You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘christianity’ category.

Unholy Signs & Cash Flows

Bethel’s example of Church working with Corporate and State

 

By Pastor Rod Page
“I dedicate this book to my children’s children’s children’s children. Though we will not meet until we get to heaven, I wanted you to know that I had you in mind as I wrote every word of this book, and I continue to hold you in my heart. You will become the answer to my prayers and the fulfillment of my prophecies. By the time you read this book, I will be watching you from heaven (see Hebrews 12: 1).”[1]

This quotation above is the opening dedication to Kris Vallotton’s upgraded book called Heavy Rain. Its former title was How Heaven Invades Earth. At the outset it sounds like a way to soften, or even spiritualize, the more militant sounding “invade” language in his book from six years ago. I believe this change is part of a new effort to say the same thing in a more sophisticated, and yet more palatable, way in order to attract a wider audience.

In this day and age where everything is seen from a marketing standpoint, as far as publishers and agents and business in general, it is no surprise that this would happen from within the headquarters of a now worldwide movement—Bethel Church in Redding, California.

I am writing this from Redding as it is the closest city to where we live for groceries and doctors. It is also where I lived for several years. It’s a pretty typical town in most aspects, with a Costco and an old converted theater downtown, and a mix of working people and retired folks looking for the sun…. It is even sunnier in Redding than Phoenix!

But Redding is actually quite special in regard to what is happening in Christendom. A phenomenon has grown up here. There is something almost “magical” about the effect that Bethel has had on this community. The city has fallen in love with this “church”. Is this even possible in our day of hysteria over “separation of church and state”? It is not separate in Redding. Bethel bailed out the Civic Auditorium and is running it well from all indications. Bethel is also becoming a major property owner. They have bought and improved several commercial properties and hope to increase their School of Supernatural Ministry to 3000 students in the next few years. (It is currently around 1400.) They want to build a museum of revival in Americana and have spent around $40,000 to purchase one man’s memorabilia collection of articles from major “moves of God” going back into the 1950s.

Bethel is growing while the city of Redding has endured a decline in many facets. Crime is up. The housing market is flat at best. Homelessness is rampant. But Bethel is doing really well. I believe they know why. I think they have discovered a secret to moving forward at this time in their history. Before I get back to this subject let met tell you why I am writing this report.

The Bethel “cash flow” agenda, cited HERE

Why I Write 
Before becoming a full time pastor in 2011 I spent over 30 years being a regular Christian, with a regular secular job, raising a family with my wife of 37 years. Before we moved to Redding we attended a church for 10 years beginning in 1994 in Yuba City, California. We noticed after almost 7 years in that church that the teaching was changing. We heard things that shocked us, but because of intense loyalty to the leadership we tried to justify things we should have checked out immediately. We were told that spiritual warfare was calling out demons by name and defeating them in the atmosphere, and thus allowing our city to have a mass revival. We were told it was always God’s will for us to be physically well. We were told our children were a chosen seed to bring in the great harvest of all time—that they would do miracles greater than Jesus or the Apostles. These things came in slowly, like a steady drip. We were told that Christians have demons that need to be cast out. We were to go on “prayer walks” that would run the devil out of neighborhoods and out of families as we took dominion over our city.

The problem is it didn’t work, and we could not find a good Biblical reason to swallow all of this new teaching. Young people would go to the church’s new “discipleship” school and come out on the other end bewildered by a lack of power, not blaming the leaders who taught them but God, who they thought did not keep up His end of the bargain. We looked at our Bibles and saw texts that were clearly meant for the next world being brought into ours, with no concept for context or proper Biblical interpretation.

It took us almost 3 years to realize we needed to get back to the Bible. Then we found the Discernment Ministries’ Herescope blog (www.herescope.net). God led us to this small cadre of folks who had been writing for years about different new teachings, that were really old things wrapped up in new and upgraded lingo. As Solomon says, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9).

Then, because of a job, and a ministry opportunity to take what we were finding about Satan’s schemes and warn younger believers, we moved to Redding to start a new job and work with a couple we thought truly were wanting to warn others. Sadly, within a year we found out we were not on the same page with the very people we were supposed to serve with. Shortly after this we began to attend a church where the Bible was taught verse by verse. God put us away in His waiting room where we could get our thoughts and hearts in line with His precious Word.

We began to serve the Lord in humble but useful ways. We helped clean the church each week, emptying waste cans and vacuuming the carpet. Later we taught Sunday School. We truly had many glorious times with our 4th grade class teaching through the entire Bible line upon line. Eventually I was asked to teach in place of the pastor when he was out of town. We were asked to shepherd a part of the congregation and had a “home group” of over 40 people in our home each month. What I found in those days was that God is gracious. When we seek Him and His ways for His glory, He provides all we need. His Word has the answers we need to communicate. We don’t need to make up anything fancy to attract attention to it.

I had heard the Lord calling me to ministry when I was 12 years old. I had, because of fear, chosen not to follow His call for many years. Finally at 50 years of age I answered that call. I began to seek the Lord, and asked others to pray with me about going into full time work. I assumed it would be in a ministry to young people, as that was the reason I moved to Redding. I wanted to warn them of what the enemy was trying to do, both within the church and without it. After another year of waiting, just when I began to give up, an opportunity came as the Lord opened up a door for ministry. I have been serving as pastor at a small community church in Lewiston, California, ever since. I live within 35 miles of Redding in the mountains. God is gracious indeed. It is the hardest, and yet most fulfilling job, I have ever had.

But Bethel is still a thorn. I suppose it reminds me of what happened to us in Yuba City. But it is far worse. It is a leader, a worldwide and dominant leader, in a movement rife with error. This is grievous to me personally because it goes after, and actually targets, young people in a huge way. This is why I write. These young people (and old people, too) are precious to our Savior. This movement is swallowing them in ways I never could have imagined even 6 years ago when I lived within a mile of Bethel Church. This church is more sophisticated and more “excellent” in an alarming way.

Finish Article HERE

Whiplash is an awful and painful condition. After being rear-ended by a pick-up towing a boat….our car was demolished. Our insurance allowed chiropractic treatment and also therapeutic massage.

The massages were fine till one day the therapist said she was going to try something new on me. I was face down so I imagine she started to place her hands on my neck….Suddenly she yelped and jerked back. She said, “I just got shocked. I won’t try that again.”

I had no idea of the implication at the time. Later I realized she had been trained in Reiki and the certificate on her wall then made sense. I did not know at the time  what Reiki was and what a Reiki master was trained in.

Looking back I realized that the Lord was sending her a message “Hands Off” and was protecting me. To this day I wonder if He would have still sent her an electrical shock if I had not been witnessing to her. My testimony I believe set me apart. Please read the following article from Way of Life.

Reiki

April 12, 2016 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143,

fbns@wayoflife.org)

New Age Health Care

The following is excerpted from New Age Health Care, available in print and free eBook editions from Way of Life Literature:
__________

A study on alternative medicine in the January 2008 report in U.S. News & World Report focused on the rapid growth of Reiki (pronounced ray-key). The report says the number of Reiki practitioners worldwide is in the millions, with half a million in the United States and over a million in Germany.

According to the American Hospital Association, 15% of hospitals were using Reiki in 2007.

A report in The Washington Post for May 16, 2014, was entitled “Reiki Goes Mainstream.”

The practice has been praised by Oprah and Dr. Oz.

Reiki is an occultic practice that allegedly channels “universal healing energy” for human benefit such as relaxation and physical healing. The word “reiki” is Japanese for “spiritually guided life force energy.”

It was developed in Japan in the early 20th century by Mikao Usui. During a 21 day program of fasting, meditation, chanting, and other pagan contemplative practices he allegedly experienced “the great Reiki energy entering” into him and found that he could use the energy to heal others. It came in the form of a light that moved toward him and entered the middle of his forehead (Mohan Makkar, The New Reiki Magic, p. 5). Usui allegedly began to heal with his touch and to initiate others into the “energy.” Reiki was established in Hawaii in the 1930s and from there spread to North America. The American International Reiki Association was formed in 1982.

The International Center for Reiki Training says:

“Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. … Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. It has been effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always creates a beneficial effect.”

That sounds harmless enough, doesn’t it?

Reiki has three levels or degrees of initiation, the third level being the master level. The degrees are called “attunements” whereby the student is brought into harmony with the reiki energy and taught how to channel it. The initiations are thought to create channels for the flow of Reiki. Paula Horan says, “Through this channel Reiki then flows in through the top of the student’s head, down through the body and out through the hands” (Abundance through Reiki, p. 18).

Reiki masters initiate people into the various levels.

Reiki is transferred or initiated by the laying on of hands. The Reiki manual is subtitled “The healing touch.” The Reiki practitioner places his hands on the same spot of the body for three minutes at a time, and the energy is supposed to be mystically drawn out by the recipient. Horan says, “… if I lay my hands on you to do a treatment, your body will naturally draw the appropriate amounts of energy it needs, and to the proper places” (p. 20).

Reiki is largely Hindu in its philosophy. It is described as “an energy incomprehensible to the intellect which flows through everything, transforming all realms of life … Reiki is oneness” (Horan, Abundance Through Reiki, p. 10).

Reiki is founded on the Hindu concept that God is everything and man is part of God. One Reiki Master says that “Reiki will eventually guide you to the experience that you yourself are Reiki or Universal Life Force Energy. … you and I are that same Universal Life Force Energy” (Abundance Through Reiki, pp. 9, 23).

Reiki is thought to open the chakras of the “astral body,” which is a Hindu doctrine.

Paula Horan said that her Reiki teacher gave her a new name, Laxmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth. He said to her, “I am giving you the name Laxmi, because in this lifetime, you will fulfill all of your desires” (p. 152).

The recipients of Reiki describe it as a powerful sense of warmth and security, “a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you.” It is not only supposed to provide healing but also to initiate the recipient into higher levels of spiritual transformation. The International Reiki Center says that “many people find that using Reiki puts them more in touch with the experience of their religion rather than having only an intellectual concept of it.” This is the mystical approach that bypasses thinking with an experiential connection with God or the “higher power.”

Reiki involves not only “life energy” but also spirit guides. The International Reiki Center web site says:

“Occasionally witnessing miracles. Feeling the wonder of God s love pass through you and into another. SENSING THE PRESENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS, feeling their touch, knowing they work with you. Being raised into ever greater levels of joy and peace by simply placing your hands on another. Watching your life grow and develop as your continual immersion in Reiki transforms your attitudes, values and beliefs. Sensing that because of your commitment to help others, BEINGS OF LIGHT ARE FOCUSING THEIR LOVE AND HEALING ON YOU AND CAREFULLY GUIDING YOU ON YOUR SPIRITUAL PATH. This is the promise of a developing Reiki practice. … THERE ARE HIGHER SOURCES OF HELP YOU CAN CALL ON. ANGELS, BEINGS OF LIGHT AND REIKI SPIRIT GUIDES as well as your own enlightened self are available to help you. … There must be congruence, an alignment within you in order for the Higher Power in the form of Reiki to flow through you in a powerful way and in order for THE ANGELS, REIKI SPIRIT GUIDES AND OTHER SPIRITUAL BEINGS TO WORK WITH YOU.”

The Reiki practitioner is taught to get in tune with these spirit guides, to pray to them, and to yield to their control.

“Try the following prayer: ‘Guide me and heal me so that I can be of greater service to others.’ By sincerely saying a prayer such as this each day, your heart will open and a path will be created to receive the help of higher spiritual beings. They will guide you in your Reiki practice and in the development of your life purpose.”

Reiki is even said to open up “psychic communication centers”:

“During the Reiki attunement process, the avenue that is opened within the body to allow Reiki to flow through also opens up the psychic communication centers. This is why MANY REIKI PRACTITIONERS REPORT HAVING VERBALIZED CHANNELED COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE SPIRIT WORLD” (Phylameana Desy, The Everything Reiki Book, 2004, p. 144).

The Reiki Journal suggests that message therapy is an excellent tool for spreading Reiki.

Lighthouse Trails observes:

“If US News & World Report is correct in their assessment that Reiki, Yoga, and other types of healing practices are now mainstream, then Reiki is here to stay. One can only wonder if Reiki is going to become as popular in Christian circles as Yoga now has. If it does, then as with contemplative spirituality, the spiritual lives of countless people will be jeopardized and the Gospel of Jesus Christ seriously compromised.”

Following is another warning about Reiki:

“My mom is into the New Age movement and has had Reiki done on her for years; recently she started practicing Reiki. She does it on friends and family members (I am the only Christian in the family). I live with back pain, and she has wanted to do it on me. I have always said no, but after researching Reiki I finally decided to tell her that my beliefs conflict with Reiki and that the ‘energy’ is actually demonic (that was a difficult conversation). … she regularly meditates and talks to ‘her angel,’ whom she credits with anything good happening. She is getting deeper into this. My mother says she prays to ‘Jesus’ before doing Reiki.  … She does not believe in the Bible or most of it anyway, nor Jesus’ deity, but rather He came to point the way to God.  … Obviously this is a false Jesus. … one of her angels is ‘like a best friend’ and has a name)” (“My Mother Is Doing Reiki,” Lighthouse Trails, Feb. 9, 2016).

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

— 2 Timothy 4:3-4

The Charismatic Day of Infamy: June 28th 2008

From Pirate Christian

June 23, 2008 is the “Charismatic Day of Infamy” and you are NOT supposed to know about it or even talk about it. 

If everyone knew about what happened on this day (and stopped making excuses for it) a whole bunch of false teachers would put their tail between their legs, pack up their bags and go home. The “New Apostolic Reformation,” the “Signs and Wonders Movement,” the Hyper-Charismatic Movement (whatever it’s being called at the moment) should not even exist. 

Here’s a video showing part of what happened on live television that day:

//www.youtube.com/embed/YEwsG4lsXq4?wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1″,”url”:”https://youtu.be/YEwsG4lsXq4″,”width”:640,”height”:480,”providerName”:”YouTube”,”thumbnailUrl”:”https://i.ytimg.com/vi/YEwsG4lsXq4/hqdefault.jpg”,”resolvedBy”:”youtube”}”>

The “Super Apostles” were so proud of themselves that day; they could hardly believe that they were even gathered together at the same place. C. Peter Wagner (who does the official “commissioning” here) is the man who made up the name “New Apostolic Reformation” and then appointed himself God’s leader of it. Other important “Super Apostles” on stage were Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner, Che Ahn, John and Carol Arnott, and the Super Star of the whole, messed up day: Todd Bentley.

These men were all gathered in Lakeland, Florida, to officially “commission” Todd Bentley to become part of the “Super Apostle” club. Wagner says, “I take the apostolic authority that God has given me and I decree to you Todd Bentley: Your power will increase. Your authority will increase. Your favor will increase. Your influence will increase. I also decree that a new supernatural strength will flow through this ministry. A new life-force will penetrate this move of God. Government will be established to set things in their proper order. God will pour out a higher level of discernment to distinguish truth from error. New relationships will surface to open the gates for the future! And rainbow-colored unicorns will spread golden pixie-dust and shift the atmosphere!!” (Okay, that last sentence wasn’t real.)

Finish article HERE

Is the God of the Old Testament Cruel?

Updated January 7, 2016 (first published November 19, 2014) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061

“The heart of God was revealed in the amazing words that Jesus spoke from the cross” Unbelievers have long used Israel’s destruction of pagan nations in Canaan as evidence that the God of the Old Testament is unjust and cruel.

“When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire” (Deuteronomy 7:1-5).

The following facts must be taken into consideration:

First, God waited 400 years before judging these nations, which reminds us that He is very longsuffering.

“And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Genesis 15:13-16).

These nations had the light of creation and conscience, and they also had prophetic light. There were prophets in the region such as Melchizedek and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and his sons. The Canaanite nations could have repented like Nineveh did, and God would have forgiven them (Jonah 3:5-10).

Second, the nations in question were devoted to every sort of vile moral perversion, including homosexuality, rape, incest, bestiality, and the burning of their children.

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. (Leviticus 18:1-3) … Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness. Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her. And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: AND THE LAND IS DEFILED: THEREFORE I DO VISIT THE INIQUITY THEREOF UPON IT, AND THE LAND ITSELF VOMITETH OUT HER INHABITANTS” (Leviticus 18:1-3, 19-25).

“When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:29-31).

These nations were destroyed for their gross moral wickedness.

“For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. (Deuteronomy 18:12).

“Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:24-25).

Consider the condition of Sodom and Gomorrah hundreds of years before God ordered the destruction of these nations. The men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house and tried to force themselves on the visiting angels (Gen. 19:4-9).

These pagan nations were proud and bold in their sin (Isa. 3:9).

It is not morally wrong for a holy, lawgiving God to punish those who willfully, flagrantly, and unrepentantly break His laws.

Those who charge God with injustice and cruelty for punishing wicked nations are hypocritical, because they themselves believe in law and order and support the punishment of those who commit crimes such as rape, theft, child molestation, and murder, particularly when those crimes are committed against them and their loved ones.

Men are quick to call for justice when they are offended, but they criticize God for exercising justice against sinners.

Three, God’s judgments are warnings to others.

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and other Canaanite cities are warnings to those who will listen, even to these end times. This is emphasized in Scripture:

“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly” (2 Peter 2:6).

“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7).

Even in judgment, God is merciful. What He loves above all is mercy and what He is above all is a Saviour, but men must repent and turn to Him. That is His requirement, and the Creator has every right to set the rules!

Four, the Lord was merciful to those like Rahab who repented of their idolatry and put their faith in Jehovah God (Joshua 2).

The whole tenor of Scripture teaches that God delights in mercy more than in punishment. He “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He “will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

Five, God is omniscient.

He knows all things. He knows the beginning from the end. He knows what people will do and the choices they make even before they are born and while they are still infants. It seems cruel and unreasonable for God to have children killed with their parents, but God knew what these children would do when they grew up, as He knew in the days of Noah.

Six, it was necessary for those wicked pagan nations to be overthrown so that Israel could be established in that land as a light to the world.

Had they been left alone, Israel would have been corrupted morally and religiously within a very short time (Deut. 7:2-6). The destruction of those nations was actually an act of great compassion on God’s part. The pagan nations that were destroyed deserved what they got by persisting in their sin, and by exercising His righteous judgment on them God was providing blessing for the whole world. Through Israel, God gave the world His divine revelation in the Bible, and through Israel He brought the Saviour into the world to die for man’s sin. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Those who charge God with injustice and cruelty ignore the fact that God Himself paid the price demanded of His own holy law so that men can be saved. The heart of God was revealed in the amazing words that Jesus spoke from the cross in regard to the people who had so terribly, unjustly abused him: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The God revealed in the Bible is the most compassionate Person in the universe. In fact, He is the source of all true love and compassion, but He is also a thrice holy, lawgiving God, and He cannot be judged by man’s puny, inconsistent standards.

__

David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org

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.

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.

 

by Glenn Christopherson

A new form of Christianity is rapidly taking shape in our world.

It’s a “Christianity” which speaks long and loud about social justice and veers from mentioning God’s justice.

It has turned it’s back on the clear waters of God’s Holy words to drink at the muddied wells of human philosophies, pseudo science and religious counterfeits.

It is proud of it’s boasted achievements and seemingly ignorant of God’s marvellous, perfect and eternal accomplishments.

This new form of “Christianity” is virulent and contagious infecting multitudes with it’s new forms of worship. Worship that is rejected by the Living God.

It is strong on the supposed value of “faith traditions”, but weak on the absolute need for faith in Christ.

It promotes the brotherhood of man, and neglects the sinfulness of man.

It falsely promises temporal pleasures while studiously ignoring the sure and certain promise of eternal bliss…for Christ’s blood purchased brethren.

This false Church is impressed with the pomp of men and their religious systems and sneers at the simplicity of the ancient and true gospel.

It whimpers regularly in bored oratory about the love of God but never in awed reverence lifts up the majestic holiness of our Sovereign and Creator.

This new form of Christianity doesn’t disturb men, it lulls them into a deadly sleep.

It doesn’t convict men of eternal danger, it convinces them to carry on untroubled.

It doesn’t open up eternal vistas it simply refocusses men’s myopic gaze on the temporal.

This new form of Christianity has a new “Christ”. An invented Christ; who is weak and ruled by tolerance rather than holiness. A messiah who accepts and even rejoices in our sin. An unnecessary Saviour dying on an unnecessary cross.

This new form of Christianity, insidiously spreading as yeast through the church world, doesn’t worry the devil…in fact it is his creation..

No, Christianity Should Not ‘Welcome’ or ‘Include’ Your Sinful Lifestyle

By Matt Walsh

 

I got this email a few days ago insisting Christians need to be more “inclusive” of open homosexuals. It’s a popular notion these days, so I thought I’d share this with you and respond here publicly:

Matt, you put yourself on a pedestal as this “great Christian” but you do more harm to the religion than anyone else. As a gay man I can say I’m happy to see how finally a lot of Christians and different churches are realizing that Christianity has to be INCLUSIVE of the LGBTQ community and other lifestyles. Not judging of them. Gays and trans people have felt alienated by Christianity and now progressive Christians have finally started to pull the religion into the 21st century and reach out to all of us. Jesus preached tolerance for all people and lifestyles not HATE. The prodigal son was WELCOMED back not told to go away! You are still trying to make divisions and tell some of us Christians we are not Christians just because we live differently. You are a truly sh*tty person and you come off as a bad writer and an uneducated idiot. Just stop talking. You make Jesus mad every time you write your garbage.

-A gay man who loves Jesus

Hi. Thanks for writing. A few points.

First, as I’m constantly reminded, the sins of homosexuality and fornication have existed since Biblical times. Still, it was prohibited in the Old and New Testaments (Genesis 19:1-13, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9) and by every Christian church for the first 20 centuries of Christianity’s existence. Since you are a self-identified Christian who thinks the moral teachings of the Bible should now be suddenly updated, I have to ask: What changed?

What was revealed in the last few years that proved the prophets, the apostles and all Christian denominations until recently wrong? What new piece of information did humanity obtain? What great revelation occurred? You think a 2,000-year-old faith that professes timeless Truths should “keep up” with the whims of modernity, but why? What do we know in our time that the Church didn’t know — that God Himself didn’t know — up to now? Be very careful in how you answer that question.

Second, I have never referred to myself as a “great Christian” — or a “great” anything for that matter — so I’m not sure why you put “great Christian” in quotes. I consider myself a greatly flawed Christian, even a “sh*tty” one, as you so helpfully and compassionately noted.

See, you need to stop reading with your emotions and read with your brain, man. Your emotions tell you that anyone who advocates virtue is automatically claiming to be virtuous, because it’s easier to dismiss a point based on the perceived motivations behind it rather than consider the point on its own merits. It’s like I’m saying two plus two equals four, and you’re countering that I’m not such a brilliant mathematician. Well, right, but I never said I was a brilliant mathematician. I just said two plus two equals four, because it does, and because even a stupid man can see that.

It’s difficult to have grown-up conversations these days, because people like yourself see every mention of moral truth as either a personal attack or a statement of superiority. This is the real damage you cause in the Faith. It’s not that you’re sinful — we all are, to be sure — it’s that you want to be coddled. You want to shut down professions of Truth that are inconvenient or uncomfortable. You want to modify Christian teachings not because you tried them and found them wrong, but because, to paraphrase Chesterton, you found them difficult and don’t want to try them.

I have many sins, but I will not tell you they are not sins. I come to Christ a sick and broken man looking for healing. You apparently come a sick and broken man looking to be assured you were never sick and broken to begin with. That is the only real difference between us. Or I should say, it’s the only real difference between Christians and “progressive Christians.” Both groups are sinful, both groups are weak, both groups need Christ desperately, but one wants — though they may so often fail — to go Christ’s way, and the other wants Christ to go theirs.

Third, I’m tired of hearing this “inclusive” stuff. Yes of course the Faith is made for people like you. It’s made for all people. It’s not a cult or a club. There’s no entrance exam or membership fee. Christianity is for everyone. If that’s what you mean by “inclusive,” fine, but a better word would be “universal.” In any case, that isn’t what you mean, is it?

When you ask for an “inclusive” Christianity, you ask for a Christianity that, rather than calling you to serve it, bends down and serves you. You’re asking to be “included” in the Faith on your own terms. That’s just not how this works, brother. As Christians, we have no authority to “include” you in that way. You must include yourself.

We go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel. We offer an invitation. We extend a greeting. We fight to win souls. But the souls must come of their own accord and must accept the Truth of Christ willingly and in its fullness. You must enter into the Truth. You must be the one who accepts it. You must be the one who “includes” the Truth in your life. Your lifestyle must change to accommodate the Truth, not the other way around.

By the way, Jesus never uttered the word “lifestyle,” much less did He preach that they all ought to be tolerated. Recently, we’ve started referring to sins as “lifestyles” and pretending that this rhetorical maneuver somehow changes the morality of the issue. It doesn’t. A sin is still a sin, and He instructs us all to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11), which often means dramatically altering our lifestyles.

Indeed, when people came to follow Him in Scripture, He told them to first leave their earthly pleasures behind and then continue along the road (Luke 18:22). He made it very clear that there is in fact a correct lifestyle, a correct way to live, and that way is narrow. Matthew 7:13 tells us the broad and “inclusive” road is the one that leads to damnation. You must choose, then, to walk through the right path, the narrow path, but it will be difficult and demanding, and it will not and cannot be widened to include you.

We all struggle with sin. But struggle is the keyword. Struggle. Fight back. Plead with God in agony to help you defeat these demons. Go to Christ begging that He help you overcome your temptations and live with chastity and temperance. Don’t demand that your sin be allowed to accompany you into Heaven. It can’t. We can accompany our sins into Hell, or ditch the whole ugly package on the side of the road and come Home.

In “The Great Divorce,” C.S. Lewis said, “If we insist on keeping Hell, we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven, we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”

That’s our choice, in a nutshell.

Yes, as you mention, the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11) was welcomed back by his father. But have you read the entire parable? The son realizes the error of his ways, makes the journey back home, and when he arrives he pleads for forgiveness. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Wow, that’s, like, a pretty intense declaration. Notice he didn’t waltz back to his dad’s place and casually brag that he blew his fortune on hookers and booze but he’s not sorry and intends to get right back to it first thing tomorrow. If he had, I think the story would have ended differently.

We see the same sort of thing play out in the passage about the two criminals crucified next to Christ (Luke 23:39-43). One of the criminals is unrepentant and demands that Jesus rescue him from his fate and allow him to continue on sinning. The other realizes he deserves his punishment and, in those final moments before death, professes his faith in Christ and repents of his sin. Christ assures the repentant man he will be with Him in paradise. Our Lord very noticeably does not make this guarantee to the other. A really bad sign for that dude, to say the least.

But for the penitent criminal, imagine the joy. What a beautiful thing, what a privilege it must have been to die next to Christ, to be forgiven everything he’d ever done and welcomed into eternal salvation. Now, that is inclusive. And that is an opportunity open to all of us.

It’s so simple, really. The message is so hopeful and good and joyous, which is why I resent attempts to dilute it into oblivion. All we have to do is follow Christ, spread the Gospel, fight against our sins, and repent for the times when we fail in that fight. That’s all. That’s the “how to” of Christianity. It seems you want to remove, well, all of those ingredients and still call yourself a Christian. You might as well remove all the yeast and flour from a mixture and call the goop of water, butter, and salt that remains “bread.”

I’m reminded of a great moment from a fantastic book called “The Power and the Glory,” set during the persecutions in 1930s Mexico. The protagonist, a sinful, degenerate, alcoholic priest with an illegitimate daughter, is facing execution for his faith. Hours before they march him to death by firing squad, he’s in his cell reflecting on his life and praying for forgiveness:

He felt only an immense disappointment because he had to go to God empty-handed, with nothing done at all. It seemed to him at that moment that it would have been quite easy to have been a saint. It would only have needed a little self-restraint and a little courage. He felt like someone who has missed happiness by seconds at an appointed place. He knew now that there was only one thing that counted — to be a saint.

Powerful. The man knows he has failed God so many times in his life, he lacked even the little restraint and courage that was required to follow Christ perfectly, yet because he believed, because he repented, because in these final moments he hungers for the Lord’s embrace, he will enter Paradise all the same.

Inclusive? Sure. I’d call that inclusive.

The point is, Christianity includes us, Christ includes us, but He will not include our sin. We have to choose to shed our sin, pick up our cross, and follow Him. That’s what it means to “be included.” You say that’s what you want, but do you? Do you want to leave your earthly pleasures behind, cut off whatever parts of your life are causing you to sin (Matthew 5:30), and die with Christ? I can’t answer that question for you. I have a hard enough time answering it affirmatively myself every day.

Christianity is truly a simple formula, but a painful one. If we will not include the pain and sacrifice in our lives, we will not include the Faith.

Fourth, Christians churches in America were never guilty of “alienating” unrepentant sinners like the “LGBTQ community.” They are so attached to their sin that they literally define themselves by it. They look for ”community” not with the Body of Christ, but with those who share their urges and fetishes. They elect to reject the difficult aspects of the Faith. They alienate themselves.

There are many accounts in Scripture where Jesus delivers a controversial message that is hard for people to accept, and many of his followers abandon Him altogether because of it. You’ll notice that Jesus never backtracks and apologizes. He never chases them down as they walk away and explains that He didn’t really mean all that stuff and really they were just taking it out of context.

In John 6, after Christ proclaims Himself the bread of life, many of his disciples are upset and threaten to leave. He does not beg them to turn around. He just continues right along speaking the Truth. He does not change His Word to cater to those who choose not to accept it. They are alienated by their sin, not by Him.

With that said, I do think many churches are guilty of alienating a certain group. As others have pointed out, the minority that rightly feels disaffected are those striving to live the Christian life. While western Christendom has worked so hard to shelter and welcome people who do not even desire to follow His Word and who, in fact, wish to subvert and change it for their own purposes, the ones really left out in the cold are those who try to be virtuous, chaste and faithful.

The Christians who would now be called “extremist” or “fundamentalist” or “conservative,” who stand against the cultural tide, who resist the temptation to succumb to the heretical fashions of the day — these are the Christians we need to include more. They have accepted the Faith for what it is, they are trying, though imperfectly, to walk through the narrow gate, but what do they find? Churches that treat them like nuisances. Church services designed to appeal to the secular crowd at the expense of giving the faithful the sacred and invigorating experience they deeply crave. Christian leaders who provide no leadership. A faith muted and watered down for the benefit of those who wish to destroy it.

These believers are trying their best to keep their hearts pure in a society that heaps mockery and scorn upon such efforts. They despair sometimes wondering how they’ll ever manage to raise their children to love Jesus in a country where even His supposed followers celebrate sin and bestow blessings on the worst kinds of evil. They’ve watched their nation discard virtue and truth and God. They feel isolated. They feel betrayed. They are beaten and exhausted in their fight against sin because they feel like they are fighting alone. They feel like Christ on Calvary shouting,  ”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Of course, God has not forsaken them. But many Christians have. Many churches have. Many pastors have. Many Christian leaders have. They need to be equipped, encouraged and inspired in their mission to defeat sin, follow the Word and walk the narrow path to salvation, but these Christians are frequently left wondering where to turn.

Certainly the culture is no help. The education system is usually just another obstacle. The government, the media, even sometimes their own families are against their quest for holiness. So they run to their churches and their ministers and their fellow Christians and often they are greeted with secularized gospels and “progressive” gospels and “prosperity” gospels and gay gospels when all they want is the Gospel, in all its truth and fury.

John Chrysostom said the Holy Scripture should be “engraved upon our hearts.” There are some Christians who wish to adhere to it with that level of severity. They are the minority that all churches should be bending over backwards to embrace. They are the ones who need to be included again. They are the life of the Faith in this country.

Frankly, the church has not failed if it makes open homosexuals or anyone else feel uncomfortable in their sin. That is a success. That is the church doing what it’s supposed to do.  But it has failed if it makes the faithful and the sincere feel unwelcome. This is the real problem, the real crisis.

I’ll pray Christian churches in this country always “include” the Truth, not liberal sexual dogmas or any other form of blasphemy.

As for you, I’ll pray you leave your sin behind and come to Christ remorseful and empty handed, ready to be His servant.

As for me, please pray I do the same.

God Bless.

 

Source

http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/no-christianity-should-not-welcome-or-include-your-sinful-lifestyle/

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.
Tom: Right.
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.
Tom: Yes.
Mark: Because he’s saying, “Okay, if doesn’t happen now, then it can’t happen for seven more years.”
Tom: Exactly.
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.
Tom: Right.
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!
Tom: Exactly!
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.
Tom: Amen!
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.

 

Why is the Church Powerless?

Part 1: Missing the Connection

By Pastor Anton Bosch

Anyone who is half-honest will admit that the church of the 21st century is powerless when compared to the church in the first century and at other times of great blessing. The problem is that making such a statement is akin to saying the emperor has no clothes since most feel quite content with their situation.

I know generalizations are exactly that, and I also freely admit that there are differences between the church in the West and other places where there still is a visible sense of God moving amongst His people. In broaching this topic we also have problems with terms, so allow me to define what I do, and do not, mean by power.

Power is not measured in noise, hype or even large numbers, just as the “anointing” is not measured in shouting, sweat and spit. Power cannot be measured in statistics, budgets, buildings or programs. A telling statement comes from a Third-World believer after visiting churches in the West: “It is amazing what the church in the West has been able to achieve without the Holy Spirit.”[1]

Power must be defined by the Scripture itself, and the definitive text is Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

This promise of the Lord Jesus is made manifest by the disciples in the book of Acts as “with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the

Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). This power is visible in sinners powerfully transformed, powerful preaching and, yes, powerful miracles. And yes, I am painfully aware that my own church and ministry fall into the category of the powerless!

The Greek word for “power” is dunamis. Many point out that the word “dynamite” stems from this word. While that is true, I do not believe that dynamite is what Jesus had in mind when He used this word, simply because

dynamite results in a huge explosion, the release of great power, and then destruction and silence in its wake. The word “dynamo” also comes from

the word dunamis. A dynamo generates a constant flow of (electrical) power. The dunamis of the Spirit should not result in a momentary explosion (as in some questionable “revivals”) but in a constant empowering from within –driving the individual and the church forward in the face of difficulties and attacks, empowering lives that powerfully witness to the power of the Gospel and the power of the Cross.

This stands in stark contrast to modern conversions that seem to be more about joining, behavior modeling, and superficial assimilation; preaching that is clever, eloquent and impressive, but that leaves the sinner and the rebel unconverted; and a reliance on medical science, hype and advertising as a replacement for miracles.

The decline in the manifestation of God’s power amongst His people cannot be ascribed to Cessationism, or Hyper-Dispensationalism. That there is a decline is beyond dispute, but the weakening of the church cannot have been part of God’s original design since the power of Acts 1:8 is intimately connected with the Great Commission, which has not yet been fulfilled. If the dunamis was specifically given to empower the witness of the church, and the Great Commission has not yet been withdrawn nor fulfilled, then the power must still be available.

Concerning the gifts, Harry Ironside said:

There are commentators who insist that some of

these gifts have absolutely disappeared, but I do not

know of any Scripture portion that tells us that. I

do not know of any passage that says that the age of

miracles has passed and I would not dare to say that

the sign gifts all ended with Paul’s imprisonment. I

know from early church history that this is not

true… Therefore I do not think it is correct to take

the position that these sign gifts have necessarily

disappeared from the church. I do, however, believe

that many of the gifts are not often seen today, and

I think there is good reason for that. In 2

Corinthians 11:2 the apostle wrote, “I have

espoused you… as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Paul

was writing to a separated company, the affianced

bride of the Lamb, and it was the delight of the

blessed risen Lord to lavish upon her gift after gift.

The Corinthians “[came] behind in no gift,”…

However, it seems to me that we can see in the

book of Acts that as time went on and the church

began to drift a little, and as dissension and other

things that grieved the Lord arose, there was more

reserve on His part in bestowing gifts. That, I

believe, explains the lack of many of these gifts

today. The church has gotten so far away from what

she should be and there is so much strife, division,

worldliness, and carnality that the Lord no longer

delights in lavishing His gifts as freely as He did in

the beginning.[2]

 

Before I continue I also need to make it clear that while we are solely responsible for our anemic state, God remains sovereign, and we cannot manufacture a revival by applying a formula by which God then becomes obliged to fulfill our wishes.

In a church I recently visited I was rebuked by an elder for not believing that we could absolutely bring about a revival as long as we simply prayed and believed hard enough![3] But we cannot control, manipulate or force God into doing anything. At best, we can simply obey Him and then trust Him to do what He alone wills. The revivalist who touts various formulas for revival is no different than the prosperity teacher, who believes we can bribe God to prosper him, or the Word of Faith evangelist, who believes that God is subject to his faith. To all these God simply becomes a puppet on a string that dances to the tunes of men.

But, at the same time, it is very evident that we can do much that would hinder the work of the Spirit and that would prevent the Lord from pouring out His blessings on us. One of the misconceptions taught during the last century is the idea that the Holy Spirit and the attendant power is a gift and, since a gift cannot be earned, God will pour His Spirit on anyone who asks, irrespective of the individual or church’s spiritual condition. Thus there have been accounts of unbelievers, drunkards, and other vile persons “filled with the Spirit”.

This is not the truth. There are clear conditions set for the receipt of the power of God.

Conditions to the Outpouring of the Spirit:

God does not give His Spirit to those who are disobedient to the Divine will. The Bible does not teach that God will bless and empower those who are disobedient but, on the contrary, there is a clear connection between our obedience and God’s blessings in general, and the empowering of the Holy Spirit in particular:

“… the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts

5:32).

Obedience obviously covers a huge area and would include things like holiness, obedience in ministry, and obedience to any of the many commands contained in the New Testament. The prime reason for a lack of power in the lives of individuals and churches is clear when one looks at the general disobedience so prevalent in churches today.

In John 14:15-16, Jesus said: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.” Jesus Himself predicates the giving of the Spirit on loving Him, and the consequent obedience that flows from such love.

Believers that love themselves, the world, pleasure, ease and comfort are clearly excluded from this promise, as are those who do not love Him sufficiently to obey Him.

These two principles – love and obedience – cover everything else. But under these main principles there are a number of other more specific conditions.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter said: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Notice again the conjunction “and” which indicates that receiving the Holy Spirit will happen once the conditions had been met. Baptism here is symbolic of obedience. However, repentance seems to be the first condition.

By repentance Peter was referring to two main areas in which repentance is necessary. We need to repent from religion void of the Cross. Peter was preaching to religious Jews but calls them to repent from their religiosity and to believe on the Lord Jesus. But clearly implied in the word “repent” is repentance from any form of sin and disobedience.

It is interesting that all great and true revivals are always accompanied and preceded by deep sorrow for, and repentance from, sin. The notion that the Lord will give His Spirit to a rebellious, sinful and unrepentant heart is utterly contrary to both Scripture and the holiness of God.

Also, leaders cannot demand that their followers repent if they themselves are not truly broken before God.

The connection between obedience, sanctification, and the presence of God is illustrated in Exodus 40:18-38 where the Tabernacle is a type of the individual believer, and also of the church.[4]

The text explains the final erection of the tabernacle and between verses 19-32; it says seven times that Moses did everything “as the Lord commanded Moses.”

Repeating that many times that Moses did as He was commanded is highly significant. Following these seven repetitions, verse 33 says: “So Moses finished the work.”

This statement is immediately followed by: “Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34, emphasis mine).

Note the clear connection between Moses’ obedience, completing the work as he had been commanded, and the descent of the Glory of the Lord.

One of the very real reasons the believer and the church are powerless is because of our disobedience and sin. God will simply not anoint our disobedience, laziness and sin. Many who desire the power of God in their lives, ministries, and churches also do not have it because they want it for the wrong reasons:

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:2-3).

Some want God’s power to make them look good, others want power over people, and others want power so their churches can grow for selfish reasons. While any reason other than the Lord’s will is bad, nothing is worse than those who want God’s power so they can make money out of it. This is not new.

Simon the sorcerer seemed to be motivated by ego and money, and was even willing to offer money to purchase the gift of God (Acts 8).

Even without the real anointing of God, there is still good money to be made in selling books, videos and conferences on revival. If the peddlers of such books were serious about wanting revival they would give the books away. Yet it is a lucrative segment of the Christian market.

Amazon.com lists over 1500 titles on “revival” and over 6200 on “renewal.”[5]

The Lord will never bless our greed, lust for power, or desire for the honor of men. The thousands of prayers going up every day for power for the sake of power are a stench in the nostrils of God and will forever go unanswered.

Only the desire for more of Him, and not just His gifts, will be answered. Once again there is little difference between those who follow the Lord for financial riches and those who follow Him for spiritual gifts – both are rooted in selfishness, a lack of gratitude for the Cross, and lack of true love for the Lord.

Those who have a pure motive pray that they may be consumed, broken and humbled in order to gain more of the Lord. They understand that when God’s fire falls, all of the flesh must be consumed. They are not only willing to pay that price, but they desire the loss of all that they may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Only those with the right motive pray John’s prayer: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Part 2: Blessed are the Thirsty

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters…” (Isaiah 55:1)

In addition to the need for obedience and holiness, our attitude also affects whether or not the Lord will pour His Spirit on us. The only attitude the Lord blesses and anoints is that of humility, brokenness and utter dependency on Him.

Just as those who are well do not need the physician, so are those who are self-sufficient. They feel they can make God do what they want and have no need the Lord’s power. Yes, they ask for the Lord’s blessing, but they do not really want it since deep down they feel quite adequate to do things for themselves. To make their situation worse, not only does God not support them in their self-sufficiency, but He is actually opposed to them: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

The problem is that if you feel you are humble then, by definition, you are not! Only those who recognize their pride have any chance of finding true humility, and thus receive the Lord’s blessing.

In the Beatitudes Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

(Matthew 5:3). The state of poverty of spirit is not only critical to receiving the Kingdom, but is vital to receiving anything from the Lord. Of course, all are poor, and there is no one who has anything to boast about (Romans 3:23). But the problem is that very few recognize their poverty and how much they need the Lord. This applies to every area of the Christian life, whether it is the sinner who recognizes his need for a Savior or the believer who understands that he has no strength in himself.

Sadly, the spirit of our age is that of the church of Laodicea which boasted, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” but of which the Lord said, “[You] do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

It seems most believers and churches are quite content in their lukewarmness and, like Laodicea, “do not know” how spiritually bankrupt they really are. Like the blind person who compensates for his disability though attuned senses of hearing and feeling, so the church compensates for its spiritual poverty through programs and hype. Like the bankrupt businessman who distorts his accounts and spends lavishly to hide his poverty, the church changes the way it evaluates its spiritual state and embarks on propaganda campaigns to speak of the “great blessing”.

Living in a false state of security and comfort is an old scam of false prophets: “For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace” (Jeremiah 8:11).

In like manner church leaders assure their congregations that they can see when they are blind, that they are rich when they are poor and that they are healthy when they are sick unto death!

Paul had learned that the real secret to power was not becoming more charismatic but realizing his great need and utter dependence on the Lord:

“And He said to me… My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2Corinthians 12:9-10).

May we, too, face our desperate need, and may it drive us to Him Who alone has any strength.

The first Beatitude (poor in spirit) inevitably leads to the second: “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Once we see ourselves the way we really are (the way the Lord sees us) it must lead to a great sorrow over our emptiness and lack of power and blessing. But no church wants to be in mourning– we all want to be celebrating and speaking joyfully about the non-existent “move of God” amongst us. Yet there is nothing more inappropriate than being joyful when mourning is required, and I see no reason for cheerfulness amongst the vast majority of churches today.

The gross sin in the church of Corinth should have reduced them to tears and repentance but instead they felt quite good about themselves (1Corinthians 5:2).

So, too, the powerlessness of modern Christians should bring them to a state of mourning over what has been lost, or never found. But rather there seems to be a general state of euphoria in spite of our utter poverty.

Mourning of a godly kind leads to comfort (Matthew 5:4). There is no better way to be comforted than through the comfort (strengthening) of the Comforter.

Just as knowledge of our poverty leads to mourning, so mourning will inevitably lead to hungering and thirsting: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

This beatitude speaks of thirsting for righteousness but the principle also applies to the Holy Spirit. Jesus also said: “‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive” (John7:37-39).

It begins with thirsting. If there is no acknowledgement of our great thirst, no awareness of our poverty, no sorrow over our spiritual bankruptcy and sin, then there will be no drinking at the Living Fountain. Yet churches are kept artificially satisfied through endless programs, events, entertainment and feel-good pep talks. They are dying of thirst but don’t even know it. It seems that the leaders are in cahoots with the devil to keep people from being divinely dissatisfied, remaining unaware that they are spiritually hungry and thirsty, lest they turn to the Lord Jesus for satisfaction.

In defense of leaders, many feel they must keep people happy to prevent them from going to the next church. Meanwhile the people don’t understand that the

solutions are not in the church down the street, but in the Lord Jesus alone.

Oh, that we would just recognize that the void within cannot be filled with more meetings, mindless entertainment, or anything else the world, or a worldly church, has to offer, but that God through His Spirit alone can satisfy the deep longing within. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalms 42:1-2).

“O GOD, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water” (Psalms 63:1).

Thirsting must drive us to Christ. Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37).

Jesus, and not the pastor, conference or Internet, is the source. How often when we thirst do we inevitably run to the counselors so they can affirm us, assure us that everything is okay, and tell us that there is no need to be stressed. When young Samuel first heard the Lord’s call he ran to Eli who assured him that he was not being called and told him to return to sleep. Every day pastors just as spiritually blind as Eli shush believers to sleep, assuring them that there is indeed no voice from heaven.

Pastors, prophets and visiting evangelists are not dispensers of the Spirit. Jesus alone is, and it is to Him alone we must turn and cry to be filled to overflowing. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts” (Revelation 21:6).

In coming to the Lord Jesus there is a need to wait (tarry) until we receive what we need. In Luke 11 Jesus teaches on the need for persistence in prayer (the man asking bread from his neighbor). He then tells us to ask and keep on asking, to seek and keep on seeking, and to knock and keep on knocking, which He then relates to the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13).

The message is clear; we need to ask until we receive. The problem is that most believers ask a few times, and maybe for a few minutes, and when they do not receive, they move onto the next thing on their agenda. Yet, it is clear from Luke 11 that we need to be persistent.

Jacob understood this principle when he wrestled with the Angel at the brook and said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” (Genesis 32:26). I do not see that kind of persistent wrestling with God anymore. Our instant religion has made us believe that if we don’t get what we want immediately and easily then we just need to move on to the next fast-food place or item on the menu. But God is not into fast food nor is He into instant gratification. It is not because He does not want to bless us, but because He knows we are fickle and often not really serious about our need for His blessing.

When He does not respond immediately, and we simply stop wrestling with Him, he says: “See, I did not give it to you because I knew you were not desperate and by giving up after five minutes of prayer you have proven that you are not serious about this.”

Just before Jesus ascended, “He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father…” (Acts 1:4). Previously, he had commanded them to go into the entire world, but now He told them not to move until they had received the Promise. They would wait for ten days and then, at the appointed time (when the day had fully come – Acts 2:1), the Promise was fulfilled.

I have often wondered what would have happened had they given up after a week or nine days. Ten days is a long time to wait, and others have waited even longer. Yet most believers cannot wait ten minutes, let alone ten hours, ten days or ten years. Unfortunately many Christians are like King Saul, who could not wait for Samuel to offer the sacrifice and so resorted to taking matters into his own hands, thus incurring the wrath of the Lord (1Samuel13).

As we persist in prayer, as we wait on the Lord, He in due time, will hear us and will pour out His blessing. Even if He does not, the time waiting on Him is not wasted but is precious, refreshing and empowering:

“He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. ” (Isaiah 40:29-31)

Endnotes:

[1] The origin of this statement is unknown but is variously attributed to

a Chinese and African believer.

[2] HA Ironside – Commentary on 1Corinthians 12 – 1938.

[3] In spite of these leaders regarding themselves as experts on revival

this church is literally falling apart at the seams. The less than a dozen

people are divided and bullied by the leaders who constantly berate them

for their lack of prayer, faith and results. The leaders are directly

responsible for this sad state of affairs, yet are arrogant and abusive as

they blame the church for failure for which they are personally

responsible.

[4] The Tabernacle is primarily a type of Jesus, but also of the church

and the believer.

[5] Searched by “Christian revival” and “Christian renewal” in order to

filter out secular books containing the terms “revival” or “renewal.”

 

February 2017
S M T W T F S
« Jan    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728  

Archives

a

Blog Stats

  • 1,344,510 hits

Donations

I do not ask or want donations for this free blog. God supplies all I need to share His Word and His Way of Salvation. Revelation 21:6 says, "..I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. "