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Final Preparations to Receive the New Age Christ

by Prof. Johan Malan, Middelburg, South Africa

Christianity experiences unprecedented attacks on its foundational truths. These attacks are motivated and coordinated by evil forces that are intent on deceiving all people as a prelude to revealing the Antichrist and physically establishing Satan’s kingdom on earth. Their main obstacle is biblical beliefs in the deity, atoning death, resurrection and second coming of Jesus Christ. As a result, attacks against evangelical Christianity are on the increase, being aimed at discrediting the canonical books of the Bible, and thus also the God and Saviour of the Bible.

When the Lord Jesus was asked about the signs indicating the nearness of His second coming He first and foremost mentioned the widespread occurrence of spiritual deception: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many” (Matt. 24:4-5). The many people who will be deceived by many false teachers refers to the general occurrence of a changed mindset, or new paradigm, in terms of which people will perceive Christ in the end-time. That accounts for the disturbing phenomenon why the entire world will marvel and follow Satan’s false Christ (Rev. 13:3). The Amplified Bible says: “…and the whole earth went after the [Antichrist] in amazement and admiration.” That will be a united, multireligious form of worship.

The ultimate form of deception will be reached with the appearing of the Christ (the Antichrist) who will pretend to be the universal Christ of all religions. He will be empowered by Satan to perform great signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:7-10; Rev. 13:2) and will also introduce a false peace and unity on earth (1 Thess. 5:3; Rev. 13:3). Halfway through his reign of seven years he will enter the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and in utter arrogance declare himself to be God (2 Thess. 2:4).

There are clearly different forms and stages of deception by which Satan attempts to draw people away from believing in, worshipping and following the true God of the Bible. Once they have rejected the truth they become spiritually so blinded that the ability to discern good from evil rapidly decreases to a dangerously low level. Such people entertain distorted and completely unbiblical views on Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the gospel. Among them are also former believers in Christ. Paul says:

“I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you put up with it well” (2 Cor. 11:2-4).

Much more than only perverting the image of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit with a view to depriving people of a biblical basis of faith, spiritual deception is now specifically aimed at deconstructing the biblical image and attributes of Jesus Christ to make Him conformable to the image of the Antichrist. This other Jesus will arise from the kingdom of darkness but present himself as the true Jesus who has come to save, bless and empower humanity. Preparations are in an advanced stage to receive him as the global messiah of all faiths. The mounting evidence on the nature and extent of this movement is very compelling, as indicated below:

Another Jesus

There are various independent initiatives, driven by the same spirit of error, to distort the biblical image of Jesus. The following initiatives clearly set the scene:

Liberal interpretation of Scripture. Liberal, humanistic-inclined theologians do not respect the root meaning of God’s Word – particularly those sections which describe God’s supernatural intervention in the affairs of humanity – and decide for themselves which other meaning(s) to attach to these scriptures. Many of them take literal concepts such as heaven, hell, the devil, the Antichrist, Israel, the millennial reign of Christ, as well as the end-time judgements of God, and offer explanations which differ radically from those which the Bible gives. Their agnostic mindset eventually leads them to question and attack the very foundations of the doctrine of salvation by denying clearly stated biblical concepts on the virgin birth of Christ, the spiritual significance of His atoning death, as well as His bodily resurrection. The starting-point for this serious delusion is the denial of the virgin birth of Christ. If He was not miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit He could not be the only begotten Son of God who was destined to be the Saviour of mankind and the King who will rule the world in righteousness from the throne of David (cf. Matt. 1:20-21; Luke 1:26-35; Acts 15:16-17). Consequently, these theologians and their followers end up with anotherJesus who is satanically-inspired and humanly conceived. This counterfeit Christ is endued with various unbiblical attributes and presented as one of many divine figures in the deceived family of world religions. To them, He is not the unique Son of God who defies the sinful conventions of human existence and denounces non-Christian religions as false institutions aimed at worshipping the Father of Lies (cf. 1 Cor. 10:20; 2 Cor. 6:14-18). These misguided people are paving the way for the coming of the Antichrist (1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3).

The Jesus Seminar. On the extreme end of this rapidly expanding movement aimed at rejecting the Jesus of the Bible by utterly perverting His divine image is the US based Jesus Seminar which was established in 1985. They discredit more than 80% of the testimony of Jesus in the four Gospels as historically inaccurate. This is evident from their publication, The Five Gospels, to which the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas was added. In their efforts to portray the historical Jesus they strip the true, biblical Jesus of all His divine characteristics and render Him a mortal man who was no more than a human prophet. They do not hesitate to make grossly blasphemous statements about Jesus. During his visit to theological faculties at two universities in Pretoria, South Africa, John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar called the crucifixion of Jesus an act of transcendental child abuse and said that we should hate a God who surrendered His Son to such a cruel death. He also postulated that Jesus was never buried and did not rise from the dead. Another member of the Jesus Seminar, Prof. Marcus Borg, said during his visit to SA that there was never a full tomb, let alone an empty one, and added: “I think it is quite possible that his body was eaten by dogs.”

These ideas were eagerly accepted by prominent South African theologians who are members of the New Reformation. One of them, Prof. Andries van Aarde, wrote a book, Fatherless in Galilee, in which he describes Mary as a prostitute and Jesus as an illegitimate child who was begat by a Roman soldier. Being ‘fatherless’ in Galilee allegedly induced Him to fantasize about a heavenly Father. Despite its heretical premise this book was well received by fellow theologians. Those members of the Jesus Seminar and the New Reformation who do somehow agree that Jesus was a divine incarnation are quick to indicate that He was not the only incarnation of God. Religious leaders such as Buddha are also described as incarnations of the divine. The time for the revelation of the false Christ must surely be at hand.

Resurgence of the Gnostic Gospels. In keeping with the modern trend to relegate Jesus to the level of a mortal man and human prophet there is a new interest in the Gnostic Gospels. Since the time of the early Christian church theological development was strongly influenced by philosophy. Initially, it was the heathen Greek philosophy of Plato that had the greatest impact on religious thinking. Since the first century, Gnosticism developed concurrently with evangelical beliefs on the deity and incarnation of the Lord Jesus. This philosophy was derived from the concept “gnosis” (knowledge of spiritual mysteries) and teaches that knowledge, rather than faith, is the key to salvation. This philosophy enjoyed great support until the sixth century and during that time perverted the truth of various theological concepts. It was developed with the purpose of making the Christian religion more acceptable to Greek-speaking intelligentsia, but in the process the biblical concept of God was fundamentally changed. The Gnostic love for knowledge was shaped by the mystic beliefs of Plato, as well as his concept of God as the “Absolute,” which is not compatible with the biblical concept of the Holy Trinity. After these views were mixed with Christian concepts it was argued that there is a singular Creator-God, the Father, and that He created Jesus as a lower order God, or even as an angel. That was a vicious attack against the deity and incarnation of the Lord Jesus. Profs. Walvoord & Zuck (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1983:677) say: “Both Christ’s deity and humanity were challenged by this early Gnostic-like heresy. Those heretics diminished Christ to an angel whose ‘body’ was only apparent, not real.” But Paul defended the deity of the Lord Jesus, as well as His complete incarnation: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). He was fully God and fully man.

The large public acclaim enjoyed by false, apocryphal Gospels such as The Gospel of Judas, and other unauthentic accounts on the life of Jesus are indicative of this time of great deception prior to the dawning of the new dispensation of the Antichrist’s reign on earth. Just before Easter 2006, the National Geographic Society announced that they discovered the lost Gospel of Judas which contradicts the canonical gospels about Judas and his betrayal of Jesus. There were even claims in the press that this was the greatest discovery of the century and that it would result in a re-evaluation of Christians’ beliefs as we know it. The front-page headline of USA Today read, “Long-lost gospel of Judas casts ‘traitor’ in new light.” The Gospel of Judas presents Judas in a positive light as the only disciple who truly understood Jesus and who betrayed Him only because he was asked to do so. Jesus allegedly wanted to be released from the constraints imposed upon Him by His human body. The Gnostic Jesus described in the Gospel of Judas is not almighty God or the Creator of the world; He did not die for man’s sin, and did not rise bodily from the dead. It is no Gospel at all.

The Davinci Code. One of the modern platforms used to raise public awareness for the false Gnostic Gospels is Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, as well as a film with the same title. This book is based upon evidence derived from the Gnostic Gospels, which is presented as a true account of Jesus and His works. Many questions are raised concerning the deity of Christ and the trustworthiness of the canonical Gospels. Jesus is described as a mortal man who was married to Mary Magdalene, and these assertions cast doubt on the authenticity of the New Testament. The world has been looking for convincing proof that the Bible is not the Word of God. Scientists and researchers have been searching for credible reasons to reject the claims of Scripture. The public is hungry for such information. If the Bible is not the Word of God people are free to choose their lifestyles and behaviours without fear of punishment in this life or the next.

The Da Vinci Code has been on nationwide bestseller lists for extended periods since it was first published in 2003, including 87 weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. As one reads this novel one finds that Brown blurs the lines between history and fiction, thereby suggesting that Christianity is based on a lie. What is the proof? A Gnostic Gospel and Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper where he contends that the person sitting next to Jesus was a woman, namely Mary Magdalene. The central claim that Brown’s novel makes about the Christian faith is that almost everything we learned about Jesus is false, thereby reinforcing the claims of heretics and apostates. In May 2006, a film with the same title was released. In the first four days it grossed $224 million at box offices world-wide.

The novel opens with the murder of an elderly curator at the Louvre, the world famous museum in Paris. The curator was harbouring a secret that, if revealed, would destroy the very foundations of Christianity. In his dying moments the curator left a series of numeric and cryptographic clues that would decode the fatal secret. The investigation of the murder produced clues that lead to the Holy Grail. As it turns out, the Grail isn’t the cup that Christ drank out of at the Last Supper, but Mary Magdalene, the true Grail who held the blood of Jesus in her womb while bearing His children. Furthermore, it is claimed that Mary’s reputation as a prostitute was fabricated by church leaders to undercut her influence, and that of women in general, in the early church. The real story was kept by a secret society called The Priory of Sion, to which many famous Europeans, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, belonged.

The Da Vinci Code is one of a series of blasphemous Hollywood films aimed at destroying the biblical image of Jesus. The ball was set rolling by films in which Jesus is portrayed as sinner, e.g. Jesus Christ Superstar, Jesus of Montreal and The Last Temptation of Christ. By these films the scene has been set of the revelation of “the man of sin” (2 Thess. 2:3) who will soon make his appearance in the name of the true Jesus.

The New Age Christ. The highest ranking deities in the New Age Movement are (1) the universal god of all faiths, (2) the cosmic Christ, and (3) Lucifer. In his book Reflections on the Christ the head of Planetary Citizens, David Spangler, included a chapter titled: Lucifer, Christ and God. In it, an important role in the development of a Christ consciousness in humans is assigned to Lucifer: “When man entered upon the pathway of self, he entered into a great creative adventure… There he can say, ‘I have fully and absolutely accepted the responsibility of who and what I am. In so doing I am free…’ The being that helps man to reach this point is Lucifer. That is his role. He is the angel of man’s evolution. He is the angel of man’s inner light. Lucifer is the spirit of light in the microcosmic world. God is the spirit of light in the macrocosm, and Christ is the bridge between the two that spells freedom in manifestation… Lucifer works within each of us to bring us to wholeness, and as we move into a new age, which is the age of man’s wholeness, each of us is brought to the point of a Luciferic initiation, the doorway through which the individual must pass if he is to come fully into the presence of his light and wholeness.” Through the spirit of the cosmic Christ of the kingdom of darkness (the Antichrist), people are introduced to the false light and peace of Lucifer, who is the father of lies. Full luciferic revelations are at present still confined to the inner circles of the New Age Movement, as members must pass through various stages of spiritual illumination before the real identity of the movement’s leader is revealed to them. Ordinary members of the movement are not aware that they actually open themselves up to Lucifer when they strive to attain spiritual illumination through the Christ consciousness.

The coming interfaith Christ will be the highest incarnation of the god of this world and be enthusiastically accepted by the deceived masses as the common Messiah of all faiths. Nominal Christians and orthodox Jews won’t have any problem when, after his revelation as the cosmic Christ, he also reaches out to the other religions to gather them under his banner. Muslims expect the prophet Jesus, who is not God, to appear soon and act in unison with the Imam Mahdi, who is a descendant of Muhammad. Hindus await a Jesus who, according to them, will be and end-time incarnation of Vishnu and Krishna. Buddhists equate the coming Christ with the fifth Buddha. According to the New Age Movement, Lucifer will work in the hearts of people to accept the universal Christ, while motivating them to become christs (or little gods) themselves.

Satan’s spirit of error (cf. 1 John 4:6) is actively working in the world to blind people’s minds to the truths of the gospel, while guiding them on how to have mystical experiences and empowering them to perform signs and wonders with occult powers. The many demons which Satan has at his disposal are evil spirits who are sent out to deceive people, thereby advancing the interests of the kingdom of darkness. The following actions of these spirits are very evident in the time in which we live:

Strange phenomena. The New Age Movement and its associated false religions is at present focusing attention on the discovery and use of the miracle-working psychic powers of healing, as well as the promotion of various supernatural manifestations. Even at many Christian meetings strange phenomena are now common, e.g. falling (or slaying) in the spirit.

Other phenomena, such as laughing in the spirit, prophesying in the spirit and dancing in the spirit, which result from this experience, are also attributed to the Holy Spirit. Many believers blindly accept these phenomena without testing the spirits, despite the danger of spurious satanic imitation in such manifestations.

Most of the Word of Faith preachers create strong expectations of powerful manifestations of the Holy Spirit. However, there is no scriptural basis for the signs that allegedly occur at their meetings. There is also the phenomenon of gold-dust falling on the hands, arms or hair of those at the meetings, while some claimed that fillings in their teeth turned into gold!

Another modern fad in this movement is the so-called “New Wine” meetings where people experience typical symptoms of drunkenness. This is accompanied by falling, dancing and laughing in the spirit, also pogo stick jumping and making a wide range of animal noises, such as barking like a dog, crowing like a rooster and roaring like a lion! Are not the claims that such highly dubious phenomena and extraordinary behaviour are attributable to the activity of the Holy Spirit quite blasphemous, grossly insulting to Him and detrimental to the Christian witness to the world? It is not difficult to see how ideally this suits Satan’s purpose to discredit the Christian faith and deceive as many as he can. The express purpose of deceiving spirits is to destroy the faith of believers and to mislead, confuse, corrupt, overshadow and control them with the power of deception.

A new spirituality. The deceiving spirit of Satan imitates the Holy Spirit and instils a new kind of spirituality in people. It is a spirit of self-exaltation, pride and arrogance which makes you very important and powerful in your own eyes because of the gifts you have received, the recognition you enjoy, the strong influence you have over people, and also because of your material wealth. The presence, power and gifts of this spirit become the dominating reality in your life, while Jesus is subtly moved to the background. This spirit instills nice and relaxed feelings in you so that you forget all your problems and sins. He does not convict of sin, always condones it, and has no problems to live with lies, deceit, distorted versions of the truth, and moral laxity. He gives people the false hope that they are saved and will go to heaven. He uses so-called ‘prophets’ as human mediators to convey messages to you about what God wants you to do. He also majors on extra-biblical revelations from God through dreams and visions. He removes guilt complexes on his own authority, without specific reference to the cross, and surrounds you with light and joy. You are ever dependent upon him. He guides you through a process of inner healing to a spiritual reprogramming of your life in which the scars of the past, and even from before your birth, are put right by self-healing, positive confession, hypnotic regression and the breaking of generation curses.

This new spirituality is contemplative. People are taught to switch over to their ‘right-brain’ through meditation, walking labyrinths and practising mystical techniques such as yoga. They empty their minds by the using of mantras (the repetition of a single word or short phrase) which helps them descend to the deeper levels of their subconscious mind where they experience an altered state of consciousness. In this spiritual state some people meet spirit guides who teach or inform them, while others even hear voices speaking to them. There are also those who receive supernatural gifts such as prophesying, healing, tongues, astral travel, clairvoyance, and the performing of miracles.

This spirit also tells you that you are a king already, who has dominion on earth, and can claim and demand anything you like. You do not have to suffer poverty, disease or any other afflictions, and you can change anything through positive confession. You are in command of your life. He motivates people to organise transformation rallies as a means to usher in the kingdom of God on earth. He also makes his victims believe they can pull down demonic strongholds in any society by making use of strategic spiritual warfare. Any notable success is evading them as Satan will only be incarcerated when Christ comes (Rev. 20:1-3). In this dispensation, only individuals can be set free from the power of Satan – not entire cities or countries!

Berit Kjos posted a very helpful chart in which she indicates the transition from evangelical beliefs to the new spirituality: http://www.crossroad.to/charts/new-spirituality.htm From this chart it is evident that a spiritually blinded humanity explores mystical powers in its quest to become divine, united and in full control of its own destiny. People end up discovering a mystical christ in their own hearts (the god within) who guides them into gaining a position of dominion on earth.

The Secret. Modern times are characterised by a strong resurgence of the secrets of ancient mysteries. In her book, The Secret, Rhonda Byrne says that when Christianity started spreading the forbidden forces behind magical arts went underground. They were hidden in secret societies and occult orders until the late 20th century when interest in the mystical powers of the past was revived by the biblically illiterate members of postmodern society. This new thought enables people to do miracles. The author says that if you begin to understand the hidden, untapped powers that are within you, this revelation can bring joy to every aspect of your life, including you financial interests, your relationships and your health. In her article, A New Mask for an Ancient Secret, Berit Kjos (Feb. 2007) says: “Now as [in ancient times] those dark Luciferian teachings have become shining lights to post-Christian cultures inspired by ‘false apostles and deceitful workers’ – servants of Satan, the evil one who masquerades as an angel of light. After all, The Secret offers gullible seekers everything under the sun: There isn’t a single thing that you cannot do with this knowledge. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, The Secret can give you whatever you want. The law of attraction is the law of creation… You create your life through your thoughts. With this powerful knowledge, you can completely change every circumstance and event in your entire life…”

In his article The Secret Seduction (June 2007) Dave Hunt says: “The latest occult scam to capture the imagination of the West is called The Secret. The book by that name, a top New York Times bestseller, has quickly sold more than 6 million copies and the DVD over 2 million copies… The numerous misrepresentations [in the book] begin with the title itself. The Secret is not a secret at all, but recycled Hinduism, shamanism, and New Age folly. One of many huge lies is its claim: ‘You create your own reality with your mind.’ This was the serpent’s false promise to Eve – the promise of godhood (Gen. 3:5). Embracing that delusion cost Eve and her descendants Eden’s paradise – and would have barred mankind from heaven had not Christ died for the sins of the world. In the 6,000 years since Eden, the serpent’s promise has not been fulfilled in even one person’s life.”

The spiritual message of this book clearly implies that God is obsolete and that real spiritual empowerment is not to be found in the Bible but in The Secret. The popularity of this book throughout the world is staggering. This is indicative of the widespread interest in occult ideologies and practices which elevate fallen man to a position where he becomes the master of his own destiny. When he is his own god, everything is permissible, including any imaginable sin. In this frame of mind people will be willing followers of “the man of sin… whose coming is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:3-12).

A Course in Miracles. In keeping with the rising interest in magical, occult powers that are often marketed in a ‘Christian’ package to deceive more people in Western societies, a course in miracles is offered on internet websites, in books and by celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey. On her daily radio program Oprah will offer a year-long course on the New Age Christ from the Course in Miracles Workbook. Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual mindset – a New Age worldview that includes the beliefs that there is no sin, no evil, no devil and that Jesus did not die to pay the penalty for your sins. It is emphasized in the course that in Jesus we are not under the law, so everything is lawful. A perverted kind of forgiveness is propagated, which is the world’s way of promoting unity and healing apart from the cross. Oprah told her television audience that Williamson’s book, A Course in Miracles, was one of her favorite books, and that she had already bought a thousand copies and would be handing them out to everyone in her studio audience. Oprah’s endorsement skyrocketed Williamson’s book to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. A Course in Miracles was originally dictated to channeller Helen Schucman in 1977 by her spirit guide who claimed to be Jesus.

The Miracle Times (www.themiracletimes.com) say on their website: “A course in miracles is a message to you from… the whole resurrected mind of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It is an experiential guide to help bring about the illumination of your mind and body through the practical application of love, healing and forgiveness.” They define inspiration as follows: “Inspiration means: a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation. What is your qualification? You are the Holy Son of God Himself! You need only remember who you are. It is your purpose to inspire.” The real author of A Course in Miracles is described as “Master Jesus, who is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit… He became completely identified with the Christ, the Son of God.” People are influenced to see themselves as sinless: “See then the light that is all about you… You are as perfect as God created you.” Through positive thinking, forgiveness, love and positive confession people are to creatively change their lives by miracles.

The Moses Code. The global campaign of deception which is driven by Satan’s spirit of error, popularised by the media and promoted by celebrities, is taken one step further with the publishing of James Twyman’s book, The Moses Code. This book, as well as the film based upon it, elevates fallen mankind to the position occupied by Lucifer when he openly deified himself in heaven. He said, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:14). The author offers people a secret code which will dramatically change their lives from indigence and mediocrity to prosperity, royalty and abundance. That will happen when they can say to themselves, “I AM.” This code was revealed to Moses at the burning bush in the wilderness and enabled him to perform unprecedented miracles.

The book is promoted as follows by the publishers: “Twyman describes the most powerful manifestation technique ever known to humanity, hidden or ignored for almost 3,500 years. And yet, this powerful tool was responsible for some of the most amazing and famous miracles in the history of the world. Why, then, has the Code been held in such secrecy when it changed the world the few times it was applied? Is it possible that this technology is so powerful that our ancient forefathers decided that humanity wasn’t ready to wield such a mighty sword? When properly applied the Moses Code gives you everything you need to easily attract your Heart’s Desire. When used by large groups of people the Code also has the power to initiate a world based upon the laws of compassion and peace. In the first chapter you will learn what the Moses Code is and why it is so important today. In chapters two and three you will learn the beginning techniques for applying the Code in your life, and in the world. In short, chapters two and three will give you the necessary tools for changing your life and the lives of those around you.”

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1: “You’ve likely heard the story before, all about Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt, an astounding accomplishment that began with him standing before a burning bush listening to the voice of God. But have we ever really heard the deeper message being communicated, not only to Moses but to each one of us? Is it possible that there is a code hidden somewhere in this story, a secret that gives us the power to attract everything we desire into our lives? Could this secret be the most powerful gift God has ever given the world? What are some of the things you most want to receive? Abundance, your soul mate, the perfect house, or your dream car? Did Moses receive from God the secret of how to achieve all your dreams, easily and automatically, attracting into your life everything you have ever desired? If so, is it possible for you to use this same secret today and for the rest of your life, achieving what the rest of the world would call miraculous?”

It is further explained that God called Moses from the bush and he responded by saying, “Here I am.” He was standing on holy ground when he said, “Here I AM.” The author then continues: “It’s almost as if God smiles at him and says: ‘Ah, well said, Moses. Indeed, Here I AM. This ground is holy because it is the spot where you have known yourself to be who you are.’ You may be thinking: ‘Wait a minute! Are you saying that God was pleased because Moses seemed to recognize himself as one with his Creator?’ The answer is YES!!! For thousands of years we have been sold a lie, and this lie has led to the suppression and dismissal of The Moses Code all through the world. We have been told that we are weak and vulnerable, unable to do more than eke out a meagre existence on earth. If we’re lucky we’ll be able to accumulate a relative degree of comfort, maybe a few houses and a big bank account, but none of that ever really satisfies us. We are here but to live then die, hopefully with a few moments of joy in-between. We have imagined ourselves to be in a prison that we can never escape, and we have convinced ourselves that the prison yard is our real home. What if the door to that prison cell was never locked? What if the world we live in is nothing more than a projection of our thoughts about ourselves, and that God has never shared that vision at all? If God is all-powerful, all-knowing and fully present in every moment and form, is it possible that God would rejoice when we realize the TRUTH? … Hold on before you answer. Your response will determine your entire experience of life, and how willing you are to accept everything God intends for you. Your answer will determine how open you are to receiving miracles and ultimately crack the Moses Code.” The author further says that God told Moses He would lead the Hebrews out of the bondage of Egypt into the Promised Land where they would live in abundance. He says that the same promise applies to us, also in a material sense.

In their e-newsletter of March 4, 2008, Lighthouse Trails says: “The Moses Code – taking the next step toward a world-wide awakening (“Awakening” is a dominant New Age term, now being used by most, if not all, current so-called Christian leaders; every conference is an Awakening event): On April 5th, The Moses Code film will be released in a unique synchronized worldwide opening, just a few weeks after this week’s release of the book with the same title. The book and film will most likely become best sellers with expected promotion by Oprah Winfrey and others of influence. The book/film is following the release of last year’s The Secret, which has remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for over 59 weeks. The Secret, also a book/film, was highly promoted by Oprah and carries a similar-type message. In essence, both projects focus on humanity being divine and having the ability to alter our personal lives and ultimately alter the world in which we live through hidden mysteries that the projects supposedly reveal.”

The Moses Code represents self-deification and prosperity in its most extreme form. But it goes beyond this and also offers this secret code as the solution to all the world’s problems of division, hostility and suffering. The assurance is given that if thousands of people gather at the same time, assume their position as gods and co-creators, and focus their positive thoughts on problem areas such as the Middle East, everything will change for the better.

Another gospel

The arrogant and unrestrained proclaiming of another Jesus under the instigation of another spirit has become a world-wide phenomenon. Preachers, politicians and celebrities with very large constituencies are joining hands to celebrate the divine nature of humanity, raise the level of people’s consciousness, promote global unity and peace, and ensure prosperity and good health to all. The following are popular themes for preaching:

Ecumenism. It is generally believed that religious globalism holds the key to the revelation of God’s kingdom on earth and a future of unity, prosperity and peace to divided humanity. Within this approach the fragmentation of Christianity into many denominations (referred to as vintage Christianity) should be countered by establishing mega-churches without strict and very explicit creeds, and without standing strong on the inerrancy of the Bible. Mega-churches should merge into post-denominational city churches that function under the guidance of prophets and apostles. Regional, national and international ties should then be forged among the various local branches of the church. Collective actions such as transformation rallies or meditation meetings are believed to wield the spiritual power needed to overcome evil and change the destiny of societies. This is New Age philosophy. They believe that when a critical mass (a representative group of people who believe they are divine) comes together to meditate, the scale will swing away from evil and divisiveness, draw humanity into this oneness, and heal the world.

The uniting of the Christian church is only an interim objective which paves the way towards multireligious ecumenical ties – an alliance of world religions in which the members of all faiths join hands on the premise that they worship the same God. It stands to reason that if they believe they worship the same God, they are also awaiting the same, universal Christ to finally unite them. When he has come, no insubordination will be tolerated and all people will be obliged to worship him (cf. Rev. 13:3-4,8,15).

Ecumenically-minded preachers of deceived mega-churches are preparing the way for the coming universal Christ of the New Age Movement. The vagueness of their creeds, the ignorance of their members, and the strong impact of postmodern thinking allows them to present another Jesus who, in many respects, differs from the biblical Jesus. Without much resistance they unwittingly make Jesus conformable to the New Age Jesus, simply by denying His uniqueness, the redemptive significance of His cross, and His insistence on repentance. They only emphasise His mission to bless and unite all people, to inspire them to realise their full potential so as to prosper in everything they do, and to empower them to establish and extend the kingdom of God on earth.

However, where there are still significant numbers of evangelical Christians, like in the US and South Africa, ecumenically-minded theologians first engage in a relentless campaign to slander and discredit the biblical Jesus by reducing Him to a historical Jesus who was just one of many human prophets. After that, their spiritually uprooted and disillusioned followers will be introduced to the cosmic Jesus of the emerging New World Order, thereby drawing them into the multireligious structures of the ecumenical movement.

Dominionism. The message proclaimed by the emerging church is that they are called upon to take control over the world, thereby physically establishing the kingdom of God to the good of all people. A wealth of concise and well written articles have been produced on his subject by the Discernment Research Group: see http://herescope.blogspot.com See also Sarah Leslie’s excellent article, Dominionism and the rise of Christian imperialism on http://www.discernment-ministries.org/

Herescope offers interesting excerpts from an article by C. Peter Wagner, in which he says: “We need to take a new look at one of our most quoted Bible verses: ‘The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost’ (Luke 19:10). In the past, most of us thought that Jesus was saying ‘to seek and to save those who were lost.’ Consequently, we applied it to saving souls. But now we realize that we should have taken Jesus’ statement at face value, namely ‘that which was lost.’ What is it then, that was lost and that Jesus came to seek and to save? The answer is in the first chapter of Genesis. God’s original design was that Adam and Eve should have dominion over all of God’s creation (see Gen. 1:28). But they disobeyed God, they lost their authority, Satan usurped it and he became the god of this age. Satan’s kingdom encompassed all of the human kingdoms of the earth (see Luke 4:5-6). Why did Jesus come? He came with His kingdom, namely the kingdom of God, to invade the kingdom of Satan for the purpose of taking back dominion of God’s creation which was lost in the Garden of Eden. The Holy Spirit is now speaking to the churches and saying that God’s people must do what it takes to transform society, segment by segment, until God’s kingdom is seen on earth as it is in heaven” (C. Peter Wagner, Transform Society! Global Prayer News, Vol. 6, No. 3, Jul-Sep 2005).

Herescope also reviews an article by Rick Joyner, The true soldiers of the cross are mobilizing, in which he says that coercive measures will be used to usher in the kingdom of God before increased liberty will be allowed: “At first it may seem like totalitarianism as the Lord will destroy the antichrist spirit now dominating the world… and will shatter many nations like pottery.” In support of this vision, various dominionists have devised a strategy of defeating the so-called giants of unbelief, poverty, disease, illiteracy and self-centred leadership. The forces of marketplace transformation are the main method which dominionists intend using to overcome the negative factors which deprive societies of the prosperity and abundance of the kingdom.

The deceived church tries to do now what only Christ can do at His second coming! Their heavy reliance on human resources and methods renders their efforts unbiblical and dispensationally out of place. Instead of preaching salvation to lost sinners they endeavour to restore paradise conditions on earth during this dispensation, thereby pre-empting the coming of Christ as King to reveal His kingdom on earth. The counterfeit kingdom of dominionists differs substantially from the true kingdom of Christ, and actually paves the way for a false king, the Antichrist, who will arise from the ranks of fallen humanity before Christ comes.

Positive thinking. This ideology, which is also promoted by liberal theologians, represents a clever mix of humanitarian and biblical objectives. It appeals to governments, businessmen, churches and communities at large, whether secular or religiously oriented, to uplift society, eradicate poverty, treat the sick, educate the illiterate, and promote peace and reconciliation among all factions of society. This approach was refined and used very successfully by Norman Vincent Peale (The Power of Positive Thinking), Robert Schuller (Self-Esteem: The New Reformation) and Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life). The ideology of positive thinking, by its very nature, excludes all negative thoughts, e.g. sin, judgement, deception, false prophets, false religions, the Antichrist, the false prophet, Satan, suffering, tribulation, etc. It refrains from giving offence to anybody – not even to the sinner in his natural (sinful) state. All people must be made to feel welcome just as they are, and to accept Christianity for the sake of the advantages and blessings that are in store for them. No warnings are issued to any people on the basis of God’s impending judgments upon the wicked.

Positive thinking is contrary to the gospel message and leads to the perversion of the gospel in churches where it is taught. That is the reason why Rick Warren does not dwell on God’s judgements upon sin, which include the crucifixion of Christ. His poor doctrinal foundation also renders him ecumenical in his outreaches to pastors of various denominations, not even excluding the Mormons. A Jesus without the cross is not the true Jesus, however much people might think that he preaches the biblical Jesus. Furthermore, Warren’s approach leads him to support transformation initiatives towards changing the world through joint efforts to establish God’s kingdom. No warnings are given on the coming Antichrist and the great tribulation. What will his supporters do when the cosmic Christ appears on the scene as a peacemaker? Won’t they think he is the true Christ?

A marriage between religion and politics (NAR & Dominionism). There is a very conspicuous movement in the world to ally religion and politics. This was common practice in the ancient world empires, where the emperors deified themselves and were not satisfied only with political allegiance but also demanded religious worship. The Antichrist will do the same. (Rev. 13:4,7,15). Modern political leaders increasingly mobilise their followers by means of a religious ideology to help change and improve the word. They either collaborate with religious leaders in the ecumenical movement or they pose as religious leaders themselves. This is all part of kingdom theology, in which political, business and religious leaders work closely together.

Rick Warren says that stability in any nation is dependent upon a strong and healthy government, a strong and healthy business sector, and strong and healthy churches. He likened it with a three-legged stool. With a view to promoting this view he travels to various countries to address government leaders, business leaders and church leaders to make them aware of their responsibility to work together in realising the objectives of stable, prosperous, and purpose driven nations. According to dominionists, that is the way in which the kingdom of God will be ushered in. Little do they realise that the next world empire will be that of the cosmic Christ. He will have a three-legged throne – as political leader, universal messiah, and head of the global economy.

In this other gospel which is preached by leaders of the emerging church, promoted by political leaders, supported by global business, and popularised by celebrities, there is no reference whatsoever to the coming of the true Jesus for His bridal congregation, the subsequent revelation of the Antichrist and the judgements of God upon a self-centred, sinful, materialistic and utterly wicked world. “When they say, Peace and safety! then sudden destruction comes upon them” (1 Thess. 5:3).

The unlocking of occult powers

The paradigm shift towards the emerging new world order of the cosmic Christ has been underway for quite a number of years. Although it has been implemented as unobtrusive as possible, the changes are far-reaching and constitute a radical break from the truth of God’s Word to the alternative spirituality of the ‘angel of light.’ It is only in an advanced stage of change that people are actively exposed to the hidden sources of power which are offered to them. Special formulas, codes, or actions are needed to unlock these powers and use them for whatever purpose they are offered. In her article, Mysticism and Global Mind Change (Sept. 2007), Berit Kjos says: “Do you wonder why yoga, labyrinths and other meditational practices have suddenly emerged in churches across America? Or why ‘Christians’ now use the old occult formulas (a combination of concentration, meditation, visualization and mental projection) practiced by sorcerers, alchemists and ‘enlightened’ yogis to invoke the presence of ‘God’? This East-West synthesis didn’t happen by chance. For several decades, influential church leaders have been promoting a new way of thinking, an end to ‘separatism,’ and an inclusive oneness that would fulfil their vision of an earthly kingdom of God.”

A specific code, key-word, mantra, ritual initiation, mindset, symbol, belief system, or action is needed to invoke the occult powers or spirits which Lucifer offers in a disguised form to his unsuspecting victims. In The Da Vinci Code, a series of numeric and cryptographic clues were given to decode the secret. The breaking of the code in Da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper represents a major deviation from the truth of God’s Word. It introduces a false teaching that Jesus was not divine but an ordinary, mortal man who had a wife and children. The implications of these assumptions are that Jesus is not God, the Bible is not true, the rejected Gnostic gospels reflect a more credible account of Jesus’ life, and somewhere among his unknown descendants a person may emerge in the end-time to claim the office of the Christ.

The Secret is also based upon the idea that hidden powers can be unlocked to fulfil all your dreams and needs. A new thought pattern enables people to do miracles as they create their own reality with their mind. Visualisation becomes a method of focussing the mind on an occult source of energy, thereby attracting and activating it.

The Moses Code is presented as a powerful method of declaring yourself to be God, thereby tapping creative powers in the universe to realise your dreams and changing your circumstances for the good. In saying, “I AM…” and adding to it whatever divine attribute you wish, e.g. “I AM the way and the truth,” you will share in Lucifer’s rebellious deed of self-exaltation and deification. The condition for promoting yourself to the level of co-creator is to despise and disobey God’s clear commandments to you, thereby becoming your own god. If you are prepared to do that, Lucifer will immediately empower you to become his co-worker and also allow you to enjoy certain short-lived benefits in his kingdom. The serpent achieved great success with this lie, which was first used to deceive our first parents in the Garden of Eden. He said to Eve that if she ignored God’s commandments she would not die, as God said, but that she would, instead, “be like God” (Gen. 3:5). She never became a god, only a deceived rebel who turned against the true God at her own peril. If it wasn’t for God’s grace to restore repentant sinners she would have died in her sins.

The Antichrist’s rise to power

The coming Antichrist will follow exactly the same course while rising to a position of absolute power as a self-declared God. He will oppose and exalt himself “above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:4). When he openly states that he is the great I AM, Satan will strongly empower him do even more signs and wonders. He will be the lawless one, who breaks and despises all the laws of God, while acting “according to the working of Satan, will all power, signs and lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9). The devil will give him “his power, his throne and great authority” (Rev. 13:2). His co-ruler, the false prophet, will wield the same powers: “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men” (Rev. 13:13).

The Antichrist, who will call himself the Christ or God, will deceive the whole world to worship him in order to share in his great power. He will also use a code which will give people access to his dark powers. No one will be able to buy or sell, “except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of man: His number is 666” (Rev. 13:17-18). The numeric symbol of the beast and the mark of his name will be used to physically mark all his followers. They will have to sign an oath of allegiance to him whereby they commit themselves to worshipping him and his image, to utterly reject the God of heaven, and to also denounce the true Christ who will still, during that time, be worshipped by a minority of people.

Be warned that the use of hidden codes to access supernatural powers will make you an enemy of God because you will arrogantly call yourself God or the Son of God, thereby exalting yourself to His position, and thus sharing in the rebellion of Lucifer. Eternal condemnation awaits people who do that: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:9-11 KJV).

We are on the threshold of the revelation of the Antichrist. The large-scale deceiving of millions of people during recent years has prepared the spiritual climate for the appearance of the self-deified, universal Christ. It is obvious that secrets which are unlocked by codes are playing a major role in the satanic brainwashing of the masses: TheDa Vinci Code popularised the lie that Jesus is not God. The Moses Code proclaims the lie that human beings can equate themselves with God and use their power to do astounding miracles. Through the coded number of the coming universal Christ the lie will be embraced that he is the God of humanity, and that he is the one who gives his followers the powers to be prosperous and to do miracles.

According to the Bible, the judgements of God rest upon the Antichrist and his deceived followers. These judgements will be poured out upon them during the great tribulation and also during the second coming of Christ (Rev. 6 to 19). The Lord Jesus will deliver His true disciples from the coming wrath of God, and expects of them to prepare themselves for this appointment: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

Source:

http://www.bibleguidance.co.za/Engarticles/Preparations.htm

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Posted on February 13, 2012

by Bill Randles

And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.(I Samuel 28:5-7)

I have no problem believing that God sovereignly granted revival in the 1960′s -70′s, renewing faith in the reality of Jesus, introducing church people to Jesus for the first time, and baptizing multitudes from all walks of life, and over the spectrum of denominations in the Holy Ghost. The movement became known as the Charismatic renewal.

Why not? Didn’t He promise us that …

Read the rest of the article HERE

SEVEN KEYS TO FRUITFUL CHURCH MEMBERSHIP

By David Cloud

Way of Life

FEBRUARY 14,2012

A few years ago, I received a letter from a young couple who exhorted me as follows:

“Your book on separation is very good, but you may want to add a caveat that a person must have a better church to separate to before he separates from a church. We were shocked at the liberal doctrines held by the fundamental churches in our city.”

Later they wrote to share more detail about the “liberal doctrines.” Following are specific things that they mentioned:

“(1) Their former pastor did not teach that women should not work outside the home, and the wife of the associate pastor worked. (2) The church held parties or fellowships on Valentines Day, Halloween, and Christmas. (3) The pastor allowed a divorced person to work in the bus ministry. (4) The pastor failed to correct publicly certain erroneous statements which were given during testimony times and certain (supposed) erroneous statements which were made by visiting preachers. (5) The pastor failed to do anything about missionaries who joked and told stories in the pulpit. (6) Though the church took a stand for the KJV, this man did not think there was sufficient teaching on the subject of Bible versions. (7) The pastor “used humor to break the tension” in his preaching, whereas this one felt that sober- mindedness required that such levity in the pulpit cease. (8) The pastor seemed to prefer to let God change people about such things as appearance (long hair, ear rings on men, etc.) rather than approach them directly.”

The couple eventually wrote and said they had “separated” from this fundamental Baptist church and from its pastor “because of his liberal teaching on remarriage, women working outside the home and his refusal to correct error.”

It is natural that in any church we will find things with which we do not agree. To practice Bible separation based on the type of things discussed in this letter, though, is not proper or healthy. These are matters of preference, or, at best, relatively minor issues. Church members must learn to deal with many such things.

While we are to separate from error, we are also exhorted to submit ourselves to pastoral authority and to exercise grace in the church. I believe there are many types of things about which we can disagree in a church while continuing to submit ourselves to God-ordained authority. There does not have to be a contradiction here.

I know of others who have separated from practically all churches because none of them take what they believe is a proper stand in all matters. Many times these are good people who want to contend for the truth in a confused and apostate hour. (Many others, though, are contentious people who simply refuse to submit to God-ordained authority.) I praise the Lord for anyone who has a zeal for the truth, but I also believe there are some important lessons in the Word of God that can help us deal with the complex matter of church membership.

The following thoughts, which are an enlargement of my original reply to the aforementioned couple, can help us to have a more fruitful attitude toward the assembly in spite of the many problems and imperfections we find there.

No Ecumenism or Compromise

Let me hasten to say that I am utterly opposed to ecumenism and spiritual compromise. I realize that New Evangelicals and ecumenists take some of the things we will deal with in this article and misuse them to excuse their disobedience. They speak much of love and grace and liberty, but they take verses on these subjects out of context and refuse to deal with the enormous amount of teaching in the Word of God on other matters, such as rebuking sin and error, contending for the faith, warning about apostasy, and exercising separation and discipline.

In this article I intend to deal with grace and liberty and submission to church authority, but I have no intention to ignore these other issues.

Those who know us will not have to be told this, but I say this for the sake of those who do not know us. For thirty-nine years, we have stood unapologetically for Bible separation. In this instance, though, we are dealing with other important matters.

Keys to Fruitful Church Membership

Please bear with me while I offer seven things we must know and do in order to be a fruitful member of a New Testament church. I think of these as “keys to fruitful church membership.”

A Vibrant Relationship with Jesus Christ

The first and foremost key to fruitful church membership is a real and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ.

“Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:67-69).

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4).

“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28).

In order to submit to godly pastoral leadership and to have the spiritual discernment to know right from wrong in churches, one must be born again and have the indwelling Spirit of God.

Many church members who cause unnecessary problems in the church and who injure the welfare of the church do so because they do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. They lack spiritual discernment; they walk after the flesh rather than the Spirit; they do not know how to submit to authority; and they do not care how they harm the church.

The Bible warns that God will deal severely with those who harm His churches. “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor. 3:17). The reason many troublemakers do not fear God’s retribution for their actions is that they are not saved.

In order to be a fruitful church member year after year, one must not only be saved but he also must abide in Christ. He must walk in fellowship with Christ. When we walk with Christ and have our eyes on Him, we do not become offended at what man does. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).

This is why some church members throw up their hands and quit or become disgruntled and spiritually ineffective when they witness a pastoral failure or some such serious problem in the church, whereas other church members keep on for the Lord in spite of any discouragement that comes their way. They are disappointed when men fail them, but they do not quit or turn aside because their eyes are upon One who never fails!

Abiding in Jesus Christ is the most essential key to fruitful church membership.

The Importance of the Church

Another thing we must understand to be a fruitful church member is that the church is a divine institution and it is at the center of God’s work in the world today and is to continue until Jesus returns.

The Bible emphasizes that the church is God’s appointed means of accomplishing His purposes in this age. Even the most cursory study of the New Testament proves this. There are more than 100 references to the church in the New Testament. This shows how much the Holy Spirit has emphasized the church, and the vast majority of those references refer unquestionably to the local assembly, not to a general or prospective aspect of the church.

Men have corrupted churches, but the church is God’s plan. The Lord Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mat. 16:18). The church is Christ’s program.

The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:16), and the context is a church with elders and deacons (1 Tim. 3:1, 8).

Most of the New Testament was written directly to churches. And even those portions not written directly to a particular church refer to the church. The theme of Acts is the planting and multiplication of the first churches. The Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) were written to instruct church planters.

Even the General Epistles, which are not written to particular churches, always have the churches in mind. Hebrews refers to the church in chapters 10 and 13. Hebrews 10:25 exhorts God’s people not to forsake the assembling of themselves together. In Hebrews 13:7 and 17 Christians are exhorted to obey church rulers.

The last chapter of James refers to the church. Those who are sick are to call for the “elders of the church.”

The final chapter of 1 Peter also refers to the church, in exhorting elders in their duties.

John refers to the church in his third epistle, when he mentions the proud Diotrephes.

The book of Revelation, of course, is addressed to seven churches that existed in that day.

Consider, too, that there is no Bible instruction about the discipline and watch care of Christians apart from the church. There is no instruction about leadership among Christians apart from the church. The entire life and work of God’s people for this age appears in the context of the assembly.

We must also understand what a church is. A proper New Testament church has certain biblical ingredients. It is not merely a group of Christians meeting for prayer and Bible study. Paul wrote to Titus about church work in Crete. The gospel had been preached and believers were meeting together, but that was not sufficient. Paul instructed Titus that certain things were lacking (Titus 1:5). Those things were qualified leadership and biblical organization, the things Paul emphasizes in his epistle to Titus.

The very first thing that Paul mentions is the ordination of elders. “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee” (Titus 1:5).

We see the same thing in the book of Acts. When Paul and Barnabas raised up groups of believers in various towns through the preaching of the gospel, they were careful to “ordain elders in every church” (Acts 14:23).

A proper New Testament church, therefore, is a body of baptized believers who are congregated together under the oversight of qualified and ordained pastor/elders and who are following the pattern of government and accomplishing the work described in the apostolic epistles.

It is clear from Scripture that it is God’s will that every believer be a faithful and fruitful member of a sound New Testament church. That is what we see in Acts 2. Those who were saved on the day of Pentecost “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42)

If there is not such a church in the area, the establishment of such a church must be the highest priority. A believer should never be content merely to listen to recorded preaching sermons, or to read sermons from a book, or to listen to preaching on radio or television, or to meet together with a loose-knit group of believers without proper leadership and organization.

The reason I have remained a faithful member of a church for 39 years is not that I have found perfect pastors and perfect churches, but because I know that this is God’s will and anything less would displease Him. It is my understanding of the doctrine of the church that keeps me going in spite of grave imperfections I have found in churches.

No Perfect Church

Another key to fruitful church membership is to understand is that there are no perfect churches. We have mentioned this, but it needs to be emphasized. It sounds like a simple matter, but it is not. It is something that must be relearned frequently.

Even the early churches founded and pastored by the apostles had problems. In fact, there were very serious problems in many of the early churches.

Consider the church at Corinth. The members were carnal and divided. They refused to discipline one of their own although he was living in open fornication with his father’s wife! They were taking each other to court. They were getting drunk during the Lord’s Supper. They were misusing the spiritual gifts. They allowed false teachers to discredit the Apostle Paul. What a church! Yet Paul was thankful for the grace God had given them (1 Cor. 1:4).

The seven churches mentioned in Revelation two and three also had many serious problems, including spiritual coldness, false teachers, and immorality.

Two women in the church at Philippi had to be corrected for being antagonistic toward one another (Phil. 4:2).

Paul had to rebuke Peter for his hypocrisy (Gal. 2:11-14).

Paul and Barnabas had a contention that was “so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other” (Acts 15:39).

Need we go on? There never has been a church that did not have problems, and the simple reason for this is that church members are sinners.

It is not therefore surprising to find many problems in independent Baptist churches today. I have been a member of independent Baptist churches for four decades and have spoken in more than 500 churches across North America and in many other countries, and I have observed the problems firsthand.

When I was a young Christian at Bible school, I saw problems that almost devastated me. As I started Bible school training in 1974, I was almost 25 years old, but I was only one year old in the Lord, and I was shocked at many things. Forty years later, I am still saddened by these same things! These were things such as Sunday School promotionalism which turns the church of Jesus Christ into a carnival; extreme levity at times in the pulpit; little biblical content in much of the preaching; exaltation of men above that which is proper; shallow, manipulative methods of evangelism, and an overemphasis on “decisions” and “prayers” rather than on repentance and regeneration.

Because of issues like these, I left after the completion of my first year of Bible College, determined to attend a different school. The Lord gave me no peace over my decision, though, and within a few weeks I returned and completed my studies.

In looking back, I am thankful for the Lord’s leading, though I did not understand it very well at the time. The other school that I was looking at was Calvinistic and was part of a group that was already part way down the path to New Evangelicalism, and I would have faced an entirely different set of problems–problems even more unhealthy to my Christian life than the ones I was trying to flee.

I still believe the aforementioned issues are wrong, and I try to avoid them as much as possible; but I have also learned some things that have helped me, I believe, have a more balanced attitude toward church problems in general.

In spite of the fact that all churches are imperfect, we do not see in Scripture any healthy examples of Christians who disregarded the assembly. In fact, those who separated themselves were considered unregenerate. John says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 Jn. 2:19).

Keen Spiritual Discernment

Another key to fruitful church membership is keen spiritual discernment which enables us to distinguish between the important and the less important issues.

Observe the following Scripture:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matt. 23:23).

In Matthew 23:23, the Lord Jesus Christ taught that not all things in the Bible are of equal importance. Some biblical teachings are “weightier” than others. Everything in the Bible has some importance, but everything is not of equal importance. Knowing the difference between the two requires a thorough knowledge of God’s Word and keen spiritual discernment.

This is the lesson of the following passages:

“And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another” (Rom. 15:14).

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:12-14).

Such discernment comes only through diligent study of God’s Word and the exercise of the spiritual senses to discern good and evil.

Paul told the church at Rome that the reason they were able to admonish one another was because they were full of goodness and filled with knowledge (Rom. 15:14). this refers to the maturity of their Christian lives and to their Bible knowledge.

It is my conviction that the friends who wrote to tell me that they were separating from all independent Baptist churches lacked the maturity to distinguish between the “weighty” matters of biblical truth and those matters that are less significant. Although they lacked such maturity, they were convinced they had better discernment than even their godly pastor.

This happens frequently. In fact, it is a characteristic of young Christians. Someone has wisely stated that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. This is one reason why God forbids a novice to be a church leader (1 Tim. 3:6).

The young Christian begins to gain some knowledge of the Bible and the ministry, and suddenly he “knows it all” and tries to straighten out everybody else, blithely ignorant of his own serious shortcomings. This happens frequently to young Christians who are in Bible College. They have some knowledge, but often they don’t have the experience and maturity to use it correctly. If they are not careful with their newly found knowledge, they can cause more problems than they solve!

Pastors and churches are to be judged by the Word of God (1 Thess. 5:21), but church members cannot do this until they first gain the necessary biblical knowledge and discernment required for such judgment. Young Christians need to be extremely cautious and patient about exercising judgment against a pastor. Unless the matter in question is something that is exceedingly plain in the Bible and unless there are mature Christians who can confirm the judgment, it is wise for the immature Christian to defer to the pastor’s greater knowledge and maturity.

Some of the “weightier matters” of God’s Word in relation to churches are things such as sound doctrine, the gospel, Christian love, godliness, separation from error, and soul-winning and missions. Some of the less weighty matters are things like promotions, youth activities (unless the are clearly worldly), and political involvement. Good examples of less weighty matters are the list of eight things mentioned at the beginning of this article: whether or not the church has fellowships at Christmas or jokes being told from the pulpit, etc.

I am not saying that the child of God should ignore Christian rock music or false teaching or unqualified leadership or anything like that. I am not saying we are to be blind to things that are clearly unscriptural. I am simply saying that not all matters are of equal importance, and we must learn to weigh various issues of church life before the Lord in order to exercise mature judgment.

We see this in Christ’s judgment of the churches in Revelation 2-3. The problems He rebuked were of a truly serious nature. He did not rebuke a church for having a church social on Valentine’s. I’m not trying to be facetious. I’m not trying to make light of the less important things, but the fact remains that Christ did not treat all church problems with the same degree of seriousness, and we must follow His example.

This is exactly what we see in the church epistles. The problems rebuked by the Apostles under inspiration of the Holy Spirit were of a serious nature. The Church at Corinth was not rebuked for allowing a divorced man to work in the evangelistic ministry, but for drunkenness and immorality and carnal divisions.

Conviction vs. Preference

Another key to fruitful church membership is to understand the difference between conviction and preference. Conviction is based upon a clear teaching of God’s Word. Preference is not. A Christian can have preferences on all sorts of church matters, but he is not at liberty to make his preference a law for others. This is discussed in Romans 14:

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks” (Romans 14:1-6).

This passage is often misused by ecumenists to support their phony idea of legalism. They claim that it is not right to judge others even in matters of doctrine, but that is nonsense. It is not legalism to cry out against sin, to judge false teachers, to set standards for God’s people based on the clear teaching of the Word of God, to demand that Christians obey the details of the Bible. In Romans 14, the Lord forbids us to judge others IN MATTERS THAT ARE NOT CLEARLY TAUGHT IN SCRIPTURE. Two examples are given: what we eat and how we respect holy days. These are issues that the New Testament does not address. There are no dietary laws for Christians, and there are no Old Testament holy days that we must keep. These are matters of Christian liberty. I am free to eat meat or not to eat meat, but I am not free to judge others by my conscience in this matter or in any other matter that is not plainly taught in the Scripture.

When the Scripture speaks plainly, we must speak; but when the Scripture does not speak, we have no authority to speak. In such matters I am free to follow my conscience and the Lord’s leading for my personal life, but I am not free to make my conscience a law for others. That is the teaching of Romans 14.

The things mentioned earlier in this article fall into this category. There is the matter, for example, of holding fellowships on Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and Halloween. Obviously it is wrong to be involved in witchcraft, idolatry, or immorality, but as for the days themselves, they are nothing. The Lord made the days. Why would it be wrong to have a church fellowship on October 31, for example, as long as the church does not promote things associated with evil, such as a haunted house or things connected with ghosts and goblins? If the church tries to incorporate such worldly things into the youth activities, this should be resisted loudly, but if they are simply having a youth activity on or near October 31 in order to reach the unsaved or for the edification of Christian young people, there is nothing wrong with this. It is a matter of preference rather than law. Our former church had a Harvest Fellowship at Halloween time, primarily to provide an activity for to help keep young people away from the wicked things that go on in the world then. I see nothing unscriptural about this.

Likewise, the Lord made February 14. The Lord made romance. If a church wants to have some sort of fellowship on that day, so be it.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not giving a blanket endorsement of the world’s holidays. There is much that is evil there. Cupid is connected with a pagan god of lust, and the Christian must avoid every form of immorality; but I don’t believe it is wrong for a church to have a fellowship or some sort of sweetheart banquet at Valentine’s Day for married couples.

I am convinced that there is freedom of conscience in such matters. These are matters of preference. If a person doesn’t want to have any type of get together on such days, he shouldn’t have them. He doesn’t have to participate in something at the church if his conscience will not allow him to do so, but he shouldn’t make his own opinions about these things a law for others when God has made no such laws.

I know some are going to groan when they hear this, but I believe this principle is applicable for certain Christmas practices, as well. We know that the Christmas season has come from Rome. I am as opposed to Romanism as anyone. I have written many unpopular books against Rome. Yet while I am sickened at the commercialism and debauchery that characterizes the Christmas holidays on the part of some, I don’t think it is wrong to enjoy some aspects of that season. I am convinced there is Christian liberty in many of these things. Definitely we must not be involved with Santa Claus, which is a combination of a pagan god and a Catholic “saint,” but I believe a person can enjoy the social and family aspects of the season without worshipping false gods or committing sacrilege. I don’t believe in setting up Christmas trees in or having a Santa visit the church, but I don’t think it is wrong to have a nativity play and sing some of the Christmas carols that are Scriptural and otherwise involve one’s self in activities that do not bring dishonor to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I know this is a delicate subject, and there are strong feelings on all sides. My objective is not to defend Christmas. I am simply talking about one’s attitude toward those things that other people or churches do that I might not agree with, but that are not directly and plainly condemned in the Word of God. I am trying to illustrate this with some concrete things that we face in everyday life.

I don’t expect every reader to agree with me in all of these matters; I am simply saying that we have liberty in matters not directly addressed in Scripture.

The very fact that each of these matters is highly controversial illustrates my point. I must be careful that I am not trying to make my own preference a law for others.

While we must stand for the Word of God, we must also be careful that we not take away God-given liberty and hold our own conscience up as a law for others. Anything that is not clearly taught in Scripture falls into this category–whether or not a church uses musical instruments, times and days of services, evangelistic methods, how to conduct children’s ministries. The list is very long. It is a blessing to understand that God has given us much liberty in Christ and that in these matters each Christian and each church is free to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Avoiding Hypocrisy

Another key to fruitful church membership is to beware of hypocrisy.

It is much easier to criticize and judge others than it is to live a consistent spiritual life in my own right. The sin that Jesus reproved in Matthew 7:1-5 is the sin of self-righteous hypocrisy, the sin of judging others for things of which I am guilty.

We must never forget that we are sinners, too. We must not forget that God has been very, very patient and merciful to each of us. We must not forget the long path that has taken us to where we stand today, and how many sins and failings the Lord forgave in order to bring us along in our Christian lives.

To require perfection of others when we have never had such perfection in our own lives is hypocrisy.

I think of my own Christian life. I think of the early years of my Christian life and what a mess I was in so many ways. It took me months even to cut my long hair or to give up smoking, which are quite superficial things. Even today, after decades of growing in the Lord, I am so very far from what God wants me to be spiritually. We are to lay aside the old man and put on the new man, which is Christ. We are to be conformed to His image. He has the Spirit without measure. He is the definition of love as described in 1 Corinthians 13. He is the perfect holy man of Psalm 1. That is our objective, yet how terribly far we fall short. Each and every one of us!

Let’s flee from that hypocrisy whereby we are so quick to judge others about things that we are guilty of in God’s eyes if the truth be known, even if it perhaps in a smaller measure than those we are judging.

Judging is something we are accountable to do. We are to judge righteous judgment (John 7:24). But let us be more severe in judging ourselves than others.

Building the Church

Another key to fruitful church membership is to be busy building the church to the glory of Christ.

It is easier to criticize what others are doing than to do something constructive ourselves, but we are less likely to criticize improperly when we are busy building.

Many church members aren’t actually building the churches. They are spectators, and spectators are naturally critics. They are “Monday morning quarterbacks.”

Before I have a right to “criticize” others, I need to get in the battle and be an effective part of building up the church and furthering the Lord’s Great Commission. If I am bringing people to the Lord and helping them grow, I know how very difficult this job is and how much patience and wisdom is required and how far from perfect our converts are.

Those who zealously participate in the work of joining hands with the leaders to build the church for the glory of Christ are invested in the church in a very real way, and they will be less likely to criticize unnecessarily and unwisely and destructively than those who are mere spectators.

The question to ask is this: what am I doing to build the church? Have I dedicated myself without reserve to this important business? If I were to leave, would the church even miss me?

Pastoral Authority

Another essential key to fruitful church membership is to have a right attitude toward pastoral authority.

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (Heb. 13:7).

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17).

We have looked at the emphasis God has placed on the local church. That emphasis is woven into the very warp and woof of the New Testament and is undeniable. It is God’s will that every Christian be a faithful, fruitful, contributing member of a sound church. That being the case, it is not surprising that we are exhorted to obey those who have the rule over us. The verses quoted above are strong; we are to obey our church leaders. They are not to be dictators; they do not have unlimited authority; they are not to be obeyed unquestioningly; but they ARE rulers. Hebrews uses plain language, and I believe it means exactly what it says. Not all Christians have equal authority in this world. Some are rulers and the others are to obey those rulers.

The pastors of a church have the major responsibility before the Lord for the teachings, practices, and direction of that church.

The Bible says that the church leaders watch for our souls and that we must not cause them grief for that is unprofitable for us. I believe that this points to the judgment seat of Christ. If I am a grief to my pastor, it will be unprofitable for me at Christ’s judgment bar.

The notable exception to this, of course, is if the pastor himself is not obeying the Word of God or is leading contrary to the Word of God in some area of his ministry and is grieved at me simply for my stand for truth.

(In the free eBook “The Pastor’s Authority and the Church Member’s Responsibility” we deal with the abuse side of pastoral authority. This is available at the Way of Life web site under the Free eBook tab.)

In light of exhortations such as Hebrews 13, 7, 17 I must find a church that is following the Word of God, and I must then obey my leaders in that church; I must support that church in every way possible. That is the will of God for every Christian.

The leaders, in turn, will give an account to the Lord for their teaching and decisions. THEY HOLD THE GREATER RESPONSIBILITY, AND I, AS A CHURCH MEMBER, WILL NOT GIVE ACCOUNT FOR EVERYTHING THAT GOES ON IN THE CHURCH.

Obviously, this does not mean that we are to close our eyes to false teaching and sin, but it DOES mean that I am not to try to impose my views in all matters upon the church and its leaders. I must remember that I am not the pastor of the church; I therefore don’t have the wisdom, the unction, or the responsibility for that. I must submit to those who are the pastors and I must allow them to make decisions with which I might not agree, submitting myself because God has told me to do so.

The church member will never find a pastor with whom he agrees 100%. Think about it. This would be impossible. The only one with whom I agree with 100% is myself, and sometimes I disagree with myself! We all know this in theory but the practice of it is often a difficult matter.

I must recognize that if I am ever to submit to a pastor, it will be to an imperfect one.

Isn’t it reasonable to believe that God will guide the man he has placed over the church? Who am I to try to impose my views upon him?

I must understand this if I am to learn to get along in a church and be a fruitful member. God works in this world through our imperfections. This, of necessity, is the way He works in a church.

The friends who wrote to me that they were separating from a certain fundamental Baptist church said that the pastor holds what they believe to be a weak position on divorce and remarriage. By this, they meant that the pastor allowed a divorced person to work in the bus ministry. I take a strong position personally against divorce and remarriage. I believe we must preach against divorce, and I don’t believe a divorced man is qualified to be a pastor or a deacon, but I don’t believe it is wrong for a divorced person to work in the bus ministry. There are difficulties with any position one might take on this issue, and the more perverted our society becomes, and the more fragmented our families become, the more difficult it will be to deal with these issues.

The problem with divorce and remarriage is not so much whether a pastor believes divorce is wrong; practically all Bible-believing pastors believe this. The difficulty comes in how we treat those who are divorced. Do we allow them to join our churches? I know of one fundamental Bible church that does not allow divorced people to be members. Does the pastor perform the weddings for those who are divorced? If so, under what conditions? Do we allow divorced people to serve in the church? If so, in what capacity? Can they be Sunday School teachers? Ushers? Can they work in the bus ministry? Good churches differ in these matters, and I believe this is an example of something in which a church member can submit to his leaders, leaving it in the hands of the Lord.

The pastors will answer to God about these things, and there are many matters like this.

I might disagree with my pastor over his teaching on giving, for example. Some believe tithing is a law in the New Testament dispensation and others don’t.

I might disagree with some of the music in my church. Some Christians don’t like any “canned” or recorded background music to be played during the services; others don’t like guitars to be used; others don’t like gospel quartets. In my estimation, none of these things are wrong in themselves; it is the character of the music that is performed that makes such things right or wrong. I have heard some spiritual recorded music, and I have heard a lot of unspiritual recorded music. I have heard guitars used in a spiritual manner as well as in a worldly manner. I have heard spiritual quartets and unspiritual ones. The point is that there is room for some variety in the music program of the church, and I might not agree with all of the decisions that are made. (Our video series “Music for Good or Evil” deals with this issue extensively.)

I might disagree over the standards my church has for workers, thinking the standards are too strict or not strict enough.

I might disagree over whether or not a pastor has a TV and whether or not he preaches against this enough. We would never encourage someone to stay in a church that has low moral standards for workers, if they listen to rock music, for example, or wear immodest clothing, or where the pastor and other leaders watch ungodly television programs and movies. I am merely saying that my exact standards might not be enforced by the pastors, and that alone does not mean that they are wrong or that I should leave.

I might disagree with how my church conducts its business meetings. A church we were once members of, for example, doesn’t include women in the business meetings. The women can attend if they choose, but they do not make motions or vote. The men conduct the business. Imagine such a thing in this feministic society! I am sure there are many who would not agree with this, but it is not contrary to Scripture.

I might disagree with some of the missionaries the church supports.

I might disagree with some of the ways the church finances are used.

I might disagree with the kind of materials that are used in Sunday School, about whether or not promotions are used, about whether or not puppets or plays or such things are used, about whether or not there is a bus ministry.

I might have problems with how the missions program is conducted. I might not like some of the special speakers that the pastor brings in. I might disagree with my pastor over his involvement in or lack of involvement in political issues. I might disagree with him regarding his dealings with erring members. He might seem too patient or too harsh.

I’m simply saying that there are many things that we must leave in the hands of the pastors, and this is never an easy matter.

In every church I’ve been a member of I’ve disagreed with some things. There is a time to leave a church over things that we believe are wrong, when we have a clear scriptural basis and the direction of the church is set, but we must also learn to put many things into the hands of the Lord and do what He has told us to do: submit to the church leadership and be a blessing.

The pastors must be allowed to be the pastors. They will answer for things that I will not answer for, and they have an authority that I do not have. This is not shirking responsibility; it is obedience to the Bible; and it is the path of wisdom and blessing.

Grace

Another essential key to fruitful church membership is to bathe all of our judgments in love and mercy and graciousness.

“But speaking the truth IN LOVE, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15).

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort WITH ALL LONGSUFFERING and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).

“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, IN FAITH AND LOVE which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13).

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; BUT BE GENTLE UNTO ALL MEN, apt to teach, PATIENT, IN MEEKNESS instructing those that oppose themselves…” (2 Tim. 2:24-25).

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one IN THE SPIRIT OF MEEKNESS; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:1-2).

Some of the things mentioned in the letter from the friends who “separated” from the fundamental Baptist church remind me of these verses. God tells us that we must maintain an attitude of meekness, patience, and compassion when dealing with others about their problems.

The friends mentioned some instances in which their pastor supposedly “failed to correct error in the church.” The examples they gave made me think of the above verses. While it is essential to stand for the truth and to rebuke sin and error, there is also such a thing as wisdom and patience and caution when dealing with people. You don’t necessarily come down hard and publicly on every problem that arises.

They mentioned the rambling testimony of a new convert. She believed a woman who had recently died went to Heaven because of the peaceful expression on the face of her corpse. That’s a weird testimony, to be sure, but I don’t think it is something the pastor should necessarily have corrected publicly. Lack of wisdom can easily turn a slight problem into a very large one. The pastors are the ones who have to make those calls.

They mentioned a deacon who testified that “he liked to put God in impossible situations just to see what He will do,” and they seemed shocked that their pastor and the other deacons said “amen” to this. They said this contradicts Matthew 4:5-7, in which the Lord told the Devil that we are not to tempt God. But the deacon was probably just saying that it is a great thing to be in a situation in which God must do something special to help us, or something to that effect. I read a little ditty in the Maranatha paper a few years ago that said, “When God is going to do something wonderful, He begins with difficulty; if it is going to be something very wonderful, He begins with an impossibility!” That is probably the same idea that the deacon was trying to convey. His way of saying it might have left something to be desired, but this is not a serious matter. We must judge such things in a spirit of graciousness and patience, always giving the benefit of the doubt and giving room for people to grow.

They mentioned that the song leader said one night that Satan was the king of this world, and that Christ was not king. They said that since Christ is Prophet, Priest, and King, they felt the title of king is reserved for Christ. That is not so. Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords, but there are kings many and lords many in this present order of things. Satan is called the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4) and the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2). He is not necessarily spoken of as king of the world, but I do not believe it would be wrong to call him that in light of these verses. He is king in the hearts of lost people. Again, this is a petty matter that requires more graciousness and spiritual maturity than that which was displayed by the couple who wrote to me.

A pastor has to exercise supernatural wisdom and kindness. This is one reason I have a tremendously high regard for godly pastors who are committed to God’s Word. They must always walk that fine line between caution, concern, and compromise, between zeal for the truth and patience with the erring. I believe they have the most difficult job in the world. If they make mistakes and fail to do everything exactly as we think they should, we shouldn’t be surprised! How would you do in the pastor’s shoes?

We must always season our judgments with grace. Mel Rutter, late Vice President of Maranatha Baptist Mission, once told me, “Dave, be as firm as the rock in your position for truth, but as sweet as the honey from the rock in your disposition when striving for truth.” That’s good advice, and though I have often fallen short of practicing this, it is definitely one of the chief goals of my ministry. I want to be a gracious Christian and a gracious preacher. Anything less is un-christlike and wrong.

Conclusion

There is much more that could be said, but I will stop here.

I must add that I am definitely not giving a blanket endorsement of independent Baptists churches. There are MANY I would not join because of matters I count too serious to overlook. In fact, I am on the periphery of the Independent Baptist movement and the number of churches I can recommend with a good conscience is relatively small, probably 10% or less. Some are New Evangelical. Some use corrupt Bibles. Some remind me more of a carnival than a church. Some appear not to know anything of old-fashioned Bible holiness and separation from the world and have very low or nonexistent moral standards. Some use the world’s music. Some have a strutting Poobah for a pastor, a man who requires unquestioning loyalty to himself. (The pastor’s authority is limited by the Bible, and he is to be proven in all things — 1 Thess. 5:21. Further, a biblical pastor is not a proud lord; he is a humble shepherd, 1 Peter 5:1-5.)

Please understand, too, that I am not trying to quench anyone’s zeal for doing right. We need more zeal for truth and righteousness, not less. It is not wrong to try to correct perceived problems in our churches or to talk to the pastor about things about which we disagree. The Bible instructs us to “prove all things” (1 Thess. 5:21) and to judge all preaching (1 Cor. 14:29). There is a ministry of correction that is taught plainly in Scripture, but I did not set out to address that subject in this article. Here, I am dealing with other important issues.

I want to be a blessing to the Lord’s churches. The Bible makes it plain that God wants His work to be done through the church; thus it behooves us to make a supreme effort to submit ourselves to this institution except in matters of clear doctrinal error and entrenched moral corruption.

POSTSCRIPT: The people to whom I originally addressed the above information did not receive my counsel. In fact, they cut off all fellowship from me and counted me as their enemy and as a compromiser of the truth. The last I heard about them, they were moving from church to church, becoming increasingly bitter, in search of that ideal congregation. This is very sad, but I have seen the same thing happen many times.

EVANGELICAL LEADERS SIGN STATEMENT PROCLAIMING GOD OF ISLAM AND GOD OF BIBLE “ONE GOD”

(Friday Church News Notes, February 10, 2012, http://www.wayoflife.org

It is increasingly evident that large numbers of “evangelicals” are not only doctrinally corrupt but also that they worship a false god. In 2007, Rick Warren and other prominent evangelical leaders signed “A Christian Response to ‘A Common Word Between Us and You.’” This document says that Muslims and Christians worship the same God and claims that “the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.” The statement says, “… we must engage in interfaith dialogue as those who seek each other’s good, for the one God unceasingly seeks our good”  (http://www.yale.edu/faith/acw/acw.htm).

The Muslims know that Allah is not the same as the God of the Bible, as Allah has no Son. The blasphemous document was signed by the two major church growth gurus in America, Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. In this they joined hands with hundreds of other signatories, including Roman Catholics (e.g., “Father” Joseph Daoust, President of the Jesuit School of Theology Berkeley), prominent theological modernists and emergents (e.g. Harvey Cox and Elizabeth Fiorenza of Harvard Divinity School, Tony Jones of Emergent Village, and Brian McLaren), and self-esteem guru Robert Schuller. Other “evangelicals” who signed this unscriptural document were Leith Anderson (President of the National Association of Evangelicals), Robert Cooley (President Emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), Mike Edens (Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary), Timothy George (Beeson Divinity School at Samford University), Lynn Green (International Chairman of Youth With A Mission), Peter Kuzmic (Gordon-Conwell), David Neff (Editor in Chief Christianity Today), Roy Oksnevad (Institute of Strategic Evangelism at Wheaton College), Richard Mouw (President of Fuller Theological Seminary), Doug Pennoyer (Dean of the School of Intercultural Studies, Biola University), John Stott (Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church London), Michael Treneer (International President of The Navigators), Berten Waggoner (National Director of the Vineyard Churches), David Yonggi Cho (senior pastor Yoido Full Gospel Church Seoul), and Bruce Clemenger (President of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada).

Saints Alive

Witnessing to the Cults

Ed Decker

We are besieged by heartsick Christians around the world who have lost a loved one, a child, a parent, a spouse or a friend to one of the many cults that abound in the land. Of course, we get just as many inquiries from Christians who have made the acquaintance of a Mormon or Freemason or Muslim and want to know the best way to share The Good News of Jesus with them.

There are as many variations to the questions and needs as there are groups out there. The New Age, for example, has about as many definitions as it has followers. But there are significant base parallels to every cultic group.

In every case, every attempt is made to humanize God,deify man, minimize sin, and separate you from the authority of Holy Scripture. The last is often done by adding to the Bible, that group’s own created scripture of higher authority, usually given by mystical means to that group’s spiritual leader. They will also make every effort to convince you that salvation is only available through that group and its special plan for your step into eternity.

This tells you then, that in order to witness to someone in any of the cultic groups, it will be necessary for you to deify and glorify God, reveal mankind as lost to God through sin, demonstrate the validity of the Bible and point the way to the cross as the only way of salvation for mankind.

Simple! No, not at all. Well, if someone shows up that you know is head over heels into some cultic theology, and you know absolutely nothing about it and you don’t have time to run to a library, then you can always start from the above premise and you will never go wrong. Trust me, the newly arrived cult member will quickly set you straight on his/her doctrine in any of the above areas.

But, assuming you do have some time to prepare, I strongly suggest that you learn the simple basics that separate that specific group from orthodox Christianity. Then you are ready to proceed. Almost.

With an acknowledgment and thanks to JEWS FOR JESUS for an old tract I carried around until it was unreadable, here it is rewritten with some of my own pointers on witnessing that I consider vital to your success on being a really effective witness :

1. Be a Real Friend. There are a zillion spiritual scalp hunters out there who want to win a lost soul for Jesus, but are completely unaware of the person who is attached to that soul. Try to have an honest and well rounded relationship with your friend before you attempt to witness.

Pray about your own motives and make the association a real one. It is the intensive person to person witness through which most cultists are being won to Christ. It’s really true that what you are usually speaks louder than what you say.

Be ready to love that person just exactly as they are and where they are, even if they never leave that cult. I am convinced that the vast majority of these people are where they are because they really want to serve God with all their hearts. These people are not God’s enemies nor are they ours. They are victims of false teachers. The Scriptures say “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.” (Isa. 9:16 )

2. Encourage Discussion on Life issues to get some insight on how your friend perceives and understand things. Listen to where his (her) heart really is. Get him to talk about the things which concern him and lead him into a discussion about what his group means to him. People are in cults for many different reasons.

In no way let him come to the understanding that you only care for him as long as you might convert him. Love that person right now!

3. In Some Way Give Your Own Testimony. A good place to begin is to tell specifically how God has answered prayer in your life. Avoid testimonies that talk about the peace and joy you have in the Lord.

Remember, those who follow Eastern religions and any number of the new cults will give just as fervent a testimony. Like the Mormons who use their burning in the bosom as a test of truth, each group has its own subjective method of instilling a counterfeit sense of security.

4. Answer all questions and objections from Scripture. But remember, you don’t have to answer every question when it’s asked. In fact, your friend will feel a whole lot more comfortable with you if you can’t. You can say, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I’ll find out”, or “Let me think about it a little more and I’ll give you an answer the next time I see you.” Then, find the answer, be sure you understand it and bring it back!

5. Get your friend to study the Bible with you. Don’t concentrate only on their theological problem areas. There is power in all the Scripture. A good beginning point is the first chapter of The Book Of John.

6. Offer to pray for your friend’s needs. While an apologetics kind of ministry is not always welcomed, few people will decline prayer and God seems to be particularly pleased to honor prayers as evidence of His love and concern in these cases.

7. Try to bring your friend into the communication sphere of other Christians who are former members of that cultic group. Such a meeting might be painful at first, but it does bring persons to the place where they can see that there really can be a God centered life after the cult.

8. Emphasize that Christ is the sin bearer for you and your friend alike. Remember that your friend has been programmed to think that he has to carry his own sin until it can be released only through his cult group leadership. It’s up to you to show him that is not true!

9. Ask for a decision. As a general rule, it’s not good to continually press for a decision, but you will prayerfully know when the timing is right in the matter.

10. Remember the areas that the cult cannot deal with and bring your friend to an understanding of these important matters; the power of the shed blood of Jesus, the Cross and the nature of salvation by grace. Be able to give a good, clear definition of the doctrine of the Trinity, an area of confusion with every cult.

11. Always pray before your visits. Going into this sphere of spiritual contact without the Holy Spirit is dangerous for both you and your friend. The Scriptures promise us the power of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us at times such as this.

Realize that your friend is under spiritual bondage which can only be broken through intercessory prayer. It is vital that if you have a burden for this person that you be involved in persistent, aggressive prayer directed against the principalities of powers of darkness over him. Pray according to the Bible that the strongman be bound so that his captive can be set free. Pull down those strongholds and cast down vain imaginations and “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

Ask for the intervention of the Holy Spirit to draw this friend to the Cross of Jesus for salvation. Also, solicit the assistance of the prayer group at your church and/or among other believing friends and family.

This bondage can be broken through prayer in the name of Jesus. Many have been set free through the love, intercession and fellowship of committed friends and relatives.

12. If you need help, email usand we will be glad to help!

Find Ed Decker’s website HERE

Ed Decker, founder of Saints Alive, was a Mormon for 20 years of his adult life. He was a member of the Melchizedek priesthood, a Temple Mormon and active in many church positions. Through a crisis in his life, Ed met the real Jesus and his life was changed forever. An active author, speaker and evangelist, Ed has brought the light of Biblical truth to uncountable thousands of those lost in spiritual darkness. Today, the work of Saints Alive Ministries has expanded worldwide and includes ministry to other groups such as the Masonic Lodge.

Can You Be Deceived?
Why People Are Duped and How Not to Be

by G. Richard Fisher

Excerpt from Personal Freedom Outreach

S-H-A-R-P

S — Search the Scriptures daily. Know the Word of God and read it in context. Hosea 4:6 says: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” We need to be constantly hiding the Word in our hearts. History attests to the tragedies that occur when God’s Word is neglected. Remember that the unspeakable mischief and misery in Salem in the 1690s was the acceptance of “spectral evidence” (that is, that Satan could take the form and shape of innocent persons) which did not have a shred of biblical evidence. Many innocent people died. We must search God’s Word. There are eight spiritual revivals in the Old Testament. Everyone of them was centered on the Word of God. True revivals are based on the reception of God’s Word. It is the foundation for any true and lasting revival.

H — Hold on to God in prayer for wisdom and discernment. Herbert Lockyer reminds us:

“Craftily and cleverly, Satan hides his snares, and we have to constantly pray that we may always be aware of his tricks.”30

Jesus said: “Men ought to pray and not faint” (Luke 18:1). Ephesians 6 makes clear that prayer is a vital part of our “armor” and protection.

A — Accept no claims of man at face value no matter how compelling or slickly presented. Remember Jeremiah 12:6:

“For even your brothers, the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; Yes they have called abundantly after you. Do not believe them, even though they speak smooth words to you.”

This is not being paranoid, only discerning and cautious. Obviously if the teacher has a long proven track record, we can be more accepting. Proverbs 15:14 is a timely word: “The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.” Remember that the person passing on the information may be deceived.

R — Require documentation (two or three witnesses) and proofs for stories and illustrations that are claimed to be true. Accept no less. Do not assume something has happened because someone says so or it is in a book or video. Even sincere believers may be misinformed and be passing on misinformation. Think how long the Crying Wind, John Todd, Betty Malz, Mike Warnke and Y2K lies were circulated and accepted. Christian bookstores and Christian ministries helped circulate these. Demand evidence, remembering that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

P — Pursue only reputable ministries, teachers and commentaries. Insist on doctrinal statements and detailed financial reports. Take seriously documented reports of false teaching, mismanagement of money, outlandish claims and poor doctrine. Even the secular press can only report what is there. It is unfortunate that they have become the watchdog of the scammers. The Church should be doing the job.

Stay SHARP. Don’t be duped by deceivers or deceit.

February 2012
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