his first book on the topic entitled “God’s Formula for Success and Prosperity.” Note that this was four years before Hagin received his “revelation.” This was followed by a number of other books on the topic. It was only in 1970 that he published the book “Miracle of Seed-Faith,” which became the book that had the biggest impact in terms of spreading the message across the world. [1]

The idea of “seed faith” was based on the principle of sowing and reaping, and it taught that anything you sow into God’s Kingdom will result in an abundant return. This applied especially to money, but also to things like time, energy, love etc. Elements of Seed-Faith are still present in the theology of all modern prosperity preachers.

But there was one major influence that resulted in Roberts coming to these beliefs, which we must examine if we are to discover the true roots of this teaching. That man was none other than Napoleon Hill. [2] Roberts was inspired by Hill’s 1937 book Think and Grow Rich and had established a close and longstanding relationship with Hill.

Napoleon Hill

Your Magic Power to Be Rich is a 2007 compendium of several of Hill’s books. On page 207, in the foreword to The Magic Ladder to Success, the editor, Patricia G. Horan says: “The likes of Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, and Oral Roberts became devotees and sometimes shared speaking platforms with Hill.”

It is abundantly clear that Hill had an enormous influence on Roberts, and that Robert’s views on prosperity were largely shaped by Napoleon Hill. Hill had a “Law of Compensation” which operated the same as Roberts’ principles of Seed-Faith. (Robert Tilton, amongst others, unashamedly uses the Law of Compensation – a blatant copy of Hill’s formula). We would need to devote several more chapters to examine Hill’s sources and influences, which will open more cans of worms.

But for now the most significant source will have to suffice. In Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich he speaks of a “cabinet of Invisible Counselors” made up of nine men, most of whom were deceased at the time when Hill had “meetings” with them:

These nine men were Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napoleon, Ford and Carnegie. Every night, over a long period of years, I held an imaginary council meeting with this group whom I called my “Invisible Counselors.” The procedure was this. Just before going to sleep at night, I would shut my eyes, and see, in my imagination, this group of men seated with me around my council table… I had a very definite purpose in indulging my imagination through these nightly meetings.

My purpose was to rebuild my own character so it would represent a composite of the characters of my imaginary councilors… I deliberately assigned myself the task of voluntary rebirth through the method I have described above…  After some months of this nightly procedure, I was astounded by the discovery that these imaginary figures became apparently real… These meetings became so realistic that I became fearful of their consequences, and discontinued them for several months…

These facts are mentioned preliminary to a statement of fact which I shall now make, namely, that during my meetings with the “Invisible Counselors” I find my mind most receptive to ideas, thoughts, and knowledge which reach me through the sixth sense. On scores of occasions, when I faced emergencies, some of them so grave that my life was in jeopardy, I have been miraculously guided past these difficulties through my “Invisible Counselors”. (Napoleon Hill. Think and Grow Rich. 1938. pp220ff)

In Think and Grow Rich Hill tries very hard to convince his readers that these figures were simply in his imagination but his own testimony (above) makes it clear that these influences were not imaginary but were actually spirit guides. In fact, in his book You Can Work Your Own Miracles, Hill refers to them as “guides” or “talismans.” These are just other names for demons who impersonate any character they wish in order to deceive the living into believing that they are in touch with the dead.

The Bible clearly forbids contact with demons: “There shall not be found among you anyone who… practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, “or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. “For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

Conclusion

So, let’s recap. Every form of prosperity teaching can be traced back through Copeland, then Hagin, then Roberts. Roberts mixed some Bible verses with what he was taught by Hill, and Hill was taught by demons. The facts are undeniable – this is a doctrine designed, not by greedy men, but conceived in hell itself!

As with the prosperity gospel, every doctrine must be examined against the Bible and in some cases the source needs to be examined.

The first thing we need to do with any teaching is check it against the plumbline of the Scriptures. The fact that people quote verses to support their teaching does not mean that it is sound doctrine. We must search the Scriptures and ask the hard questions to make sure that the teaching is based on a correct interpretation of the Bible. “These (Bereans) were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

2Timothy 3:13 says: “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them”. Because there are so many false teachers, we need to be sure whom we are learning from. Paul says to Timothy that he can have confidence because of the source of the teaching. The one who taught Timothy was Paul, and Paul could clearly show that he had received his doctrine from the Lord (Galatians 1:12).

Like Hagin and Roberts, every false teacher claims to have received his doctrine from the Lord, but a bit of digging will often reveal the true source.

Endnotes:

1. Roberts claims in his autobiography that more than eight million copies were in circulation worldwide.

2  Napoleon Hill (October 26, 1883 – November 8, 1970) was an American author in the area of the new thought movement who was one of the earliest producers of the modern genre of personal-success literature. He is widely considered to be one of the great writers on success. His most famous work, Think and Grow Rich (1937), is one of the best-selling books of all time (at the time of Hill’s death in 1970, Think and Grow Rich had sold 20 million copies. Hill’s works examined the power of personal beliefs, and the role they play in personal success. He became an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1933 to 1936. “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve” is one of Hill’s hallmark expressions (Wikipedia).

Pastor Bosch heads Anton Bosch Ministries and is the teaching elder at Sun Valley Community Church, Sun Valley, CA

Further reading

GOOD WORKS ACTUALLY EXTEND FROM GOD

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I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)

False Converts Teaching False Doctrine Are Leading Professing Evangelical Christians Astray

Labors in the Lord like this one here at Apprising Ministries would never have been necessary had the mainstream evangelical Christian community not decided to follow the mainline denominations, who’re now mortally wounded by adherence to the religious slavery of liberal theology. It was a serious error from which evangelicalism may indeed never recover.1

Yet in His mercy, as the Internet started to gain more influence within Christendom, Jesus would begin to raise up a few initial ministries to pioneer the mission field of online apologetics and discernment ministry (OADM). Unfortunately self-righteous, and largely self-appointed, evangelical leaders chose to ignore these early watchmen.

Even so, over the past couple of decadesas God would begin calling His elect away from these false shepherds—He’s still graciously continued to try and reach them while spreading His truth through the work of a growing number of OADMs. At the same time Satan would launch his Christian counterfeit aka the Emerging Church (EC) via evangelicalism’s Leadership Network (LN).

The critical function LN provided for enemy forces was to steer the visible Christian community away from the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura. By doing so, Satan was able to bring about a rebirth of pietism—quite similar to what history shows us happened circa 17th century not so long after the Protestant Reformation. Sadly, the church visible decided not to learn from its history.

As postmodernism rooted—an extremely centered of the self philosophy—the stage would be set for the devil’s EC to launch its repackaged version of pietism through Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM); a romanticized Roman Catholic mysticism. Now we see such a confusion of Law and Gospel that the proper proclamation of the Gospel has taken a backseat to a sappy sentimentality of legalism.

So-called “spiritual disciplines” and humanitarian acts considered good works rule this tragic hour. This perversion of the God’s Gospel is convincing scores of people who have never been regenerated that these religious and social works are genuine Christianity, when they are not. That’s why I’m bringing you the following devotional teachings.

For you see, no one credible is saying that the actual Christian faith doesn’t involve good works. That would be foolish because God Himself has told us that His regenerated (i.e. born gain) believers  are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). Therein lies the crucial difference between false faith and the real.

The Reformers stated it as soli Deo gloria, for the glory of God alone. He is the One Who ordains what good works are and guides us into them. We, as fickle and sin-flawed, human beings don’t get to decide what they might be. Against this background I point you to Extraordinary Fruit by Martin Luther, which is followed by For Jesus from Charles Spurgeon.

As you make the time to read through these short pieces you should be able to see through the man-centered messages of way too many evangelical teachers and pastors, who may not even be regenerated themselves. Such is the time we now find ourselves in. The spiritually disastrous fruits of the Church Growth Movement2 that slithered out of Fuller Theological Seminary are now being harvested.

Years of the spread of false gospels throughout the very heart of the visible church have actually resulted in unbelievers manning positions of leadership within virtually all of the major evangelical denominations, their church-related schools, as well as the churches which are extending from them:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

False Christians cannot understand what Jesus is saying in this verse. They wonder, “What kind of Christians are these people? They can’t do anything more than eat and drink, work in their homes, take care of their children, and push a plow. We can do all that and better.”

False Christians want to something different and special—something above the everyday activities of an ordinary person. They want to join a convent, lie on the ground, wear sackcloth garments, and pray day and night. The believe these works are Christian fruit and produce a holy life.

Accordingly, they believe that raising children, doing housework, and performing other ordinary chores aren’t part of a holy life. For false Christians look to the external appearances and don’t consider the source of their works—whether or not they grow out of the vine.

But in the passage this verse is taken from. Christ says that the only works that are good fruit are those accomplished by people who are first in Him and remain in Him. What true believers do and how they live are considered good fruit—even if these works are more menial than loading a wagon with manure and driving it away.

Those false believers can’t comprehend this. They see these works as ordinary, everyday tasks. But there is a big difference between a believer’s works and an unbeliever’s works—even if they do the exact same thing. For an unbeliever’s works don’t spring from the vine—Jesus Christ.

That’s why unbelievers cannot please God (cf. Romans 8:1-17). These works are not Christian fruit. But because  believer’s works come from faith in Christ, they are all the result of genuine faith.3

Luther’s right; unless one is doing these works in Christ—no matter how good they look before the world—they are but filthy rags. And as you’ll see in the following from Spurgeon, genuine believers in Christ don’t see anything worthy of praise in any works we do because it is God’s Spirit within us that compels us to do them, for Jesus:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'” (Matthew 25:34)

Now, notice that Christ, as it were, inferentially tells us that the actions that will be mentioned at the judgement day, as the proof of pour being the blessed of the Lord, spring from the grace of God, for He says, “Ye blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

They fed the hungry, but sovereign grace first fed them. They clothed the naked, but infinite love first clothed them. They went to the prison, but free grace first set them free from a worse prison. They visited the sick, but the Good Physician in His infinite mercy first came and visited them.

They evidently had no idea that there was anything meritorious in what they did; they had never dreamed of being rewarded for it. When they stand before the judgement seat, the bare idea of there being any excellence in what they have done will be new to the saints.

For you see, they have formed a very lowly estimate of their own performances, and what they have done seems to them too faulty to be commended. The saints fed the hungry and clothed the naked because it gave them much pleasure to do so.

They did it because they could not help doing it; their new nature impelled them to it. They did it because it was their delight to do good and was as much their element as water for a fish or the air for a bird. They did good for Christ’s sake.

They performed works such as these because it was the sweetest thing in the world to do anything for Jesus.4

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. Mainline denominations developed liberal theology as they followed the false philosophy of modernism and attempted to cobble together a Christian faith to please the world around them. And you’ll see e.g. in Big Tent Circus of Postmodern Liberalism and Postmodern Liberalism Pits Jesus Against the Bible that evangelicalism also tried to come up with a Christianity to please the world in which we now live and has itself become entangled within a new postmodern form of liberalism.
  2. Christian apologist Bob DeWaay gives you a good working knowledge of this people-pleasing and ill-fated idea here: http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue89.htm, accessed 8/23/14.
  3. Martin Luther, Faith Alone [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], August 23.
  4. Charles SpurgeonAt the Master’s Feet [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], August 23.

CHRIST OUR LIFE—SOON TO APPEAR

Before we get to the below sermon excerpt from Charles Spurgeon here at Apprising Ministries we wish to extend our gratitude for you keeping us in your prayers. I did see the neurologist yesterday. The tests are definitely not pleasant ones to go through.

Long story short, the doctor found that I don’t have MS. As far as ALS, it is a disease that mimics many of the symptoms of CMT.1 It’s now quite clear that I do have CMT, which I pretty much knew. However, it was good that he taught me more about it.

I actually learned that CMT can even affect more than lower legs. Leaving this aside, the doctor then told me that he could not see any real reason to believe that I have developed ALS; but because of my CMT, he really cannot be more definite than that.

So, that’s a bit of good news; as is the fact that, at this time, CMT doesn’t seem to be affecting more than my lower legs. I also want you to know that the desire to do this vital work at AM during this growing apostasy in Christendom  is still there.

As always, we covet your prayers; for the prayer of faithful saints is a most powerful weapon that God has given His Church, and we’ve little doubt that enemy forces would love to blow up Apprising Ministries. May we fight on together and not let that happen:

You must not expect, because you are a Christian, that unbelievers will begin to admire you and say, “What a mystery! This man has a new life in him! What an admirable thing, what a desirable possession! We wish we partook of the same.” Nothing of the kind. They do not know that you have such a life at all. They can see your outward actions, but your inward life is quite out of reach of their observation.

Christ is in Heaven today. He is full of joy. But the world does not know His joy. No worldly heart is boasting and rejoicing because Christ is glad in Heaven. Christ today is pleading before the Father’s Throne, but the world does not see Christ’s engagements. Christ’s occupations are all hidden from carnal eyes. Christ at this present moment reigns and has power in Heaven and earth and Hell—but what does the worldly man see of it? Jesus has fellowship with all His saints everywhere—but what does the ungodly discern? I might stand and preach until midnight concerning my Lord, but all that men who are unconverted would gain would be to hear what I have to tell and then to say, “Perhaps it is true.” But they could not possibly discern it—the thing is beyond the cognizance of sense.

So is our spiritual life. Beloved, you may reign over sin, but the sinner does not comprehend your being a king. You may officiate as a priest before God, but the ungodly man does not perceive your priesthood and your worship. Do not expect him to do so! Your labor is lost if you try by any way to introduce him to these mysteries except by the same door through which you came yourself. I never try to teach a horse astronomy—and to teach an unconverted man spiritual experience would be a folly of the same sort. The man who knows nothing of our inner life takes up “Pilgrim’s Progress,” and he says, “Yes, it is a very wonderful allegory.”

It is, Sir, but unrenewed minds know nothing about it. When we have sometimes read explanations of the Pilgrim’s Progress, we could not but detect that the writer of the explanation had need to have had it explained to himself. He could describe the shell, but the kernel of the nut was far beyond his reach! He had not learned to crack the shell and to feed upon the meat. Now it must be so, it must be so, if Christ is our life. Christ has gone away and cannot be seen. It must be so that the greater proportion of the spiritual life must be forever a secret to all but spiritual men.

But there is a part which men do see and that I may liken to Christ when He was on earth—Christ seen of men and angels. What did the world do with Christ as soon as they saw Him? Set Him in the chair of State and fall down and worship His absolute perfection? No, not they— “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”2 Outside of the camp was His place! Cross-bearing was for Him His occupation, not of one day, but of every day. Did the world yield Him solace and rest?

Foxes, you have your holes! Birds of the air, you have your nests! But the Son of Man had no where to lay His head!3 Earth could afford Him no bed, no house, no shelter! At last it cast Him out for death and crucified Him and then would have denied Him a tomb if one of His disciples had not begged His body! Such you must expect to be the lot of the part of your spiritual life which men can see. As soon as they see it to be spiritual life, they will treat it as they treated the Savior.

They will despise it. “Sure!” they say, “pretty fancies, fine airs, nice ideas.” You expect them to give you comfort, do you? Worldlings to give you comfort? Do you think that Christ will have anywhere to lay His head in this world today any more than He had 1800 years ago? You go about to find what God gives the foxes and the birds—but what He never meant to give to you in this world—a place to lay your head. Your place to lay your head is up yonder on your Savior’s bosom, but not here. You dream that men will admire you, that the more holy you are and the more Christ-like you are, the more peaceable people will be towards you. My dear Friends, you do not know what you are thinking!

“It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house, Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household?”4 I believe if we were more like Christ we should be much more loved by His friends and much more hated by His enemies. I do not believe the world would be half so lenient to the Church, today, if it were not that the Church has grown complacent to the world.

When any of us speak up boldly, mercenary motives are imputed to us! Our language is turned upside down and we are abhorred of men. We get smooth things, Brethren, because I am afraid we are too much like the false prophets who prophesied peace, peace, where there was no peace.5 Let us be true to our Master! Stand out and come out and be like He, and we must expect the same treatment which He had. And if we receive it we can only say, “This is what I expected.”—

” ‘ Tis, no surprising thing
That we should be unknown.
The Jewish world knew not their king,
God’s everlasting Son.” (source)

Charles Spurgeon

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. The interested reader can learn more about the disease known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) here: http://www.cmtausa.org, accessed 8/16/14.
  2. Isaiah 53:3
  3. Matthew 8:20
  4. Matthew 10:25
  5. Jeremiah 8:11

WHY DOES GOD ALLOW FALSE TEACHERS?

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I’m afraid the news concerning my ongoing health issues is still not good. As you might imagine, it’s taking a toll on us. Please know that, as always, we are very grateful for the continued prayer of faithful saints. This is a most powerful weapon God’s given us against enemy attacks.

We remain thankful for those who’ve been sending financial support. However, at the same time, because of the length of this trial we have lost more than a few supporters. As much as I dislike discussing finances, we need the Lord to raise up more people to help us with our funding.

For those who are praying, I do have an appointment Friday at Noon EST with a specialist in neurology. Unfortunately, these kinds of  tests are very expensive; but we really think that I now need to be tested for neuropathies in addition to Charcot-Marie-Tooth, as well as for things like ALS, MS, etc.

I continue to lose strength in my lower legs and ankles on a daily basis. It almost seems like the muscles in my calves are disappearing. That’s rather frightening because it would appear to be more than merely CMT degeneration. I saw a different doctor about this last Friday and he immediately referred me to the neurologist.

This is very discouraging for us because since I got out out of the hospital just over a year ago I’d been recovering well from the spinal osteomyelitis that had me bedridden for months. In fact, just a month ago I was almost walking without the aid of a cane at times.

At that time, I could walk quite a distance each day; but now, even taking just a few steps severely fatigues my ankles and calves to the point where they become very wobbly and then sore later. Right now that soreness is still in more of a “discomfort” stage.

Thus far, this doesn’t require any extra pain relieving medicine beyond the current dosage of ibuprofen I’m already taking. I also still plan to post here as I feel able. So, I’ll close this with a few thoughts that come to mind as I think about the state of Christendom.

Critics of online apologetics and discernment works such as Apprising Ministries are under the mistaken impression that someone like myself would go “looking for” these issues I’ve covered these past 10 years as Jesus has built this ministry of His Gospel.

They couldn’t be more wrong. What usually happened is I’d just be lead across these things that are being perpetrated. Jesus knows I tell the truth when I say that I don’t take pleasure in documenting this falling away of the mainstream evangelical community.

Yet I have warned you that there is a tsunami of apostasy—pushed along by 1 Peter 4:17 judgments—spreading throughout the church visible. Not a few of these judgments have come through evanjellyfish’s foolish embrace of the sinfully ecumenical Emerging Church,

This has served to metastasize their spiritual cancer throughout the younger sectors of the evangelical community. With this in mind, I want to point you to the following from my late friend Jim Bublitz. It comes from his article Why Does God Allow False Teachers?

Jim based his short message on A. W. Pink’s book The Sermon on the Mount, Writing more than half a decade ago Bublitz insightfully brings out:

Like many of you, I come from a church that is accustomed to “binding and loosening” the devil and evil spirits of various kinds. The first few chapters of Job however, give us a different depiction of who exactly is in charge.  We know it’s God, and the power of the devil does not even come close; in fact in Job we see the devil asking God’s permission to carry out his schemes.

So the question arises, if God is in charge – why does He allow so many false teachers today that are deceiving people by the bus load.  A quick glance at the Top 50 churches in America leaves one wondering how we’ve gotten to this point where so many suspect teachers have accumulated giant crowds and such positive critic acclaim.

A while ago however, I found this helpful excerpt from AW Pink that seemed to make some sense of the matter [of God allowing false teachers]:

This is a very solemn question, and we must restrict ourselves to what the Scriptures say by way of reply.

You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul“. (Deuteronomy 13:3).

From those words it is clear that God allows teachers of error for the same reason as He does persecutors of His people: to test their love, to try their fidelity, to show that their loyalty to him is such that they will not give ear unto His enemies.

Error has always been more popular than the Truth, for it lets down the bars and fosters fleshly indulgence, but for that very reason it is obnoxious to the godly.

The one who by grace can say “I have chosen the way of Truth” will be able to add “I have stuck unto Thy testimonies” (Psalm 119:30, 31), none being able to move him therefrom.

For there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” (1 Corinthians 11:19).

Error serves as a flail, separating the chaff from the wheat. Let some plausible and popular preacher come forward with an old error decked out in new clothes and empty professors will at once flock to his standard; but not so with those who are established in the Faith. Thus, by means of the false prophets,

God makes it appear who are the ones who hold the Truth in sincerity: they are faithful to Him despite all temptations to turn away unto a “broader-minded” way. The genuine gold endures every test to which it is subjected. Thus too are the unregenerate “converts” revealed: the counterfeit gold will not withstand the fire.

Those who are attracted by a novelty do not endure but are soon carried away by some newer innovation.1

If you would like to help us out in this time of need, your prayer and financial support would be deeply appreciated. If you feel so led, you may donate via PayPal by clicking here.

Or, you can make your checks/money orders payable to Connecticut River Baptist Church with Apprising Ministries in the memo and send them to:

Connecticut River Baptist Church
P.O. Box 340
Claremont, NH 03743

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. You will find Pink’s entire work The Sermon on the Mount online here: http://pbministries.org/books/pink/Sermon/index.ht, accessed 8/11/14.