Some “theologians” today are perverting Bible stories to promote their agenda. We can’t let them hijack the gospel.
A few weeks ago when I addressed the topic of homosexuality, a reader posted a comment on our forum suggesting that the biblical King David and his friend Jonathan were gay lovers. After a few other readers questioned this interpretation, another reader repeated the claim. “The Bible is clear that David and Jonathan were physical, sexual, gay male homosexual lovers,” this person wrote authoritatively—without citing a chapter and verse.
Most evangelical Christians would drop their jaws in bewilderment if confronted with such an odd theory. Even people with minimal knowledge of the Old Testament know that (1) David was married to Jonathan’s sister, Michal—and he had a few other wives, and (2) David’s biggest blunder was his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba—a woman he saw bathing on a rooftop. God was not happy about David’s lust or with his decision to have Bathsheba’s husband killed so he could hide his sin.
It is illogical to read homosexuality into the story of David and Jonathan because neither Jewish nor early Christian tradition ever endorses sex outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage. If you read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, you will never see a depiction of a gay relationship, ever. Nor will you see homosexuality affirmed. You cannot get around the fact that the Bible says gay sex is flat-out wrong.
But that doesn’t mean people won’t try to change the meaning of Scripture. “Theologians” from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds have written books claiming that various Bible characters were gay. They have suggested that Ruth and Naomi were lesbian lovers; that the Roman centurion in Matthew 8 had a gay relationship with his servant; and that the disciple John had a homoerotic relationship with Jesus.
Gay-affirming theologians also have pounced on the story of David and Jonathan. They point to David’s words in 2 Samuel 1:26 when he eulogized Jonathan and Saul: “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women” (NASB).
So how do we interpret this verse? We need to keep these points in mind:
1. Old Testament morality has not changed. Our culture today is redefining sexuality. We’ve made killing babies a right, we celebrate fornication and we’re on a mad dash to legitimize gay marriage. But with all the bending, twisting and legal redefining, we cannot change what was written in the Bible thousands of years ago. It’s silly to make the Bible imply something it never said. And it’s laughable to suggest that David, the author of many of the psalms—and the biblical figure who best represents a true worshipper of the one true God—would be recast as being in a gay relationship.
Conservative Jews in our country agree. The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the nation’s largest body of Orthodox Jews, recently reaffirmed their commitment to Old Testament morality. The RCA recently stated, “The Torah and Jewish tradition, in the clearest of terms, prohibit the practice of homosexuality. Same-sex unions are against both the letter and the spirit of Jewish law, which sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony.” Jewish priests in the time of David and Jonathan held the same view.
2. David and Jonathan had a model friendship. Scripture says Jonathan loved David “as himself” (1 Sam. 18:3). Jonathan’s love was selfless and heroic. Even though he was in line to be the next king of Israel, he recognized David would step into that role—and Jonathan not only celebrated his friend as the rightful king but also protected him from his father’s spear-throwing tantrums.
Jonathan’s love was not lust. It was the ultimate in sacrifice. He laid down his rights so his friend could be promoted. He opposed his father’s self-willed ambition and instead affirmed that David should be the true king. Jonathan showed us all how to be a true friend. David’s comment that his friend’s love was “more wonderful than the love of women” was not sexual; he was praising Jonathan’s loyalty and brotherly devotion.
3. We should encourage healthy male friendships instead of sexualizing them. In our fatherless culture, men are starved for affirmation and encouragement. God wired men to need close friends, but few of us are willing to build those kinds of relationships because of insecurity, inferiority or pride. Many guys are lonely, isolated and afraid to admit they need help. Some may even struggle with sexual confusion, yet they could find healing through a combination of the Holy Spirit’s power and healthy male bonding. The church today should do everything possible to encourage male friendships.
It is incredibly perverse—not to mention blasphemous—to suggest that anything sexual was going on between David and Jonathan. Yet I suspect that leaders in the gay-affirming church movement will continue to come up with more bizarre examples of Scripture-twisting in order to promote their agenda. We can’t allow them to hijack the purity of the gospel.
No Comments »
One can sense – and I can almost see a picture – of the ball of persecution at the top of the hill beginning its descent down our national landscape. Every day I hear new reports of Christians in the public arena getting restricted, fined, ridiculed and even jailed for being public about their faith. We have gone from the phony “tolerance for all” campaign (which we always suspected was just a ruse for something else) to a “no Bible-believing Christians welcome” club in just a few short years.
This last month has been a time of extraordinary events. The Boston bombing – the Benghazi hearings – the utterly horrible revelations of the Kermit Gosnell abortion clinic – and one by one, the falling like dominoes of states legalizing gay marriage. It’s hard to keep up with it all, but each one of these events, worldly though they be, will have an impact on believers, and our mission.
The Boston bombings will bring increased cries for control of “marginal” groups that can easily be painted as “terroristic” and “a threat to national security.” True Bible-believing and following Christians will before long move to near the top of that list. (I was going to say “evangelical Christians” but that has officially become a term I do not want to be associated with anymore, because it is no longer…evangelical. It has come to just mean the non-traditional church, which these days doesn’t even have to hold to the integrity of the Word of God or to EVANGELIZE to be called “evangelical.”)
The Benghazi hearings are going to be a true exposure of the value of perception vs. human life. Four Americans murdered by Islamic terrorists: A phony story about a video some little nobody from Southern California did as being the cause; (what happened to him? Arrested and….no more reporting on his whereabouts…hmm…) And the obvious truth; we knew from the BEGINNING that it was a lie, and that these were terrorists, but for whatever reason (fear of Islam is my top guess) we promoted this lie and did not even care about the loss of life, only the “public perception.” And I have witnessed, as you should, how everything in the media is a magickal “slight of hand” now – “Now you see it, now you don’t” – “Keep your eye on the ball, I place it under one of these cups, we move them around…now where is it? WRONG!!” In other words, truth is becoming utterly blurred by perceptions portrayed through the media. WE MUS TKEEP OUR DISCERNMENT RAZOR SHARP!
The horrible revelations about the murders of living babies by Kermit Gosnell in his abortion clinic – which is becoming apparent is NOT an aberration – is one of the most sickening, revelatory events I can remember in my lifetime. It is positively Hitlerian in its implications. I viewed Fox News’ report, “See No Evil” and wept through the last portion, saying, “Jesus, please end this. We aren’t worth saving!” Although a difficult thing to view, I think we need to understand just how far this has gone. This is the end result of Planned Parenthood’s philosophy. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was also the national mother of euthanasia, who called blacks “weeds” that needed extermination. Hitler saw the work she was doing and told his people to redouble their efforts in euthanasia, and they succeeded beyond their dreams. And the father of euthanasia was – Charles Darwin’s cousin. We have a failure to be able to connect the dots as a nation. Much of my writing the last few years has been trying to do just that for people. We have reached some kind of a zenith, a tipping point. Our nation literally hangs right now in the balance.
In the background, however, have been thousands of dedicated believers on their faces before God praying the prayer of 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Even though meant for Israel, we are still His people as believers, and the promise still holds. It is the hope of redemption, the hope of revival.
In Judges 10, we read that once again, God’s people had turned to other gods, and God had enough. He essentially told them, “I’m done with you. If you need help, call on your gods, let them take care of you.” And without even a promise of help, the people turned away from all their gods. And God relented and once again sent them deliverance.
In the last week, Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murder. Several major governmental scandals have been unearthed. And I find myself saying. “Father, are you going to give us one last chance to turn to You?” I see an opening – an opportunity – not for a POLITICAL solution but for the GOSPEL to be preached in power to a people who are discouraged, devastated and demoralized. My prayer is, “Jesus, give us more time.” I hear so clearly the call to work while it is still day because the night is coming when no one can work.
Part of the difficulty of our task is, the enemy has immersed this generation in so much sin and so much denial of sin that they are becoming completely numb. The enemy hates innocence, and he hates children and babies. He would destroy them all if he could, for he is incapable of procreation or of producing the image of God in another. All he can do is mar the image of God in the people God created until they are distorted caricatures of what God created them to be. Abortion – his attempt to murder babies. Homosexuality – his genius plan to cripple a whole populous that will never be able to have their own children through their unlawful union. And just this last week, I heard something so chilling I am still taking it in – in a recent high school blood drive, they had to throw away fully 80% of all the blood because it was contaminated with STD’s! Do you realize what, not treated early, this means? Many of these young people will be sterile. Incapable of having children. Do you see the pattern? Do you understand why we must reach them?
And how do you reach those who have been told taking a baby’s life is a choice, and that being gay is a God-given gift? It’s not about not loving or not extending forgiveness and grace. Indeed, where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. And it is revelatory to me when a co-worker tells me that her lady friends won’t even let her discuss abortion and what it actually is – because it’s too “disturbing.” But the fact is, many of them – and a large number of evangelical women – have had abortions. And they don’t know where to go with the guilt and the shame, so often they buy the lie that it is just “tissue,” not a life. Oh friends, how we must handle this issue with TRUTH but also TENDERNESS!
In the same way, those that have suffered under the cruel hand of homosexuality for a lifetime and finally gave into it, now will not HEAR of it being a sin! Because they have given into the lie that they are born that way. Oh, how my heart aches to see them loved, redeemed, healed, delivered! But Satan has used this godless wave of the last 50 years to ERASE the guilt, convince them there is NOTHING TO BE DONE and NOTHING to be forgiven of!
How can God apply forgiveness to those who will not acknowledge the need for it? Truly the enemy has blinded the eyes of those who don’t believe – but God can open those eyes!
But the emergent leadership continues to lead them down the road to a godless eternity. Just last month, Tony Jones, one of the darlings of the emergent church, wrote an article called, “Is It Time for Christians to Celebrate Premarital Sex?” In the light of the statistic I just quoted about STD’s, Jones is “emerging” as one of Satan’s circus masters to bring our youth into a world of darkness and disease. How ironic that just yesterday while cleaning out my youth pastor’s office at church, I found an innocuous little book called “12 days with Jesus” by Tony Jones. As with Rob Bell, and as Paul said, they SNEAK IN. And you don’t get the full picture till it’s too late.
So in this last hour, we need to equip our people and our youth, to present a message of not just love but of truth, not just judgment but of mercy. God cannot apply forgiveness where it is not asked and people think it is not needed. So we need our youth to go out in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit, the kind of power that will be full of truth and grace, which will break people’s hearts, take away the numbness and cause them to cry out for God to save them. No ordinary 4 spiritual laws will do; we need Jesus to go with us in power, in demonstration of His Spirit to a generation that has come to believe God is not even real.
And I do not lose hope, because I am seeing this happen among our youth. We have youth here starting Bible studies in their high schools. One of our boys is passing out literature like crazy in his Junior High School – and praying for kids, and they are getting saved, and HEALED! Once they learned they did not have to be silent in school and in fact have RIGHTS to spread the Word of God, there’s been no stopping them. We are moving them from the defensive position to the offensive/love of God compels them position, and kids are being touched. We pray for a wildfire to break out. We are crying out with all our hearts for God to save and spare this generation. Pray with us!
Slowly, I am getting all of my books published through CreateSpace and Amazon and making them available. This month I was able to complete two more – A Cry in the Wilderness and Treasure From The Master’s Heart. Treasure is a devotional book that developed as part of my time with God over a several year period. It’s not a 365 day devotional, but close. It’s a very gentle and insightful book.
A Cry in the Wilderness is a compilation of numerous articles written between 2000 and last year. I realized in re-reading it how prophetic and current the messages remain, even though some were written over 5 to 10 years ago, as God showed me what was coming for the church. I believe it is still a good training manual for waking up the church to where we are and need to be in this hour – almost a companion book for Trojan Church. You can obtain both books on Amazon.Com and as Kindle books, or directly through us. (E mail for info.) I pray they will be a blessing and an encouragement to you.
Please continue to pray for time to complete my book on spiritual warfare. Chapter ten of a possible 35 chapters is done, so much more work to do. Also, please pray for me about a TITLE. It’s too easy to go with what is familiar, but I need this to be the right title. Any suggestions are welcome!
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. Your prayers are needed more than ever. God bless you so very deeply!
In His Grace,
No Comments »
1. That Israel was blessed (Numbers 24:1)
2. Israel was His people (1 Samuel 12:22)
3. Solomon’s prayer (1 Kings 3:10)
4. Bruising of the Messiah (Isaiah 53:10)
5. Messiah’s life and mission (Matthew 3:17)
6. Saving of souls by preaching (2 Cor. 1:21)
7. Setting members in the church (2 Cor. 12:18)
8. Resurrection of dead bodies (__2 Corinthians__2 Cor. 15:38)
9. Separation of Paul (Galatians 1:15)
10. All fullness dwelling in Christ (Col. 1:19)
11. Enoch’s life and faith (Hebrews 11:5)
12. Sacrifices of praise (Hebrews 13:16)
Emphasis should be placed upon “this thing,” for it was the one and only thing he asked for-a rare thing for a man to ask for. In fact, it was such an unusual request and pleased God so much, that in addition to this, God also granted what the average man would ask for (1 Kings 3:10-11,13).
No Comments »
When and how long did God bless the kings of David’s house? As long as they met the conditions laid down here. Even David was dealt with because of sin (2 Samuel 11-18). Solomon his son, the second king of David’s house, was blessed as long as he obeyed; but when he sinned judgment was pronounced upon him and his kingdom (1 Kings 11:1-40). Rehoboam, the third king, had his kingdom divided and ten whole tribes were lost to him in one day because of pride and sin (1 Kings 12:1-24). And so it continued for the next 433 years following David. One king after another sinned and was judged-cut off in many cases-until the whole nation was finally destroyed (2 Kings 23-25). Even when the nation was restored it still continued in sin until it was finally destroyed again, in A.D. 70. It has never recovered from this. God will never bless Israel again with a king until they come to complete repentance (Zech.12:10-13:1; Matthew 23:37-39; Acts 15:13-18; Romans 11:25-29).
No Comments »
The cubit was the distance from elbow to fingertip, about 18 inches. This would make the ark about 450 ft. long, 75 ft. wide, and 45 ft. high. It was easily big enough for all it had to hold. Up to A.D. 1850 there was no ship in the history of the world as large as the ark. Of the world’s steamships up to 1932 less than 1 percent were as large, and only 160 were longer, 7 wider and 8 higher than the ark. Only 6 had a greater tonnage. The capacity of the ark was equivalent in tonnage to more than 600 freight cars, which would form a train about 4 miles long, capable of handling over 90,000,000 pounds. It was easily big enough for all it had to hold. Fish and other sea creatures stayed in the sea; insects were small, as were many animals. Birds could easily have lodged in the ceilings or been hung up in cages. An ox is allowed 20 square feet on a modern vessel. If this much room was allowed in the ark for each of the larger mammals there would have been ample room for all including food for one year and 17 days.
No Comments »
1. I will destroy them with the earth (Genesis 6:13).
2. I will establish My covenant with you (Genesis 6:18).
3. I will cause it to rain upon earth (Genesis 7:4).
4. I will destroy living substance (Genesis 7:4).
5. I will not curse the ground again (Genesis 8:21).
6. I will not smite every living thing again (Genesis 8:21).
7. I will require life for life (Genesis 9:5).
8. I will require blood of beasts that kill (Genesis 9:5).
9. I will require blood of man who kills (Genesis 9:5).
10. I will establish My covenant with you (Genesis 9:11).
11. I will remember My covenant with you (Genesis 9:15).
12. I will look upon the rainbow (Genesis 9:16).
No Comments »
Proofs that Giants Were the Sons of Angels:
1. The fact that giants have lived on earth is clearly stated in Scripture. The Hebrew nephil (OT:5303) means “giant” or “tyrant” (Genesis 6:4; Numbers 13:33). The men of Israel were as grasshoppers compared to them (Numbers 13:33). The Hebrew gibbowr (OT:1368) is also translated “giant,” meaning powerful, giant, mighty, or strong man (Job 16:14). To say these original words refer to their degree of wickedness instead of bodily size is a mistake.
The Anakims were a great and tall people (Deut. 1:28; Deut. 2:10-11,21; Deut. 9:2; Joshua 11:21-22; Joshua 14:12-14). Anak himself was a giant (Numbers 13:33). If all Anakims were as big, we can be assured other giants were also. The land of Ammon was “a land of giants,” for “giants dwelt therein in old time” (Deut. 2:19-20). The Emims were also “great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims” (Deut. 2:10-11). The same was said of the Zamzummims who formerly inhabited the land of Ammon (Deut. 2:19-21). Og, king of Bashan, is described as a giant whose iron bedstead was thirteen and a half feet long, and six feet wide. This is not a measurement of wickedness, but of a material bed for a giant body measuring nearly thirteen feet tall (Deut. 3:11; Joshua 12:4; Joshua 13:12). Bashan is called “the land of the giants” (Deut. 3:13).
A “valley of the giants” is mentioned in Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16. This is the valley of Rephaim, the name of another branch of the giant races mentioned in Scripture (Genesis 14:5; Genesis 15:20; 2 Samuel 5:18,22; 2 Samuel 23:13; 1 Chron. 11:15; 1 Chron. 14:9; Isaiah 17:5). The Rephaims were well-known giants, but unfortunately, instead of retaining their proper name in Scripture, the translators used dead (Job 26:5; Psalm 88:10; Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 9:18; Proverbs 21:16; Isaiah 14:8; Isaiah 26:19); and deceased (Isaiah 26:14). It should have been a proper name in all these places, as it is ten times otherwise. See notes on these passages which prove that giant bodies are referred to instead of great wickedness.
Rephaim is translated “giant” in Deut. 2:11,20; Deut. 3:11,13; Joshua 12:4; Joshua 13:12; Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16; 2 Samuel 21:16,18,20,22; 1 Chron. 20:4,6,8. The phrase “remnant of the giants” in Deut. 3:11; Joshua 12:4; Joshua 13:12 should be “remnant of the Rephaims,” because there were many nations of giants other than the Rephaims who filled the whole country trying to contest God’s claim on the promised land. They are listed as Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaims, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, Jebusites, Hivites, Anakims, Emims, Horims, Avims, Zamzummims, Caphtorims, and Nephilims (Genesis 6:4; Genesis 14:5-6; Genesis 15:19-21; Exodus 3:8,17; Exodus 23:23; Deut. 2:10-12,20-23; Deut. 3:11-13; Deut. 7:1; Deut. 20:17; Joshua 12:4-8; Joshua 13:3; Joshua 15:8; Joshua 17:15; Joshua 18:16). Og was of the remnant of Rephaims, not the remnant of all other giant nations (Deut. 3:11; Joshua 12:4; Joshua 13:12).
All these giant nations came from a union of the sons of God (fallen angels) and daughters of men after the flood. Beings of great stature, some of them even had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot and carried spears weighing from 10 to 25 pounds (2 Samuel 21:16-22; 1 Chron. 20:4-8). Goliath, whom David slew, wore a coat of armor weighing 196 pounds and was nine feet and nine inches tall (1 Samuel 17:4-6). The pyramids of Egypt, the giant cities of Bashan and other huge monuments of construction may remain a mystery until they are accepted as the result of the labor and skill of giants.
The revelation we have of giants in Scripture gives us a true picture of what Greek mythology tries in vain to give. Mythology is but the outgrowth of traditions, memories, and legends telling of the acts of supernatural fathers and their giant offspring-the perversion and corruption in transmission of actual facts concerning these mighty beings. The fact that giants were partly of supernatural origin made it easy for human beings to regard them as gods.
2. The fact that the Rephaim have no resurrection (Isaiah 26:14) proves the reality of giants and that they were not ordinary men. All ordinary men are to be resurrected (John 5:28-29); therefore, giants must be a different class from pure Adamites. Isaiah makes it clear that the dead (Hebrew: Rephaiym (OT:7497)) are now in hell (Isaiah 14:9). Solomon confirms this in Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 9:18; Proverbs 21:16 where the Hebrew word for dead is Rephaim. See notes, Isaiah 26:14,19.
3. The fact that giants came only from a union of sons of God and daughters of men proves that their fathers were not ordinary men of Adamite stock. No such monstrosities have been produced from the union of any ordinary man and woman, regardless of the righteousness of the father or the wickedness of the mother. Many converted men who are sons of God in the sense of adoption and righteousness through Christ have been married to unconverted women, and no offspring the size of Biblical giants has ever resulted from these unions. If, as some teach, giants were born of such unions both before and after the flood, then why do not such marriages produce that kind of offspring today? Why did this happen in every case then and never today?
4. God’s law of reproduction from the beginning has been everything after its own kind. It was not possible then that giants could be produced by men and women of ordinary size (Genesis 1:11-12,21,24-25; Genesis 8:19). It took a supernatural element, the purpose and power of Satan and his angels, to make human offspring of such proportion. After giants came into being, they then produced others of like size instead of ordinary sized men (Numbers 13:33; 2 Samuel 21:16,18,20,22; 1 Chron. 20:4-8).
5. Not only is it unscriptural but unhistorical to teach that giants came from the union of ordinary men and women. The great question has been: Where did giants get their start? Genesis 6:4 makes it clear-from a union of the sons of God and daughters of men. If the sons of God were ordinary men in the same sense that the daughters of men were ordinary women, then we must conclude four things:
(1) Ungodly women have the power to produce such monsters if married to godly men.
(2) Godly men have the power to produce giants when married to ungodly women.
(3) A mixture of godliness and wickedness produces giants.
(4) Extreme wickedness on the part of either parent will produce giant offspring.
All four conclusions are wrong, however, as proven every day by the ordinary offspring of wicked and godly parents. Thus, the theory that giants came from the marriage of Seth’s sons with Cain’s daughters is disproved.
6. The sons of God could not have been the sons of Seth or other godly men for the following seven reasons:
(1) There were no men godly enough to be saved during the Antediluvian Age except Abel (Genesis 4:4; Hebrews 11:4), Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24; Hebrews 11:5), and Noah (Genesis 6:8; Genesis 7:1; Hebrews 11:7), as far as Scripture is concerned. Shall we conclude that these three men were the sons of God who married the daughters of Cain and produced races of giants in the earth in those days before the flood (Genesis 6:4)? We have no record of any marriage or offspring of Abel before he was murdered. Regarding Enoch, are we to believe that Methuselah and his other children were the giants? Are we to believe that Noah’s three sons-Shem, Ham, and Japheth-were giants? If so, where is our authority for this? Had this been true, there would have been nothing on earth after the flood but giants, for by Noah’s children the whole earth was replenished (Genesis 10). That would cause another unsolved mystery-how giants became ordinary sized men again.
(2) The time of the marriages of the sons of God disproves the theory that they were the sons of Seth. Marriages of Seth’s sons could not have taken place during the first 325 years. He had only one son of marriageable age up to that time (Genesis 5:1-8) and he (Enos) was not godly (see The Line of Seth). To say there were no such marriages before Enos contradicts Genesis 6:1-2 which shows that sons of God married daughters of men when they began to be born. Shall we conclude that daughters were not born in the first 325 years? If so, where did Cain, Seth and others get their wives?
Furthermore, such marriages between godly sons and ungodly daughters could not have been during the last 600 years before the flood, because Noah was the only son of God by righteousness during this time (Genesis 6:8-9; Genesis 7:1; 2 Peter 2:4-5). His sons were preserved in the ark because of being pure Adamite stock, not because of personal righteousness. The above facts then limit these marriages to the 731 years between the first 325 years and the last 600 of the Antediluvian Age, whereas sons of God actually married daughters of men throughout the entire 1,656 years of that age. Genesis 6:1-2 makes it clear that this happened “when men began to multiply on the face of the earth.”
(3) Genesis 6:4 teaches that there were giants on the earth “in those days” (before the flood), “and also after that” (after those days which were before the flood), as a result of the sons of God marrying the daughters of men. If the sons of God were the sons of Seth, we can account for them “after that” (after the flood), for the line of Seth was continued through Noah. But with the daughters of Cain (supposed by some to be the daughters of men) the story is different. Cain’s line perished in the flood, which means there were no daughters of Cain after the flood for sons of God to marry.
(4) The Bible gives us no reason to believe that the statement “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair” should be limited to Cain’s daughters. Thousands of families from the many branches of the race both before and after the flood had daughters too. In the 1,656 years before the flood (which is the period in which Seth and Cain lived), there must have been from 150 million to 500 million people. It is unbelievable that so many as half of these were godly and half ungodly; and we know that they were not limited to two lines-the line of Seth and the line of Cain. Regarding Seth’s daughters we have reason to believe that they were as fair as the daughters of Cain-beautiful enough to attract men as husbands for themselves. The line of Seth alone survived the flood, so we know this is true. Genesis 6:1-2 therefore, cannot be said to refer only to the daughters of Cain; and the term “daughters of men” cannot be limited to the daughters of Cain.
(5) The very expressions “sons of God” and “daughters of men” indicate two different kinds-one the product of God, the other the product of man. Seth was not God, so why call the sons of God the sons of Seth?
(6) It is a matter of record that Seth’s children were as ungodly as Cain’s. The firstborn of Seth even started idolatry, as proven in The Line of Seth.
(7) With the exception of Noah and his family all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth before the flood (Genesis 6:12), which means the entire race (besides Noah’s family) had become a mixture of fallen angels and men, or giants. Only Noah and his family had kept their lineage pure from Adam, which is really why they were saved in the ark. They were the only ones capable of giving the race a new, clean start after the flood. It is said of Noah that he was a just man and perfect in his generations (Genesis 6:9). The Hebrew for “perfect” is tamiym (OT:8549), which means without blemish. It is the technical word for physical perfection, not moral perfection. It is so used of the sacrificial animals of the Old Testament which had to be of pure stock and without blemish (Exodus 12:5; Exodus 29:1; Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 3:1-6; Leviticus 4:3,23-32; Leviticus 5:15-18; Leviticus 6:6; Leviticus 9:2-3; Ezekiel 43:22-25; Ezekiel 45:18-23), without spot (Numbers 19:2; Numbers 28:3-11; Numbers 29:17,26), and undefiled (Psalm 119:1). Used of Noah, this word means that he and his sons were the only pure Adamites left, and for such purity, they (regardless of their position in personal holiness) were all preserved in the ark.
Proofs that the Sons of God Were Angels:
Since the sons of God in Genesis 6 cannot be the sons of Seth or the offspring of godly men and ungodly women, they must be fallen angels. This is clear from many scriptures:
1. The expression “sons of God” is found only five times in the Old Testament and every time it is used of angels (Genesis 6:1-4; Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Job 38:7). It is indisputable that the passages in Job refer to angels. Daniel 3:25,28 calls an angel “the son of God.” Is it not possible then, that the sons of God of Genesis 6 could be angels?
2. Some translations (the Septuagint, Moffatt, and others) read, “angels of God” in Genesis 6:1-4, which is the only idea that harmonizes with this passage and many other.
3. Josephus says, “many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength … these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants” (Antiquities, Book 1, 3:1). Again he says, “There were till then left the race of giants, who had bodies so large, and countenances so entirely different from other men, that they were surprising to the sight, and terrible to the hearing. The bones of these men are still shown to this very day” (Antiquities, Book 5, 2:3).
4. The Ante-Nicene Fathers also refer to angels as falling “into impure love of virgins, and were subjugated by the flesh. Of these lovers of virgins, therefore, were begotten those who are called giants” (vol. 2, p. 142; vol. 8, p. 85, 273). Justyn Martyr (A.D. 110-165) says, “But the angels transgressed … were captivated by love of women, and begat children” (vol. 2, p. 190). Methodius (A.D. 260-312) says, “the devil was insolent … as also those (angels) who were enamoured of fleshly charms, and had illicit intercourse with the daughters of men” (vol. 6, p. 370).
5. Both testaments teach that some angels committed sexual sins and lived contrary to nature. Genesis 6:1-4 gives the history of such sinning. 2 Peter 2:4-5 says that angels sinned before the flood and were cast down to hell to be reserved until judgment. It doesn’t reveal the sin as fornication, but Jude 1:6-7 does, saying, “the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah , and the cities about them in like manner (as did the angels), giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” If Sodom, Gomorrah and other cities lived contrary to nature and committed fornication, as the angels did, then it is clear that the sin of angels was fornication. According to Genesis 6, this sexual sin was committed with “daughters of men.” See notes on 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6-7.
6. The one scripture used to teach that angels are sexless (Matthew 22:30) doesn’t say they are. It states that “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” The purpose of this verse is to show that resurrected men and women do not marry to keep their kind in existence. In the resurrected state they live forever, but not as sexless beings. The Bible teaches that every person will continue bodily as he was born, throughout eternity. Paul said that everyone will have his own body in the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:35-38). Both males and females will be resurrected as such, though their bodies will be changed from mortality to immortality (1 Cor. 15:35-54). There is nothing in the resurrection to uncreate men and women. Christ remained a man after His resurrection and so will all other males.
Throughout Scripture angels are spoken of as men. No female angels are on record. It is logical to say then that the female was created specifically to keep the human race in existence; and that all angels were created males, inasmuch as their kind exists without reproduction. Angels were created innumerable to start with (Hebrews 12:22), whereas humanity began with one pair, Adam and Eve, who were commanded to reproduce and make multitudes. That angels have tangible spirit bodies, appear as men, and perform acts surpassing those of the human male is clear from many passages. See note, Hebrews 13:2.
When Jude states that some angels “kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation” (Jude 1:6), he makes it understandable how a sexual sin could be accomplished by them. The Greek word for “habitation” is oiketerion (NT:3613). It is used only twice in Scripture: of the bodies of men being changed to spiritual bodies (2 Cor. 5:2), and the angels having a bodily change, or at least a lowering of themselves in some way (Jude 1:6-7). Thus, the New Testament helps explain the history of the Old Testament
7. There are two classes of fallen angels-those loose with Satan who will be cast down to earth during the future tribulation (Rev. 12:7-12), and those who are now bound in hell for committing fornication (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6-7). Had the ones in hell not committed the additional sin of fornication, they would still be loose with the others to help Satan in the future. Their confinement proves they committed a sin besides that of original rebellion with Satan. That it was sexual sin is clear from 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6-7, which identifies this class of fallen angels as the sons of God of Genesis 6:1-4.
8. In 1 Peter 3:19-20 we see that Christ “went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.” Who are these spirits in prison, if not the confined angels who at one time lived contrary to their nature-in sin with the daughters of men (Genesis 6:1-4)? We read “Who maketh his angels spirits” (Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 1:13-14). If angels are spirits, we conclude that the imprisoned spirits Christ preached to were angels and the sons of God referred to in Genesis 6, especially since they “were disobedient … in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.” The very purpose of Noah’s flood was to destroy the giant offspring of these angels known as the sons of God who “came in unto the daughters of men.” See Ten Proofs Spirits Are Angels.
The Purpose of Satan in Producing Giants:
It was the purpose of Satan and his fallen angels to corrupt the human race and thereby do away with pure Adamite stock through whom the Seed of the woman should come. This would avert their own doom and make it possible for Satan and his kingdom to keep control of the earth indefinitely. It was said to Adam and Eve that the Seed of the woman would defeat Satan and restore man’s dominion (Genesis 3:15). The only way for Satan to avoid this predicted defeat was to corrupt the pure Adamite line so that the coming of the Seed of the woman into the world would be made impossible. This he tried to accomplish by sending fallen angels to marry the daughters of men (Genesis 6:1-4), thus producing the giant nations through them.
There are two episodes with fallen angels taught in Genesis 6:4. There were giants in the earth “in those days (before the flood), and also after that (after the flood), when the sons of God (fallen angels) came in unto the daughters of men (any daughters of men-Cain, Seth and others), and they bare children to them (to the angels).”
Satan almost succeeded in his plan during the first episode, for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth; of all the multitudes Noah and his sons were the only pure Adamites left to be preserved by the ark (Genesis 6:8-13; 1 Peter 3:19-20). The main object of the flood was to do away with this Satanic corruption, destroy the giants, and preserve the pure Adamite line, thus guaranteeing of the coming of the Seed of the woman, as God planned.
Being defeated before the flood didn’t stop Satan from making a further attempt to prevent the coming of the Redeemer who would be his final downfall. It was now to his advantage that God had promised never to send another universal flood upon the earth. Satan therefore reasoned that he should make a second attempt to do away with the Adamite line. If he came within “eight souls” of doing it before the flood, his opportunities were now even greater with the promise that there would be no such flood. This is the reason the second group of fallen angels married the daughters of men. Again the unions produced giants whose races occupied the land of promise-where the Seed should be born-in advance of Abraham. Limited by His promise of no flood, God had to destroy the giants another way. This explains why He commanded Israel to kill every one of them, even to the last man, woman and child. It also explains why He destroyed all the men, women and children besides Noah and his family, at the time of the flood it answers the skeptics’ question regarding why children were taken away with adults in the flood. God had to end this corruption entirely to fulfill His eternal plan and give the world its promised Redeemer. The Redeemer has come now, so Satan is reserving his forces for a last stand at the second coming of Christ.
Thus, it is clear from Scripture that there were giants in the earth both before and after the flood and that they came from a union of fallen angels and the daughters of men.
The days of Noah before the flood. There were giants “in those days” and “also after that,” i.e., after the flood.
This verse reveals three facts:
1. Fallen angels married earthly women twice-before and after Noah’s flood
2. Both times these angels fathered children by the women.
3. All those children were giants.
Not the daughters of Cain as supposed, for no daughters of Cain could be on this side of the flood. They were all killed by the flood (Genesis 6:18; Genesis 7:7; Genesis 8:18; Genesis 9:1; 1 Peter 3:20).
Women had children by both fallen angels and men. It wasn’t necessary to emphasize children by men, but having children by angels was significant (Genesis 6:4; Jude 1:6-7). Because of this sin “it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth” (Genesis 6:1-6).
Hebrew: shem (OT:8034), men of name, honor, and authority (Numbers 16:2; Ezekiel 16:14-15; Ezekiel 34:29; Ezekiel 39:13; Daniel 9:15). The giants became the heroes of Greek mythology as Biblical truth became corrupted by transmission. See Giants and the Sons of God.
Divine inspection and dissatisfaction. God learns true conditions the same as man (Genesis 6:5-6; Genesis 7:1; Genesis 11:5; Genesis 18:21; Genesis 22:12; Genesis 29:31; Exodus 3:4; Deut. 32:19; 2 Kings 14:26; 2 Chron. 12:7; Isaiah 59:15-16; Jonah 3:10). Compare the same statements regarding men in Genesis 3:6; Genesis 8:8; and Genesis 37:14.
Hebrew: ra (OT:7451), bad, evil, wicked (Genesis 6:5; Genesis 39:9; Deut. 13:11; Deut. 17:2; Judges 20:3,12).
Hebrew: rab (OT:7227), abundant, full, exceedingly (cp. Genesis 13:16; Genesis 18:20; 1 Samuel 12:17).
Hebrew: yetser (OT:3336), concept, purpose, desire (Genesis 8:21; Deut. 31:21).
Hebrew: nacham (OT:5162), to sigh, breathe heavily, and be sorry in the literal sense (Exodus 32:14; Judges 2:18; 1 Samuel 15:35; 2 Samuel 24:16; Psalm 106:45).
God is capable of all feelings, emotions, and right desires, as we are. See note, John 4:24.
The 6th prophecy in Genesis (Genesis 6:7, fulfilled). Next, Genesis 6:13. This is the first prophecy of the flood.
The divine purpose stated. God now decided to destroy what He had created (Romans 9:11-33).
Hebrew: chen (OT:2580), favor, grace. Translated grace 38 times in the Old Testament, proving that grace is not just a New Testament doctrine. Only the fullness of grace came by Christ (John 1:17; 1 Peter 1:10-12). See Genesis 19:19; Exodus 33:12-17; Exodus 34:9; Psalm 84:11; Proverbs 3:34; Jeremiah 31:2; Zech.12:10.
1 Comment »
Seth didn’t have a son until 235 years after creation, and his son didn’t have a son until 325 years after creation (Genesis 5:3,6,9). Where did these sons come from? They couldn’t have been sons of Seth, because these marriages took place when men began to multiply-in the very beginning of the race before Seth had sons of marriageable age. The term “sons of God” proves they were the product of God, not Seth. They were the fallen angels of 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6-7. See the Septuagint; Josephus, Antiquities Book 1, 3:1; Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VIII, p. 273; and Giants and the Sons of God.
The Hebrew is singular-daughters of the man, Adam; therefore, not the daughters of Cain, Seth, or men in general. Hebrew: towb (OT:2896). Translated “fair” (Genesis 6:2; Genesis 24:16; Genesis 26:7; Judges 15:2; Esther 1:11; Isaiah 5:9; Daniel 1:15); “beautiful” (2 Samuel 11:2); and “good” (Genesis 1:4,10,12,18,21,25,31).
The 5th prophecy in Genesis (Genesis 6:3). Next, Genesis 6:7. It was fulfilled in Adam, and gave him 120 more years to live before being cut off. This was given when he was 810 years old, making Genesis 6:1-2 refer to the 810 years since Adam’s creation, and Genesis 6:4 refer to the days after this to the flood.
Hebrew: ruwach (OT:7306), wind, breath, life. Here it’s the breath of life, or lives-conscience, life (Genesis 45:27; Joshua 5:1; Judges 15:19; Job 27:3; Job 32:8).
Hebrew: duwn (OT:1779), to rule, judge. Translated “strive” only here. Elsewhere, “judge, judgment, contend, execute, and plead.” Many versions translate it “remain in,” i.e., My breath of life will not always remain in THE Adam.
Hebrew: Adam (OT:120), with the definite article, the man Adam. The meaning is, “for that he (Adam) is also flesh (as all other men are): yet his (Adam’s) days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:3). If man is held to be in the plural, meaning all men in general and not Adam in particular, then who else is referred to by the word also? The fact is, the verse reveals that Adam had corrupted his way upon earth as all other flesh had done, and that God, in His mercy, gave him 120 more years in which to repent and conform his life to the will of his Creator. Whether Adam did this or not is not known.
Hebrew: nephiliym (OT:5303), plural of nephil (OT:5303), tyrant, giant. Trans. giant only here and in Numbers 13:33. The Hebrew gibbowr (OT:1368) is translated “giant” in Job 16:14; the seventeen other occurrences of “giant” or “giants” is the Hebrew rapha) (OT:7497).
No Comments »
Adam and Eve were the only people on earth immediately after the six days’ work of re-creation. They were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth (Genesis 1:26-28), and they had sons and daughters (Genesis 4:1; Genesis 5:4; Genesis 6:1). The first marriages had to be between brothers and sisters in order to get the race started. Later, marrying close relatives was forbidden (Leviticus 18). Cain was over 100 years old when he took his wife and started his family in the land of Nod where enough people already lived to build a city (Genesis 4:16-26). Genesis 3:20 says Eve was “the mother of all living”-proof enough that she was responsible for both Cain and his wife.
No Comments »
This foretells the hard labor which man would endure under the conditions of the curse. The very elements would be adverse, making him suffer for his sin. Hard labor would break him down physically finally resulting in his death (Eccles. 3:20; Eccles. 12:7; Psalm 103:14; 1 Cor. 15:21-28). Deserts, barrenness, weeds, poisons, germs and every other form of curse were to add to man’s punishment until he would finally return to the cursed ground himself. The planets were affected so that weather conditions would become a problem (Isaiah 30:26; Isaiah 35:1-8; Rev. 7:16). Until the final restoration of all things, man’s whole existence was to be one of constant hardships, sufferings, and trials (Genesis 31:42; Genesis 35:16; Psalm 90:10; Psalm 107:12; Eccles. 1:8; Eccles. 2:18; Eccles. 4:8; Matthew 11:28; James 5:4). In the New Earth there will be no more curse. Everything will be as it was before Lucifer’s rebellion in the pre-Adamite world, and before man’s rebellion in the Adamite world (Acts 3:21; Rev. 22:3). Christ’s purpose in the millennial reign will be to rid the earth of all rebellion and curse so that man can carry out his original assignment of helping God administer the affairs of the universe (1 Cor. 15:24-28; Ephes. 1:10; Rev. 20-22).
No Comments »
1. Hearing his wife’s plea to eat the forbidden fruit. What form her arguments took, how Adam met them, or to what extent he resisted is not known. The theory that he would have been required to separate from her is not Biblical. If he had lived true to God, his children would have been born sinless, because sin passed through the father, not the mother (Exodus 20:5; Ezekiel 18:2-4; Romans 5:12-21). The mother would merely have been the means of bringing sinless children into the world, just as Christ was born sinless by a sinful mother and a sinless Father (Romans 8:3).
2. Eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:6,17; Romans 5:12-21).
The curse was not only on man, but also on animals, the ground, and all it produces (Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:19-23; Rev. 21:4; Rev. 22:3).
Thorns are a sign of desolation (Proverbs 24:31; Isaiah 5:6; Isaiah 7:24; Isaiah 34:13). They were used as awls (Job 41:2), fuel (Psalm 58:9; Psalm 118:12; Eccles. 7:6), fences (Hosea 2:6; Micah 7:4), and to make the crown of Christ (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2,5). They symbolize evils in the heart choking the Word (Matthew 13:7,22), and human suffering (Numbers 33:55; 2 Cor. 12:7).
Thistles were noxious plants representing all forms of poisonous weeds that were part of the curse (Job 31:40; Hosea 10:8). See parables of thistles in 2 Kings 14:9; 2 Chron. 25:18; and Matthew 7:16.
Hebrew: eseb (OT:6212), all manner of herbs, vegetation, and fruits (Genesis 1:11-12,29-30; Genesis 2:5; Genesis 3:18; Genesis 9:3; Psalm 104:14).
No Comments »
Within a few years a service will be available that will allow consumers to pay for merchandise using a microchip embedded beneath their skin. The
VeriChip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, is Applied Digital’s new subdermal chip that could someday replace the use of all credit and
debit cards. Instead of standing in long checkout lines customers could make purchases by scanning themselves with special readers.
Although the VeriChip holds the possibility of added convenience, there are already problems on the horizon. The most obvious one is the squeamishness of potential users,
as customers will have the VeriChip embedded in their skin, which means elective surgery. Also, Applied Digital is attracting attention from some fundamentalist Christians whobelieve the Verichip relates to the biblical “mark of the beast.” It is said that Satan will someday force people to “receive a mark” on their foreheads or hands in order to purchase or sell goods. Applied Digital officials say such concern is unfounded because people have a say in whether they want to have the chip surgically implanted (http://www.mercola.com/2003/dec/6/verichip.htm#).
No Comments »
A Lesson From the Lakeland Revival [Excerpts]
A couple of weeks ago I invested an hour and a half in watching Lakeland: The Movie, a documentary about Todd Bentley and the Lakeland “Revival.” You may remember that in April of 2008, a preacher and revivalist named Todd Bentley was invited to Ignited Church in Lakeland, Florida. The plan was to have Bentley there for five days of revival services. In the end he stayed for four months.
The revival was marked by what were said to be great manifestations of the work of the Holy Spirit—speaking in tongues, ecstatic prophecies, miraculous healings and even the claim that somewhere around thirty people had been raised from the dead. Just about every major media outlet covered it at one time or another. Most of them went looking for evidence that miracles had actually happened; not surprisingly, not a single miracle was ever verified.
By August the revival was beginning to slow down a little bit and Bentley decided to leave Lakeland and to take the revival on the road. Teaching that the Holy Spirit could be passed from him to others by the laying on of hands, he would tour the country and take this outpouring of the Spirit with him. But no sooner did he leave Lakeland than the media exploded with reports that Bentley and his wife would be separating. Apparently he had been carrying on an inappropriate relationship with one of the women connected to his ministry. He and his wife soon divorced and shortly afterward he had married this other woman.
This documentary made me both angry and sad. I was outraged to see Bentley’s complete disregard for Scripture, his disregard for what the Bible tells us about the miraculous gifts, about maintaining good order in services, about so much else. What made me sad were the many looks at the people who had followed Bentley. There were many people, well-intentioned, I am sure, who gave up everything they had to follow him.
As I watched this documentary and as I considered Todd Bentley, I realized that he is so much like every other false prophet, every other ungodly religious leader before and since. When he came to the end of his time, an end that would come in a cloud of moral scandal, he simply walked away from his followers, leaving them lost and alone. His sin, his selfishness, his departure, left these people destitute and wandering.
But then I thought of a religious leader who two thousand years before had come to the end of his ministry, and he too was about to go away. But Jesus Christ was no Todd Bentley. Jesus had to go away, he had to leave his followers behind, but he is the one leader in all of history who could rightly and truly say, “It is actually better for you if I go away. It’s better for you if my time here comes to an end.”
He said this to his most committed followers, to the disciples who had been following him since the very beginning of his ministry. These men had given up so much: They had given up time and money and comfort and vocation and esteem in the eyes of others and so much else, and all of this to follow Jesus. And then Jesus told them that he would be leaving them. We can only imagine the shock and disappointment they must have felt.
No Comments »
“Anathema,” with the penultimate syllable short, (?).—The Septuagint translation for charma, from the Hebrew root, cherem—means a separation, or a thing separated from human uses, as execrable, and abominable, and worthy of extermination, without a vestige of it being left. In this sense, the word, anathematize, was applied, in the Old Testament, to the Chanaanite nations given over for destruction to the Jews. In reference to men, anathema meant, eternal damnation.—(See Romans, 9:3).
“Maran Atha.” These words are of a mixed Hebrew and Syriac origin, signifying, our Lord cometh. They are used by the Apostle in accordance with the Jewish custom after condemning any person, of threatening the judgment of God as immediately following. Hence, the words of this verse mean:—“Let him be anathema,” and the Lord himself has come, as judge, to execute this judgment; to his just judgment is such a sinner to be remitted. Others understand the words to mean, may our Lord come to execute this judgment; for, “Maran Atha,” like anathema, is a word of execration and condemnation.
“To be an anathema.” The word “anathema,” having the penultimate syllable short (with an ?), as it is written here, means a total separation and destruction of a thing as execrable and abominable, and also the thing itself destroyed and utterly abolished. “Anathema” is the word employed by the Septuagint translators for the Hebrew word, cherem, which always refers to something utterly destroyed, as execrable. In this sense, the word “anathematize” is applied in the Old Testament to the Chanaanite nations destroyed by the Jews (Numbers, 21.; Judges, 1:4; 1 Machabees, 5).
No Comments »
Paul in 1 Cor. 16:21-24 sets forth a view of Agape Love. He loves those who are in Christ while bringing judgment upon apostates, reprobates, the blackslidden, and the lukewarm. Those judged by Paul are either judged with a convicting judgment (for a chance of salvation) or judged with a condemnation judgment, which means there is no hope for them and thus they are destined to hell. The apostates, reprobates are included in the condemnation judgment; backsliders and those who are lukewarm are judged with a convicting judgment. Also, Paul has in his mind those who are false teachers, preachers, apostles, and prophets. These can be backslidden or lukewarm; they can be also apostates and reprobates.
No Comments »
A battlefield, it seems, unfolds before our eyes in the first nine verses of Paul’s Galatian letter, with clearly drawn lines of demarcation between the camps, portending a fierce fight to the death against dissidents and enemies who have invaded Paul’s missionary domain like a band of marauding assailants. And Paul strikes back. The curse formula of an Anathma that he hurls at the never-named adversaries is more than just words. It “does” something: it functions as a weapon no less efficient than the deadly spears, arrows, and snake-pots that we see in action on the Pergamene Frieze. In Paul’s world, a curse effectively engages the power to destroy someone and expel them from the community. As preachers of an other gospel (heteron euangelion, 1:6), Paul’s opponents are doomed at least to excommunication, if not extinction.
No Comments »
The school of Prayer
A. The disciples sought Christ to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).
1. Some people regard praying as an exercise that has a beneficial influence upon them and that is all.
a. Praying in indeed beneficial, but it is certainly much more than an influence.
2. It is something that can make the impossible possible. Praying is more than asking God to supply our needs.
3. Many people come to God merely to implore. Him to give them material benefits.
4. Prayer is a form of worshiping God. We worship God because we are His creatures, because He has made us in His likeness and image and has endowed us with gifts and potentials that make us the masterpieces of His creation.
B. Many things learned from the school of prayer.
1. There are many things that we must learn about praying if we are to be expert in the art and to enjoy its full possibilities.
2. The first thing we should understand is that God is a God of holiness.
3. It is a sad testimony of our times to find people who are actually light-minded.
a. The true worshiper always approaches God with reverence.
4. When Moses met God at the burning Bush, he was told to take the shoes off his feet. It is not unusual to hear men taking about holiness but too often that are referring to their own. It is not our holiness that we need to talk about, but God’s!
5. When Isaiah saw the vision of the Lord, he beheld the Seraphim crying to one another, “Holy, holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah saw himself as undone and said, “Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips (Isaiah 61:-6).
6. Prayer is generally regarded as a holy act, a sign that a man is spiritual, but this is not necessarily so.
7. A wrong prayer is an abomination unto God. Proverbs says, “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination.
8. He who would make a success in life is that man who learns how to pray.
No Comments »
Overcoming the pull of Egypt (Exodus 1:7-14)
Joshua 6:20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.I. Introduction.
A. Egypt is a type of the world.
1. This is true because it holds the people of God in bondage, it leads to death and it is ruled over by an evil tyrant.
2. With this in mind, it is fascinating to see the strange pull Egypt had over the lives of the saints of the Bible.
3. For instance, Abraham went down to Egypt during a time of famine, Gen. 12:10-20. His grandson Jacob did the very same thing, Gen. 42:1-3. When Hagar wanted a bride for Ishmael, she took him a bride from Egypt, Gen. 21:21. And, even after they had been delivered from terrible bondage in that land, the children of Israel longed to return to Egypt.
II. Israel and Egypt.
A. We see Israel dominated by Egypt (Exodus 1:10-22; Exodus 11:1-14)..
1. This domination caused pain. This pain was unimaginable.
a. It was a time of severe bondage, darkness and enslavement.
2. The domination progressed from worst to worst–Exodus 5:5-19.
a. This is always the way with those trapped in the world.
b. It is harder for older folks to make a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.
c. Time and sin sears the conscience and hardens the heart.
3. The domination produced a redeemer in its midst and a call back to God (Ex. 2:1-10).
B. We see Israel delivered from Egypt.
1. They were delivered by the plan of God (Exodus 3:4).
2. They were delivered by the power of God (Exodus 5:13).
3. They were delivered in the praises of God (Exodus 14:8).
C. We see Israel desiring Egypt.
1. They desired the safety of Egypt (Exodus 14:10-11).
2. They desired the supplies of Egypt (Exodus 16:2-3).
3. They desired the spirits of Egypt (Exodus 21:1-8).
4. They desired the Stability of Egypt (Numbers 21:4-5).
5. They despised their savior from Egypt (Deut. 1:27).
D. WE SEE Israel dying to Egypt. It is possible to die to the influence of the world in our lives.
1. The majority died in a polluted land (Numbers 14:3; 22:4-5).
2. The minority died in the promised Land (Numbers 14:30).
No Comments »
A. Prayer begins with Repentance (Luke 18:9-14).
B. Prayer must include restitution (Luke 19:8).
C. When we pray, we must forgive (Mark 11:25).
D. When we pray, we must have a time or hour to pray (Acts 1:14).
E. When we pray, we must recognize the presence of God (Matt. 6:5-6).
F. True Prayer must have God first and everyone else second (Matthew 6:10).
G. Praying must be definite (Mark 11:24).
H. Praying must be in the will of God (Matthew 6:10; 1 John 5:14-15).
I. Praying must have the power of confession and intercession.
J. Prayer must be in the dominion of Christ–abiding in Christ (John 15:7).
K. Praying and Worshiping should be in the spirit (John 4:23-24).
L. Prayer should have the power of praise to it (2 Chron. 20:15-17).
M. When we pray, we need to invoke the power of His name (Matthew 28:18-19).
N. When we pray, believe (Hebrew 11:6).
O. When we pray, accept the answer to be, “Yes.”
P. Prayer must include fasting (Matthew 17:21).
Q. When we pray, we pray prayers that does not include evil (Matthew 6:11).
R. When we pray, we need to pray in agreement ( Matthew 18:19-20).
No Comments »
Controversy is stirring over recent comments made by Rick Warren, author of the best-selling book The Purpose-Driven Life and megachurch leader of Saddleback Church in California, who stated that homosexual behavior “might be” sinful, and that he believes homosexuals go to Heaven.
During an interview this week with the Huffington Post, Warren was asked by Marc Lamont Hill if having romantic feelings for a member of the same sex is a sin. Leading up to the question, Warren was explaining that he does not hate homosexuals, and that people should disagree politely on the subject of homosexuality.
“I have many, many gay friends, and have worked around the world with them in gay organizations to try to stop AIDS,” he said. “We’re doing ‘World AIDS Day’ this weekend at Saddleback Church. My wife and I have given millions of dollars to help people with HIV/AIDS and have worked with gay organizations on that.”
“What about the love part, though? I hear about the AIDS part,” asked Hill. “It’s not illegal to love somebody,” Warren replied.
“But you think it’s a sin,” Hill asserted. “No, it’s not a sin to love somebody,” Warren said.
“It might be a sin to have sex with them,” he added. “It might be.”
However, just moments prior, Hill aired a clip from an interview that Warren participated in on Piers Morgan this week, where Warren presented a slightly different answer. He began by responding to the question of whether or not a person can be born homosexual.
“I think the jury is still out on that,” he said. “It wouldn’t bother me if there was a ‘gay gene’ found, because here’s what we know about life: I have all kinds of natural feelings in my life, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I should act on every feeling. … I do not believe that attraction is a sin, but I do believe that some actions are sin.”
Warren stated during his interview with Hill that he believes sex outside of marriage is always sinful, however, and that he obtains his views from the Bible.
“I make no bones about it. I’m an evangelical pastor, so my source of authority is, what does the Bible say about it?” he said. “However, people will have other sources of authority.”
“Or, different readings of the Bible,” Hill injected.
“Or different readings — that’s very true,” Warren agreed.
Later during the interview, when Hill asked Warren if he believes homosexuals will go to Hell, he replied that they will not.
“No, not because they’re gay,” he said. “We go to Hell because we choose to reject the grace of God.”
When Hill asked what happens to a homosexual that accepts Jesus, Warren responded enthusiastically.
“He’s going to Heaven!” he declared. “Without a doubt.”
Warren is not the first evangelical to make the assertion, however. Earlier this year, megachurch author and speaker Joel Osteen similarly told popular talk show host Oprah that he also believes homosexuals are saved.
“Will a gay person be accepted into heaven, as you see it?,” Oprah asked Osteen. “I believe they will,” he replied.
Craig Gross of “XXXChurch” also made statements in July that he doesn’t think God would send homosexuals to Hell.
“Why do they (religious people) believe that the gay guy goes to Hell, but the fat preacher who builds some of the largest churches in the world makes it to Heaven?” Gross wrote in an online blog.
However, many Christians view statements such as these as compromise against the word of God.
“The concept of a ‘gay Christian’ is an oxymoron in light of numerous Scriptural instances wherein homosexual behavior is forbidden,” Alex Mason, policy analyst for the Family Policy Network, told Christian News Network. “One cannot live in a continual state of unrepentant sexual sin while calling themselves a Christian.”
“That’s not to say Christians can’t struggle with sin, including sexual sin,” he continued. “The Christian life as a constant struggle against sin, and just as some Christians struggle to defeat heterosexual lust, others may struggle to defeat homosexual lusts.”
Peter LaBarbera, the president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, agreed. He stated that he was shocked at Rick Warren’s comments.
“You don’t want to give the impression that it’s fine and dandy to live the homosexual lifestyle and as long as I believe in Jesus, I can still go to Heaven,” he said. “It’s one thing to have attractions and [fight] that, [and another to embrace homosexual behavior].”
Mason, whose ministry operates the website HopeForHomosexuals.com, stated that Warren should have explained his beliefs further, so as not to jeopardize the eternity of valuable souls.
“Warren failed to define what it means to ‘accept Christ,’ leaving viewers with the notion that a person can simply express a ‘belief’ in Jesus’ existence without turning away from the sins He died to atone,” he lamented.
“When you accept Christ, your behavior changes,” LaBarbera said. “And the attitude is [people like Warren] don’t want to talk about changes. … We know that God changes homosexuals, so why isn’t Rick Warren saying that?”
LaBarbera also told Christian News Network that he thinks Warren is treading into very dangerous territory by insinuating that the issue of homosexual behavior is a grey area.
“What part of Romans 1 doesn’t Rick Warren understand? It’s so clear,” he said. “When you make statements like these, you end up losing the Biblical sense, and the Biblical sense is that this is an abomination.”
Mason agreed, and outlined that sin needs to be taken seriously by those who wear the name of Christ.
“Christians should not, for one moment, hesitate when asked about behaviors that Scripture clearly calls sinful,” he said. “It is impossible for anyone to legitimize or make holy what God Himself has called unholy.”
“The Apostle Paul did not hesitate to faithfully echo God’s standards in his letter to the Corinthians, wherein he included a long list of sins that will keep people from the kingdom of God, including the sin of homosexuality,” Mason continued, citing 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. “Modern preachers would do well to follow Paul’s example in condemning that which God has condemned, while also proclaiming that the only hope for sinners – homosexual and heterosexual alike — is faith in Jesus Christ: ‘All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
LaBarbera said that Warren should not only have called homosexual behavior sin, but should have gone deeper to the root issue.
“It’s also sinful to lust after another man,” LaBarbera said. “We can’t advocate sin as believers, and we have to think about how that the person that’s struggling with homosexuality is going to hear this.”
“There is no Biblical basis for his statements,” he added. “I think Rick Warren needs to retract that ['might be'] statement and clarify it. If he does not retract it, he has fallen into error.”
“Rick Warren has a heart for lost souls, but he seems fearful he’ll offend people he could otherwise lead to salvation by telling the truth about their sin. That may indicate an inadequate faith in God’s sovereignty, or a failure to fully believe God’s Word has the power to transform lives,” Mason concluded. “I pray he’ll find the courage to be just as determined to be the salt of the earth as he is to be a light to the world.”
Requests for comment were not returned by Saddleback Church.
1 Comment »
After this bitterly divisive election, the Lord’s Prayer can reunite us. Please pray it often.
Election 2012 was a bitter contest. As of Wednesday night—when my home state of Florida was still counting ballots—President Obama had 59.6 million votes compared to Mitt Romney’s 56.9 million. Democrats still control the Senate and Republicans still control the House. The political gridlock of the past four years is here to stay.
We are a very, very divided nation. We are split on so many levels—young vs. old, urban vs. rural, white vs. black and white vs. Hispanic. Pollsters say Obama received fewer votes from white males than any president in recent elections. News analysts already are using terms like “the 50-50 nation” to describe our polarized condition.
What is sad, to me, is that these divisions have fractured the church. I know of congregations where large numbers of African-Americans walked out because pastors urged their members to vote for Romney. Some Christians saw Romney as the only biblical values choice, while others couldn’t stomach the notion of a Mormon in the White House. Other Christians pushed for Obama because they believe his health care policies reflect Christian values.
So where do we go now? Is there any possible way for God’s people to come together? Or are we stuck in the same spiritual gridlock as our politicians?
On the night of the election, as I pondered the depth of our national crisis, my heart was drawn to the profound authority of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 (NASB). I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to meditate on these words because they have the power to recalibrate our hearts and to refocus our priorities. I encourage you to say the Lord’s prayer often during this troubling season.
“Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.”
This is a cry for God alone to be glorified. Lord, we don’t want any man, any president or any political party to take the glory that belongs to You. During the next four years of President Obama’s term, we want America to worship the true God. Let Your name be exalted!
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Lord, we want America to continue to be a place where the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached freely. Regardless of what happens on the political or economic front, may our churches grow, may millions come to know salvation and may increasing numbers of missionaries go to the nations from the United States. Let a glorious outpouring of the Holy Spirit occur in this season!
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
Lord, our economy is troubled and so many Americans are jobless, homeless and hungry. We are still one of the most prosperous nations on earth, but we’ve been guilty of greed. Give us grateful hearts for Your provision, and give our leaders divine wisdom to know how to solve our financial problems before our national debt crushes us.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Lord, please heal the deep divisions in Your church. Bring us together. Give us the grace to forgive. Let old and young respect each other. Let blacks, whites and Hispanics embrace each other. Help us to peel off our bumper stickers and remove the barriers that separate us. And bring pastors together across racial and denominational lines so we can experience true reconciliation.
“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Lord, have mercy on the United States. We are helpless without You. There are foreign powers who hate us, and terrorists who want to destroy our cities. There are also anti-Christ forces working in our nation at this moment—even within our government—and they want to lead us into spiritual captivity. Expose their plots, frustrate their plans and protect us from our enemies.
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”
Lord, we acknowledge that You are the Supreme Ruler over this nation, regardless of who occupies the White House. We worship You as King. Cause our president, our first lady, our senators, our congressmen, our judges and all bureaucrats in Washington to know that You alone are God. May they humble themselves before You, respect Your laws and fear Your judgments.
Amen. Whether we live in red states or blue states, and whether we watch Fox or CNN, surely we can all agree with these words.
No Comments »
I. Understanding Gal. 6:14.
A. Paul in his understanding of redemption sees nothing worthy of glorying but the Cross. Why?
1. Man’s redemption begins and is accomplished on the Cross (John 19:30).
2. The central theme of Christ’s atonement for mankind is his physical death as a sacrifice to God on the Cross.
3. What was done on the Cross is the only means by which redemption has come (Heb. 9:9; 8:5; 10:1; Lev. 4:3; 4:23; 4:32; 1:4; 7:18; Ex. 12:13; Lev. 4:20; 14:6-7; Ex. 24:8; Lev. 16:12- 14; 1 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 2:9; John 1:29; Rev. 5:6-10; 1 Pet. 2:24; Isa. 53; Rom. 3:24-25; 4:25; 5:1-11; 14:15; Heb. 10:19; Rom. 6:10; 1 Cor. 15:3; 2 Cor. 5:14-15,21; 1 Thess. 4:14; 1 Thess. 5:10; Eph. 5:2; 1 Tim. 2:6,14; Heb. 7:27; 5:1,3; Gal. 2:20).
4. Paul in Col. 2:13-15, I Cor. 1:17-18; Gal. 5:11; 6:11-12; Eph. 2:11-16, Phil. 2:8; Col. 1:20- 22; Heb. 12:2; emphasizes that what was done on the Cross is what brought forth one’s atonement. What happened on the Cross? Christ died physically. The “death of the Cross,” or “death on the Cross” in Phil. 2:8 is that which accomplished redemption for mankind, nothing more or less. It is all summed up on the Cross, and what happened on the Cross.
5. Paul in Hebrews 12:2 says that Christ “the author and finisher of our faith” endured the Cross for one’s redemption. The Greek verb u`pome,nw used in the Aorist tense denotes that all the steps and phases necessary for one’s redemption was accomplished in its fullness on the Cross. For Paul looks back to the Cross, and proclaims that upon it was redemption won completely, so much so that nothing else could be done, nor ever tried.
6. Nothing touches the heart of a sinner better than the Cross.
7. It is a stumbling-block to the Jews (1 Cor. 1:23). Because the Jews as a whole did not expect a humble Messiah that would have to die on the Cross, but the exalted Messiah that would come as a conqueror and destroy their enemies.
8. One who ceases glorying in the Cross has ceased preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit.
9. By the Cross the love of the Father is seen (1 John 4:9-10; John 3:16).
10. By the Cross the Love of Christ is declared (John 10:11).
11. By the Cross, sinners are reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10).
12. By it believers are separated from the world (Gal. 6:14).
13. By it, every thing that is needed is pleaded (Rom. 8:32; 1 Cor. 3:21-23).
14. It is the remedy for all the suffering of the world (John 3:16).
15. The glory of God is in the Cross.
16. The Cross teaches one his wickedness.
17. The Cross raises one to a higher level than before.
Conclusion. Anything that turns one’s attention away from the Cross is demonic, and should be seen as such. For one’s attention must always be turned to the Cross. In the Old Testament times, the saints looked toward the Cross, while in the new Testament times, the saints look at the Cross, and back toward the Cross.
No Comments »
So numerous were the blessings that God set before the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620, and the Puritans at Massachusetts bay in 1630 that it is a great mystery to just what happened to them. Pilgrims at Plymouth were separatists, separating themselves from the church of England numbering 102; the Puritans landing at Massachusetts Baby another group remained in the church of England, numbering approximately more than 1,000 Puritans.
A candle had been bravely set at Plymouth, the first to confound the darkness of New England, but the Puritans’ light begin to flicker as well.
The pilgrims were a mere handful of Light-bearers, on the edge of a vast continent.
The puritans were the people, who, more than any other, made possible America’s foundation as a Christian nation.
One word described the Puritans: Covenant.
In New England, the Puritans they had seemed to be prospering in every way–the hard times were behind them, there was plenty of good land and plenty eat, spacious houses, and they were living in peace with the Indians.
Spiritually, they were deeply committed, obedient, and fulfilling the terms of the covenant that God set with them. God was blessing them beyond all measure.
Then, like a fire slowing dying down, the spiritual light began to dim, until near the beginning of the 1700′s, what had been a blazing light of the Gospel of Christ had become only a faint glow from smoldering embers, and what had replaced that glorious light was a time of darkness.
We forget so easily the blessings of God.
Within one generation of the landing at Plymouth, spiritual apathy and moral malaise were taking root in America. In other words, there arose among the people, before even America was established, a sense of spiritual malaise (unease), spiritual decline, and spiritual apathy (indifference). From all these things, there would be dire and disastrous consequences.
There was only a few years from their landing at Plymouth in 1620 to the beginning of God’s judgments and the beginning of spiritual malaise, spiritual decline and spiritual apathy. The Pilgrims and the Puritans had forgotten their compact with God.
Truth was not honored.
The succeeding generations would not know the desperate need of God in the midst of a wilderness.
They would grow up never knowing what it meant to be persecuted for one’s faith; to be mocked and scorned or even imprisoned merely because they loved God enough to attempt to put Him and His will before all else as their fathers.
They would not know or experience the hardships of living in tents of holies, of cold and sickness.
Cotton Mather wrote, “Religion begat prosperity, and the daughter devoured the mother.” Judge Sewall wrote, “Prosperity is too fulsome a diet for any man…unless seasoned with some grains of adversity.”
One of the Greatest traits of Americans was independence, but not independence from God, but from tyranny.
The Darkness over America. Symptoms of Spiritual darkness.
The younger generation was not becoming converted.
They were not coming into the same saving relationship with Jesus Christ which their parents and grand parents had known.
Several years before the 1700′s, the Puritans stopped their ears and refused to listen to their ministers, and they ceased to correct and admonish one another and their children, choosing instead, greed, privacy, independence form God, and idolatry.
The light of Christ grew steadily dimmer.
All types of sins–drunkenness, fornication, and the like–increased.
As the 1600′s came to an end, Christianity was so weak that the supernatural manifestations of Satan–occultism, witchcraft, poltergeist phenomena–were coming out into the open.
Witches was offering their services. They were letting it quietly be known that they could cure warts and straighten toes and mix love potions.
The gullible, the unwary, the hopeless turned to this source of power, and more and more people began to come to “the knowing ones’ for advice and counsel.
As occultist’ (witches’) influence grew, they became bolder, until there was almost an unacknowledged competition between them and the pastors.
Whole towns were taken over by demons. Haunts were common.
Demonization was a common occurrence.
Few minsters were able to come against the occult.
There was an explosion of Satanic activity.
Continue spiritual complacency and spiritual lapses reigned among the people of God.
The time period focuses on the some fifty years of darkness before the Great Awakening. This was the darkest time. Approximately for 1684 to 1734. However, in the 1630′s throughout the 1670′s, darkness was increasing with some breaks of oppression and activity. Few opposed the darkness.
The result of the Spiritual darkness was God’s judgments.
Judgments of God lead America to the Great Awakening of 1734.
Men who knew the heart of God tried to alert, with very little success, their countrymen of the dire peril which they were surely bringing upon themselves. God was now warning them directly.
Droughts were occurring regularly.
Plagues of locusts and caterpillars were common.
Smallpox epidemics were common.
A countless unconnected things were beginning to be connected together. These things begin to go wrong when the grace of God is moved from a nation.
Famine was common.
In 1675, for example, Indian relationship with the settlers had deteriorated for some time, and this lead to the beginning of several Indian attacks against the settlers.
Fear stalked the land.
Perhaps the most extraordinary chastisement
The most extraordinary chastisement in this type was the rain of caterpillars which John Winthrop, early English Puritan, reported in the summer of 1646.
The army of caterpillars did harm to the corn, wheat and barley. These caterpillars were like a black worm about an inch and a half long.
They eat up first the blades of the stalk, then they eat up the tassels, and finally the ear withered.
They fell upon trees, and made them bare and naked.
They fell upon the early Americans as a great thunder shower. They did greater harm in Rhode Island.
However, the remedy of this was prayer. The Lord heard and on a sudden, took them all away again in all part of the country.
How? Birds came and eat them up.
After the warning and judgment of God in the form of the army of caterpillars upon the people, more progressively and severe were the warnings and judgments.
Each time, the people would turn back for a while, and then turn away again. Soon they would learn that God would not accept their superficial or temporary change.
One minister said it like this, “But when men thus depart, God usually followeth them with a bitter curse.”
The Puritans’ troubles mounted to the point, in 1670, the government of Massachusetts conducted a special investigation to determine why God was so afflicting the people with sickness, poor crops, and shipping losses. Nothing was changed.
The setters followed their accustomed ways, their spiritual apathy continued.
God’s patience with the colonists’ hypocritical ways had come to an end.
Forces of light were reeling in confusion and disarray, and falling back on all fronts in the years before the 1700′s and continued throughout until the Great Awakening.
The Prince of Darkness had waited patiently for the seeds of greed to do their work. And now Satan began his long awaited laugh in triumph as his counterattacked reached the peak of its fury.
Many of those who were the greatest hit were those who had long removed themselves far from the churches, physically as well as spiritually.
While the light was not completely extinguished for a time, those who were of the light of the Gospel were few. Yet, their burning light was the brightest especially in 1670 through the 1676 leading to the approximately fifty years of the darkest time of evil.
The Bible makes it clear that there are only two sources of power: God and Satan. And in the spiritual realm, there is no such thing as a power vacuum. Where light reigns, darkness is banished. Where darkness reigns, light is banished.
Great quote from John Cotton, minister:
What He hath planted, He will maintain. Every plantation His right hand hath not planted shall be rooted up, but his own plantation shall prosper and flourish. When he promiseth peace and safety what enemies shall be able to make the promise of God of none effect? Neglect not walls and bulwarks and fortifications for your own defense, but ever let the name of the Lord be your strong tower, and the word of His promise, the rock of your refuge. His word that made heaven and earth will not fail, till heaven and earth be no more.
1 Comment »
Without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the body of Jesus Christ becomes nothing but a religious club.
Every great awakening, whether with the Methodists, Presbyterians or others was always wrought by a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit upon the church.
Every Biblical gift and calling of the Spirit must be in the local church for that church to fulfil the great commission.
The blood of Jesus Christ and the Word of God are helpless virtues until the anointed presence of the Holy Spirit takes those virtues and give them wings.
It is the Trinity of the blood, the Word, and the spirit that agree together and cannot operate when separated,
Just as the Father does nothing without the Son; the Holy Spirit does nothing without the Father and the son, so is the earthly expression an expression in complete unity.
The Word of God does nothing without he blood; the Word and the blood do nothing without the Holy Spirit.
No Comments »
During His sojourn here on earth Christ cast out devils at various times. The powers of Christ against Satan, evil, and the kingdom of evil were transmitted to the Apostles, their successors, and all saints who will pay the cost for such powers as these.
In regard to sin and the Kingdom of Satan, Christian faith teaches Christ’s conquest of Satan and Satan’s dominion by His death and resurrection. However, this is just one part of Satan’s defeat. Two more are forth coming. Since Satan must be defeated two more times–one time at the Battle of Armageddon and the other at the Battle of Gog and Magog-it does appear that the battle is still on for the souls of men.
Today, it is not at all surprising that Satan should be regaining something of his hold on men in our day. For we have in several past centuries witnessed the increased abandonment by men of the Church of Christ.
We must realize that there is a real Satan, a real evil, and a real kingdom of evil rising against us. If we will not put on the shield of faith, prepare for battle, and fight against these spiritual foes, who will? The world will not fight against such. If we will not fight, then the fault is our own. So, we must pick up our responsibility and begin again to fight against all that is unholy for the sake of Christ.
No Comments »
John 14–A Promise of the Coming Spirit
Christ then told the disciples that He needed to return to His Father. However, He said they should rejoice and not be sorrowful because He would send a comforter–the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will enable the disciples to do “greater works” than Christ did when He was with them (v. 12). So then the presence of the Holy Spirit is the key to the fulfillment of Christ’s promises. In John 16:14 Jesus says, “He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. ” The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to take the promises of Christ and make them operative in the life of every Christian.
1. A guarantee of Christ’s return
In John 14:3 Jesus says, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again. ” He promised to return. From 2 Corinthians 5 we learn that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of that promise: “We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. . . . Now he that hath wrought us for the very same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit” (vv. 1, 5).
The Greek word translated “earnest” (arrab[ma]on) means “down payment” or “security. ” In modern Greek the word has been used to refer to an engagement ring. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that Christ will come again and take us with Him.
2. A guarantee of spiritual power
We have already seen that Christ promised the disciples would have the ability to do mighty works (John 14:12). Acts 1:8 tells us where the power comes from, “Ye shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you. ” Ephesians 3:20 says that we as Christians will be “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. ” So the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s promise of power a reality.
3. A guarantee of answered prayer
In John 14:13-14 Jesus says, “Whatever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it. ” Christ promised the disciples that He would hear and answer their prayers when they asked in His name. Romans 8 says that the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (v. 27). So the Holy Spirit is the key to prayer.
4. A guarantee of God’s presence
In John 14:18-23 Christ promises the disciples that He and God the Father will come and abide with them. Their presence is realized by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
No Comments »
The Old Testament gives criteria for God’s people to distinguish false prophets in Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18:14-22. We know from Deuteronomy 13:1-2 that false prophets may announce a miraculous sign or wonder—and it may take place—to entice God’s people to follow other gods. Here is a good key to follow. Whom do people lead you do?
But Deut. 18:22 makes it clear that false prophets will be less accurate in their prophetic predictions than a true prophet of the Lord:
Deut. 18:22 (NIV) If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.
One must be careful how this criterion is applied to discern false prophets, because there are many cases in Scripture where true prophets of God spoke prophetic words that were not fulfilled for other reasons than that they were false prophets.
Jonah’s prophetic word, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned” (Jonah 3:4), did not come true, because Nineveh repented.
Nathan’s inaccurate word encouraging King David to build the temple, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you” (2 Sam. 7:3), was later corrected by God in 2 Sam. 7:4.
No Comments »
The man who cried for help was a ruler and a father.
Luke says that the ruler’s name who oversaw the administration of the synagogue at Capernaum was Jairus.
The synagogue ruler was an elected position among the religious leaders.
The person was highly respected, both capable and popular, a person who wielded great power.
He determined who was to teach in the synagogue worship and supervised the whole operation. He was one of the most important men in a community.
Jairus’ daughter was only twelve years old. Jairus was a man of strong love, a man who loved his daughter ever so deeply; and he was a man of strong courage.
He showed remarkable courage in approaching Jesus, for he went against the tide of the other religionists who were violent in their thoughts against Jesus.
The other religionists were bound to react against Jairus.
Only the sense of desperation would stir him to approach Jesus, and then he would approach Jesus only as a last resort.
It was the desperate need of his daughter that drove him to Jesus.
Only if we could learn to approach Jesus first instead of last.
Note four things about the man and his desperation.
His hopelessness: he was so hopeless he interrupted Jesus while Jesus was preaching and teaching.
His little daughter was dead, gone forever. He loved his daughter and he apparently loved her more deeply than most.
He stood up against the world, that is, against the censoring and hostility of his peers.
He was an elected official by the religious elders; therefore, he was probably risking his position by coming to Christ. Only an unusual love and belief would have driven him to approach Jesus in the face of so much opposition (cp. Matthew 9:34).
His attitude: he worshipped Jesus; he fell down at the Lord’s feet.
Remember this was a distinguished man, an elected official who oversaw the administrative responsibilities of the most important institution in a Jewish city—the synagogue.
He was a dynamic example of how leaders should approach Christ: in humility, worship, and faith.
We will never know the mercy of Christ until we humble ourselves and become as little children (Matthew 18:3).
Too often, the desperate needs of loved ones drives us into a state of helplessness and hopelessness, of depression and self-pity.
The need may be severe illness, terrible trouble, or death. However, despair is not the answer to desperate needs.
The answer is to lift up our heads to Jesus for the salvation of our loved ones. We are to come before Christ and ask Him to help us. He never turns away.
No Comments »
1. Present an unbalanced message. Only let them see the heart-warming part of God’s character. Preach God’s love but leave out His holiness and justice. That way they’ll think He’ll let them into heaven no matter what.
2. Don’t mention repentance until they’re repeating a “sinner’s prayer.” Just get them to say, “I repent of all my sins” while they’re echoing you. They won’t know what they’re saying and they won’t count the cost.
3. Above all else, be dignified. Don’t get heart to heart with the people. They would get something out of what you said.
4. Skim over the gospel and push the prayer. Pretend the lost naturally understand what Christ has done for them.
5. Preach Jesus as a life enhancer not a life rescuer. Tell them how Jesus can improve their life but don’t show them Jesus as the only One who can save them from Hell. People will think if they reject Him they’re only losing out on a spiritual high.
6. Try to please the people instead of convert them. Tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.
7. Compromise the message to speed up the process. The Christians who have heard it a hundred times before will be pleased with that. The quicker they get out the quicker they can get to the restaurant.
8. Give them the impression that God is so good He won’t send anyone to hell. Don’t present the whole counsel of God or they might realize He is so good that He’ll see to it that justice is served and that all unrepentant sinners will be punished in the fire that is not quenched.
9. Speak to sinners as though they were saints. They’ll think they’re God’s children instead of the enemies of God they’ve made themselves into because of their sin. You’ll give them false assurance and mislead them.
10. Don’t mention sin or man’s guilt. Resist the urge to explain what Christ came to deliver us from. Don’t show them their need for the Savior. Otherwise it may all make sense.
11. Don’t look to the Bible for the substance of your altar call. Only mimic other preachers with large congregations.
12. Tell the lost not to feel bad about their sins. That way you will work against the Holy Spirit who’s convicting them
13. Whatever you do, never mention Judgment Day. Your audience might take spiritual matters seriously.
14. Tell them Jesus is the only way to heaven but don’t explain why. They may think it’s nothing more than fear tactics and leave offended instead of enlightened.
15. Confuse the call. This is a great way to botch up an altar call. Don’t let people know you’re asking them to commit their life to Christ. Be vague and general in what you’re saying. Neglect to mention following Christ in your evangelistic altar calls and say things like, “If you don’t feel you’re as close to God as possible raise your hand,” “If you feel lonely come to the front for prayer,” “If you want more of God this is your time,” and, “If you have struggles and need the answer come down.” Just get them to raise a hand. That way no one will be able to count the cost and you’ll even get saints to respond to salvation altar calls, making the results look more successful.
16. Only give them half the story. Tell them Jesus died to forgive everyone but overlook the fact that they must personally receive Him to partake of that forgiveness.
17. Present the truth as though it isn’t. Be so funny when you share Christ that you belittle the seriousness of the matter.
18. Preach forgiveness without repentance. That way no one will know how to be forgiven.
19. Be unbiblical. Present repentance and faith as an offer instead of how God does as a command (Acts 17:30).
20. Let them think next Sunday is the day of salvation. Don’t make them feel it’s urgent to respond today.
21. Never warn of hell. Dangle heaven in front of their nose but rarely mention hell, certainly not as much as Jesus did.
22. Only do altar calls inside the church. Never take the gospel where sinners congregate. The lost might get saved.
23. Use churchy terms. Use words like, “saved,” “repent,” and “born again,” without any explanation. That way your hearers won’t comprehend what you’re saying. If they can’t understand it, it’s probable they won’t be changed by it.
24. Give false assurance of salvation to unsaved Christians. Assure church folk that they are saved even if they bear no fruit. So that you don’t offend the unsaved pew warmers never quote 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.” You could lose some financial supporters and have to depend on God.
25. Never mention the wrath of God. If you mention it, people might be awakened to flee to Jesus who “saves us from the wrath to come.” ( 1 Thess. 1:10)
26. Study how the apostles preached and witnessed and do the opposite. Don’t explain Jesus’ suffering death on the cross. Otherwise they may think of running to Him for forgiveness. Don’t speak of His burial or resurrection or they might realize He is God. Refrain from commenting about the hundreds of eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after He rose from the dead. That way they can go on thinking He’s a fairy tale. Overlook talk of the messianic prophecies Jesus fulfilled or they might realize that the Bible is true. If they see it’s the truth they may see that following Christ is the logical decision. And whatever you do, avoid what the apostles did when it came time to call people to obey the gospel. Don’t tell them to trust Christ and live for Him. That is too accurate. If they know how to get saved your altar call will be a success.
27. Put more emphasis on the “sinner’s prayer” then on repentance and faith. Satan will smile over your departure from Biblical instruction. We are never taught to use a ‘sinner’s prayer’ throughout the entire Bible. If you decide to use it and put more emphasis on the technique than on what we’re commanded to preach: faith and repentance you’ll certainly botch things up. A ‘sinner’s prayer’ doesn’t equal salvation, only faith in Christ and repentance toward God do.
28. Let Christians think you’re the only one who can do it right. Always leave the impression that they should only invite friends to church and never actually witness themselves. It will keep you in business and the lost unsaved.
29. Don’t let the lost know they are. Disregard subjects like Judgment Day, God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness and justice. That way the lost can continue to think they’re “good enough” to get into heaven.
30. Rely upon psychological techniques to manipulate people into responding to the altar call. Don’t rely upon the Holy Spirit or they may actually get saved.
31. Make sure you’re the main attraction. Remember the goal in botching up an altar call is for people to leave and say, “What a wonderful preacher,” instead of, “What a wonderful Savior.” Draw all possible attention to how great a speaker and person you are. Otherwise people might see Christ in your preaching and get saved.
32. Don’t focus upon Jesus. Finally, the best way to botch up an altar call is not to preach the gospel. Just get people to lift up a hand and pray a prayer with you. Resist the urge to speak of the only One who could save them.
No Comments »
Yesterday, I read a report about an Ohio State University study involving 900 adults ranging in age from 18 to 90 which claimed that young Americans place such a high value on their sense of self-worth that they crave praise and compliments more than food, friendship, and sex! The study also observed that this craving is akin to an addiction. It is insatiable. The participants in the study are not all narcissists, of course, but they’re kissin’ cousins.
The professor who conducted the study identified the 1969 book The Psychology of Self-Esteem as the launching point for a generation of Americans obsessed with self-esteem. He concluded that the obsession is only going to get worse — “as each new generation enters a culture that puts a premium on self-worth, younger Americans spend more time craving and searching for self-esteem boosts–and less time thinking about others. All that time spent thinking about yourself not only contributes to depression, but it makes society a less kind and gentle place.”
The seismic shift that began in 1969 has resulted in the tsunamis of Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, reality TV shows and life- enhancement church services. Americans just can’t seem to get enough of being true to self, expressing self, fulfilling self, improving self and advancing self. This addiction has had an enormous impact on the Christian community. Choosing a church to attend is no longer a matter of finding where the Word of God is taught and where people are striving to live in a manner that pleases God. It is now a matter of finding a church that has the best programs, preferred music, and activities.
American Christians have become consumers rather than practitioners. We look for the most enjoyable services, the most convenient schedules, the most engaging presentations, and the programs that fulfill our desires to the greatest degree. We seem drawn to the churches that are most like the world. Our primary concern about church is not how we can serve the church body, but how the church body can serve us.
Churches that are preaching that Christians are deserving of and entitled to good things, happiness, blessings, and personal fulfill- ment are bursting at the seams. Churches that preach poorness in spirit, mournfulness for sin, meekness, purity in heart, and a hunger for righteousness, are struggling to find people willing to listen. Are we witnessing the fulfillment of Paul’s warning to Timothy, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
We can’t be hungry for righteousness and addicted to self at the same time.
No Comments »
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
- Matthew 6:24
Christians have accused me of being very “black and white”. By that they mean I believe everything is either 100% right or 100% wrong or that I don’t make room for “grey” areas. They say that every action cannot be categorized as either one or the other that some actions are unknown or left up to the individual to decide. The say some actions cannot be judged and we are to accept the fact that some things are neutral or left up to debate depending upon circumstance. Not for me, however. I am very black and white, because I believe in an absolute universal truth. The only exceptions that are permitted are those which God defines.
Like those Christians trying to understand me, it is hard for me to understand them. Why debate when we have the law? Why not judge when we possess the standard? Why reconsider when God’s Word does not change? If God’s word doesn’t specifically list the action, there are still plenty of implications and principals that such action would fall under. No excuses, period. I find it interesting that people think such things are open to individual interpretation. For instance the title “Christian” or “Pastor” can mean many things these days. Even the word “Church” is being bent to cover so many different places. If we are indeed talking about the true root of the words from The Holy Word, than many people are lying.
For instance, almost any organization that teaches out of some kind of book and has followers is considered a “Church” now. No, that’s a cult. Any person who preaches over a congregation of people regardless of what he says is a “Pastor”. No, that’s a speaker. Any man or women that says they believe in some kind of god is a “Christian”. No, you are religious. If these do not follow the principles of the Bible and practice what they say they are then their words and titles are nothing but cheap imitations only trying to build their reputation and praise among men. Being a Church, Pastor, or Christian means you actually have to be one. Do we call dog’s by the name of “cat”? One either is or is not. Can a Christian love and hate sin? Can a Christian serve God and Satan? It is black and white. The middle ground is only an excuse for black. Welcome to the Gospel of Christ.
No Comments »
We have previously shown that conceptual ideas expressed in words are not physical. Those who doubt this fact must answer the following questions: How much does morality weigh ? How does ethics feel to the touch ? What is the taste of justice, the odor of holiness, the sound of honesty, the visible appearance of truth? Obviously, each of these words expresses a concept which has no physical qualities, is not describable in physical terms, and must therefore be nonphysical.
All thoughts, even of physical things, are nonphysical. This self-evident fact does not deny the reality of either the mental dimension or the material universe, but it clearly separates one from the other.
Psychics claim to be able to bridge this chasm and to transcend time. Hinduism and related forms of mysticism, such as Christian Science and other “mind sciences,” attempt either to create the physical with mental ideas and images or to deny objective reality with the claim that all existence is in the mind. Half-believing these lies, parapsychologists endeavor to establish a scientific link between the mental and physical and to discover how to manipulate the latter with the mind. We have dealt with such matters in Occult Invasion and will not do so here.
Since all thoughts are nonphysical, no thought could have a physical source. Therefore, thoughts and ideas do not originate with the brain, a physical organ. Undeniably, the mind is not physical—yet it has a mysterious connection to the brain which science cannot fathom.
Matter, including the brain, cannot think. Ideas must have an intelligent source which is distinct from the physical world. Nor can matter arrange itself into words and sentences expressing conceptual ideas.
Yet this is exactly what we find with DNA. There, stated in a precise language, encoded for decoding by certain protein molecules, is a complete manual of written instructions (imprinted on the single cell from which we each begin physical life) for constructing and operating each of trillions of individual cells and forming them into a body. Unquestionably, DNA was conceived of and put into process by an Intelligence far beyond the grasp of human minds.
DNA alone is sufficient to prove the eternal existence of God, the Creator of all. The theory of evolution is the desperate grasping at straws by those who “did not like to retain God in their knowledge” and whom He therefore “gave…over to a reprobate mind…” (Rom:1:28).
Inasmuch as thoughts are nonphysical, their intelligent source must also be non-physical. Certainly this is true of the Supreme Intelligence: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (Jn:4:24). Therefore, man, created in the “image of God” (Gen:1:26-27 ; Gen:9:6) with the capacity to conceive conceptual ideas and to communicate them in words to other intelligent beings, must be a nonphysical intelligence living in a physical body. No one can honestly deny this simple fact—a fact which, by the way, further reveals the lie of evolution. The human soul and spirit comprising man’s nonphysical intelligence and personality could never evolve from matter.
Thoughts have a spiritual source. We know that physical bodies grow old and eventually die and decay in the grave because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the law of entropy. There is no reason, however, to believe that the nonphysical person, who originated the thoughts and made the choices, ceases to exist when separated from the body by death. That thinking person who made his own moral decisions is logically, biblically and justly accountable to his Creator-God for every thought, word and deed—and one day will give that account and reap the consequences.
The soul and spirit—the cognitive person who was created “in the image of God”—is clearly not subject to physical laws, and therefore continues in conscious existence eternally. As Paul declared, “the [material] things which are seen are temporal; but the [nonmaterial] things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor:4:18).
William Law said it well nearly 300 years ago in The Power of the Spirit: “The time of man’s…grasping after positions among men or amusing himself with the foolish toys of this vain world can last no longer than he is able to eat and drink with the creatures of this world.” Far from being the end of human existence, however, death brings man before God in judgment: “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb:9:27). The Bible often declares that man continues to exist eternally, either in heaven or in hell. There are many warnings of eternal punishment (Ps:9:17; 55:15; 139:8; Prov:5:5; 7:27; 9:18; 15:24; Isa:5:14; 14:9, 15; Eze:31:16-18 ; 32:27; Amos:9:2; Rev:20:13-15 , etc.).
More than any other part of Scripture, the recorded words of Christ warn of the judgment and eternal punishment that follow death for those who persist in rebellion against God during their physical existence (Mat:5:22, 29,30; 10:28; 11:23; 18:7-9; 23:15, 33; 25:46; Mk 9:42-48; Lk 16:19-31, etc.). Likewise, Paul and the other apostles warned of eternal judgment and hell (2 Thes:1:9; James:3:6; 2 Pet:2:4; Rev:19:20; 20:10,14,15, etc.).
It is the nonphysical and eternal part of man, the soul and spirit, to which Scripture is addressed. By contrast, most of man’s efforts and attention are concerned with his temporary physical needs and pleasures. The physical so consumes human thought that spiritual truth is obscured by the sensual. And to this fact all of the world’s religions bear eloquent testimony!
Paganism is dominated by fetishes, idols, ornate altars, robes, candles, elaborate ceremonies, and repetitiously chanted secret formulas. All of these are part of a superstitious attempt to influence the nonphysical spirit world by physical means. It is clearly a continuance of the lie with which the Serpent deceived Eve: that through eating physical fruit she could gain spiritual blessings, including immortality and godhood (Gen:3:1-7 ).
That very delusion became the foundation of all false religions (including pseudo-Christianity). Israel also succumbed to this deception, worshiping the counterfeit gods of her idolatrous pagan neighbors in ornate temples containing extravagant altars set in sacred groves upon “high places” (Num:33:52; 1 Kings:3:2,3; 2 Kings:15:35; 2 Chro:33:19; Jer:3:2; 7:30-34; Eze:16:16-43 ;Amos:7:8,9, etc.), bringing God’s judgment (Lev:26:30-33 , etc.). For example: “…king Ahaz…saw an altar…at Damascus: [and]…sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar…according to all the workmanship thereof. And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus….And when the king was come from Damascus, [he]…approached to the altar and offered thereon” (2 Kings:16:10-12 ).
Much of the professing “Christian church” of today continues to pursue the same abominations. Most obvious is Roman Catholicism, with its sacred instruments of worship made of precious metals mounted with jewels, its rich altars, statues, ornate cathedrals, priests presiding over elaborate rituals and dressed in luxurious vestments and outlandish hats—as though such temporal things merit God’s eternal favor. Physical symbols (bread and wine) were turned into Christ himself, with the delusion that ingesting them (Him?) into one’s stomach brings forgiveness and eternal life by installments.
Sacramentalism, both Catholic and Protestant, brushes aside the commonsense understanding of the inviolable separation between the physical and spiritual. Christ’s words are ignored, even defied: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (Jn:6:63). Instead, it is as though Christ actually said, “The flesh is the key. Physical religious objects are doorways to God’s power, and words have spiritual value only when used in the church’s rituals.”
One of the most miraculous provisions for Israel throughout its decades in the barren wilderness was the water that came from solid rock—a Rock which apparently was always at hand wherever they journeyed. Paul says, “they did all drink the same spiritual drink…of that spiritual Rock that followed them…” (1 Cor:10:4). Spiritual drink…spiritual rock …that followed them? Paul explains, “and that Rock was Christ.” Not that Christ was literally a rock, of course, but the rock and the water which miraculously flowed from it represented Christ and the spiritual water of life which He would provide through His redemptive work on the Cross.
Earnestly trying to turn His people’s attention from physical water for the body to spiritual drink for thirsting souls, God exhorted a rebellious Israel, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,….Seek ye the LORD while he may be found…” (Isa:55:1,6). In clear declaration of His deity, Christ claimed to be that spiritual water of eternal life, the spiritual Rock and the Lord of Israel himself: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly [inward being, soul and spirit] shall flow rivers of living water. (…[T]his spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive…)” (Jn:7:37-39 ). He repeatedly made it clear that spiritual eating and drinking is through believing in Him.
To the woman at the well Christ makes the same claim: “Whosoever drinketh of this [physical] water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the [spiritual] water that I shall give him shall never thirst…the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn:4:13,14). Obviously, Christ did not offer to satisfy her physical thirst with physical water, but her spiritual thirst with the gift of eternal life, which she could only receive by faith in Him alone.
In His temptation by Satan in the wilderness, Christ quoted the words He had spoken to the Israelites through Moses: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Deut 8:3; Mat:4:4; Lk 4:4). The manna miraculously given to Israel throughout its wilderness journey, like water out of the Rock, was one more symbol of the spiritual provision they could receive by believing His words.
There is a clear distinction—yet at the same time an illuminating parallel—between physical bread which sustains the physical body and nonphysical words which sustain the soul and spirit. Christ often used something physical to illustrate a spiritual truth: “I am the light of the world” (Jn:8:12); “I am the door…the good shepherd…the vine, ye are the branches” (Jn:10:7-9 , 14; 15:5, etc.). Never, however, did He suggest that the physical thing itself had any spiritual power. And that is the grave error of sacramentalism.
In presenting Himself as the fulfillment of Old Testament promises to Israel, Christ made the most powerful, yet often overlooked, declarations of His deity. A mob of hungry Jews, interested only in the healing of their bodies and the filling of their stomachs, wanted to “take him [Jesus] by force, to make him a king” (Jn:6:15). Seeking to turn them from the physical to the spiritual, Jesus claimed to be the One to whom the manna and water out of the Rock pointed: “[H]e that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst….Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead….I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (Jn:6:35, 48-51).
At this point, Catholicism makes its gravest error: transubstantiation. Insisting that Christ is not speaking spiritually but physically, Catholics boast that they take Him literally when He says, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (Jn:6:53). Thereby, Catholicism misses the “spirit, and…life” (v. 63) given to those who accept by faith the salvation He offers through His becoming a man and dying for our sins. Blind to the spiritual, it claims that its priests have the power to turn bread and wine into Christ’s physical body and blood—again and again. Instead of believing that Christ paid sin’s penalty in full by one sacrifice on the cross, they claim to perpetually sacrifice Him and to physically ingest His literal body and blood.
A similar mistake is made even by many who rightly deny the error of believing that the communion bread and cup are Christ’s physical body and blood. They imagine that there is spiritual power in the physical act of partaking of these elements. But Christ established this ordinance as an act of remembrance : “this do in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19, 20; 1 Cor:11:24, 25).
The physical act itself has value only in pointing to the spiritual truth which it represents. For believing participants, it is a reminder to carefully and prayerfully consider again Christ’s sacrifice of himself for our sins on the cross. To unbelieving observers, it is a proclamation of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ for their sins as well, though they have rejected Him: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew [proclaim] the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor:11:26).
While the incarnation and Christ’s payment of the penalty for sin in order to redeem a Bride is a “great mystery” (Eph:5:32), it is revealed in ever deeper measure to those who feed upon Him through meditation upon the “Word of life” (Philippians 2:16; 1 Jn:1:1). How it must grieve our Lord that so many of us, redeemed at great price with His blood poured out at Calvary, have such a feeble appreciation of Him, the eternal Son of God “come in the flesh” (1 Jn:4:2,3; 2 Jn 7). This is why our worship is so shallow, so inadequate, in expressing His eternal pre-incarnate majesty as God, the infinite love manifest in his incarnation and sacrifice for sin, and the glory to which He has ascended and where He will one day receive us in His likeness.
Failure to feast continually upon Him is the reason that our lives reflect so little of Christ “who is our life” (Col:3:4). May we believe and rejoice in His promise: “[W]hosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Rev:22:17). And with deepening understanding and increasing love for Him, may we help others to experience the joy and abundance of the life there is in Christ for those who feast upon “the bread of life.” TBC
No Comments »
As watered down Believers we are led by Satan to believe that the only time we deny Christ is when a gun is pointed at our head and we are asked “Are you a Christian?” But nothing could be further from the truth for we deny Christ many more times that we might ever believe.
100 Ways We Deny Christ
1. We fail to regularly read our Bible
2. We do not accept Him as our Lord & Savior.
3. We do not live like we accepted Him as our Lord & Savior.
4. We have a job and do not start a weekly Bible study at our office.
5. We don’t invite our neighbors to church.
6. We don’t serve at church.
7. We don’t pray for others.
8. Jesus was not a mime. We think the way we live is enough.
9. We are a chameleon Christian bending this way and that.
10. We believe there are shades of gray in our faith walk.
11. We believe some Bible stories to be “just stories.”
12. We look to hang out with the “in crowd.”
13. We don’t study God’s word.
14. We believe science’s story of evolution.
15. We see a sunset and fail to know the truth.
16. We seek our own way.
17. We follow those who are not following Him.
18. We don’t stand strong even when others fall away.
19. We walk by someone in need.
20. We fail to stop to help a stranded driver.
21. We fail to serve the poor.
22. We fail to bind up the broken hearted.
23. We fail to ask when someone is hurting.
24. We ask how someone is doing, when all we really want is to be on our way.
25. We believe we did something ourselves.
26. We fail to give all the glory to God.
27. We fail to consider others better than ourselves.
28. We fail to tithe.
29. We fail to go the extra mile for others.
30. We fail to see the world through others eyes.
31. We fail to act when God tells us to.
32. We fail to speak when we know our words will make a difference.
33. We fail to try to lead others to Christ.
34. We fail to disciple others.
35. We fail to seek to be Discipled by others.
36. We fail to seek Godly counsel.
37. We fail to listen to Godly counsel.
38. We fail to be obedient.
39. We fail to be a team player with other Christians.
40. We fail to see our place as part of the Body of Christ.
41. We fail to be the part of the Body of Christ God desires.
42. We serve the church while failing our spouses.
43. We serve the church while failing our children.
44. We fail to serve on Mission trips locally, in our neighborhoods, work, school and all aspects of our lives.
45. We fail to keep our commitments.
46. We fail to make commitments we should.
47. We talk more than we listen.
48. We are relentlessly committed to our being right.
49. We accept praise as an acknowledgment of our efforts.
50. We fail to pray.
51. We fail to fast.
52. We fail to be humble.
53. We believe ourselves to be a great leader.
54. We believe all our words are of God’s authority.
55. We are prideful.
56. We believe in our own efforts.
57. We fail to rely solely on God’s power.
58. We stopped reading this list at number 10 believing are lives “are good.”
59. We believe we are mature in our faith.
60. We believe we understand the Bible.
61. We believe in ourselves.
62. We fail to know we have a cross.
63. We fail to pick up our cross.
64. We fail to pick up our cross daily.
65. We fail to recognize the power of the cross.
66. We fail to take our sins to the cross.
67. We fail to appreciate the power of grace.
68. We fail to forgive others.
69. We fail to forgive ourselves.
70. We believe in worldly power.
71. We let the sins of the past rule over our future.
72. We fail to live knowing we cannot be snatched out of His hand.
73. We fail to believe in our true value.
74. We fail to reach our true potential with Christ.
75. We fail to believe we are an overcomer.
76. We forget who God made us to be.
77. We react rather than respond.
78. We anger easily.
79. We hold grudges.
80. We let the sun go down on our anger.
81. We become indignant.
82. We are self righteous.
83. We speak first.
84. We listen last.
85. We listen thinking of what to say next.
86. We fail to truly hear.
87. We believe we know how someone feels.
88. We think we know the answer for someone else’s life.
89. We fail to seek out others in misery.
90. We fail to walk alongside others who are suffering.
91. We struggle when we need to be strong.
92. We waiver when we need to push forward.
93. We befriend those that Christ knows you should not.
94. We do not witness to those Christ knows you should not befriend.
95. We seek friendships with those mainly like ourselves.
96. We fail to speak the light of Christ into a lost world.
97. We believe the job of witnessing is for others.
98. We believe the Great Commission was a great suggestion.
99. We fail to interpret the Bible under the grace of the two greatest commandments.
100. We believe there are only a 100 ways we can deny Christ.
No Comments »
There are tremendous differences between “motivational speaking” and “biblical preaching.” In America today, many churches offer one or the other. One approach leaves people “encouraged” in their emotions and in their “self-esteem.” The other builds up Christians in the Gospel as the Holy Spirit applies the Scriptures to the hearts and minds of the hearers.
by Dan Delzell
Motivational speakers tell a lot of stories and seek to sway through emotion and pop psychology. Biblical preachers tell some stories, but above all seek to have people influenced by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Motivational speakers may or may not throw in a few Bible verses to “salt” their main topic. Biblical preachers rely totally upon the Scriptures to “drive” the content and to feed God’s sheep. The Bible is the basis of their message.
Motivational speakers seek to never speak of things which might offend anyone in attendance. Biblical preachers seek to proclaim God’s Word with a loving heart as they rely upon the Holy Spirit to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” That is, to apply the message of forgiveness to those who are repentant….and to apply the weight of the Law toward anyone content to continue sinning. After all, if I am never offended by my own behavior, I am certainly not growing in Christ….and I am living in denial. Motivational speakers do not tend to think about the Law and the Gospel when presenting a message. Instead, they attempt to persuade people to change their behavior.
Motivational speakers are good at knowing how people think and behave….but not good at “rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) They reach the level of man’s emotions with their appeals, but they are not equipped with the proper biblical knowledge to lead people into the realm where souls meet God and then grow in Christ.
Motivational speaking tends to be man-centered and people-pleasing. Biblical preaching is Christ-centered and God-honoring. Motivational speaking is often aimed largely at unbelievers. Biblical preaching typically aims where St. Paul aimed in his epistles….that is, it aims mainly at believers.
New Testament worship services are designed for believers….with a loving and open heart for unbelievers to also attend in hopes of them receiving Christ as Savior. Motivational seminars are aimed at anyone who will help to fill the auditorium.
Motivational speakers are reluctant to say, “The Bible says.” They realize that many of their hearers don’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. Biblical preachers have taught God’s people to trust Scripture to be the inerrant “God-breathed” message of truth from the Lord. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Motivational speakers need to have personal charisma. Biblical preachers need to be humble in order to be anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit. Charisma influences emotions in the direction of self-actualization. The Holy Spirit influences the soul in the direction of godliness.
Biblical preaching lifts up Jesus Christ. Motivational speaking tends to exalt man’s ability to fix his own issues. Biblical preaching proclaims the Gospel message of Christ’s death and resurrection for our salvation. Motivational speaking might tack on “the sinner’s prayer” at the end of a “how-to” message.
Biblical preaching produces a holy awe of God and a deep respect for His Word. Motivational speaking tends to be light, fun, humorous, and entertaining. It’s “showtime” when the motivational speaker steps to the podium. It’s “flow time” when the biblical preacher steps forward. He has spent much time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to fall upon his hearers and speak to them when the Word goes forth.
Motivational speakers usually have a certain number of steps they want you to follow to improve your life. Biblical preaching is not that simplistic. St. Paul explained biblical preaching with these words: “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Cor. 2:1-5)
Biblical preaching freely discusses heaven, hell, and the immortality of the soul. Motivational speaking never addresses hell….and if heaven gets discussed, it is done so in a way that suggests most people of many religions will eventually make it to heaven.
Motivational speakers tend to deliberately or unintentionally place the spotlight upon the messenger. Biblical preachers want the hearers to celebrate Jesus and Him alone. As Oswald Chambers wrote, “Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the Gospel will result in making me a traitor to Jesus, and I prevent the creative power of His redemption from doing its work.”
Does this mean that every minister who attempts to engage in biblical preaching is doing so with a loving heart and a life filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit? No. If a minister is living “in the flesh” by intentionally feeding his sinful nature, his message will not be saturated and dripping with the grace of God and a Spirit-wrought love for the hearers. This is why St. Paul told Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16) Notice that his “life” was highlighted even before his “doctrine.” It is easier to present messages that are doctrinally correct than it is to live a holy life, but both are necessary in the life of a pastor and preacher.
There seem to be many more Americans today who hunger for motivational speaking than for biblical preaching. A taste for the Word can only be developed by regularly feeding on the Word….and by holy living….and most of all, by a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. A love of the world produces no such hunger. We are all sinners, and prone to love the world far more than we love the Word. D.L. Moody said this regarding the Bible: “This Book will keep me from sin, and sin will keep me from this Book.”
The temptation for the minister in America today is not only to water down the message….but to change the message altogether. The test for all of us who have been called by God to preach the Word is to do so faithfully and with a heart full of love for God, for believers, and for the lost. If we do this the right way by God’s grace, then unbelievers will be moved by the Holy Spirit to believe….and believers will be moved by the Holy Spirit to love the Lord and to serve others with their gifts.
When we get charged up by a motivational speaker, the results tend to be superficial and flimsy. When you and I are motivated by the Holy Spirit through the faithful proclamation of His Word, the results are spiritual and eternal.
God will help us to rely upon “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17) rather than upon a slick and popular presentation of humanistic moralism. One approach equips the saints for works of service. The other approach strokes the ego of the speaker and the attendees.
God is not interested in our ego. He wants His children to “live a life worthy of the Lord” so that we “may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened will all power according to His glorious might.” (Colossians 1:10,11) There is no room for ego in biblical preaching. There is plenty of room for ego in motivational speaking.
Humanistic motivation cannot produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Only God can do that….and He does so largely through the teaching and preaching of His Word, as well as through one-on-one encouragement, assistance, and prayer.
St. Paul instructed Timothy: “Preach the Word.” (2 Timothy 4:2) This is what is needed in America today….preachers of the Word whose hearts are filled with the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
God will help those of us who are pastors and preachers as we proclaim the message of the apostles. Not one of us is sufficient for the task. Only His grace can accomplish the work in us and through us. Here is tip for all of us….read Paul’s letters….and then go forth to motivate people with those words and with that approach to encouraging the saints. The world is filled with motivational speakers….God’s church deserves to have biblical preaching. That’s why He ordained it for His people.
Notice how Paul’s letters tend to always begin with many examples of what God has done for us in Christ….rather than jumping right into a “quick-fix” of what we get to do for Him. That’s the right order. That’s the biblical order and emphasis. God’s work is what matters….both in our salvation, as well as in our Christian life of discipleship. It’s “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) Motivational speaking jumps right into what you need to do to get right in your behavior. The Bible presents a far better approach than “self-help.” The Scriptures deliver Jesus to us. The Bible is the “manger” in which Christ is laid before us so that we can gaze upon Him and be filled with the life of God.
Self-esteem is sought by those who have not yet “died to self” and risen to live for Christ. Healthy believers, on the other hand, hunger for God’s Word like a baby hungers for food. “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2,3) Jesus never seeks to build up a person’s self-esteem. That is a dead end street as far as God is concerned. St. Paul said it best: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) That experience is a far cry from a life of self-esteem that needs to be constantly propped up by a motivational speaker.
May the Lord open our eyes to see the huge difference between these two approaches….and may He then empower us by the Holy Spirit to do God’s work in God’s way. Anything less is just a cheap counterfeit, and is has no business being performed in the church of the living God.
1 Comment »
by David Wilkerson
The three most common words heard among Christians in times
of crisis are: “Lord, do something!” It is against our nature to stand
still and do nothing when we face perplexing trials. In fact, waiting
patiently for God to act is probably the most difficult thing about
the Christian walk. Even devoted believers panic when the Lord
does not move according to their timetable.
We constantly give God deadlines and time limits. We cry, “Lord,
when are You going to do something about this? If You don’t act
now, it will be too late!” But God is never too late. He always acts
according to His schedule, not ours.
Our God is always searching the earth for those who will trust Him
in every crisis, trial and hopeless situation. Indeed, He often leads
us into situations that are critical and difficult in order to test us.
He wants to see if we are willing to stand still and wait for Him to
bring supernatural deliverance.
The Bible states very clearly: “The steps of a good man are ordered
by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way” (Psalm 37:23). The
Hebrew word for ordered here means “prearranged, step by step,
fixed, ordained by God.”
This means it is God, not the devil, who leads us into difficult
places. We may cry, “Lord, why are You allowing my crisis to
continue?” But the truth is, not only does He allow our trial, but
He does so deliberately – for a purpose. And that is hard for us
God allows these hard things in our lives in order to produce faith
in us. He is shaping us into godly examples of faith, to be His
testimony to a faithless, ungodly age.
I firmly believe every step I take is ordained by our heavenly Father
and He would never lead me to the brink of a difficult situation only
to abandon me. He would not say, “Okay, David, I’ve directed you
up to this point. Now you’re on your own.”
No! God is absolutely faithful to His children, in every crisis. He is
always asking us, “Will you be one I’ve been searching for, one
who will not panic, who will not charge Me with forsaking,
abandoning and hurting My children? Will you stand still in your
crisis and trust Me to see you through?”
No Comments »
by David Smithers
The memory of Charles Haddon Spurgeon has been cherished
among evangelical Christians for over the past 100 years. Many
Christian leaders consider him to be the greatest preacher England
ever produced. He is commonly hailed as the “Prince of Preachers”.
Over 63 volumes of published sermons still bear witness to the
richness and success of C. H. Spurgeon’s ministry. Though known
as a great preacher, it was not preaching that made Spurgeon
great. Mr. Spurgeon repeatedly acknowledged his success as
the direct result of his congregation’s faithful prayers. “It has often
been remarked that the whole church helped produce Spurgeon.”
When visitors would come to Spurgeon’s church he would take
them to the basement prayer-room where people were always on
their knees interceding. Then Spurgeon would declare, “Here is
the powerhouse of this church.”
Spurgeon in his autobiography described his gratefulness for being
blessed with such a praying church. “I always give all the glory to
God, but I do not forget that He gave me the privilege of ministering
from the first to a praying people. We had prayer meetings that
moved our very souls, each one appeared determined to storm the
Celestial City by the might of intercession.” Spurgeon regarded the
prayer-meeting as the spiritual thermometer of a church. His church’s
Monday night prayer meeting had a worldwide testimony for many
years. Every Monday night a large portion of Spurgeon’s sanctuary
was filled with earnest and fervent intercessors.
“In Spurgeon’s eyes the prayer-meeting was the most important
meeting of the week.” It is here many of us find ourselves in conflict
with dear Mr. Spurgeon. We love our meetings for preaching and
praising and yet sadly neglect those set aside for praying. One of
Spurgeon’s greatest concerns was that his people learn to truly
pray. “He taught his people to pray, doing so far more by his
example than by any preaching. People heard him pray with such
reality that they became ashamed of their own mere repetition of
words.” Throughout his entire ministry many hearers remarked
that they were moved by his preaching, but yet still more affected
by his praying. D. L. Moody after his first visit to England, being
asked upon his return to America, “Did you hear Spurgeon preach?”
He replied, “Yes, but better still I heard him pray.” A close friend
of Spurgeon’s, commented on his prayer life, “His public prayers
were an inspiration, but his prayers with the family were to me
more wonderful still. Mr. Spurgeon, when bowed before God in
family prayer, appeared a grander man even than when holding
thousands spellbound by his oratory.”
Spurgeon fully recognized that the Church’s greatest need was not
to have another, “Prince of Preachers”, but to have more princes
of prayer. One of his many published sermons expressed his
feelings on this. He wrote, “Shall I give you yet another reason why
you should pray? I have preached my very heart out. I could not
say any more than I have said. Will not your prayers accomplish
that which my preaching fails to do? Is it not likely that the Church
has been putting forth its preaching hand but not its praying hand?
Oh dear friends! Let us agonize in prayer . . . ”
There has been much talk lately about pockets of revival springing
up in our nation. Many are saying they desire such revivals in our
own local churches, and cities. Yet, is it not the prayer-meeting
which is still most neglected? If Christ Jesus were to visit us today
with real revival power, how could such a blessing be sustained
where there is no ground work laid in prayer? To merely exercise
our words about revival and not our knees is hypocrisy! It is time
to make the prayer-meeting as crowded as our favorite preaching
and praise meetings. It is then and ONLY then, that a true revival
will come with lasting power! Like Mr. Spurgeon, let us regard
the prayer-meeting as our most important meeting!
No Comments »
by Andrew Strom
I am really hoping to make this the last of this type of article for
awhile. Some people think I “love” putting out this stuff. But I
honestly wish it would all go away, so we could get on with the
‘real’ work of building the kingdom.
However, Bill Johnson is doing such damage to the Body of Christ
around the world that I simply cannot stay silent. In New Zealand
(where I am currently) he holds a huge Conference once a year
called “Manifest Presence”. This is amost certainly the biggest
and most influential Christian conference in the whole country.
And likewise in other nations, such as UK, Australia, Singapore,
and many others. His influence is enormous.
Bill Johnson is a very charming man. He also emphasizes a
number of things that I heartily agree with – such as street
evangelism using the gifts of the Spirit, prophecy and healing
on the streets, etc. But the problem is that he endorses and
promotes an “anointing” exactly identical to the one that Todd
Bentley promotes. The “drunken glory”, fire-tunnel, laughing,
jerking, gold-dust, “Angel-mania”-type anointing that has done
such damage to the Charismatic movement around the world -
and in many cases reduced it to a shocking travesty of what it
once was. What would Derek Prince or Keith Green think of the
things these men are into – spiritual drunkenness, “portals”,
‘visualization’, spirit-travel, fire-tunnels, angel-orbs and the like?
(Found all the way through the New Age movement, but not in
Bill Johnson was one of the biggest supporters of the Lakeland
revival led by Todd Bentley. And even after the fiasco that it
became, he publicly endorsed Todd Bentley’s ministry again in
2011. But Bill does it all with such “down-to-earth” charm and
wise-sounding words – “how could this be deception?” That is
what makes him so dangerous.
His wife Beni is co-pastor with Bill of Bethel church in Redding,
California. And interestingly she is even more open about the
bizarre things that they are into. She even puts it in writing on
the Internet, for all the world to see.
For example, in her “Life and Wellness” blog on July 6 this year,
here is what she wrote in an entry called ‘Love Shack Time’:
“I was talking with Ray Hughes the other day and was telling him
about using a 528 HZ tuning fork as a prophetic act. Someone
told me that this tuning fork is called the tuning fork of LOVE…”
(Please note that crystals and tuning forks are used in NEW AGE
therapy – and have nothing to do with Christianity in any way).
Beni continued: “Recently I got up to speak at a meeting and
walked up to the song “Love Shack” by the B52′s. I was calling
people to more love. It was so fun.”
I guess we are now beginning to get a sense of the strange
spiritual world that these people inhabit. Another blog post that
Beni wrote about ‘WAKING UP ANGELS’ in March 2009 was
also very revealing:
“In the last couple of months, I personally have become more
aware of the angelic activity in this realm. One of those times
was when we were on a prayer trip to Arizona… One morning as
we were driving up over Tehachapi Pass and coming down into
the Mojave Desert, I began to feel angels. The closer we got,
the stronger the impression felt. I could see them everywhere!..
I announced this to the group and said, “We have got to stop!
We have to stop somewhere…” As we drove around a corner I
said, “I think that we are going to wake up some angels here…”
“We knew we were to turn around, get out of the RV and wake
up the angels. I wish I could convey to you the energy and the
quickness of how God was working. We jumped out of the RV,
I blew the shofar and rang the bell, and we yelled “WAKEY
WAKEY.” We got back into the RV and drove off. As we drove
off, hilarious laughter broke out! We were stunned at the speed
at which this all took place and were spinning from the adventure
and the angelic activity. What in the world had just happened?!
Heaven collided with earth. Woo hoo!!
“Since that time, there has been a stirring in me to awaken the
angels for use in this Kingdom reign that is upon us here on earth.
I have shared these two stories in other places and have done a
prophetic act of waking up the angels: having everybody cry out,
“WAKEY WAKEY!” I know it is strange but it is very effective…
One of our gals who enjoys God’s angels… gets pretty wacked
when they are around…”
The reference that Beni makes here to “Heaven colliding with
earth” is of course directly tied to Bill Johnson’s most famous
teaching on “When Heaven Invades Earth”. Clearly, this is the
kind of thing they mean when they use that phrase. So if we
get with their program so-to-speak, we too can go around
“waking up angels” and getting “pretty wacked” when these
‘angels’ are around.
I guess the obvious question is whether they are “serious” about
all this. Sadly, the answer is “Yes.” When you get so completely
deceived that you think “drunken glory” and ‘tuning forks’ and
getting “wacked” are normal Christian behaviour, you are open
to anything. Tragically, if we look at all that these people have
said and done now for years and years, we have to conclude that
one of Christendom’s biggest leaders (Bill Johnson) inhabits the
most bizarre quasi-spiritual universe that you can imagine. And
he is spreading this deceived foolishness in the Body of Christ
on a mass scale. It might seem almost “funny” if it wasn’t so
‘New Age’ serious.
One young lady named Johanna who had been a student for many
months at Bill Johnson’s ‘Bethel’ school wrote to me the following:
“In August 2008 I moved to Redding, California to attend Bethel
School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). I graduated in May
2009… Almost right away I began to question the bizarre behavior
that is so normal there.
“At Bethel, there are many sayings that are tossed around daily…
“God only has nice things to say,” “There´s no high like the Most
High.” There would be all kinds of distracting behavior (random
shouting, laughing, etc.) during school sessions and church
services. When any guest speaker came to school, students
would flock to the front to get as close to the speaker as possible.
We were taught that any anointing we wanted could be received
by simply “claiming it” for ourselves. Students would rush the
stage and the front of the sanctuary so the speakers could lay
hands on them.
“Among the guest speakers were Bob Jones, Heidi Baker,
Georgian and Winnie Banov, Randy Clark, John and Carol Arnott…
We also had regular sessions with Bill Johnson, Beni Johnson…
and other Bethel pastors. The drunken behavior and questionable
teachings from some, if not all, of these speakers was shocking
at times. I can safely say that I never heard the word “repentance”
once in any teaching.
“I remember when the Banovs came, the whole place was complete
chaos. When they touched someone, that person would jerk
violently or stumble around as if they were drunk. The Banovs
minister to people in trash dumps around the world… What I
remember them talking about was love, joy, bliss, and the new wine.
“Angels were often talked about. I remember Beni Johnson actually
took an RV across Arizona and New Mexico to wake up angels
that were supposedly sleeping. (Another one of the common
phrases, “Wakey wakey”). I would always hear people talking
about their encounters with angels and how they visited heaven.
One young woman I knew said she could see angels everywhere,
she talked to them all the time, and she would help her friends to
do the same… God becomes like Santa Claus. Without the
preaching of the true gospel, the fear of the Lord is lost.”
ANDREW AGAIN: As you can see from all these reports, the
ministry of Bill Johnson is highly suspect. Sadly, because the
deception is not as “obvious” as Todd Bentley, people are
charmed into thinking he’s “fine”. Charismatic leaders around
the world flock to his meetings and openly endorse his teachings.
For this reason I believe he is far more dangerous than Todd
Bentley ever was. The Bible says that in the last days will come
false teachers and “lying signs and wonders” to deceive if
possible the “very elect.” And what do we see today? New Age
practices and spirits are flooding the church. And it is men like
Bill Johnson that have become the “acceptable face” of this
invasion. Please, friends, steer well clear.
Please forward this email to anyone you feel may be in danger
from this deception. And please comment at our website below-
God bless you all.
No Comments »
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about…. Jerusalem [will be] a burdensome stone for all people….In that day will I make the governors of Judah…like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about….
When the above prophecies were written about 2,500 years ago, Jerusalem lay in ruins. Its history thereafter was repeated destruction, the Jews scattered everywhere and hounded to the death. Yet God brought His despised people back into their own land in 1948. And today, hanging like a millstone around its neck, Jerusalem is the number one problem the UN faces, as the prophets foretold.
Israel is insignificant in size, but formidable. America failed miserably to rescue its hostages in Iran, but Israel recovered hers from the heart of Africa and lost only one man. When Iraq defiantly went about developing nuclear weapons, Israel bombed its facility out of existence. Israel’s forces could take over Cairo, Damascus and Beirut. She is indeed like “a torch of fire in a sheaf” capable of “devour[ing] all people round about.”
Most of the nations of today’s world refuse to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They want it to be under international control. The Vatican has demanded the internationalization of Jerusalem for 48 years. Recently the heads of the Christian community in Jerusalem called for its internationalization. The World Council of Churches demands the same. Amazingly, Israel’s leaders have secretly offered to hand over sovereignty of Jerusalem’s Old City to the Vatican. Jerusalem is to become the “second Vatican of the world.” 1
The Bible’s more than 800 references to Jerusalem offer the only explanation for its astonishing importance on today’s world stage: Jerusalem is “the City of our God” (Ps:48:1,8) chosen by Him to play a special role in human destiny. Moreover, Jerusalem is intended to be the capital of a specific land far larger than Israel occupies today—”from the river of Egypt unto…the river Euphrates” (Gen:15:18)—given by God to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as an “ everlasting inheritance” (Gen:13:15; Jer:7:7, etc.).
Even the Koran designates the children of Israel as the “people of the Book” whom Moses led into the promised land and to whom that land belongs (Surah 2:63 ff.; 5:19-24,68,70; 10:91,94; 44:30 ff.; etc.). Nevertheless, Islam insists that Israel belongs to the Arabs. Therefore, the Jewish state must be destroyed! Otherwise, Islam has been proven a false religion. That is the issue. Deceptive peace talk by Arabs serves only to position them better for the annihilation of Israel. Yes, apparent peace will be established, but it will lead to Armageddon.
To defeat this young David militarily from without is clearly a vain hope for the Arab Goliaths who have tried and failed repeatedly. She must be destroyed from within by a “peace offensive.” The Arab strategy is clear: make overtures of peace, sign peace accords, and by whatever subterfuge that works gain a foothold within the borders of Israel from which to launch the final attack that will bring about her complete destruction. To imagine that the Arabs have any other intention is to be deceived.
Yet even some evangelicals are under the delusion that current negotiations are bringing real peace. Lately TBN’s Paul Crouch and CBN’s Pat Robertson have been promoting that fantasy. Supposedly God’s peace is being engineered by a Muslim terrorist organization and an unbelieving Israeli leadership which is disobeying God in bartering land He gave to Israel that was never to be given up!
Yasser Arafat knows better. Early in 1994, in a speech at a Johannesburg mosque, he called for continuing jihad (holy war) by the Arabs to retake Jerusalem. Arafat left no doubt as to his meaning: “This agreement [between the PLO and Israel], I am not considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our Prophet Muhammad and Kuraish.” After signing a “peace treaty” with his own tribe, the Kuraish, Mohammed broke it on a pretext, killed the Kuraish leaders and conquered Mecca. So Arafat was saying that the PLO’s agreement with Israel is only a step toward her conquest and is intended to be broken.
Furthermore, the conquest not only of Israel but of the world is Islam’s unchangeable goal. Everyone in the West knows about the Iron and Bamboo Curtains and communism’s determination to take over the world. Yet the Islamic Curtain is never mentioned in the media nor is Islam’s intention to conquer the world for Allah. There was more freedom of religion in the former Soviet Union and there remains more today in communist China than there is in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, the Sudan and other Islamic countries. The spread of Islam’s mosques throughout the Western world accelerates even while Islam denies the same overt liberty for other religions in territories it controls. It is estimated that fully one-third of the world’s population will have embraced this fastest growing religion by the end of this decade.
From the very beginning, Islam has been a religion of conquest. Muhammad himself led 27 invasions of neighboring towns, and during his lifetime his followers engaged in about 50 more. The conquered peoples were given the choice of conversion to Islam or death. At times, a third alternative was granted: the payment of heavy tribute. Islam converted by force the vast regions it now dominates and where conversion of a Muslim to another religion is forbidden. The penalty for conversion is death in Saudi Arabia today.
Islamic terrorists are playing out their special role in Islam’s intended conquest of the world. That Islam offers those who die in jihad assurance of Paradise encourages the most effective terrorists, the suicide bombers who conceal on their bodies explosives which they detonate to kill Israelis. “The faces of [these] martyred [heroes] stare down at you from a thousand postered walls in Beirut and Tehran….When an Egyptian soldier named Suleiman Khater went berserk in the Sinai and killed five Israeli tourists, what did Iran do? It declared him a hero, named a street after him and set aside a day honoring him….” 2
The late Ayatollah Khomeini explained, “The purest joy in Islam is to kill and be killed for God.” In its war against Iraq, Iran cleared minefields by utilizing thousands of young schoolboys to walk along in front of troops and tanks. In 1982, in one minefield alone, about 5,000 children were torn to bits exploding the mines so that the army could move across the cleared path. 3
Arab terrorism is passed off as the fault of a tiny minority of fanatics who are out of step with mainstream Islam and the educated Arab world. On the contrary, the Koran says in Surah 5:33 (see also 47:4) that all those who oppose Allah (i.e., non-Muslims) are to be “killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off….” Surah 9:5 says to “slay the [non-Muslims] wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush….”
Nevertheless, the major world media remains pro-Arab and anti-Israel. That bias is demonstrated almost daily. Consider the sanitization of the terrorist organization Hamas after one of its agents blew himself up on a bus in Tel Aviv, killing 22 and wounding many others. 4 That afternoon CNN news commentator Hilary Bowker commented that while most people think of a terrorist organization when they hear the word Hamas, “the group actually does quite a bit more than that….” Rosemary Hollis, an “expert” being interviewed, added, “They are part of the community. Many professionals of Hamas…will perform functions …in the schools, or in the clinics or through the mosques…[for] the poor people.”
Other networks continued the whitewash, including America’s most watched news program, ABC’s “World News Tonight” with Peter Jennings. The Jerusalem Post has said, “In turning a massacre of Israelis into pro-Palestinian propaganda, no one is a greater virtuoso than ABC-TV’s Peter Jennings.” 5 There was not a word that anyone had been killed in the bus bombing, which Jennings explained as an act of revenge for an earlier attack upon a mosque by an Israeli. Inexcusably, Jennings failed to distinguish between an impulsive outburst by a deranged individual acting on his own and a carefully planned attack by an organization which has devoted itself to terrorism with the backing of Arab nations. Hamas declares that every Muslim is obliged to aid in Israel’s destruction. Jennings described these professional murderers as “devout and politically aware Moslems” and depicted them as heroes. No blame was leveled at Hamas, but Israel was blamed for the death of one of her own soldiers, Nahshon Wachsman, kidnapped by Hamas who, said Jennings, “subsequently died when the Israelis tried to rescue him by force.” Shame on Israel for defending herself!
Tom Brokaw was not to be outdone. From Jerusalem he presented a program called “The Story of the Israeli Fathers.” It “featured interviews with Nahshon Wachsman’s father, Yehuda Wachsman, and Tyassir Natsche, a ‘wealthy Arab merchant,’ the father of one of Nahshon’s kidnappers. [Commented Brokaw], ‘Two fathers in the Middle East, both grieving …religious men, joined, for now, only in the deaths of their sons.’” 6 One wonders by what rationale the death of the one murdered could be placed on the same level as the death of the one who kidnapped and killed him. What a masterful deception!
Of 21 Arab countries, not one is a democracy. There is no freedom of religion, and other basic rights are often denied. One must be a Muslim, for example, to be a citizen of Saudi Arabia. Christian meetings, public or private, are forbidden. Five Christians from the Philippines were recently imprisoned for holding a home Bible meeting. 7 The death penalty for blaspheming Muhammad has been in force in Pakistan since 1991. In the Sudan, Christians are being literally crucified. Yet Muslims living in the West enjoy the freedom of religion, of the press and of speech that is denied to non-Muslims in Arab countries. In America, thousands of its citizens, including Muslims, protested its participation in the Gulf War; but in Saudi Arabia, one of our allies for whose freedom we were fighting, the government warned that anyone protesting the war effort would have a hand and a leg cut off or be executed. 8 As Robert Morey explains in Islamic Invasion (see books we offer):
Islamic law does not recognize freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, or freedom of the press…non-Muslims…are routinely denied even the most basic civil rights….
Incarceration without due process; the use of torture; political assassination; the cutting off of hands, feet, ears, tongues, and heads; and the gouging out of eyes—all of these things are part of Islamic law today because they were part of seventh-century Arabian culture….Unless this is firmly grasped …[Westerners] will never understand why Muslims think and act the way they do….
The denial of civil rights to women which is clearly in the text of the Quran itself is reflective of seventh-century Arabian culture and its low view of women.
Anti-Semitism on the part of non-Muslims, too, is rising worldwide. A safe haven for Jews is needed, as it was in Hitler’s day. Yet as then, so now, that refuge is being refused. Israel is running out of housing space and the whole world sides with the terrorists in demanding a stop to construction of Jewish housing in “the occupied territories.” Then where are Jewish refugees to be housed—refugees from Russia, for example, where Vladimir Zhirinovsky openly declares, “I’ll act as Hitler did…I may have to shoot 100,000,” and captures 25 percent of the Russian vote?!
“Occupied territories”? God promised this land to His people. Anyone opposing full possession and enjoyment of Israel’s heritage is rebelling against God and comes under the curse which He established: “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee…” (Gen:12:3). Those who believe the Bible are forced to admit that the “promised land” belongs to Abraham’s descendants to whom God gave it and must pray for their peaceful enjoyment of that land.
It is not a matter of being “pro-Israel” or “pro-Arab” or “anti” either of these peoples, but of agreeing with God. Tragically, in trying to take back land from Israel, the Arab nations are opposing God and thereby robbing themselves of the blessing He promised to those who would bless Israel. Bluster, anger and terrorism can-not change the facts. God will have His way. Unfortunately, most Israelis them-selves do not believe God.
Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt and is giving back the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians. Early in February 1995, in a brief military ceremony, Israel returned to Jordan 340 square kilometers of land. Radio Jordan announced triumphantly, “Jordan has achieved full sovereignty over lands that Israel had occupied.” 10 By such deeds, Israel is repudiating the very promises of God who gave her this land “for ever” (Ex 32:11-13; Ex 37:25; Jer:25:4-5 , etc.) and forbade her to sell it (Lev:25:23). Instead of looking to God, Israel is seeking “peace” in the most naive of partnerships with its two most implacable enemies in history, the Vatican and Islam.
Amazingly, Israel is proudly trusting in her own capabilities. In the declaration of Israel’s rebirth made by David Ben-Gurion, May 14, 1948, no mention was made of the God who had restored her to her land! Itzhak Rabin, Major General and Israeli Chief of Staff at the time of Israel’s smashing 1967 victory, boasted, “All this has been done by the Israel defense forces alone, with what we have, without anything or anybody else.” 11 How different was King David’s attitude, who won even greater victories and gave God all the credit. And how much suffering yet lies ahead of modern Israel until she learns to put her trust in the same One and realizes how desperately she needs David’s God! Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. TBC
No Comments »
By Thom S. Rainer , Christian Post Guest Columnist
September 10, 2012|9:37 am
Not all the news about pastors is discouraging. Pastors feel privileged to be called to their places of ministry. They have a deep love for those they shepherd. Most of them could not conceive of doing anything else.
But please hear me: Many pastors are hurting.
LifeWay Research conducted a national survey of Protestant pastors. Among the questions they asked were two related to the hurts I noted above.
The Discouragement Factor
One of the key symptoms of the pain experienced by pastors is discouragement. Over one-half (55%) of pastors are presently discouraged. I suspect that if we surveyed pastors over just a few months, we would find that almost all of them experience deep discouragement.
Some interesting facts we discovered in our study:
• There was no pattern of discouragement related to the geographical location of the church.
• There was no pattern of discouragement related to the size of the church.
• There was no pattern of discouragement related to the educational level of the pastor.
• There was a significant pattern of discouragement related to the age of the pastor. The younger the pastor, the more likely he was to be discouraged.
The Loneliness Factor
Most pastors experience intense loneliness at times. When we conducted our survey, over one-half again (coincidentally the same number, 55%, as noted above) said they were lonely. Again remember that this survey was for a specific point in time.
Which pastors experience the greatest amount of loneliness? Our study noted some discernible patterns:
• There was no pattern of loneliness related to the geographical location of the church.
• Younger pastors were more likely to be lonely than older pastors.
• The larger the church, the greater the likelihood that the pastor was experiencing loneliness.
• The greater the education level of the pastor, the more likely he is to be lonely.
Why the Pervasive Discouragement and Loneliness?
Why are so many pastors struggling today? In an earlier article I wrote on pastoral depression, I noted the following possible reasons:
• Spiritual warfare. The Enemy does not want God’s servants to be effective in ministry. He will do whatever it takes to hurt ministers and their ministries.
• Unrealistic expectations. The expectations and demands upon a pastor are enormous. They are unrealistic. But if one person’s expectations are not met, that person can quickly let the pastor know that he is a failure.
• Greater platforms for critics. In “the good old days,” a critic was typically limited to telephone, mail, and in-person meetings to criticize a minister. Today the critics have the visible and pervasive platforms of email, blogs, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
• Failure to take time away from the church or place of ministry. Workaholism leads to burnout. Burnout leads to depression.
• Marriage and family problems. Too often the pastor neglects his family as he cares for the larger church family.
• Financial strains. Many pastors simply do not have sufficient income from the churches they serve. That financial stress can lead to depression. Some pastors do not know how to manage the money they do have, leading to further financial strain.
• The problem of comparison. Every pastor will always know of a church that is larger and more effective. Every pastor will always know of another pastor who seems more successful. The comparison game can be debilitating to some pastors.
This one thing I do know. Pastors need our prayers more than ever. They need our support and encouragement. I am committed to pray for my pastor every day, even if it’s only for a minute or so. Will you do the same? Our pastors pour out their lives for us daily. What can you do to help our pastors?
LifeWay Research contacted 1,000 Protestant pastors across the United States by telephone. The calling list was randomly drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Up to six calls were made to reach each sampled phone number. Each interview was conducted with the senior or solo pastor or equivalent position. Responses were weighted to reflect geographical distribution of Protestant churches. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +/- 3.2%. Margins of error are higher for sub-groups.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/pastors-are-hurting-81347/#U4zfwYWcD6lod3GT.99
No Comments »
Exodus International president Alan Chambers has, in the past week, explained the Orlando-based ministry’s recent U-turn on reparative therapy to everyone from The New York Times to NPR to MSNBC’s Hardball.
And while the organization’s stance remains acceptable to most evangelicals, some scholars fear that Chambers’s theological convictions—sprinkled throughout those interviews—have not.
“It’s not that he is simply not saying the warnings [against homosexual activity] in Scripture. I could live with that,” Pittsburgh Theological Seminary professor Robert Gagnon said of Chambers’s recent comments. “It’s that he is saying the exact opposite of what Scripture clearly teaches … . He’s preaching an anti-gospel.”
The theological heresy in question is antinomianism. The term was coined by Martin Luther to refer to those who believe that since faith is sufficient for salvation, Christians are not obligated to keep God’s moral law.
Gagnon, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice and a plenary speaker at Exodus’s 2009 Freedom Conference, said that a June interview in The Atlantic shows that Chambers’s views have veered. “Some of us choose very different lives than others,” Chambers said of gay Christians in same-sex marriages. “But whatever we choose, it doesn’t remove our relationship with God.”
When asked to clarify whether or not that meant “a person living a gay lifestyle won’t go to hell, as long as he or she accepts Jesus Christ as personal savior,” he replied, “My personal belief is … while behavior matters, those things don’t interrupt someone’s relationship with Christ.” In the course of the interview, Chambers made it clear that he believes that homosexual acts are sinful.
A 35-page response written by Gagnon called into question not only Chambers’s soteriology, but also his ability to continue his 11-plus years of leading Exodus, which boasts some 260 affiliates domestically and internationally.
According to Gagnon, Chambers’s statements unwittingly affirm that active homosexuals need only make an “intellectual assent” or “pray a prayer” to guard against eternal punishment, instead of stipulating the importance of repentance and change.
“I am not saying [Chambers] has to—in a sort of callous, unloving way—shout from the rooftops, ‘You are going to hell,’” said Gagnon. “But he does need to make clear that there are these warnings [against homosexual behavior] in Scripture. It would be unloving and ungracious for him to assure people of things that Scripture does not.”
Echoing the criticisms of “cheap grace” popularized by the late German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Gagnon said that Chambers’s remarks “provide assurance to people that all is well when they live a life not led by the power of the Holy Spirit, but are led by the controlling influence of sin.”
“In reality, all is not well,” he said. “[Chambers] unintentionally deceives people into extending this philosophy of ‘cheap grace’ in their life, which puts them at risk of not inheriting the kingdom [of God].”
Defending his public remarks, Chambers told Christianity Today, “If someone tells me that they have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ—in the way I understand it and have experienced it—they still know Jesus regardless of what types of behavior they’ve chosen to be involved in.”
“I don’t know how anyone could call grace cheap when it cost Jesus everything,” said Chambers. “I find it disheartening that we [evangelicals] are so inconsistent and over-focused on one group of people over another. We aren’t talking about this in any other subculture of people except this one [the LGBTQ community].”
No Comments »
I believe many of us have either heard or spoken those very words. Some are still pondering whether they are in the right church. Although we all know the church comprises of sinners and all of varying degrees of faith, we are still provoked with the idea of a perfect church.
My church has its share of problems. The bigger a church, the more trouble there will certainly be. This is inevitable when people are opinionated and divided in their beliefs and values.
A few months ago, I met a Christian sister from another church. She asked me if I was still attending the same church. She looked astonishingly shocked when I told her yes. She began to tell me a string of rumors she had heard from her friends. Most of the stories were linked to the church funds being manipulated for personal gain by the pastors and deacons. I told her that rumors were not facts and her friends ought to provide evidence before ranting such unnecessary tales. She kept convincing me that she had heard not just from one source, but several. I decided to listen into the details and avoided disagreement that would possibly augment into serious misunderstanding. When she had finished talking, I conveyed my gratitude and realized she was just an overly concerned friend.
That night, I returned home and was disturbed by the remarks and rumors. My church was persecuted and had diminished in reputation. The kind of slandering made was definitely something not to be taken lightly. So I decided to bring the subject before the Lord in prayer. As a result I adopted a more skeptical persona towards the church. Lately I found the sermons to be lacking in spiritual depth. I demonstrated disagreement with the worship patterns that comprised too much emotional gesture. I displayed disapproval of a pastor’s rude behavior towards a church worker. The Sunday school was lacking in attendance and everyone knew very well the reason for such. Lastly I asked one of the leaders about her recent missions trip overseas. But what I got in return was “later, later…it’s not important”. I thought about the church building fund of which tens of millions of dollars was going to be spent on buying a piece of land in a suburban area of the city outskirts. I asked whether there was going to be another fund raising campaign for the building. Someone replied saying, “that will be donated by some members”.
One Sunday morning, I decided to skip church service because I was not only frustrated but I was also seeking the Lord for wisdom. I prayed all morning and by noon, I started to read His word and the first passage that spoke to me was taken from Acts 17:2-7. Our agenda should not focus on the what’s, how’s, or why’s of the church but rather on Jesus. We serve because of our love for Christ. Our guide is the Bible. The black and white of the church is clearly interpreted in the Bible. In Christ, there are no “gray” areas. Paul was one who understood this well and focused his life on preaching the word and convicting the churches to exercise Christ in their lives. That should be the role of every believer. We should not seek perfection in the system and structure of our church.
For there is no perfect church, for only Christ is perfect!
No Comments »
One of the greatest sorrows for lovers of God is the fact that the vast majority of mankind selfishly and ungratefully live day after day without even thinking of the Creator to whom they owe their existence and who holds their eternal destiny in His hands. So it is even with many who claim to know Him. How often do you tell God you love Him, and thank Him for His love and grace and the salvation He has given you in Christ? When was the last time?
The miracle of our bodies, with their trillions of unfathomable cells and chance-defying organs such as the eye and brain, the ingenious design displayed in nature, and the mystery of soul and spirit loudly declare: “[I]n the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen:1:1) and He made man “in his image” (1:26-28). Yet most people embrace the outrageous fraud of evolution.
This world’s contemptuous disregard of its Creator makes me weep for His sake; and, as the old song says, “causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble” for the judgment that is coming upon mankind! “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps:9:17). And forget God they surely have.
Paul declared: “even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind…[to] all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness…[They are] haters of God…inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents…without natural affection…who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death…do the same, [and] have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom:1:28-32). The connection is undeniable between the evil foretold for “the last days” (2 Tim:3:1-7) and the godless “lifestyles” popularized on trendy TV shows.
Hollywood has long glorified and exported all manner of ungodliness. The marketing of evil provides billions of dollars in profits through promoting youth rebellion; sexual “freedom” and wanton perversion; mutilation of the body; obscene, suicidal, and murderous lyrics; and gangland and satanic clothing. Could Sodom and Gomorrah have been much worse?
Homes are invaded and families destroyed by immoral, corrupting media, leaving consciences “seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim:4:2). Many Christians enjoy what would have shamed and embarrassed them a few years ago. An estimated 50 percent of professing Christians have been attracted to internet pornography.
And to attract those thus corrupted, many of the largest and fastest-growing churches mimic the world in “seeker-friendly” and “youth-oriented” services that exploit sensuality and compromise the truth. The Christian Science Monitor (12/30/03) reported that “megachurches are good at reaching young people raised in an entertainment-saturated culture….Many have…a rock-concert feel to them….[At the] largest congregation in the United States, with more than 25,000 attendants each weekend…Victoria Osteen steps to the podium in front of 16,000 cheering Sunday worshipers and proclaims: ‘We’re going to rock today!’” Worship Leader (Nov-Dec ’03) reported, “…the Jesus People erected [a] worship ritual…from the preeminent communal ceremony of their generation—the rock concert.”
Through “contemporary Christian music” and “contemporary worship,” the church has been converted to the “religion” of the world! Some of the largest presumably evangelical churches have designed their Sunday morning services based upon what the ungodly want. Missing are the fear of a holy God’s wrath against sin, trembling repentance, and grateful faith in Christ, the eternal God who became man through the virgin birth to suffer the full penalty of God’s judgment in our place. Seeker-friendly churches must not “offend” with the Truth, but pamper with the flattering “gospel” of self-esteem, self-love, and positive thinking—a “gospel” that cannot save. As Paul foretold, “they will not endure sound doctrine…” (2 Tim:4:3).
Creating large, rich churches is not new. In A Woman Rides the Beast , we show that the Roman Catholic Church—the world’s largest and wealthiest—grew out of a marriage between the Roman world and the church, making “Christianity” the state religion. Historian Will Durant explains, “…the world converted Christianity….[Paganism] passed like maternal blood into the new religion, and captive Rome captured her conqueror” ( Caesar and Christ , 657, 672).
Roman Catholicism grew by wed-ding itself to the dominant pagan religion in Italy, Spain, Latin America, Africa, the Philip-pines, etc. Haiti is said to be 85 percent Catholic and 110 percent Vodoun. New Orleans, “the most Catholic city in America,” ( Our Sunday Visitor , 10/15/95) is its voodoo capital.
And now, “Protestantism” is creating megachurches by merging with the “new paganism” in today’s culture—a culture that is becoming ever more anti-Christian and anti-Israel.
In blatant defiance of God and His Word, the nations have robbed Israel of most of the land God gave His chosen people as “an everlasting possession” (Gen:17:8). In further insolence, and sadly under the leadership of America’s Christian president, the world is determined to give more of Israel’s land to Arabs/Muslims as a reward for their hatred of Christ and religious vows to exterminate the Jews. And Islam intends to take all.
Today’s world doesn’t need more entertainment and “positive” messages assuring the “hurting” that God loves, forgives, “accepts them as they are,” heals their “inner child,” and has an exciting plan for their lives. Mankind needs the changeless convicting truth that leads sinners to repentance and salvation. God’s holy character has not changed; the separation between man and God caused by sin—and the judgment to come—have not changed; nor has God’s remedy in Christ been outdated and revised. On these basic facts the Bible is clear and uncompromising.
Like the father with the “prodigal son” (Lk 15:11-32), a gracious God is ever eager to embrace repentant sinners. But His holiness and justice allow pardon only for those who accept the blood of Christ poured out upon the Cross on their behalf.
We must preach the gospel everywhere to everyone (Mk 16:15). It must be believed for anyone to be saved from eternal separation from God: “the gospel of Christ…is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom:1:16); “there is none other name…whereby we must be saved (Acts:4:12); “what must I do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Acts:16:30,31). The warning is solemn and clear: “he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (Jn:3:36).
Yet Robert Schuller (whose Hour of Power reaches 20 million viewers weekly) declares, “We have to find God in our own way…” ( Larry King Live , 12/19/98).
Rewriting the Bible, Schuller turns God’s solemn warning, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” into Believe in the God Who Believes in You (Thomas Nelson Publishers). Paul had “no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3)—but God believes in us?
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim:1:15). Yet Schuller, self-proclaimed “founder of the church growth movement” (his annual Institute for Successful Church Leadership has attracted tens of thousands of pastors from around the world), claims that “attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition” is an “unchristian strategy” which is “destructive [and] counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise…” ( Christianity Today, 10/5/84)!
David F. Wells writes, “In another age, Robert Schuller’s ministry…might well have been viewed…as comedy….Sin, he says with a cherubic smile, is not what shatters our relationship to God [but] that we do not esteem ourselves enough. In the Crystal Cathedral, therefore, let the word sin be banished….Christ was not drawing a profound moral compass in the Sermon on the Mount; he was just giving us a set of ‘be (happy) attitudes’…” ( No Place for Truth , p. 175).
We are commanded to “preach the word…reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine ” (2 Tim:4:2). God’s Word is the foundation of our faith—yet that foundation is being undermined. “Christian psychology” takes the theories of atheists such as Freud, Jung, Rogers, Maslow, et al., and repackages their lies as truth that improves God’s holy and perfect Word.
Bruce Narramore, following in his uncle Clyde’s footsteps, admits, “Under the influence of humanistic psychologists like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, many of us Christians have begun to see our need for self-love and self-esteem. This is a good and necessary focus” ( You’re Someone Special , Zondervan, p. 22). Yet Paul warned against thinking too highly of oneself (Rom:12:3) and urged, “let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). But that was before today’s church surrendered to the surrounding culture.
Attempting to build large and successful churches, many of today’s pastors draw upon secular motivational speakers’ advice designed to foster worldly success. Tragically, this is the basis of much that is offered by Rick Warren (a graduate of Schuller’s Institute), the most popular and influential “church growth” guru today, whose methods and example are being followed by literally tens of thousands of fellow pastors worldwide—and by millions of lay readers of his books.
Warren does offer much sound advice in The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life . Commendably, he attempts to support most points with “nearly a thousand quotations from Scripture” ( Life , p. 325). But the “scriptures” he quotes are speculative paraphrases such as The Message (see TBC Q&A Oct. ’95) by Eugene H. Peterson (NavPress).
“Every word of God is pure” (Prov:30:5), we “live…by every word of God” (Lk 4:4), and are “born again…by the word of God…which by the gospel is preached…” (1 Pt 1:23-25). Yet The Message , like other paraphrases, substitutes man’s words for God’s words! Peterson says that The Message is “not…a word-for-word conversion” of God’s Holy Word into modern language but what he thinks God’s Word means —not a translation but an interpretation (Introduction). What audacity to rewrite the Bible! Yet such shameless perversions of God’s Word are Warren’s major support for his thesis.
Paraphrases based upon “dynamic equivalency” partake of two destructive errors: 1) instead of translating the words of Scripture, they interpret in modern language what they believe are the ideas presented; and 2) they dumb down the language to make it “understandable.”
Interpretation is proper in sermons and commentaries, which listeners/readers can compare to the Word of God. The Message , however, is offered as “This version of the New Testament…” (p. 7), misleading readers into thinking they have the Scriptures in their hands. Even J. I. Packer and Warren W. Wiersbe praise The Message as Scripture (back cover)—which it is not.
John:3:17, for example, “that the world through him might be saved,” reads, “He came to help, to put the world right again.” “Saved” means redeemed from the judgment we deserve for our sins, and fitted for heaven—but “to help” merely assists our efforts. And “to put the world right again” sounds like social or political reform! Such flagrant perversion of God’s Word permeates The Message —and Warren turns to it for support.
Such paraphrases rewrite Scripture in simple language to make the ideas understandable. But there is much depth in God’s Word that even the most mature Christian finds difficult. The “deep things of God” are revealed by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor:2:10), not by simplifying God’s words. Peter said that in Paul’s epistles were “some things hard to be understood…” (2 Pt 3:16). Obviously the depth of Scripture is lost in simplifying it.
The Purpose Driven Life never presents the biblical gospel, which alone saves. Readers are told to “learn to love and trust God’s Son, Jesus” (p. 37); that if they “have a relationship with God through Jesus,” they needn’t fear death (p. 40); that “your identity is in eternity, and your homeland is heaven” (p. 48); and that “Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ. If you are not sure you have done this, all you need to do is receive and believe ” (p. 58).
None of the essential elements of the gospel—that man is a sinner under God’s judgment, that Christ is God and man through a virgin birth, that He paid the penalty for our sins, that He resurrected the third day—is given (1 Cor:15:1-4). Readers are offered “friendship” with God through believing in a “Christ” who went to the cross because He “would rather die than live without us” (p. 79)! That is not the gospel!
The reader is told that his genetic makeup, physical features, talents, personality, the details of his daily life, etc., are exactly what God has foreordained: “God prescribed every single detail of your body….He planned it all for his purpose…” (pp. 22, 23). “You’re just what he wanted to make” (p. 25). Not so. The cumulative effects of man’s rebellion have created a pool of genetic distortions in humanity resulting in a deformed world with distorted beings that God never intended.
Warren justifies this fatalistic view from The Living Bible : “You [God]…scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe” (Ps:139:16)—not even close to what that verse actually says! Is every sinful thought and deed exactly what God has planned?! Men are not sinners but puppets if everything is exactly what God has decreed.
Let us be careful to “preach the word” and “obey the word” and allow Christ the “living word” to live through us as we offer sinners the biblical “gospel of God” (Rom:1:1) that truly saves. And let us “earnestly contend” for this unchangeable faith (Jude 3). TBC
No Comments »
Before You Quit Your Church
By Dr. Dale A. Robbins
There are many things that can cause a person to consider leaving a church — some good and some not so good. Many times the Lord may reassign a person to another church so they can bring ministry or encouragement to another congregation — that’s the best reason to leave a church. In other situations, people may discover that their church actually impedes their spiritual well-being, and may find the necessity to withdraw. Frequently, people leave a church simply because they are disinterested, dissatisfied, or feel they can find something better.
Before doing anything, it’s a good idea to pray about your situation and seek the Lord’s leading (Prov. 3:6). If you feel the Lord genuinely wants you to leave and go elsewhere for good reason, go to the pastor and discuss it with him. Don’t just stop showing up for church. That is inconsiderate and immature. Keep in mind, leaving one church always means finding another — the Lord does not lead anyone to simply stop going to church (Heb. 10:25).
My advice to you is, if you are presently in a church that (1) is scripturally sound, (2) is reasonably stable and loving, (3) has godly, moral leadership, (4) is doing their best to exalt Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and (5) if they’re making a reasonable effort to minister to you and your family, then hang in there and remain faithful! You don’t know how blessed you are to have a healthy church like that. Many Christians would give anything to just find a church that is merely at peace!
If you’re unhappy with a church which fits this fivefold description, it’s very likely that the problem isn’t the church, but yours. Either you’re hung up on some trivial issue, your feelings have been hurt, or you struggle with discontent from other personal problems.
Seven things to consider before leaving a church:
1. Don’t leave a church out of your personal discontent. — If discontent is rooted within you, it will follow you wherever you go, regardless of what church you attend. Many years ago, a certain lady who had attended our church for a few weeks came to speak with me. “Your church is so refreshing from all the other churches around here,” she complemented. Curious, I asked, “Just how many other churches have you attended?” “Oh, about thirteen,” was her reply. Privately, I realized that we were going to have problems with this new lady, because when it comes down to the basics, most Christian churches aren’t that much different from each other. Whenever a person finds dissatisfaction with several congregations, you can be assured that the problem is their own, not the churches. And sure enough, the woman eventually became discontent and left our church too, the same as the previous thirteen.
2. Don’t leave a church because you transferred your own personal frustrations there. — Avoid pushing off your feelings of disappointment from other areas of our life onto the church. Sometimes unhappiness toward the church is a derivative from other personal problems such as: Family or marital difficulties, job dissatisfaction, personal offenses, memories of childhood abuse, mental stress, emotional illness, and so forth. People who struggle with deep internal problems sometimes develop a distorted estimation of the people or situations around them, and may blame them, including the church, for their anguish. Generally speaking, the church is not your problem. Remember that it and its ministers are there because they love you and want to help you — not hurt you.
3. Don’t leave a church because your feelings got hurt. – Hurt feelings are a “violation of self interests” and are usually a result of being too self-sensitive. In any church or gathering of people there may be many offensive things said or done, mostly unintended, but you don’t have to let yourself become offended. Those who are easily offended may simply be immature, too self-centered, or may retain self-sensitivities due to past, festering wounds. Hurt feelings are probably the greatest reason why people leave churches, but deepening your roots in Christ and His word can immunize you against such tenderness. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165 KJV).
4. Don’t leave a church over trivial criticisms. – People sometimes have a remarkable ability of making a mountain out of molehill. I’ve known people to change churches merely because they didn’t like the way the pastor combed his hair, the length of the services, how the bulletin was typed, or other silly reasons. Of the many excuses that persons use to leave a church, this is among the most shallow. If all you seem to do is criticize and find fault with the church, you have an attitude problem. Regardless of where you go to church, you’ll find similar faults again, because the problem isn’t with the church — the problem is with you.
5. Avoid leaving a church over its style or individuality. – One of the most common explanations people give for switching churches is their “disagreement with certain beliefs.” However, I can recall many instances where people used this reason even though both churches believed and taught the same things. In reality, it was a dislike of the personality of the church — its teaching methods, the style of worship, the structure of the services, or the pastor’s preaching style, etc. Many churches actually believe and teach the same things, but each might have a slightly different method, structure, or style which makes up it’s unique personality. No two churches are alike in their personality or methods, any more than two people are alike, but it’s not really very mature to abandon a church over such, shallow, external things. Our estimation of a church should be based on more spiritual, substantive issues, such as their beliefs, their love for one another, or their commitment to reach the lost, etc.
6. Don’t leave a church when faced with self conflict. – Many people do not understand that spiritual growth requires confronting and overcoming conflict with our self-willed nature (James 1:3-4). The environment of the church provides two important features of growth producing conflict: (1) Authority who will challenge you with truth and correct you when you are wrong. And (2) an environment of believers, many of whom are imperfect and whose rough edges will serve as sandpaper to smooth out your wrinkles. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17).
If anyone thinks he is spiritual, just get close to your brethren, and you’ll find out what’s really inside you. People are like “mirrors” in which we can see ourselves as we really are. If there’s bitterness or a lack of love, it will become exposed. It doesn’t matter how agitating, rude or unspiritual your brethren might be. This does not justify your intolerance or impatience with them. These attitudes are characteristics of your own immaturity — a weakness in YOU that needs perfected. This is why some people run from church to church — because it exposes their bad side. They see their own sins and blemishes revealed in their relationship with the brethren, or they become outraged when their self-willed desires or sins are challenged through convicting preaching or correction.
If a person remains a “island” to themself they will never have to face up to the spiritual immaturity within them. But exposing themselves to the environment of the church will cause them to face conflicts that must overcome in order to grow up. A sign of a spiritually mature person is that they can be loving and patient with anyone (1 John 2:10, Gal. 5:22-23), and they can humbly submit themselves to truth and the correction of authority (Heb. 13:17).
7. Don’t leave a church until you have contributed in some way to try help make it better. – I have always noticed that the most critical people in the church are usually the ones who do the least. Have you prayed for the leaders? Have you made yourself available to serve or help in areas of ministry? Have you expressed helpful suggestions or brought your concerns to the leadership (in a non-judgmental fashion). Go to the leadership and share your heart without harsh criticism, verbal assaults, or nagging complaints, which only cause a leader to become defensive.
Never spread your “unhappiness,” criticism or dissatisfaction to members of the body — this doesn’t do anything to help, and stirs up discord in the church, a sin God hates (Prov. 6:19).If you can’t keep from spreading your discontent to others, sadly, it may be in your best interest and for the peace of the congregation, for you to move on to another church. Compassionate leaders who are unable to reason with such persons would be wise, and justified by scripture, to encourage their departure from the fellowship. “Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease” (Prov. 22:10).
No Comments »