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By Harry Ironside
Objection is often raised—even by some sound in the faith—regarding the exposure of error as being entirely negative and of no real edification. Of late, the hue and cry has been against any and all negative teaching. But the brethren who assume this attitude forget that a large part of the New Testament, both of the teaching of our blessed Lord Himself and the writings of the apostles, is made up of this very character of ministry—namely, showing the Satanic origin and, therefore, the unsettling results of the propagation of erroneous systems which Peter, in his second epistle, so definitely refers to as “damnable heresies.”
Our Lord prophesied, “Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Within our own day, how many false prophets have risen; and oh, how many are the deceived! Paul predicted, “I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch” (Acts 20:29-31). My own observation is that these “grievous wolves,” alone and in packs, are not sparing even the most favored flocks. Undershepherds in these “perilous times” will do well to note the apostle’s warning:
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. (vs. 28)
It is as important in these days as in Paul’s—in fact, it is increasingly important—to expose the many types of false teaching that, on every hand, abound more and more.
We are called upon to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3), while we hold the truth in love. The faith means the whole body of revealed truth, and to contend for all of God’s truth necessitates some negative teaching. The choice is not left with us. Jude said he preferred a different, a pleasanter them:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 3, 4).
Paul likewise admonishes us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).
This does not imply harsh treatment of those entrapped by error—quite the opposite. If it be objected that exposure to error necessitates unkind reflection upon others who do not see as we do, our answer is: it has always been the duty of every loyal servant of Christ to warn against any teaching that would make Him less precious or cast reflection upon His finished redemptive work and the all-sufficiency of His present service as our great High Priest and Advocate.
Every system of teaching can be judged by what it sets forth as to these fundamental truths of the faith. “What think ye of Christ?” is still the true test of every creed. The Christ of the Bible is certainly not the Christ of any false “-ism.” Each of the cults has its hideous caricature of our lovely Lord.
Let us who have been redeemed at the cost of His precious blood be “good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” As the battle against the forces of evil waxes ever more hot, we have need for God-given valour.
There is constant temptation to compromise. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13). It is always right to stand firmly for what God has revealed concerning His blessed Son’s person and work. The “father of lies” deals in half-truths and specializes in most subtle fallacies concerning the Lord Jesus, our sole and sufficient Savior.
Error is like leaven of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.
Exposing error is most unpopular work. But from every true standpoint it is worthwhile work. To our Savior, it means that He receives from us, His blood-bought ones, the loyalty that is His due. To ourselves, if we consider “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt,” it ensures future reward, a thousand-fold. And to souls “caught in the snare of the fowler”how many of them God only knows-it may mean light and life, abundant and everlasting.
|Are There Blood Moons Rising? with Mark Hitchcock (part 2)|
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T. A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in. In today’s program, Tom wraps a two-part series with guest, Mark Hitchcock. Here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. This is part 2 of our conversation, a discussion about prophecy, and, in particular, blood moons. That’s a teaching that’s come into the church, and people are excited about it, but it has raised a bit of controversy. And it should, because we have to question whether it’s biblical or not. The perspective – I don’t care who it is – whatever the person is teaching, if they claim to be speaking for the Bible, then we have a resource to check out what they’re saying, just as the Bereans did in Acts 17:11.
So my guest, as we get on with this, is Mark Hitchcock. He’s the pastor-teacher of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, OK, and the author of a number of books dealing with biblical prophecy, and in particular, that addresses this subject, is Blood Moons Rising, which we offer here at The Berean Call.
Mark, welcome back to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Mark: Yeah, thanks for having me back again.
Tom: You know, Mark, as we ended last week, we did mention Mark Biltz, the author of Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, and I also mentioned last week that I listened to a kind of casual debate with him over his book and your book, and I’d just like you to just briefly…tell us what [are] your primary concerns about what he wrote.
Mark: Well, I think there are several things. I guess my primary concern is with when it comes to the whole idea of these four blood moons, and there’s this idea out there that these four blood moons that are going to occur on these four Jewish feast days, and there are going to be four lunar eclipses: Passover and Tabernacles in 2014, and then on Passover and Tabernacles in 2015. So that’s a fact, but the real problem I have with that is it’s that really the handling of the Bible to come to the conclusions that he comes to. To me, when you go to the passages that mention the moon turning to blood in Joel 2 and Acts 2 and Revelation 6, and then in Matthew 24 (it doesn’t mention the moon turning to blood, but it talks about the sun not giving its light there). The problem is [that] in all of those passages – the context of those passages is either in the midpoint or the end of the coming seven-year tribulation period, and we’re not in that period yet, because the Rapture hasn’t even happened, so 2015, where they’re claiming all of this is so significant, can’t be the fulfillment of those things because of the timing and the context of those passages.
Another thing is that nowhere in the Bible are four blood moons mentioned! It just mentions the moon turning to blood. It doesn’t mention that it’s going to happen four times. So again, that’s something they’re reading into the Bible that the Bible doesn’t say.
Also, these events in the Bible of the moon turning to blood are supernatural events – they’re not natural occurrences, like a lunar eclipse. When you read the context of these passages, this is God doing this. Also when you go to Acts 2 and to Revelation 6, there are all kinds of other things mentioned other than the moon turning to blood. There’s going to be columns of smoke and all these other different things.
So they don’t take all of those other things – they just cherry pick, kind of, one thing out of there, and then see that as being fulfilled in these four blood moons in these two years.
And so, there’s just really, to me, a host of interpretive problems that you have to make this case: things they’re not…seeing in the Bible that are there, and then other things they’re reading into the Bible that aren’t there.
So I think they’ve built kind of this whole viewpoint and this whole theory and this whole construct of these four blood moons, this blood moon tetrad and how significant it is, really out of passages that don’t say anything close to what they’re building.
Tom: And now, scripturally, Mark, help me out here. Is the blood moon event – is that a one-time event?
Mark: It seems to be. Yeah, it seems to be a one-time event, and, again, you have in Revelation 6, you have a reference there to the moon turning to blood, and then, if you take the passage in Joel 2 and Acts 2 to be the end of the Tribulation, then it could be there, again, another occurrence of this same type of an event, but again, they’re not happening on…it doesn’t mention feast days; it doesn’t mention…so, again, it depends on your chronology in these passages. And some would take it that all of those passages refer to the same period of time, and others would take it that they refer to two different times. But there’s still not four different times, and they’re never really related to Jewish feast days or things like that.
So, my view would be that, yes, there’s an event kind of at the middle of the Tribulation in Revelation 6. These other passages refer to the end of the Tribulation. But, again, that would be…others might disagree on the exact chronology.
Tom: As you know, Mark, Mark Biltz, the author of Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, and also Jonathan Cahn, who’s the author of The Harbinger and The Mystery of Shemitah, are more than implying that, as you allude to, this September very well could be the time when the blood moon triggers world calamity and financial devastation, and so forth. Now what does that say about the timing of the Rapture and the biblical teaching about the Great Tribulation?
Mark: Well, I think, you know, there’s several problems with what they’re doing. One is…to me, what they’re doing is…I would refer to it as a “soft” form of date setting. And what I mean by that is they’re not setting a date and saying the Lord is coming back in 2015, but to me, the Bible doesn’t tell us that there’s going to be a great economic collapse in 2015 or there’s going to be a war in the Middle East in 2015. It doesn’t give us dates for any of these future events. And so, to me, to their credit, at least they’re not saying, “Oh, 2015 is the Lord’s coming.” But they are saying that it is the time of some other great event. And to me, that’s still date setting. And I think it’s dangerous because, again, they don’t know that from Scripture, and if what they’re saying doesn’t happen, then again, it’s this black eye for the Bible and a black eye for God, when actually, it isn’t God at all; it’s them.
So I think that’s the problem with that. But also, by saying there’s going to be all this devastation and collapse and all of this taking place, it’s almost as if they’re predicting the events of the Tribulation to begin this year with the church still here. And I think it’s a confused eschatology – I think at best a kind of confusing of end-time events. But the other thing is, they seem to often say how these things are going to happen, and they come about as close as you can get to saying that the Lord’s coming back, but then they always kind of back away from that.
Mark: And I think there’s a danger there, again, of even though they won’t go so far as to say that, to many people who are listening to them, I think you would clearly get that impression.
Tom: Well, let me give you an example. I think you’re wonderfully gracious by giving them the benefit of the doubt. And we do. We want to err on the side of mercy, and so on. But, Mark, as I’ve tracked these guys, it isn’t just what they write, but you see them on different programs, especially programs like Jim Bakker, Sid Roth, where they’re promoting their books and their ideas.
Now, let me just give you some dialogue here between Mark Biltz and Jim Bakker. This can be found at the…well, here’s the address: jimbakkershow.com/video/mystery-sevens-2/. It starts with actually one of Bakker’s assistants, and he says, “The year of the Jubilee, which is next fall,” and then he declares, “I would suggest to you that something so great is going to happen in the world, and to America, that it’s going to call back God’s people.”
Then Biltz agrees enthusiastically, and Bakker jumps up with Biltz actually grinning approval: “Oh, people! You’d better get ready!” And Bakker then supplies his reasons why the Jews would leave the US and return to Israel: “There has to be a collapse of our economy.”
Biltz responds to Bakker’s “Am I close?” by saying, “Yes, you’re right on.” And Biltz adds that “the Tribulation is a seven-year cycle that will follow the cyclical Shemitah cycle.”
Bakker responds: “You feel like maybe we should prepare for the Tribulation?”
Biltz: “Definitely!” He then adds, “I think we have one year to really prepare for God’s coming.”
Bakker adds: “You say that right out flat! You didn’t even give a disclaimer! Now say that again.”
Biltz: “If it doesn’t begin next year, it won’t begin for seven more years. But I don’t know if we have much time.”
Then Bakker jumps up again: “We have the “Year of Food” [offer] for $550! One of these days it will be all gone. One more event – I’m telling you. We have the “Time of Trouble,” and that’s a seven-year food offer, and that’s for a donation of $3,000. That’s [7,700 (corrected)] meals.”
Mark, at least, that’s kind of a fear-mongering thing. What their motivation is, I’m not going to judge their heart, but it just seems like a promotion not only that’s not supported by Scripture, but it increases fear among people. And, you know, we’ve seen this, as you mentioned before, date setting is always wrong, with regard to the Scripture, but the outcome, the consequences – people sell their homes, people move to the country. They, you know, basically, financially…I’m not saying where their spiritual walk is, but basically working out of fear, it destroys lives, even to the point of suicides, and so on.
Mark: No, you’re right. I mean, it’s tragic, and another problem with what he said there, as you just read, is that destroys imminency.
Mark: Because he’s saying, “Okay, if doesn’t happen now, then it can’t happen for seven more years.”
Mark: Jesus says we’re to be looking for the Blessed Hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior. He says we’re to be waiting up for our Savior and for His return. When someone says these things, and they don’t happen now then can’t happen for seven more years, to me, that’s problematic. And I agree with you. It is fear-mongering, and it smacks of commercialization and merchandising. And so, it’s not good, but what we see, though, and I see this time and time again, and I try to point this out to folks, is one of the real problems, and I’m aware of this in my own life, in my own teaching, error begets error.
Mark: You get one error, and then it tends to compound itself in another error and another error, and so, again, that’s why we want to go back to the Bible. And the Bible is our plumb line, it’s our standard, and what we say, we want it to be consistent with the Bible. When you get off of that, especially in areas like this, where people are…people are very susceptible in these areas. Again, I’ve said this a couple of times, but the days we live in are uncertain. There’s a lot of fear out there, and it’s easy to prey on people’s fear today. It is! And we want to give people hope. We want to tell them that Jesus is coming – that they can have their hope and their trust and their faith in Him and be delivered from the coming wrath. And that’s the message that we have for people today. When that is abused in that way, it’s sad and unfortunate.
Tom: You know, we also – thinking of the body of Christ – we want to encourage, exhort, and I’m thinking about 2 Timothy 4:3, that declares (prophetically, by the way) that the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine. So our exhortation, you as a pastor, a pastor-teacher, our exhortation is to get into the Word of God. Now, do you see that as a major reason, when people aren’t into the Word of God, why so many Christians are vulnerable to these blatant abuses of biblical prophecy today?
Mark: Sure. That’s the big problem we have. Really, all of these different areas. One of the areas where there’s a great lack today is in discernment. You know that. That’s what your ministry’s about. But people don’t know the Bible, and so they are susceptible to these kinds of things. And I think a lot of people know that. Again, I read these books, and they just pull a few scriptures out of some different places about the moon turning to blood and kind of weave this whole theology out of that, and again, they’re not looking at the context of the passages, the timing of these things, the source of them, how many of them there are stated in Scripture, and all of that. And people who are undiscerning – and I think, you know, people… there’s a sense with a lot of people that they want these things to be true. They read it, and they want it to be true, and they’re looking for things out there to kind of grab onto and hang onto to give them some kind of solid foundation and give them some hope. And there are people that are coming along and giving them these kinds of things.
It’s a serious thing. You mentioned I’m a pastor of a church, and James 3:1: Don’t let many of you become teachers, knowing as such you will incur a stricter judgment. We have a responsibility to handle the Word accurately and to be shepherds for people and not to come in and lead people astray.
So that’s why I write books like this. I do have a passion for God’s truth, and I have a passion for the Lord, but I also have a passion for God’s people, and when I see them being led astray by things like this, then I like to try to do what I can to try to correct the record.
Tom: And certainly where we can equip them, especially as things get more difficult. And, fellowship! So important. Like-minded brothers and sisters in the Lord who are into the Word of God. They need each other. We need each other, and all of that.
Mark, a while ago I wrote an article for The Berean Call, and the title was “Is Your Eschatology Showing?” And the point of the article was that Christians who are ignorant of the events of the Scriptures that are going to take place prior to Christ’s return, really are vulnerable, I think, to unwittingly supporting agendas that are contrary to what the Bible says will take place.
Now, eschatology – some people may not know the term, but it’s just chronology that the Bible lays out about what’s going to take place, and it’s not a mystery, is it? You know, certainly there may be some things where we’re not given all the details, but basically, the chronology is there. But these guys, it seems to me… When I say “these guys,” those who are writing these books, Mark, they couch them in “mystery.” Everything’s a mystery, like “Shemitah.” But I think that’s attractive to people. They say, “Oh, listen to this! This is secret. This is a mystery. This is esoteric.” What do you say to that?
Mark: Well, there is an allure and a seduction to things like that…you know, this new thing that’s been discovered, or whatever they are, and I do think you’ve hit on something there. There is an attraction to that, and, again, with this world we live in, people want to be in the know. If there’s something out there that can give them some special insight, they want to know about it. But, again, we go back to the Bible, the book of Revelation, the very first of the book, it’s called the apocalypsis of Jesus Christ. The word “apocalypis” means to take the veil off something, to uncover it. So, it’s a book we should understand. It’s not the covering, the hiding. It’s the uncovering, and it’s assumed that we can understand it because the very third verse – it’s the only book in the Bible with a blessing attached to it. It says, “Blessed is the one who reads, the one who hears, and the one who heeds the words written in this book, the prophecy of this book, because the time is near.”
So again, this is something we should be able to read, to hear, to understand, to obey, and so when things come, like blood moons – I think that’s why a lot of these things attract people. “Blood moons.” It sounds kind of…I don’t know, kind of creepy almost, or kind of mysterious, or… You know, “blood moons,” “Shemitah,” the whole 2012 thing was based on the Mayan calendar. So, all of these kind of things, I think, have an allure, but again, if you just go back to the Bible and see what the Bible actually says, really, as you pointed out, the overall scenario, or the template, that the Bible lays out for the end times is not really that complicated.
We all believe He’s coming back. We believe there’s going to be a final resurrection, a final judgment, there’s a heaven, and there’s a hell. That’s what we all agree on, regardless of our particular viewpoint on the end times. But there’s all these kinds of things out there, again, to kind of draw people in, and when people see these kinds of things that are new, and new discoveries, the antenna should immediately go up; the alarm button should go off, the flashing lights should go off in the mind that this is something we need to proceed and enter into with caution.
Tom: And, Mark, as you mentioned last week, we see things developing. We see the apostasy growing. We don’t see very specific prophecies being fulfilled, for example, we mentioned 1948, the restoration of the nation of Israel, and so on. You know, from my writings, I’ll take a verse like 2 Timothy 3:1-2, “Mark my words, in the last days, there will be perilous times. Men will be lovers of their own selves,” and I can apply that to a generation – the psychological generation, okay? Because it really deals with loving of self, which is what psychology and humanistic psychology teaches.
So, anyway, without locking things down, as you pointed out, we don’t know the timing of this, when it’s going to happen, but things do seem to be closer than they were. But here’s my concern. As I mentioned, if you don’t have an understanding of the chronology of what will take place according to the Scriptures – now, help me out here, Mark – the next kingdom that I see developing, according to the Scriptures, is the kingdom of the Antichrist.
So again, we don’t know when, but we see this in development, my point being that do we keep our eyes open to certain things that certainly develop that may seem good – for example, Rick Warren has his Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan. He’s trying to solve all the problems of the world by bringing different religions together – I mean, that’s not my idea, folks. That’s all documented. Or you have, the Kingdom/Dominionists. They believe that Christians need to take over the world before Christ can return. We have, among the young people, we have a popular group Jesus Culture, and their eschatology is Kingdom Dominionism. That’s what the lyrics of their songs – and they’re incredibly, hugely popular. So my point is that if we are not aware, at least for a heads up, if we’re not aware of the chronology of Scripture, we can buy into a program that’s working for the Adversary, not true to Scripture.
Mark: Well, no, that’s right, and you know, it is interesting, in the early church there were things about the end times that were being taught that greatly upset people. We have in the book of Thessalonians, the whole book of 2 Thessalonians – the first part of it, they’ve been sent a spurious letter, a counterfeit letter as if from Paul that they were in the Day of the Lord. That the Day of the Lord had come. And they were confused… So one of the reasons we need to understand prophecy is because we do live in days of great deception, and a lot of the deceptions are about the end times. There’s a lot of cults out there gaining great traction in people’s lives by teaching false views about the end times. Because they know people are interested in this. So that’s kind of their entrée into these things. So, it is very important – and, again, not every person is going to be a Bible scholar and understand all the intricacies of the end times, but it is incumbent upon us as believers to understand what the Bible says about these things so we don’t get pulled in and sucked into these, I would call them “fads,” that come along.
Tom: Right, and some of them have… they’re so much a part of Christendom, for example, I mentioned the article, “Is Your Eschatology Showing?” Last week I mentioned coming to Christ at the time when The Late Great Planet Earth was the most popular book, and I didn’t know about prophecy, didn’t know about the Rapture, and so on. But in terms of eschatology, my church, my former church, the Roman Catholic Church, they were amillennialists, okay? They believe we’re in the Millennium now. So that’s had an effect over millennia!
Mark: Sure it does! It does, and if you believe that we’re going to go through the Tribulation period, that has an effect now. If you believe that you know the day when Jesus is coming back, that affects the way you live now. There’s all of these things…what we believe about the future does have ramifications for now in our lives. And we need to understand. What I see today, this is really an ironic development, I would say today in churches, at least during my lifetime, there’s less being taught about Bible prophecy and eschatology by far than ever before. Less being taught, but we need it now more than ever!
Mark: We’re the generation that needs it now more than ever, and yet, it’s being taught less. And I do think that that is a plot of the enemy, a strategy of the enemy, to silence pastors and preachers and teachers on this. The people don’t have an appetite for it any more, and I think that again, many people will be caught short and caught unaware because they’re not being taught these things. They’re victims, really, for these kind of things that come along that create all kinds of panic and fear and so on.
Tom: Yeah, and it doesn’t have to be that way, which brings me… Mark, we’ve got just about a couple of minutes left, but here’s my question. As I mentioned to you, you’re really making a wonderful contribution by your prolific writing, and I mean prolific, folks, by informing Christians about erroneous teachings and false interpretations of prophetic scriptures, but, Mark, what would you say, in these last few minutes, to our listeners – how would it be best to help them to avoid being deceived in apostasy as it increases, seemingly exponentially in our day?
Mark: Well, I think, you know, again, the main thing is to be involved in a local church, supporting a local church where the Bible is taught, availing themselves of the resources that are out there today. Every place I can think of in the New Testament – just a few that pop into my mind here where it mentions the idea of apostasy, is in 2 Timothy 3 – a long chapter about apostasy. Of course, that’s where the passage is that says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, that a man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished for every good work.” And you have the book of Jude, you know, all about apostasy. You go down to the end, and it says we’re to be building ourselves up in the most holy faith, which again, is the study of God’s Word and the Scripture. So, when you think about the great need we have today – and, again, it’s not just to study the Bible, though, for head knowledge. We need to know the Bible and be passionate about the Bible and be passionate about living the Bible, and allowing the Bible to be transforming our minds and our lives. And that is, to me, the great defense that we have in this world today, where there are so many ideas out there – so many wrong ideas and so much false teaching. I know that doesn’t sound real flashy, maybe, to people, but I do think that to be Bereans, it is exactly what you always say, to study the Scriptures to see if these things are so. That is the great defense God has given to us in these days.
Tom: Yes, it’s available, and He’s equipped us. He’s given us not only His Word, He’s given us the Holy Spirit, and He’s given us fellowship to encourage one another in all of this.
Mark: Yeah, what I would say, it’s the Word of God, it’s the Spirit of God, and it’s the people of God. Those are three great resources that we have.
Tom: Well, my guest has been Mark Hitchcock, and Mark’s book is Blood Moons Rising, but he’s written a number of other books related to prophecy, so I would encourage one and all to check them out. And, Mark, I really appreciate so much what you contributed, and God bless you, bro, and thanks for being with us!
Mark: Well, thank you very much, and I appreciate you all and the work you’re doing, and may God continue to have His rich hand of blessing upon you and upon that ministry.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 featuring T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon, 97708. Call us at 800.937.6638. Or visit our website at the bereancall.org.
|Are There Blood Moons Rising? with Mark Hitchcock (part 1)|
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us. In today’s program, Tom begins a two-part series with guest Mark Hitchcock. Here’s TBC Executive Director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. The subject for today and next week is what some are teaching about what the Scripture refers to as a blood moon. Now, it’s generated quite a bit of excitement as well as controversy, and, as most of our listeners know, the mission of this program and The Berean Call is to compare whatever is being taught in Christendom today with what is presented in God’s Word. And on board to discuss prophecy and in particularly the current teachings regarding blood moons is Mark Hitchcock. He is the pastor/teacher of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, OK, and the author of a number of books dealing with biblical prophecy. His perspective from his book Blood Moons Rising, which we, by the way, offer here at The Berean Call, will be central to our discussion.
Mark, welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Mark: Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s great to be with you.
Tom: You know, Mark, most of your…well, I didn’t realize this…most of your two dozen-or-so books deal with biblical prophecy. Now, I have to ask you, what sparked your interest in Bible prophecy, and what value do you see in prophecy for believers-and even those who don’t know the Lord?
Mark: Well, I got interested in Bible prophecy a little bit when I was around 11-12-13 years old. That’s back when The Late Great Planet Earth came out. I’m sure many of the listeners will remember that. In May of 1970 – is when the Late Great Planet Earth. A lot of people [were] interested in that, and the youth group I was in – a lot of talk about it. At that time, it just kind of at that time…my interest was piqued, but when I really became interested in prophecy was in my early twenties. That’s when I really began to study the Bible seriously for myself, and really, it rose out of the issue that when I read the Bible, there were so many parts of the Bible I couldn’t understand, and I finally realized that if I would understand Bible prophecy, since 28 percent of the Bible was prophetic at the time it was written – that if I understood prophecy, I could understand the Bible.
So, really, my love for prophecy is my love for the Bible. And I just felt like – and I still feel that way today – if you don’t understand at least some of the basics of prophecy, there are just large portions of the Bible that remain an enigma. So that’s really a lot of my interest in it, and I do think as well that it’s very relevant today for believers. Obviously, it’s a cleansing hope that we have – a purifying hope – that we believe Jesus could come any time. It’ll change the way that we live. It helps us understand this world around us. We live in a world that’s chaotic and uncertain, and we know how the story ends when we understand the Bible. So it’s a great comfort and hope that we have.
And to me, the message for unbelievers is that Jesus could come back at any time. They need to be ready. And I think even a lot of unbelievers, a lot of secular people, have the idea that this world’s getting near closing time. And I think that Bible prophecy has a unique message, because people are innately interested in the future. They’re curious about it. And we can come in with Bible prophecy and what the Scriptures say, and we can use that to set the table, if you will, as a platform, then, to reach people with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Tom: You know, Mark, you mentioned The Late Great Planet Earth. At that time – I was a Roman Catholic for almost 30 years – and it was at that time that I came to the Lord. And, just as you mentioned, you were 11 and 12 – well, I was in my thirties, and, Mark, I got really excited about prophecy and this thing called the Rapture because, as a Roman Catholic, forget that! You know, we were never given any kind of teaching about prophecy, although some of the so-called Saints promoted their ideas about the way things were going to happen. We had the “Secret of Fatima,” and all of those kinds of things, but nothing like biblical prophecy. And I really got excited about it, and, as I said, especially the Rapture! I mean that’s so foreign to Roman Catholicism, and especially, then, getting to know Dave Hunt and starting to work with him – you can imagine, that love for prophecy and love for God’s Word never…it just continued to grow and grow and grow.
Mark: No, that’s right. And it does. It’s such a framework for really understanding what the Bible says, and people are interested in it, and, again, we don’t just talk about things because people are interested in it, but on the other hand, if there is something that people are innately curious about that the Bible deals with and talks about a lot, and certainly we should talk about it at least some. And we don’t want to make Bible prophecy a hobby horse, or that’s all we talk about. I’m the pastor of a church, and so most of the time when I preach, it’s not on prophecy. I’ve written a lot of books on it, but I speak most of the time on things not prophecy related.
But God’s people need a well-balanced diet. Bible prophecy and eschatology and study of the end times, it’s certainly a part of that.
Tom: Now, Mark, before we get to blood moons, which we really want to get to because it’s an issue today, but I think back about prophecy and the value of prophecy – I mentioned working with Dave Hunt, and we have written about this and promoted prophecy as an incredible apologetic. Now, as you know, God declares Himself as the God of prophecy and that He alone knows the future, and that’s a criterion for being the only true God.
I was stunned going through (not recently, but over the years) going through Isaiah, and in chapters 41-48, over and over and over again, God claims that He alone knows the future, and He challenges the “gods” – that is, the demons, actually, behind the idols – to foretell what’s ahead. We also know, as you mentioned, 28 percent of the Bible foretells future events.
Now, as an apologetic, don’t you think that’s just a wonderful, incredible, tremendous proof that the Bible is indeed God’s Word? What other book can do that?
Mark: Not a thing! I mean, to me, it is the proof of the authenticity of the Bible, because, you know, people will say, “Well, the Bible changes people’s lives.” Well, other people can say, “Well, I have a book here, and it changed my life.” So that’s a subjective reference. To me, it IS Bible prophecy. That’s what God says, as you mentioned in Isaiah. He’s saying, “This is the…I’ll lay down the gauntlet here. Let someone else come and tell the future with 100 percent accuracy.
Dr. John Walvoord, who was one of my mentors at Dallas Seminary, he has a book Every Prophecy in the Bible, and he has about a thousand prophecies, and his research found that 500 have been fulfilled, and there are 500 yet to be fulfilled. Now, that’s quite a track record! A 100 percent accuracy 100 percent of the time. And only someone who is omniscient and omnipotent can tell the future. And so, to me, Bible prophecy, the fulfillment of prophecies, with great exactness – 100 percent of the time – is the ultimate apologetic for the truth of the Word of God.
Tom: Amen. Amen. Of course, on the other side of the coin, there is a down side regarding biblical prophecy, but I’m talking about its abuse. We’re going to talk a little bit about that. But I want you to give me some of your thoughts about the following – you know, just briefly or however long you want to take.
False prophecy and false prophets, Old Testament and New, and the Bible issuing really serious warnings about such things; the abuse of prophecy: what are your comments on that?
Mark: Well, prophecy is so valuable. Again, it’s this great apologetic for Scripture, and God claims He’s the only one that can do it, and prophecy – really, it’s a precious thing – that God would come and reveal to us the future – what’s going to take place. And when people come in and claim to be speaking for God and they’re not, and they abuse this prophetic gift – and, of course, they can’t really foretell the future, but they claim to be able to – then, as we’ve seen in modern times, first of all, it gives prophecy, it gives the Bible, a black eye; it gives God a black eye, because many people then think, “Oh, well, then, the Bible’s wrong!” or “Well, God is wrong!” Where actually, it’s not God who’s wrong; it’s this person, because they just went out on their own and God doesn’t speak through them at all.
So it’s very…it’s so dangerous because, again…and, of course, Satan comes in and takes what God uses, and what God has for good, and he comes in and he twists it and he counterfeits it, and he comes in to get people to where their confidence in the Bible is eroded, their confidence in God is eroded. And so Satan has used that throughout history: false prophets, false teachers, that come in to lead people astray from the truth. And we’ve seen that throughout church history.
But the Bible tells us that in the end times that’s going to proliferate even more. False prophets, false teachers. I think it’s interesting – the last book in the Bible before the book of Revelation is that tiny little book of Jude, which is about apostasy in the church. I’ve heard many people describe Jude as the foyer, or the entrance, to the book of Revelation. So it’s interesting, the placement of these books in the Scriptures as well as their inspiration – the words being inspired.
Tom: And you know, you mentioned that when you preach and teach you want to present the full counsel of God, but I think about Jude, you know, it seems that he…when he started, he said, “You know, I’d really kind of like to deal with the deeper things of God. However, I must tell you this: you must earnestly contend for the faith.” So, you’re right. It’s very important. The other thing that you mentioned about God kind of throwing down the gauntlet for the idols, the demo ns behind the idols, was to prove that they are God, too. Well, we go back to Genesis 3:1: “Yea, hath God said…” you know, and then basically, the serpent, Satan, in calling God a liar: “You will not surely die.” Well, here we have the same thing with all the proliferation of psychics and fortunetellers, channelers, mediums, astrologers, and so on – that seem to me that’s an attempt at “hey, look, God’s not the only one that can do this.”
Mark: That’s right, and there’s a lot of these things out there happening today, more and more. Because, again, I think as times become more uncertain, there’s more chaos, there’s more confusion in the world, people want even more so to know “What’s going to happen?” And, of course, the Good News is God has told us, at least a lot of what’s going to happen in the Bible. He hasn’t told us everything, but He’s told us what’s going to happen, and we can know our own destiny, and that’s the Good News. But people want more than that. They’ll reject…It’s always fascinating to me. It’s tragic. People will reject the truth of the living God, who’s given 500 prophecies that have come true – they reject that, and they’ll go after some flimsy prophecies and things out here that have no basis whatsoever. It really shows the hardness of the human heart apart from God – God’s Spirit.
Tom: Yeah. My concern is a zealousness. Some run ahead of God in applying what they think is prophecy being fulfilled. Now we know the prophecy related to the establishment of the nation of Israel – 1948. I mean, that’s clear cut. You have the scriptures to back that up. But, Mark, my concern is those who see prophecy being fulfilled in every current event, you know, even to the point – we’ll take something major, like the attack on New York City, 9/11 – doesn’t that create some problems and some issues?
Mark: Sure it does, and basically that’s historicism, where people are just saying all these prophecies are being fulfilled today, and they try to go back and find scriptures for these things. But we don’t live in the end times yet, I don’t believe. The Rapture’s not occurred yet. We’re not in the end times. We see the regathering of the nation of Israel; we see apostasy in the church – these are some broad prophecies we see fulfilled. But I think we live in a time today – I call it “stage setting.” We’re not seeing prophecies being fulfilled so much as we’re seeing the stage being set, the players moving into place for the future fulfillment of prophecy in the end times. So when we try to come in and say every earthquake is a sign of the times, every tsunami that happens, things not even mentioned in the Bible – that’s when we run into trouble. And, again, that’s when I think that if people continue to try to do that, and they continue to cry wolf like that, then we can almost get to where, you know, the people in the world no longer listen to what we have to say, although we do have a true message that we want to bring.
So I think that we have to be careful about that. You can go to either extreme with Bible prophecy. There is what I call skepticism – people don’t think that it matters at all. There’s sensationalism – where everything’s a fulfillment of prophecy. And the problem is if everything’s a fulfillment, then really nothing’s a fulfillment – or a sign. And there’s the view that I hold in between, which is what I call “stage setting.” Well, we do see the stage being set, and we’re aware of these things, but we want to be careful not to point to every event as some kind of fulfillment of a prophecy.
Tom: Right. I agree with you, Mark, to the extent that we certainly see things in development. You know, I’ve had the privilege – the great privilege – of working with Dave Hunt for about almost 4 decades – 3 ½ decades – and just from that standpoint of 30-35 years or so, just observing the trends coming into the church, you can see the development of the apostasy from the time (I think it was 25 years ago) when I helped Dave with The Seduction of Christianity – well, from that time until today, things are moving exponentially. But, as you said, specifics? No. But in general terms with regard to what the Bible says, we can see it growing and growing and growing. And there has to be a religion in place for the religion of the Antichrist. And we know ecumenism – lots of things that contribute to that, we should be aware of.
Mark: No, that’s right. There’s a lot of things happening in our world today, and I do think that we see events unfolding in our world today exactly the way we should expect to see them unfolding if the coming of our Lord is near.
But again, we don’t know how soon. We don’t know how much longer this stage setting can last. And that’s why I believe we’re called upon to always be ready.
Tom: Right. I absolutely agree. Now, let’s get to your book Blood Moons Rising. Mark, what motivated you to write that?
Mark: Well, I’ve studied prophecy for a lot of years, and I love to write books about things that are happening in our world today. Again, as we talked about the stage setting, and point to some of these things that call people to be ready. But I’ve also tried to answer things that are out there that I think maybe they’re taking it too far. For instance, I wrote a book on 2012, the Bible, the end of the world, the whole Mayan prophecy – the Mayan calendar prophecy – because a lot of people were kind of wondering about that, so I wrote a book to kind of critique or debunk that – whatever word you want to use.
And then some time later, I was reading about…or rather, listening to a pastor, a preacher on television, talk about blood moons, and these four blood moons that were going to fall on Jewish feast days, and relating all of this to some great event that was going to happen, and almost saying that the Lord was going to come back that year, but then kind of hedging his bets and backing off a bit. So I began to study that, and I came to the conclusion that really it was much ado about nothing. And I heard the different pastors and preachers talking about how there’s a book came out that’s selling a lot, and I thought, Someone needs to answer this, because a lot of people are going to be pulled into this unwittingly, and buy into this and thinks that what’s being said here is true, it’s factual, it’s biblical. So I wrote the book, basically, again, just to try to give an antidote or kind of an answer to some of this hysteria that’s going on out there about these things.
Tom: For some of our listeners who may be out of the loop on this, tell us about blood moon – the blood moon phenomena. Talk about it from, first of all, physics – the astronomical side, and then how that might relate to the blood moon as it’s presented in Scripture, or NOT related to the blood moon given in Scripture.
Mark: Well, what’s stated is that a blood moon is when the moon turns kind of an orange-ish or a reddish hue when there’s a lunar eclipse. And they happen a lot. Lunar eclipses happen fairly often. But what we have in 2014 and ’15 is four consecutive lunar eclipses on four Jewish feast days. And the first one was on April 15, 2014 – fell on Passover. Then on Feast of Tabernacles that Fall, October 8, 2014, there was another one of these. Then this last spring in 2015 on April 4, there was another one that fell on Passover, and then the final one is September 28, 2015, again on Feast of Tabernacles. So this is called…many call this a lunar tetrad. In other words, it’s these four blood moons falling consecutively on these Jewish feast days. And since the first century, there’s only been eight of these that have happened, and those who believe this is an important sign, they point to the Bible, like in Joel 2 it mentions the “moon turning to blood.” They point to Matthew 24, where the sun won’t give its light there; they point to Acts 2, which quotes Joel 2. Revelation 6, which talks again about the moon turning into blood, and they say these blood moons are mentioned here in scripture, and they’re falling on these Jewish feast days, and then they go back and show the last three of these, back in 1493 and ’94, one of those happened in conjunction with the Jews being put out of Spain: the edict of the expulsion of the Jews.
One happened in 1949 and 1950. Israel became a nation in 1948.
And then they point to another one of these tetrads happened in 1967 and ’68, which is when the six-day war happened in Israel. So they’re trying to point out how there’s this historical pattern that when these blood moon tetrads happened that that’s related to significant events in Israel, and then they relate it to these biblical passages in Scripture, and then they come up with this idea that this is significant of some great change that’s going to take place. They say something huge is going to change – going to change the world forever. Again, they don’t say specifically what it is, but many of them say it’s going to be some type of war in Israel. Many of them even kind of allude to the fact possibly it could be the Lord’s coming. And so they see this as a huge issue, 2015, this watershed, or this key year because of these blood moons.
Tom: Mark, I’ve listened to you in a…not exactly a debate, but a discussion with Mark Biltz, the author of Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, and you pointed out, and I’d like you to add to that, or give us your perspective, the tetrad – these lunar eclipses. They are natural events. The verses that you gave with regard to Revelation and Matthew 24, and so on, those are supernatural events, aren’t they?
Mark: That’s right. That’s the way I take it. In Joel 2, Matthew 24, Revelation and Acts 2, Revelation 6 – the moon turning to blood there seems to be…and I think it’s clear in the context…this is something that God is doing. This isn’t a naturally occurring event. God is doing this.
The other thing that’s fascinating, it’s a supernatural event, and if you read Revelation 6, it’s not just the moon turning to blood there. Same thing in Acts 2, there’s a whole litany of other signs there as well that will take place when the moon turns to blood. It says in Revelation 6 that the sun became black as sackcloth, the moon became like blo od, the stars of the sky fell to the earth. It said, “As the fig tree casts its unripe figs, shaken by wind; the sky was split apart like a scroll when it’s rolled up; Every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” No one – I don’t hear anyone saying that that’s going to happen this year.
The other problem is the context of these passages are at the end of the Tribulation period…
Mark: …or the late – well, the one in Revelation 6, I would place at about the mid-point of the seven-year Tribulation; the one in Joel and in Acts and in Matthew 24 I’d place near the end of the Tribulation. Well, the Rapture hasn’t happened yet, as far as I know. We’re not even in the Tribulation yet. So 2015 can’t be the middle or the end of the Tribulation. So there’s also this whole timing problem that’s difficult as well.
Tom: Yeah, and later…we’re going to do this in two parts, maybe in our next…well, not maybe, but hopefully, in our next session we’re going to deal with “signs” and pointing to signs and dates, and so on, and those equivocating on all that. So I want to talk about that, but let’s go back to…we’re recording this. It’s the end of April – April 4. It’s unique that these so-called blood moons are taking place during Passover week, but Mark, what of significance took place April 4 of Passover week?
Mark: Well, nothing that I know of… You know, it is interesting. It was the
day between Good Friday, of course, and Easter this year, it fell there, but nothing happened. So that’s been part of the problem – with these first three, nothing happened. But they’ll say, “Well, there’s the fourth one, you see, and this fourth one is going to be super moon. It’s going to be the only one of the four that’s actually visible in Israel, and so… Again, that’s kind of the way a lot of these things work is, you know, when something doesn’t happen and you keep kind of pointing ahead, but what will be interesting is after September 28 comes and goes, if nothing happens then, will they all recant then? Will they write a book and say, “I was wrong,” and not do that again.
That usually doesn’t follow in these things, and that’s part of the problem with this. There’s a lot of buildup.
But, you know, the other thing is if you look at our world today, if I were to make a prediction at the beginning of 2015 and say, “Something really dramatic’s going to happen in Israel this year, that probably would be right, because we live in a very dangerous, very chaotic, very uncertain world. Something – I mean, the fuse has been lit, and the lid could blow off over in the Middle East at any time. So, they do, in some ways – they make these statements, and in some ways, they do have these things on their side – at some point in time, something dramatic is going to happen over there. But it won’t be because of the Blood Moon prophecy. It’s just simply be because God, on His timetable, decided for it to happen.
Tom: See, Mark…we’ve got about two minutes left, but I want to just encourage you, because you’re presenting this stuff; you’re getting it out there to help…or to address the confusion that goes on in the body of Christ because they’re not checking things out. They’re not really doing their homework, which they should so that they’re not vulnerable to these kinds of ideas.
You know, back in 1999, Dave came out…Dave Hunt came out with a book called Y2K: A Reasoned Response to Mass Hysteria, because, as you remember back then, many in the church got on board with that. I mean, big names, especially those whose eschatology was either post-trib, they were kind of excited about it.
Mark: (chuckling) That’s right, yeah.
Tom: But you know what happened: the world…2000, the world celebrated! I mean there were fireworks all around – Paris, London, and everywhere, and the church was just getting off – not the whole church, but many leaders were hunkering down for something. So, this is important. It’s important to exhort, encourage, our b rothers and sisters in Christ to be Bereans, to search the Scriptures and do their homework when somebody comes along with an idea that’s somewhat unique or not really laid out clearly in the Scriptures.
Our guest has been Mark Hitchcock. We’ve been talking about prophecy and about blood moons in particular. So, Mark, I want to pick up on this next week, the Lord willing, so, thanks for being with me.
Mark: Yes, thank you so much. Looking forward to our next time together.
Source HERE Spirit of Error
Mike Bickle–the leader of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, Missouri–is revered by many people in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement as a sound Bible teacher, as someone who majors on teaching people the written Word of God.
But I have noticed something disturbing about his teachings. The Bible verses he uses to support them frequently have nothing to do with those teachings–and sometimes they actually teach something very different.
In this post, I look at one of Bickle’s teachings and show how he attempts to support it through the use of a botched interpretation of Scripture. This example should raise a flag of caution in people’s minds when they encounter his other NAR teachings.
The ‘Israel Mandate’
IHOP has a ministry called the “Israel Mandate,” that seeks to mobilize people to pray for Israel and the salvation of the Jewish people. Well, this might all sound good–even to many traditional evangelicals who have, historically, shown strong support for Israel and Jewish people.
So, then, what’s the problem with the “Israel Mandate?”
It’s this. According to IHOP’s description of the mandate, part of the “primary calling” of the Gentile church in regard to Jewish people is for the church to be “moving in the supernatural.” In other words, Gentile Christians have a responsibility to perform miraculous signs and wonders so that Jewish people will believe the gospel.
And what is the Scripture verse cited in support of this teaching? It is 1 Corinthians 1:22:
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom (New King James Version)
But this verse does not support the Bickle/IHOP teaching that Christians have a duty to perform miraculous signs for Jewish people. Quite the contrary. The apostle Paul, the author of 1 Corinthians, is actually criticizing the Jews for demanding miraculous signs and the Greeks for seeking worldly wisdom.
Paul goes on to say that he did not give in to the demands of the Jews or the Greeks, but instead he preached the simple but powerful message of “Christ crucified.” Yet this message was not well received by the Jews, who craved displays of God’s supernatural power. Rather, the idea of a suffering Messiah was a “stumbling block” to those Jews putting their faith in Christ. See for yourself by reading the verse in its larger context.
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks[a] foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:20-25)
Notice two things from the above passage: (1) the Jews’ request for miraculous signs is not portrayed in a positive light, and (2) the apostle Paul does not grant their request for signs. So, then, how can Bickle use this verse in support of the NAR teaching that Gentile Christians have a responsibility to perform signs and wonders for the Jewish people?
– By Holly Pivec
THE MYSTERY OF THE SHEMITAH: Is it real?
The Mystery of the Shemitah by Jonathan Cahn (Lake Mary, Florida: FrontLine, Charisma Media / Charisma House Book Group, 2014) 275 pp. paper 16.99
By David James
The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn became the #1 Christian book of 2012, set publishing records, reached publishing milestones and propelled the author to a very high-profile position on the national and even international stage. Because The Harbinger was riddled with biblical errors, theological flaws and historical misrepresentations, what started out as a 2-3 page book review, quickly turned into a book-length response and led to The Berean Call publishing my first book, The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?
On September 2, Jonathan Cahn’s third book, The Mystery of the Shemitah was released to book retailers and was already ranked very high at its debut just on pre-orders alone. As can be seen from the current rankings on Amazon.com, it is clear that The Mystery of the Shemitah needs to be carefully examined to determine if the errors in The Harbinger have been corrected or perpetuated in this new volume.
Although I have already done five interviews discussing this book, the article below is the first evaluation in writing to appear on the ABI website. I trust that you will take time to carefully consider my concerns and that you will feel free to contact me with your thoughts, either positive or negative. (If you have trouble posting a comment, please send me an email to let me know.)
And finally, my purpose for evaluating and critiquing The Mystery of the Shemitah is two-fold:
First, because so many people were influenced by The Harbinger and because this new book is already a best-seller, the Body of Christ needs to see that there is another side of the story that might not be completely obvious to some. And even for those who might sense something isn’t quite right, many won’t really work through the sometimes slow and often laborious task of carefully checking to make sure everything is correct.
Second, just as one of my goals in writing The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? was to model the process of discernment, the same is true of this article. First and foremost, discernment involves checking everything against the Word of God to make sure all of the arguments, theories and claims are biblically sound. And then, beyond the biblical side of things, discernment also frequently involves evaluating the logic of arguments, the veracity of assertions from a historical perspective, and even the proper use of statistics which can be framed such that the true picture is obscured and hidden from the reader, even if unintentionally.
The Mystery of the Shemitah, which went to its second printing the day it was released, builds on the concepts and theories Jonathan Cahn first presented in The Harbinger, particularly those in the chapter also titled “The Mystery of the Shemitah.” The author’s theory is that God has visited warnings and / or judgment against the United States according to a seven-year cycle going back many decades. Although this reviewer agrees that America is deserving of God’s judgment and a call to repentance is definitely in order, the foundational premise of this book is biblically flawed from the outset. The Shemitah (Jewish Sabbath year) was an obligation given specifically and exclusively to the nation of Israel, and there is no biblical support whatsoever for the idea that God would either require any other nation to observe the Shemitah year or that He would impose a Shemitah-type judgment according to a seven-year cycle on any nation, including Israel itself. Beyond this, the Shemitah, being a Sabbath and an integral part of the Law of Moses, was completely fulfilled in Christ and is no longer in operation (even it actually did affect other nations prior to the Cross).
Furthermore, none of the overwhelming number of assertions and fact-claims throughout the book concerning economic trends, financial statistics and historical events are documented whatsoever, raising the question of the source of the author’s information, the accuracy of that information, and why this most basic and necessary aspect of any research-based non-fiction book is completely missing. The burden of proof for such assertions and claims should never be on the reader if an author is to be taken seriously. In addition, the integrity of any publisher is rightly called into question when an author doesn’t cite his sources.
The bottom line is that, unfortunately, the significant problems that plague The Harbinger have possibly been exceeded in this book and so should give pause to anyone who takes the Word of God seriously.
In the Law of Moses, God required that His chosen people, the Children of Israel, cease from their work on the seventh day of each week (the Sabbath). In addition to the Sabbath day, the Lord also instructed Israel to observe every seventh year as a Sabbath, as well. During the Sabbath year, the Israelites were to allow the land to rest from planting and harvesting and to allow whatever came up on its own to be picked by the poor among them. (Exodus 23:10-12; Leviticus 25:1-7) And just as God had provided a double-portion of manna on the 6th day of each week while the Israelites were in the wilderness so they would not have to work on the Sabbath, the Lord actually tripled the harvest in the sixth year to carry them through to the harvest in the first year of the new seven-year cycle.
Finish Article HERE
Program Description: Tom welcomes guest Matt Ferguson, youth pastor at Calvary Chapel Bend and former Jehovah’s Witness as they discuss Matt’s background and experience in the Watchtower Society.
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could join us. In today’s program, Tom welcomes Matt Ferguson, youth pastor at Calvary Chapel here in Bend, Oregon. Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. On our program today, I’ll be having a conversation with Matt Ferguson, and we’ll be discussing a religious cult that most people are aware of because they-well, they seem to show up at everyone’s door. And some weeks ago we addressed the followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who take the same approach in trying to attract converts, but this week and next week we’ll be talking about Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Matt, welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Matt: Thank you, Tom. Appreciate you having me on here.
Tom: Yeah, Matt is the youth pastor at Calvary Chapel here in Bend, Oregon. Matt, you know, we’ve known each other for quite a while, but I really don’t know your testimony. How did you come by your knowledge of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, better known as Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Matt: Well, Tom, I was actually born and raised a Jehovah’s Witness the first 18 years of my life. I grew up in that organization, or that cult. My father was an elder in the Kingdom Hall. Both my parents were heavily involved in all the activities: going door to door, and the public speaking. So I was involved in it from the get-go, really. So I spent many, many of my early years learning the Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine and going door to door at a very young age. In fact, I was five when I first started going door to door, knocking on people’s doors, handing out the Watchtower and Awake magazines, and so I grew up very, very much involved in it.
Tom: So, Matt, in a nutshell, what would you say JWs-what they’re all about regarding theology? Could you give us kind of an overview?
Matt: Mm-hmm. Yeah, so the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ theology is really-it starts with the belief of who God is. They don’t believe in the Trinity, so their belief is that God is a single person, and not a triune and single Being united in three Persons like most Christians. They believe that Jesus is the Son of God but in the sense of being God’s first created being. So they believe that Jesus is really Michael the archangel. They get that from their translation somehow, but they believe that Jesus is Michael the archangel, who becomes Jesus when Jehovah, His Father, sends Him here to earth to ransom mankind from sin, from Adam. So their belief is that Jesus lived a perfect life; then He died. But rather than being crucified on a cross, their belief is that Jesus died on a torture stake. A couple other differences are [that] Jesus rose, but He rose spiritually in the Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine, not physically. Their methods of salvation, or how man is to be saved, comes by, I’d say, both Jesus’ sacrifice and then also obeying God’s commands, which are given primarily and solely by the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society. So it’s a mixture of Jesus’ sacrifice and a good dose of works.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, Matt, you know, it’s stunning, as you said-you’re five years old, you’re out there, going from door to door. So this is all you knew! I mean, obviously, many who know about Jehovah’s Witnesses-they’re not allowed to read any other material. They’re not allowed to-sometimes they have to have a conversation with those they’re witnessing to, but still… Now, where did this begin to unravel for you?
Matt: Well, really, Tom, it was probably my eighteenth year, and when I was eighteen years old, I started questioning some of the things that were being taught. I started really looking at the history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I started looking at some of the prophecies that were made, some of the contradictions that were pointed out to me…
Tom: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say, Matt: you didn’t come to this on your own. Somebody was challenging you, or was this when you were out witnessing, or what?
Matt: Well, you know, I had some people that were challenging me. In fact, my wife now, who I was beginning to date, which…that was-that’s a story in itself as far as that being a no-no, but she really challenged me. She was a brand new Christian, born again Christian. Two weeks after getting saved, she starts dating a knucklehead Jehovah’s Witness, and we spent a lot of our dates debating Scripture. And, you know, what was beautiful is she didn’t know a lick of Scripture, but she had something that I did not have, and that was evident. That was apparent to me, and that ended up being a relationship with Jesus Christ. But we, you know, we would debate. We would talk about differences between Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses. That got the ball rolling, and I started noticing some of the errors that were in their doctrine, or in their teachings.
Tom: You know, just a side note on that, one of my buddies is Greg Durel; he’s a pastor down in Louisiana, and he had a Catholic background. His wife was a Jehovah’s Witness, okay? They started dating, and then it definitely was the Lord that began convicting them both, so they accused each other of being wrong with their belief system, and they went out to prove that the other was-what they were believing in-was not true. And in that process, they both came to Christ, and they both admitted they were wrong! It was incredible!
Matt: That’s awesome. [laughs]
Tom: Yeah, it’s really a terrific, terrific story of the Lord’s grace. So then how did you come to the Lord?
Matt: Well, I came to the Lord after-as soon as I started dating my wife, Shari, and as soon as I started questioning some of my beliefs, and some of the things that the Jehovah’s Witnesses had erred on, or done wrongly, they gave me an ultimatum, you know-and this is something that some people know about the Jehovah’s Witnesses-but those who question, or those who basically don’t follow all that the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society say is what one must do, you’re faced with excommunication. So that was my choice, was excommunication, or go in line, basically. Follow in line. And so I came to the Lord by exiting the Jehovah’s Witness faith, and really, when I left, I had no desire to have anything to do with God. I was kind of just done with it. And it was really the Lord that drew me to Him. He used my wife; He used Calvary Chapel. I started attending a Calvary Chapel, which was word by word, Scripture by Scripture, and the Lord gradually drew me, and it was really the verses where Jesus invites people to Him that really spoke to my heart, you know? “Come to Me all you who are tired and heavy laden. Come taste and drink.” These different passages really spoke to my heart, having to do with a relationship with Christ rather than an empty relationship of works.
Tom: Mm-hmm. You know, Matt, many of the cults, they have a cult leader; they usually end up worshipping him. As I said, we did a program with the Higleys not too long ago dealing with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but you find out it’s not really Jesus Christ, it’s Joseph Smith, so you have an individual. But what makes the Watchtower Society unique, at least compared to others, is that now it’s the organization that’s the prophet; it’s the organization. How did you feel about that?
Matt: Well, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was really-you know, that was a big thing for me. That was Charles Taze Russell. He started that in 1870 or 1871. But, you know, he was the one who claimed that God spoke to him, and that he was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in finding the truth, and he started the Watchtower Society and, really, the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But the Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t even adhere or follow most of Charles Taze Russell’s teachings. They don’t-they really shy away from it, in fact. But then you look at all the material that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have-even their Bible, the New World Translation, is a translated Bible from the Watchtower Society, so all your material, all your doctrine and theology, is being fed to you directly by these men in Brooklyn, New York. So that was an issue, because though they claim to be men and women of the Bible, much, if not all, comes from the Watchtower Society. So that presents a problem.
Tom: You mentioned earlier about prophecies, failed prophecies. So this organization has to keep readjusting things or…give us some of those examples.
Matt: Well, you know, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have had a long history of making prophecy, and obviously we have prophecy in Scripture, and whenever one is dealing with prophecy, you better get that prophecy right. Scriptures tell us if they don’t, then you’re not to believe that person. That person is a false prophet. You’re not to be afraid of them is what Deuteronomy says. So they’ve made a lot of false prophecies, but most Jehovah’s Witnesses are not aware of it. They kind of deal with it in ignorance, because you’re discouraged strongly from looking into the history of it. But, you know, you can look throughout even a lot of their older literature and publications, many of the teachings of Charles Taze Russell, and you find hundreds of false prophecies, mostly in regard to the coming of Jesus, His Second Coming. They taught a lot in 1914, early 1900s, 1925, 1975, a lot of those-you know, a lot during that time, they made a lot of very clear prophecies that did not come to pass. Yeah, there was a lot of correction, a lot of covering up of those false prophecies. Then you have a lot of doctrine that was revised. You have a lot of doctrine about who Jesus is, you have a lot of doctrine about hell, and heaven, and all these things that are in a constant change, and so there’s a lot of revising and editing and covering up, basically.
Tom: Yeah, but you say that somehow doesn’t really filter back, or-you know, I’m not saying there aren’t some that recognize these things, because they’re going to hear it. I mean, if you’re going door to door, and all of a sudden you come into a situation where the people are really Bible believers, evangelicals, and so on, they’re going to question them. They’re going to ask these things. I remember in my own case, and it probably isn’t always this way, but usually you have a veteran and a neophyte, right? [chuckles] And I always like to look at the neophyte and say-well, whatever the Lord puts on my heart and mind.
But one of the things…you know, not too long ago, Matt, I did an article called “Warning to the Witnesses,” and I wanted believers to have some Scriptures there that they could-you know, whether they kept it right near their door, or something like that-that they could challenge the Witnesses on. And, Matt, a verse I like to use is John 8:24 where Jesus said, “I said therefore unto you that ye shall die in your sins, for if ye believe not that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins.” Now, in the King James, it’s italic in “he,” but He’s claiming to be Jehovah God right there.
Tom: So if they get that wrong-well, there’s no hope for them. And, again, because it’s the Scriptures, hopefully…well, the Word of God says that His Word will not return void. So it’s going to be there for them to think about, for the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of that verse and so on.
Matt: Mm-hmm. That’s a great Scripture. It is. In fact, I was-we’re in John right now it seems in a lot of our studies, but in our high school study, we covered that two weeks ago, and that was really the theme verse, you know, in Jesus claiming to be the great I Am, and really, you know, making a very radical statement there, and a very narrow statement. And I do take them to verses like that; that’s a great verse to take them to. You know, I look at Romans 10:9-13 where you have Paul saying, “Those that call upon the name of the Lord are the ones that are going to be saved.” There’s many Scriptures where you could take them to even in the gospels, and in their own Bible, in fact-the New World Translation-where you could show them where Jesus accepts worship of men. We have, obviously, like Isaiah 44 that talks about Jehovah God is the only One that is to be worshipped, and when you see these verses in the gospels where Jesus is being worshipped, and then you take all these verses and you start to understand that Jesus and Jehovah are one and the same, as far as both being God and both accepting worship. It’s irrefutable.
Tom: Now, Matt, I came out of a Roman Catholic background, and that’s works salvation. But it’s not the works that you guys-before as a Jehovah’s Witness-that you did. How did people handle-I mean seriously-all of this [going] out witnessing? And isn’t there some kind of quotient, or quota, that they need?
Matt: [chuckles] Yeah, I believe it’s four to five hours a month, I think, is the bare minimum. But, you know, most Jehovah’s Witnesses handle going door to door-they do so very zealously…
Matt: …and it’s admirable to look and see how zealous they are in going door to door, and in their study of the Bible, but you kind of nailed it: for me, going door to door was part of earning my way to salvation. That’s part of earning my way into God’s good graces and His favor. You know, it also-going door to door-fed into my belief that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were different than all the rest, that they were carriers of the truth, and they alone had the truth. But there is a very organized way that they handle this. There is, in fact, a time sheet. I crack up at it now at the thought of it, but you turn in a time sheet, and you mark down how many hours you go door to door. You have different classes of those that go door to door, and they’re called publishers. You have regular publishers who they, on an average, are under 10 hours a month. You have different classes of pioneers who spend a minimum of 50 hours a month going door to door, all the way up to 90. And yeah, there’s a very, very strict way, a quota, as you said, in how many hours you spend, how many magazines you place, how much donations you get for the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society-all of these things you turn in, and all these things are recorded and they’re put on your record.
Tom: Mm-hmm. You know, Matt, having said all of that, what would you say would be the type of people that are most vulnerable to being convicted, to being converted, basically?
Matt: I’d say that the most vulnerable would probably be those who spent a lot of time in religions that placed an emphasis on works, so I could go down the list, but you mentioned Catholics-a lot of current Jehovah’s Witnesses were former Catholics; those that a great deal of emphasis was placed on working your salvation out; a lot of emphasis placed on tradition and different practices. Jehovah’s Witnesses are very much about that: works and tradition. Also those that are family members that are involved one way or the other in that threat of dealing with excommunication, that threat of losing your ties with your family-that’s a big draw or a big kind of area in making their decision.
But I’d say many people are attracted to the Jehovah’s Witnesses because they claim to have the answer to life’s problems, and so they’re looking at the world around us, and any person is going to be attracted to somebody who claims to have all the answers, claims to provide a solution and who stresses-you know, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they stress very strict morals; very much centered on family values, much like the Mormons. And so it’s appealing to people who are looking at that and who are somewhat coming out of an area where it’s very works-based. So that’s appealing to them.
Tom: Mm-hmm. You know, Matt, it’s not unlike what we would call a self-help program, right?
Matt: [laughing] Right!
Tom: Because it is works salvation. But here’s what I do, and later, maybe even next week, I really want you to lay out your encouragement and how-give us some ideas about witnessing. But one of the things that I do is when they come to the door-and we don’t all do it the same, and there’s no one absolute way to witness. I mean, obviously you need to be prayed up and looking to the Lord-but one of the things that I say to them is, “Well, what’s your deal?”
And that kind of pulls them back a little bit. “What do you mean?”
“Yeah, what’s your deal? You see, I have a deal, and what I want to know is-is my deal…or is your deal better than my deal?” And of course my deal is the free gift of salvation that Christ paid for, so I want to know-again, I ask them, “So what’s your deal?”
And I find that interesting, based on all that you just said, Matt, because talking about the works, the hours, all of these things: if it’s works salvation, it doesn’t-I mean, nothing compares with God’s free gift of grace, Jesus having paid the full penalty for our sins-I mean, there is nothing like that, and it sounds a little bit crass to say it that way, but it shakes them up a bit, and it gets-hopefully, it gets them thinking, because they…there’s nothing out there-I don’t care, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, whatever-whoever is coming to you outside of biblical Christianity has got a bad deal, right?
Matt: Your mentioning that, that’s…you know, that was a big draw for me: in doing all these works that I was doing when I was a Jehovah’s Witness, all the hours I spent going door to door, all the hours I put in-they go to their Kingdom Halls three to five times a week, so you have all these things that you’re doing, all these works that you’re performing. You know, I could say when doing all those things, I could look at it and say, “Man, I’m doing all these things for the Lord.” But there was one thing that, like you were talking about, the free gift-the big thing for me was I was doing all these works for the Lord, but I didn’t feel any closer to the Lord, and I didn’t have a relationship with Christ.
Matt: And so there was a dryness, there was an emptiness, that all these works I was doing was not helping with. It wasn’t bringing me any closer to God; I felt so far from God. So, yeah, when you bring them to, “What’s your deal?” and you show them that free gift-you know, Ephesians 2:8,9 talks about “it’s by grace that you have been saved [through] faith and not of works, lest anyone should boast,” that’s a big point to go ahead and bring out to them. Our deal is, yeah, salvation-it fully is God’s giving His grace to us, His unmerited favor, and our salvation is dependent upon receiving it rather than this works-based relationship that doesn’t bring you any closer to the Lord.
Tom: Right. My guest is Matt Ferguson. He’s the youth pastor at Calvary Chapel here in Bend, Oregon, and Matt, as you’ve heard, if you’ve been listening, Matt grew up in the Watchtower Society, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and his insights have been terrific.
Matt, we’re about out of time for this session, but the Lord willing, we’ll come back to this next week. So, again, Matt, thanks for being with us.
Matt: Absolutely, Tom. Thank you for having me.
Have You Been Called As A Watchman? This is serious business.
“It is the work of ministers to give him warning, to say to the wicked, It shall be ill with thee, Isa. 3:11. God ways in general, The soul that sinneth it shall die. The minister’s business is to apply this to particular persons, and to say, “O wicked man! thou shalt surely die, whoever thou art; if thou go on still in thy trespasses, they will inevitably be thy ruin. O adulterer! O robber! O drunkard! O swearer! O sabbath-breaker! thou shalt surely die.’ And he must say this, not in passion, to provoke the sinner, but in compassion, to warn the wicked from hi way, warn him to turn from it, that he may live. This is to be done by the faithful preaching of the word in public, and by personal application to those whose sins are open.”
Matthew Henry Commentary Ezekiel 33:1-9
The prophet has now come off his circuit, which he went as judge, in God’s name, to try and pass sentence upon the neighbouring nations, and, having finished with them, and read them all their doom, in the eight chapters foregoing, he now returns to the children of his people, and receives further instructions what to say to them. He must let them know what office he was in among them as a prophet, that he was a watchman, and had received a charge concerning them, for which he was accountable (v. 1-9).
The prophet had been, by express order from God, taken off from prophesying to the Jews, just then when the news came that Jerusalem was invested, and close siege laid to it, ch. 24:27. But now that Jerusalem is taken, two years after, he is appointed again to direct his speech to them; and there his commission is renewed. If God had abandoned them quite, he would not have sent prophets to them; nor, if he had not had mercy in store for them, would he have shown them such things as these. In these verses we have,
I. The office of a watchman laid down, the trust reposed in him, the charge given him, and the conditions adjusted between him and those that employ him, v. 2, 6. 1. It is supposed to be a public danger that gives occasion for the appointing of a watchman-when God brings the sword upon a land, v. 2. The sword of war, whenever it comes upon a land, is of God’s bringing; it is the sword of the Lord, of his justice, how unjustly soever men draw it. At such a time, when a country is in fear of a foreign invasion, that they may be informed of all the motions of the enemy, may not be surprised with an attack, but may have early notice of it, in order to their being at their arms and in readiness to give the invader a warm reception, they set a man of their coast, some likely person, that lives upon the borders of their country, where the threatened danger is expected, and is therefore well acquainted with all the avenues of it, and make him their watchman. Thus wise are the children of this world in their generation. Note, One man may be of public service to a whole country. Princes and statesmen are the watchmen of a kingdom; they are continually to employ themselves, and, if occasion be, as watchmen, to expose themselves for the public safety. 2. It is supposed to be a public trust that is lodged in the watchman and that he is accountable to the public for the discharge of it. His business is, (1.) To discover the approaches and advances of the enemy; and therefore he must not be blind nor asleep, for then he cannot see the sword coming. (2.) To give notice of them immediately by sound of trumpet, or, as sentinels among us, by the discharge of a gun, as a signal of danger. A special trust and confidence is reposed in him by those that set him to be their watchman that he will faithfully do these two things; and they venture their lives upon his fidelity. Now, [1.] If he do his part, if he be betimes aware of all the dangers that fall within his cognizance, and give warning of them, he has discharged his trust, and has not only delivered his soul, but earned his wages. If the people do not take warning, if they either will not believe the notice he gives them, will not believe the danger to be so great or so near as really it is, or will not regard it, and so are surprised by the enemy in their security, it is their own fault; the blame is not to be laid upon the watchman, but their blood is upon their own head. If any person goes presumptuously into the mouth of danger, though he heard the sound of the trumpet, and was told by it where the danger was, and so the sword comes and takes him away in his folly, he is felo de se-a suicide; foolish man, he has destroyed himself. But, [2.] If the watchman do not do his duty, if he might have seen the danger, and did not, but was asleep, or heedless, or looking another way, or if he did see the danger (for so the case is put here) and shifted only for his own safety, and blew not the trumpet to warn the people, so that some are surprised and cut off in their iniquity (v. 6), cut off suddenly, without having time to cry, Lord, have mercy upon me, time to repent and make their peace with God (which makes the matter much the worse, that the poor creature is taken away in his iniquity), his blood shall be required at the watchman’s hand; he shall be found guilty of his death, because he did not give him warning of his danger. But if the watchman do his part, and the people do theirs, all is well; both he that gives warning and he that takes warning have delivered their souls.
II. The application of this to the prophet, v. 7, 9.
1. He is a watchman to the house of Israel. He had occasionally given warning to the nations about, but to the house of Israel he was a watchman by office, for they were the children of the prophets and the covenant They did not set him for a watchman, as the people of the land, v. 2 (for they were not so wise for their souls as to secure the welfare of them, as they would have been for the protection of their temporal interests); but God did it for them; he appointed them a watchman.
2. His business as a watchman is to give warning to sinners of their misery and danger by reason of sin. This is the word he must hear from God’s mouth and speak to them. (1.) God has said, The wicked man shall surely die; he shall be miserable. Unless he repent, he shall be cut off from God and all comfort and hope in him, shall be cut off from all good. He shall fall and lie for ever under the wrath of God, which is the death of the soul, as his favour is its life. The righteous God has said it, and will never unsay it, nor can all the world gainsay it, that the wages of sin is death. Sin, when it is finished, brings froth death. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven, not only against wicked nations, speaking ruin to them as nations, but against wicked persons, speaking ruin to them in their personal capacity, their personal interests, which pass into the other world and last to eternity, as national interests do not. (2.) It is the will of God that the wicked man should be warned of this: Warn them from me. This intimates that there is a possibility of preventing it, else it were a jest to give warning of it; nay, and that God is desirous it should be prevented. Sinners are therefore warned of the wrath to come, that they may flee from it, Mt. 3:7. (3.) It is the work of ministers to give him warning, to say to the wicked, It shall be ill with thee, Isa. 3:11. God ways in general, The soul that sinneth it shall die. The minister’s business is to apply this to particular persons, and to say, “O wicked man! thou shalt surely die, whoever thou art; if thou go on still in thy trespasses, they will inevitably be thy ruin. O adulterer! O robber! O drunkard! O swearer! O sabbath-breaker! thou shalt surely die.’ And he must say this, not in passion, to provoke the sinner, but in compassion, to warn the wicked from hi way, warn him to turn from it, that he may live. This is to be done by the faithful preaching of the word in public, and by personal application to those whose sins are open.
3. If souls perish through his neglect of his duty, he brings guilt upon himself. “If the prophet do not warn the wicked of the ruin that is at the end of his wicked way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; for, though the watchman did not do his part, yet the sinner might have taken warning from the written word, from his own conscience, and from God’s judgments upon others, by which his mouth shall be stopped, and God will be justified in his destruction.’ Note, It will not serve impenitent sinners to plead in the great day that their watchmen did not give them warning, that they were careless and unfaithful; for, though they were so, it will be made to appear that God left not himself without witness. “But he shall not perish alone in his iniquity; the watchman also shall be called to an account: His blood will I require at thy hand. The blind leader shall fall with the blind follower into the ditch.’ See what a desire God has of the salvation of sinners, in that he resents it so ill if those concerned do not what they can to prevent their destruction. And see what a great deal those ministers have to answer for another day who palliate sin, and flatter sinners in their evil way, and by their wicked lives countenance and harden them in their wickedness, and encourage them to believe that they shall have peace though they go on.
4. If he do his duty, he may take the comfort of it, though he do not see the success of it (v. 9): “If thou warn the wicked of his way, if thou tell him faithfully what will be the end thereof, and call him earnestly to turn from it, and he do not turn, but persist in it, he shall die in his iniquity, and the fair warning given him will be an aggravation of his sin and ruin; but thou hast delivered thy soul.’ Note, It is a comfort to ministers that they may through grace save themselves, though they cannot be instrumental to save so many as they wish of those that hear them.
From The BlueLetterBible
An article by G. Richard Fisher.
Many Christians uncritically accept the writings of Watchman Nee even though few know anything about his background. Many are impressed by the volume of his work and the dogmatism and feeling of deep spirituality that characterize his writings. His ideas and books still influence charismatics, fundamentalists and people in between.
one need not be a theologian to discover that his teachings call for scrutiny and caution by Christians
But one need not be a theologian to discover that his teachings call for scrutiny and caution by Christians. Much can be learned about Nee from a cursory reading of some of his books and the writings of others who were around him. These show that his theology developed through encounters with four different people and it was from these that he “borrowed” ideas extensively. Each new book seemed to develop from “discoveries” received from these teachers.
Nee’s basic writings cover over 40 volumes and have been researched by Dana Roberts. His findings are not flattering to Nee and are presented in his book Understanding Watchman Nee. This writer is indebted to Roberts for much of the material in this article.
Nee was born Nee Shi-Tsu in November 1903. His mother, a Methodist mission convert, later changed his name to “Bell ringer,” or Watchman, with all the Christian connotations. He claimed conversion to Christianity in April 1920.
At a Bible school in Shanghai, he came under the influence of a female teacher, Miss Yu. Under her instruction he seriously sought a “second blessing.” He later said he felt he had “recovered” truth for the church and taught four subsequent experiences after conversion.
Miss Yu directed Nee to Miss M.E. Barber, who taught him in the Keswick concept of the filling of the Spirit. In February 1922, Nee claimed, he was “baptized in the Spirit” and put himself under the continuing instruction of Barber. Barber then was responsible for the development of Nee’s perfectionistic theology.
Barber also convinced Nee of the truth of the “partial rapture” theory assigning carnal believers to a kind of Protestant purgatory. Nee admitted that in his writings on the book of Revelation, he depended on a book from Barber’s library by Robert Govett that teaches a partial rapture. Thus we see how he got these new “insights” that became the basis for new books.
Later, Barber allowed Nee to read the works of Jesse Penn Lewis when she thought he was “mature enough,” Roberts says. Penn Lewis, a mystic with a Welsh Methodist background, saw many parts to man’s inner nature. Her literature, considered “holiness literature,” is the main source for Nee’s Spiritual Man series, in which he developed a gnostic view of man, Roberts says.
Nee also got doses of Catholic mysticism through the writings of Madame Jeanne Guyon, as published in Penn Lewis’ magazine.
Nee continued to read widely and when Barber exposed him to the writings of John Darby, he found the basis for his ecclesiology, or thoughts on the church. From that point, everything Nee wrote on the church is easily identified with the teachings of the Plymouth Brethren. He rejected clergy as unscriptural.
Nee also professed to be led by inner leadings
During this time Nee also professed to be led by inner leadings. He justified this subjective means of revelation by saying that the ways of God are not known by external means but by “internal registrations.” Again, he was rejecting external authority.
Nee had his own eclectic system developed when he encountered another woman in 1935. Elizabeth Fischbacker introduced him to Pentecostal theology and speaking in tongues. Nee did not regard tongues as unbiblical but never spoke in tongues himself.
In 1942, Nee took over the running of his brother George’s chemical factory. He consigned all the property to the church and sought to have the church members as the factory workers. As a result he contradicted previous positions he had taken regarding disassociation of the church and business.
In 1949, Mao-Tse Tung came to power and Communist China was born. Nee, a factory owner, was seen as an imperialist and eventually was jailed. He remained in prison until his death in 1972.
The teachings that developed over Nee’s lifetime and out of his encounters with these women and the teachings they directed him to are dangerous to Christians seeking clear guidelines to follow. Space allows a listing of only a few of the problems in Nee’s teachings:
By all appearances, Nee saw himself not as a servant but as a guru
- Nee outlines no method of Bible study and interpretation and appears to deny evangelical hermeneutics. In his book Spiritual Authority, he sets himself and his elders up as the unquestionable authorities. By all appearances, Nee saw himself not as a servant but as a guru.
- One gets the impression from Nee that the Bible was not nearly as important as Christians generally consider it. In his book The Ministry of God’s Word, Nee says, “Words alone cannot be considered God’s Word.” In this book, Nee becomes very philosophical, mystical and incoherent.He says that only as we deliver the Word in terms of the “reality behind it,” using what he calls “Holy Spirit memory” and “presenting the pictures as well as speaking the words” will the words be correct; otherwise they are not real.
- Nee overemphasizes emotions. In The Ministry of God’s Word, he claims that the effectiveness of a preacher’s delivery is a product of his emotions. If a preacher does not feel emotionally charged in delivery, “the Spirit is stuck” and the “Spirit is inevitably arrested,” Nee says. He continues, “The Spirit flows through the channel of emotion.”Then he arrives at a strange conclusion: “Nose in the Scripture stands for feeling. Smelling is a most delicate act, man’s feeling is most delicate.” Therefore, Nee says, a preacher in speaking needs to “mix feelings with the words spoken, else his words are dead. If our feeling lags behind, our words are stripped of the spirit.” To say as Nee does, on page 210, that the Holy Spirit only rides on feeling is dangerous.
- Nee uses terms imprecisely. One example is his writing about a minister’s receiving “revelations” in his “Holy Spirit memory” and those revelations being remembered in us by the Holy Spirit. This sort of metaphysical mumbo jumbo is impossible to understand, since there is no direct scriptural reference to a “Holy Spirit memory.”
When a Christian begins to see Nee as a guide in determining the value of other Christian writers, or sees Nee’s writings as a key to spirituality, that person is headed for trouble.
Nee’s presuppositions are suspect in light of the Word of God. His books provide grist for cult groups such as The Way, The Alamo Foundation, the Children of God and other groups. The astute believer should watch out for Watchman Nee.
About the Author
This article was written by by G. Richard Fisher, a member of the Board of Directors of Personal Freedom Outreach (PFO) — a ministry that educates Christians about the dangers and heretical doctrines of religious cults.
Fisher is the senior researcher/writer for PFO’s The Quarterly Journal. Pastor Fisher served as pastor of Laurelton Park Baptist Church in Bricktown, N.J., for over 40 years, from 1968 until his retirement in June 2009. He also was part of the teaching staff at Central Jersey Bible Institute for over three decades, where he had served as Dean of the school.
From Way of Life Literature, David Cloud has presented a three-part series of testimonies of men who set out shred Christianity but instead came out believers.
Here are some excerpts. I have selected one testimony from each part.
Above all other books, the Bible has been hated, vilified, ridiculed, criticized, restricted, banned, and destroyed, but it has been to no avail. As one rightly said, “We might as well put our shoulder to the burning wheel of the sun, and try to stop it on its flaming course, as attempt to stop the circulation of the Bible” (Sidney Collett, All about the Bible, p. 63).
In A.D. 303, the Roman Emperor Diocletian issued an edict to stop Christians from worshipping Jesus Christ and to destroy their Scriptures. Every official in the empire was ordered to raze the churches to the ground and burn every Bible found in their districts (Stanley Greenslade, Cambridge History of the Bible). Twenty-five years later Diocletian’s successor, Constantine, issued another edict ordering fifty Bibles to be published at government expense (Eusebius).
In 1778 the French infidel Voltaire boasted that in 100 years Christianity would cease to exist, but within 50 years the Geneva Bible Society used his press and house to publish Bibles (Geisler and Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, 1986, pp. 123, 124).
Robert Ingersoll once boasted, “Within 15 years I’ll have the Bible lodged in a morgue.” But Ingersoll is dead, and the Bible is alive and well.
In fact, many who set out to disprove the Bible have been converted, instead. The following are a few examples:
Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853)
Simon Greenleaf, Royall Professor of Law at Harvard University, was one of the most celebrated legal minds in American history. His Treatise on the Law of Evidence “is still considered the greatest single authority on evidence in the entire literature of legal procedure.”
As a law professor, he determined to expose the “myth” of the resurrection of Christ once and for all, but his thorough examination forced him to conclude, instead, that Jesus did rise from the dead. In 1846 he published An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice.
Thus, one of the most celebrated minds in the legal profession of the past two centuries took the resurrection of Christ to trial, diligently examined the evidence, and judged it to be an established fact of history! And this was in spite of the fact that he began his investigation as a skeptic.
One of Greenleaf’s points is that nothing but the resurrection itself can explain the dramatic change in Christ’s disciples and their willingness to suffer and die for their testimony.
Consider an excerpt:
“Their master had recently perished as a malefactor, by the sentence of a public tribunal. His religion sought to overthrow the religions of the whole world. The laws of every country were against the teachings of His disciples. The interests and passions of all the rulers and great men in the world were against them. The fashion of the world was against them. Propagating this new faith, even in the most inoffensive and peaceful manner, they could expect nothing but contempt, opposition, revilings, bitter persecutions, stripes, imprisonments, torments, and cruel deaths.
Yet this faith they zealously did propagate; and all these miseries they endured undismayed, nay, rejoicing. As one after another was put to a miserable death, the survivors only prosecuted their work with increased vigor and resolution. The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience, and unblenching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths which they asserted; and these motives were pressed upon their attention with the most melancholy and terrific frequency. It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact. … If then their testimony was not true, there was no possible motive for its fabrication” (Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence).
Finish Part One at this link.
Josh McDowell, the author of Evidence That Demands a Verdict, was a skeptic when he entered university to pursue a law degree. There he met some Christians who challenged him to examine the evidence for the Bible and Jesus Christ. Following is his testimony:
As a teenager, I wanted the answers to three basic questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? … So as a young student, I started looking for answers.
I thought that education might have the answer to my quest for happiness and meaning. So I enrolled in the university. What a disappointment! I have probably been on more university campuses in my lifetime than anyone else in history. You can find a lot of things in the university, but enrolling there to find truth and meaning in life is virtually a lost cause.
I used to buttonhole professors in their offices, seeking the answers to my questions. When they saw me coming they would turn out the lights, pull down the shades, and lock the door so they wouldn’t have to talk to me. I soon realized that the university didn’t have the answers I was seeking. Faculty members and my fellow students had just as many problems, frustrations, and unanswered questions about life as I had. A few years ago I saw a student walking around a campus with a sign on his back: ‘Don’t follow me, I’m lost.’ That’s how everyone in the university seemed to me. Education was not the answer!
Prestige must be the way to go, I decided. It just seemed right to find a noble cause, give yourself to it, and become well known. The people with the most prestige in the university, and who also controlled the purse strings, were the student leaders. So I ran for various student offices and got elected. It was great to know everyone on campus, make important decisions, and spend the university’s money doing what I wanted to do. But the thrill soon wore off, as with everything else I had tried.
Every Monday morning I would wake up with a headache because of the way I had spent the previous night. My attitude was, Here we go again, another five boring days. Happiness for me revolved around those three party-nights: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Then the whole boring cycle would start over again.
Around this time I noticed a small group of people on campus–eight students and two faculty–and there was something different about them. They seemed to know where they were going in life. And they had a quality I deeply admire in people: conviction. But there was something more about this group that caught my attention. It was love. These students and professors not only loved each other, they loved and cared for people outside their group.
About two weeks later, I was sitting around a table in the student union talking with some members of this group. … I turned to one of the girls in the group and said, ‘Tell me, what changed your lives? Why are you so different from the other students and faculty?’
She looked me straight in the eye and said two words I had never expected to hear in an intelligent discussion on a university campus: ‘Jesus Christ.’
‘Jesus Christ?’ I snapped. ‘Don’t give me that kind of garbage. I’m fed up with religion, the Bible, and the church.’
She quickly shot back, ‘Mister, I didn’t say ‘religion’; I said ‘Jesus Christ.’
Then my new friends issued me a challenge I couldn’t believe. They challenged me, a pre-law student, to examine intellectually the claim that Jesus Christ is God’s Son. I thought this was a joke. These Christians were so dumb. How could something as flimsy as Christianity stand up to an intellectual examination? I scoffed at their challenge.
I finally accepted their challenge, not to prove anything but to refute them. I decided to write a book that would make an intellectual joke of Christianity. I left the university and traveled throughout the United States and Europe to gather evidence to prove that Christianity is a sham.
One day while I was sitting in a library in London, England, I sensed a voice within me saying, ‘Josh, you don’t have a leg to stand on.’ I immediately suppressed it. But just about every day after that I heard the same inner voice. The more I researched, the more I heard this voice. I returned to the United States and to the university, but I couldn’t sleep at night. I would go to bed at ten o’clock and lie awake until four in the morning, trying to refute the overwhelming evidence I was accumulating that Jesus Christ was God’s Son.
I began to realize that I was being intellectually dishonest. My mind told me that the claims of Christ were indeed true, but my will was being pulled another direction. I had placed so much emphasis on finding the truth, but I wasn’t willing to follow it once I saw it. I began to sense Christ’s personal challenge to me in Revelation 3:20: ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.’ But becoming a Christian seemed so ego-shattering to me. I couldn’t think of a faster way to ruin all my good times.
I knew I had to resolve this inner conflict because it was driving me crazy. I had always considered myself an open-minded person, so I decided to put Christ’s claims to the supreme test. One night at my home in Union City, Michigan, at the end of my second year at the university, I became a Christian.
I said, ‘Lord Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for me.’ I realized that if I were the only person on earth, Christ would have still died for me.’ … I said, ‘I confess that I am a sinner.’ No one had to tell me that. I knew there were things in my life that were incompatible with a holy, just, righteous God. … I said, ‘Right now, in the best way I know how, I open the door of my life and place my trust in You as Saviour and Lord. Take over the control of my life. Change me from the inside out. Make me the type of person You created me to be’ (Josh McDowell, “He Changed My Life,” The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Thomas Nelson, 1999, pp. xxv).
“After trying to shatter the historicity and validity of the Scripture, I came to the conclusion that it is historically trustworthy. If one discards the Bible as being unreliable, then one must discard almost all literature of antiquity.
“One problem I constantly face is the desire on the part of many to apply one standard or test to secular literature and another to the Bible. One must apply the same test, whether the literature under investigation is secular or religious.
“Having done this, I believe we can hold the Scriptures in our hands and say, ‘The Bible is trustworthy and historically reliable” (The New Evidence, p. 68).
Finish Part Two at this link.
Gary Parker has an Ed.D. in biology/geology from Ball State University. Following is his testimony:
“I wasn’t just teaching evolution, I was preaching it. ‘It was millions of years of struggle and death that brought mankind and all the other animals and plants into being,’ I told my college students. I praised Darwin for being the first to understand how evolution worked. … I let students freely express their religious beliefs, but would not let them use their personal faith to challenge what I considered the rock-hard science of evolution. I thought it was part of my duty as a science teacher to deliver my students from silly old superstitions, like taking the Bible literally and trying to refute evolution with ‘creation science.’
“The change began when Dr. Charles Signorino, a chemistry professor at the college where I was teaching biology, invited my wife and me to his home for Bible study. … I started studying the Bible, primarily to criticize it more effectively. …
“Make no mistake about it–creation/evolution is a salvation issue. I do not mean you have to have a detailed knowledge of creation science to be a Christian; I simply mean that belief in evolution can be for many, as it was for me, a powerful stumbling block to accepting (or even considering) the claims of Christ. Paul warned Timothy to avoid the oppositions of science falsely so-called, which some have erred concerning the faith (1 Tim. 6:20-21). Evolution is really ‘humanism dressed up in a lab coat,’ a man-centered worldview that uses scientific jargon to put man’s opinions far above God’s Word (as Eve did in the Garden).“My extensive knowledge of, and zeal for, evolution certainly prevented me from even considering that God might be real and the Bible true. So what happened? Well, Dr. Signorino, the colleague who invited me to the Bible study, was not only a superb Bible teacher, he was also a scientist respected internationally for his work in chemistry. He challenged me to look again at the science I thought I knew so well. Confident that science would support evolution and refute biblical literalism, I gladly accepted the challenge.“The battle began. For three years, we argued creation/evolution. For three years, I used all the evolutionary arguments I knew so well. For three years, I lost every scientific argument. In dismay, I watched the myth of evolution evaporate under the light of scientific scrutiny, while the scientific case for Creation-Corruption-Catastrophe-Christ just got better and better. It’s no wonder that the ACLU (actually the anti-Christian lawyers union) fights by any means to censor any scientific challenge to evolution! …“About that time, I got a copy in the mail of the first book I ever wrote, a programmed science instruction book calledDNA: The Key to Life.
Up until that time I thought people who wrote books, especially textbooks in science, knew what they were talking about. I had a nearly straight A average and earned numerous academic awards, and my book had been reviewed by experts on DNA, but I knew all the uncertainties that went into it. (Indeed, when I published the second edition five years later, I put the first edition aside and started fresh; so much additional knowledge about DNA had been gained.) It finally dawned on me: if experts in science can write books that have to be continually corrected, revised, and updated, perhaps God could write a Book in which He said what He meant and meant what He said: eternal and unchanging truth, an absolutely sure foundation for understanding life useful to all people at all times in all places!
“Looking now at the Bible as the truly true ‘History Book of the Universe,’ I was lifted out of the prison of time, space, and culture, and enabled to see past the shallow and ever-changing words of human experts to the deep and never-changing Word of the Lord God, Maker of heaven and earth! I experienced who Jesus is and what Jesus meant when He said, ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’ (John 8:32). …“I could now look at familiar facts in unfamiliar ways–ways that made more sense scientifically and helped me to solve some of the origins problems that had puzzled me as an evolutionist. As I looked at biology with the blinders of evolution finally removed, the biblical theme of Creation-Corruption-Catastrophe-Christ was reflected everywhere! …
“… some said that if I only knew more about fossils, I would give up this ‘creationist nonsense’ and accept the ‘fact of evolution.’ Then the Lord did something fabulous for me: a fellowship from the National Science Foundation for 15 months of full-time doctoral study. With fear and trembling, I added a doctoral minor in geology, emphasizing paleontology and origins, to check out the fossil evidence firsthand. I had excellent professors, including some Christians, but all assumed evolution without question. However, what they taught me about fossils made it hard to believe in evolution and easy to accept the biblical record of a perfect creation, ruined by man, destroyed by the Flood, restored to new life in Christ. …
“At the end of my geophysics unit on radiometric dating, the professor was going over the long list of assumptions that are required to convert any measurement of radioisotope amounts into some estimate of age. Midway through the list of unwarranted assumptions and inconsistent results, the professor paused to joke that if a Bible-believing Christian ever became aware of these problems, he would make havoc out of the radiometric dating system! Then he admonished us to ‘keep the faith.’
“Keep the faith. At bottom, that is all there is to radioactive decay dating: a faith the facts have failed. At bottom, that’s all there is to evolution: a faith the facts have failed. Evolution was only able to get a toe-hold on science because of 19th-century ignorance of molecular biology, cellular ultra structure, ecology, and systematics. Discoveries in these fields completely crushed evolution as a science, but it persists only too well as a secular religion protected from contrary evidence by the anti-American censorship lawyers united” (Persuaded by the Evidence, pp. 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 258, 260, 261).
Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc.’s Fundamental Baptist Information Service, an e-mail listing for Fundamental Baptists and other fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. OUR GOAL IN THIS PARTICULAR ASPECT OF OUR MINISTRY IS NOT DEVOTIONAL BUT IS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO ASSIST PREACHERS IN THE PROTECTION OF THE CHURCHES IN THIS APOSTATE HOUR.Way of Life Literature –
copyright 2013 – Way of Life Literature
If you truly believe a man, you believe all that he says. He who does not believe that God will punish sin, will not believe that God will pardon it through the atoning blood. He who does not believe that God will cast unbelievers into hell, will not be sure that he will take believers into heaven. If we doubt God’s Word about one thing, we shall have small confidence in it upon another thing. Sincere faith in God must treat all God’s Word alike; for the faith which accepts one word of God and rejects another is evidently not faith in God, but faith in our own judgment, faith in our own taste. Only that is true faith which believes everything that is revealed by the Holy Spirit, whether it be joyous or distressing…I charge you who profess to be the Lord’s not to be unbelieving with regard to the terrible threatenings of God to the ungodly. Believe the threat, even though it should chill your blood; believe, though nature shrinks from the overwhelming doom; for, if you do not believe, the act of disbelieving God about one point will drive you to disbelieve him upon the other parts of revealed truth, and you will never come to that true, child-like faith which God will accept and honour. . .
At times you and I are assailed as to our faith in the Bible, by people who say, “How do you make that out? It is in the Scriptures, certainly, but how do you reconcile it with science?” Let your reply be—We no longer live in the region of argument as to the Word of the Lord; but we dwell in the realm of faith. We are not squabblers, itching to prove our superiority in reasoning, but we are children of light, worshipping our God by bowing our whole minds to the obedience of faith. We would be humble, and learn to believe what we cannot altogether comprehend, and to expect what we should never have looked for, had not the Lord declared it. It is our ambition to be great believers, rather than great thinkers; to be child-like in faith, rather than subtle in intellect. We are sure that God is true!…We stagger not at the Word of God, because of evident improbability and apparent impossibility. What the Lord has spoken he is able to make good; and none of his words shall fall to the ground.
taken from: Noah’s Faith, Fear, Obedience, and Salvation, Sermon No. 2147, Delivered on Lord’s-day Morning, June 1st, 1890, by C. H. Spurgeon.