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Have You Been Called As A Watchman? This is serious business.
“It is the work of ministers to give him warning, to say to the wicked, It shall be ill with thee, Isa. 3:11. God ways in general, The soul that sinneth it shall die. The minister’s business is to apply this to particular persons, and to say, “O wicked man! thou shalt surely die, whoever thou art; if thou go on still in thy trespasses, they will inevitably be thy ruin. O adulterer! O robber! O drunkard! O swearer! O sabbath-breaker! thou shalt surely die.’ And he must say this, not in passion, to provoke the sinner, but in compassion, to warn the wicked from hi way, warn him to turn from it, that he may live. This is to be done by the faithful preaching of the word in public, and by personal application to those whose sins are open.”
Matthew Henry Commentary Ezekiel 33:1-9
The prophet has now come off his circuit, which he went as judge, in God’s name, to try and pass sentence upon the neighbouring nations, and, having finished with them, and read them all their doom, in the eight chapters foregoing, he now returns to the children of his people, and receives further instructions what to say to them. He must let them know what office he was in among them as a prophet, that he was a watchman, and had received a charge concerning them, for which he was accountable (v. 1-9).
The prophet had been, by express order from God, taken off from prophesying to the Jews, just then when the news came that Jerusalem was invested, and close siege laid to it, ch. 24:27. But now that Jerusalem is taken, two years after, he is appointed again to direct his speech to them; and there his commission is renewed. If God had abandoned them quite, he would not have sent prophets to them; nor, if he had not had mercy in store for them, would he have shown them such things as these. In these verses we have,
I. The office of a watchman laid down, the trust reposed in him, the charge given him, and the conditions adjusted between him and those that employ him, v. 2, 6. 1. It is supposed to be a public danger that gives occasion for the appointing of a watchman-when God brings the sword upon a land, v. 2. The sword of war, whenever it comes upon a land, is of God’s bringing; it is the sword of the Lord, of his justice, how unjustly soever men draw it. At such a time, when a country is in fear of a foreign invasion, that they may be informed of all the motions of the enemy, may not be surprised with an attack, but may have early notice of it, in order to their being at their arms and in readiness to give the invader a warm reception, they set a man of their coast, some likely person, that lives upon the borders of their country, where the threatened danger is expected, and is therefore well acquainted with all the avenues of it, and make him their watchman. Thus wise are the children of this world in their generation. Note, One man may be of public service to a whole country. Princes and statesmen are the watchmen of a kingdom; they are continually to employ themselves, and, if occasion be, as watchmen, to expose themselves for the public safety. 2. It is supposed to be a public trust that is lodged in the watchman and that he is accountable to the public for the discharge of it. His business is, (1.) To discover the approaches and advances of the enemy; and therefore he must not be blind nor asleep, for then he cannot see the sword coming. (2.) To give notice of them immediately by sound of trumpet, or, as sentinels among us, by the discharge of a gun, as a signal of danger. A special trust and confidence is reposed in him by those that set him to be their watchman that he will faithfully do these two things; and they venture their lives upon his fidelity. Now, [1.] If he do his part, if he be betimes aware of all the dangers that fall within his cognizance, and give warning of them, he has discharged his trust, and has not only delivered his soul, but earned his wages. If the people do not take warning, if they either will not believe the notice he gives them, will not believe the danger to be so great or so near as really it is, or will not regard it, and so are surprised by the enemy in their security, it is their own fault; the blame is not to be laid upon the watchman, but their blood is upon their own head. If any person goes presumptuously into the mouth of danger, though he heard the sound of the trumpet, and was told by it where the danger was, and so the sword comes and takes him away in his folly, he is felo de se-a suicide; foolish man, he has destroyed himself. But, [2.] If the watchman do not do his duty, if he might have seen the danger, and did not, but was asleep, or heedless, or looking another way, or if he did see the danger (for so the case is put here) and shifted only for his own safety, and blew not the trumpet to warn the people, so that some are surprised and cut off in their iniquity (v. 6), cut off suddenly, without having time to cry, Lord, have mercy upon me, time to repent and make their peace with God (which makes the matter much the worse, that the poor creature is taken away in his iniquity), his blood shall be required at the watchman’s hand; he shall be found guilty of his death, because he did not give him warning of his danger. But if the watchman do his part, and the people do theirs, all is well; both he that gives warning and he that takes warning have delivered their souls.
II. The application of this to the prophet, v. 7, 9.
1. He is a watchman to the house of Israel. He had occasionally given warning to the nations about, but to the house of Israel he was a watchman by office, for they were the children of the prophets and the covenant They did not set him for a watchman, as the people of the land, v. 2 (for they were not so wise for their souls as to secure the welfare of them, as they would have been for the protection of their temporal interests); but God did it for them; he appointed them a watchman.
2. His business as a watchman is to give warning to sinners of their misery and danger by reason of sin. This is the word he must hear from God’s mouth and speak to them. (1.) God has said, The wicked man shall surely die; he shall be miserable. Unless he repent, he shall be cut off from God and all comfort and hope in him, shall be cut off from all good. He shall fall and lie for ever under the wrath of God, which is the death of the soul, as his favour is its life. The righteous God has said it, and will never unsay it, nor can all the world gainsay it, that the wages of sin is death. Sin, when it is finished, brings froth death. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven, not only against wicked nations, speaking ruin to them as nations, but against wicked persons, speaking ruin to them in their personal capacity, their personal interests, which pass into the other world and last to eternity, as national interests do not. (2.) It is the will of God that the wicked man should be warned of this: Warn them from me. This intimates that there is a possibility of preventing it, else it were a jest to give warning of it; nay, and that God is desirous it should be prevented. Sinners are therefore warned of the wrath to come, that they may flee from it, Mt. 3:7. (3.) It is the work of ministers to give him warning, to say to the wicked, It shall be ill with thee, Isa. 3:11. God ways in general, The soul that sinneth it shall die. The minister’s business is to apply this to particular persons, and to say, “O wicked man! thou shalt surely die, whoever thou art; if thou go on still in thy trespasses, they will inevitably be thy ruin. O adulterer! O robber! O drunkard! O swearer! O sabbath-breaker! thou shalt surely die.’ And he must say this, not in passion, to provoke the sinner, but in compassion, to warn the wicked from hi way, warn him to turn from it, that he may live. This is to be done by the faithful preaching of the word in public, and by personal application to those whose sins are open.
3. If souls perish through his neglect of his duty, he brings guilt upon himself. “If the prophet do not warn the wicked of the ruin that is at the end of his wicked way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; for, though the watchman did not do his part, yet the sinner might have taken warning from the written word, from his own conscience, and from God’s judgments upon others, by which his mouth shall be stopped, and God will be justified in his destruction.’ Note, It will not serve impenitent sinners to plead in the great day that their watchmen did not give them warning, that they were careless and unfaithful; for, though they were so, it will be made to appear that God left not himself without witness. “But he shall not perish alone in his iniquity; the watchman also shall be called to an account: His blood will I require at thy hand. The blind leader shall fall with the blind follower into the ditch.’ See what a desire God has of the salvation of sinners, in that he resents it so ill if those concerned do not what they can to prevent their destruction. And see what a great deal those ministers have to answer for another day who palliate sin, and flatter sinners in their evil way, and by their wicked lives countenance and harden them in their wickedness, and encourage them to believe that they shall have peace though they go on.
4. If he do his duty, he may take the comfort of it, though he do not see the success of it (v. 9): “If thou warn the wicked of his way, if thou tell him faithfully what will be the end thereof, and call him earnestly to turn from it, and he do not turn, but persist in it, he shall die in his iniquity, and the fair warning given him will be an aggravation of his sin and ruin; but thou hast delivered thy soul.’ Note, It is a comfort to ministers that they may through grace save themselves, though they cannot be instrumental to save so many as they wish of those that hear them.
From The BlueLetterBible
Except Ye Repent
By Dr. Harry Ironside
Chapter 16 – THE PREACHING THAT PRODUCES REPENTANCE
In all that I have written I have failed completely to express what was surging up in my soul if I have given anyone the impression that I think of repentance as something meritorious which must be produced in man by self-effort ere he is fit to come to God for salvation. On the other hand I hope I have made myself clear that it is the work of the Holy Spirit producing repentance, that leads any soul to come to Christ in order to be saved. The formula used by Paul the Apostle to describe the substance of his preaching ought to make this plain. He proclaimed to Jew and Gentile alike the necessity of “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Since this is the divine order it behooves those of us who seek to give the Gospel to a lost world to inquire as to the type of preaching that is best calculated to produce such results. In other words, what kind of message is needed to bring our hearers to repentance?
And in trying to answer this very proper inquiry let me first say that it is not necessary invariably to use the actual term “repentance” in order to bring about this very much to be desired effect. In many quarters men have attached to the words “repent” and “repentance” meanings that do not properly belong to them. So that there is the possibility that our hearers may altogether misunderstand us if we urge them, in so many words, to repent. They may imagine they must, by some effort of their own, produce that which entitles them to consider that they have attained a state where they are acceptable to God. This is not the truth as set forth in His Word, as every Bible-taught preacher well knows.
But, on the other hand, it is not wise to be too squeamish about the use of an expression which we have seen to be eminently scriptural, and which the Holy Spirit Himself has used in all dispensations. John the Baptist and our Lord, the Twelve Apostles and Paul, preached that men should repent and do works meet for repentance; yet in no case did the thought of anything meritorious on man’s part enter into it. Evidently the term used had not then been misapplied as it has been since. But what Biblical expression is there that has not been perverted in the interest of some false system throughout the so-called Christian centuries? Such words as regeneration, justification, sanctification, yes, and even the very word salvation itself, have all been grievously misused and the most unscriptural doctrines have been built upon them. Are we therefore to discard the terms themselves, or shall we not rather seek to present them in a right way, clarifying their meaning so far as we possibly can, in order that wrong conclusions may be averted?
So in the present case we want results. How best can men be brought to see their lost condition, and therefore to feel the need of the salvation God offers so freely in His blessed Son? In endeavoring so to preach as to bring this to pass we are not shut up to one method of presentation, however, though the message must always be the same. God has only one remedy for man’s lost condition and that is the Gospel of His grace. But the manner in which this is set forth may differ according to the circumstances and the state of mind of the people addressed. Thus Paul was made all things to all men if by any means he might save some. And a somewhat careful analysis of the few sermons recorded in the book of the Acts will show us how differently the truth was proclaimed upon different occasions.
Yet in one thing they all were alike — in each instance Christ was lifted up; His life. His death, His resurrection, His glorious return personally, and His power to save, were plainly set forth. The one solitary exception seems, at first glance, to be Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill, in Athens. But we need to remember that he was interrupted by a mocking crowd before he had opportunity to finish. He began by a logical, calmly reasoned attempt to prove the unity of the Godhead and so to stress the sin of idolatry — for he was addressing a heathen people — that they might realize their sin and folly. Then he announced that God, who in His patient grace had overlooked much of their past ignorance, “now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). He was now prepared to tell them more of the Lord Jesus and show how God had set Him forth as the one only Saviour. “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter” (v. 32). And so they turned contemptuously away, thus losing, perhaps forever, the opportunity of hearing the Gospel of the grace of God, unfolded in all its beauty and power.
In Peter’s sermons, on Pentecost and on the occasion of the healing of the lame man, he could bring directly home to his Jewish hearers their fearful guilt in rejecting the Redeemer whom God had sent, in accordance with the ancient oracles, to save and to bless by turning them away from their iniquities. In great power He pressed upon them their responsibility in regard to Jesus, a responsibility they could not possibly evade.
In each instance conviction seized upon many who listened, and they repented of the great sin of Christ-rejection, and identified themselves with Him whom now they owned as Lord and Saviour by being baptized in His Name.
In Cornelius’ house the method of presentation was somewhat different, for Peter was there addressing a Gentile group, but nevertheless a company who were through Jewish contact quite familiar with the hope of Israel. They had heard of Jesus, and of the treatment He had received at the hands of His own nation. Peter showed with all simplicity and clearness how every blessing was bound up with Him. He rehearsed the story of His wondrous life, His sacrificial death, and His triumph over the grave, climaxing all with the glorious message, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). During the time he was speaking the hearts of his listeners had been responding to the truth. When he made this declaration they, as one man, received the message and the Holy Spirit sealed and baptized them into the body of Christ.
It is true that repentance as such is not mentioned, but it is plainly implied. Turning from all else these Gentiles trusted alone in Christ.
Paul, in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia, followed a similar outline, and with amazing results. It is a model sermon for all who would endeavor to preach the Gospel today. There was no effort to be startling or original, no attempt at eloquence or rhetorical flourish, no pandering to the natural desire to win the approval of his audience. Solemnly, honestly, earnestly, he told the story of Jesus, and showed at the last that all hope for salvation was in Him and in Him alone: “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him, all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39). Then with a solemn warning of the judgment that must fall upon them if they spurned the message of grace, he brought his discourse to a close. The whole city seemed to be stirred by the sermon of the strange preacher, for the Gentiles begged that it might be repeated, at least in substance, to them on the next Sabbath, and the eventual result was that many were converted and a church established in that city ere the Apostle and his companions moved on.
It is noteworthy that so simple a method of presentation should be accompanied with such power. But where the preacher is truly a godly man and seeks in the fear of God to show his hearers their need and then presents Christ — His person and His work — as the all-sufficient answer to their need, the Holy Spirit can be depended on to use the Word in producing conviction and leading to repentance.
The Epistle to the Romans, while not merely a sermon or homily, but rather a careful treatise, is the fullest unfolding of the Christian message given us in the Scriptures. It is true that in this letter we have the Gospel taught rather than preached, and in a certain sense it is the evangel set forth for the clearing of saints instead of for the salvation of sinners, yet God has used it, in whole or in part, to lead thousands to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. He who would preach so as to produce these desirable results cannot do better than saturate his own soul and fill his own mind with the truth as therein set forth.
How much Augustine in the fourth century and Luther in the sixteenth owed to this Epistle! It is the cornerstone of New Testament theology and the battle-ground of the Reformation. From the day that the Vicar-general Staupitz drew the monk Martin’s attention to the key verse, “The just shall live by faith,” it began to open up to the troubled spirit of the earnest young priest, leading him to see the folly of trusting any righteousness of His own, and the blessedness of resting in the righteousness of God as revealed in the Gospel. This was repentance indeed, never to be repented of!
In the opening chapters the inspired writer brings all mankind, as it were, into the court-room, and proves that all are sinners and guilty before God. The ignorant heathen are not to be judged for rejecting a Saviour of whom they have never heard, but they are already lost and guilty because of their own sins and will be judged accordingly. He deals with these sins unsparingly and in this becomes an example for all who would faithfully minister the truth to the souls of sinful men.
In the first part of the second chapter he exposes the hypocrisy and wickedness of the more cultured, philosophic class who condemned and despised their more uncouth and barbaric fellows, while themselves slaves to enormities just as vile and abominable in the sight of God. Then he looks at the religious Jew, boasting in the Law and priding himself on being of the seed of Abraham, while his life is such that through him the Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles. He shows conclusively that none can ever hope to attain salvation on the ground of human merit or legal works, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek.” “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “There is none righteous, no, not one.” The Law which had been proposed as a test for life had proven to be but a ministry of death and of condemnation. By disobedience all have come under judgment. No future reformation could atone for the past. All the world is brought in guilty before God.
Then comes the wonderful setting-forth of the divine provision for man’s desperate need. “But now” — upon the proven unrighteousness of all men — “the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe.”
Thus the question that perplexed Socrates was answered five hundred years later. Puzzled, he exclaimed, “It may be, Plato, that the Deity can forgive sins, but I do not see how.” Christ’s vicarious atonement is the righteous basis upon which God “can be just and the justifier of him who believes on Jesus.”
Why waste time on substitutes that can never move the conscience and produce repentance when the Gospel is the dynamic of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth? This is the message for our unreal and hypercritical age, as truly as for every era of the past. Men talk of a new evangel for changing times. But the old story of Calvary still meets the needs of sinners — and Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. Thousands can bear witness that they never realized how utterly lost and ruined they were until they saw themselves in the light of the cross of Jesus. No wonder Paul declared, “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” The old hymn is right that says,
“I need no other argument,
I want no other plea.
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.”
Such was the Gospel of Luther, that set half Europe aflame with love for the Saviour and devotion to God. Such was the burning message of Whitefield, Edwards, and the Wesleys, that transformed untold thousands of lives in the days of the great awakening at the close of the eighteenth century.
Such was the story, which, told in living power by Jeremiah Meneely and his associates, shook Ireland and Scotland in the great revival of 1859-60.
Such was the trumpet call of Caughey and Finney and later of Dwight L. Moody, that brought tens of thousands to repentance in the mighty visitations of the nineteenth century in America and Britain.
Such was the forceful evangel of Reuben A. Torrey, J. Wilbur Chapman, and a host of other stalwarts as they visited Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and every corner of America in the early years of the present century.
Such was the flaming proclamation of that prince of preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon, as for a generation he ministered by tongue from his London pulpit, and by pen, to millions throughout the entire world.
“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell” of Munhall, of A.C. Dixon, of Gypsy Smith, of Billy Sunday, of Mel Trotter, of the Stevens brothers, of Mordecai Ham, and scores of like-minded men of God, who in power have set forth men’s sinfulness and God’s great salvation through Christ’s redemptive work, and thereby moved myriads to repentance.
The Salvation Army’s marvellous success, in bringing the very vilest to find newness of life when they turned as confessed sinners to Christ, certainly did not rest upon a carefully reasoned out theology preached in cultured phraseology, but in stressing the awfulness of sin and its dreadful penalty, and the wondrous grace that provides deliverance for all who will come to the Saviour and find cleansing in His blood.
How pitiable it is to see men, who ought to be winners of souls, turning away from this grand old Gospel to the vapid puerilities of what is vaingloriously termed modern thought, and being content to preach on year after year without ever seeing a tear of repentance drop from the eyes of their hearers or moving any to cry in distress, “What must I do to be saved?”
Back to the Gospel, brethren, if like the men of God throughout the centuries who have turned many to righteousness, you would bring men to repentance and lead them to heaven. This will never result from substituting a social service gospel, which is really no gospel at all, but an attempt to make the cross of Christ of none effect. By saying this I do not mean for one moment to cast a slur upon well-meant efforts to ameliorate conditions under which millions of our fellow men are struggling. Everywhere that the pure evangel has found lodgment in human hearts it has bettered the social environment into which it has found its way. Even unsaved men profit by the love and grace set forth in the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. Men are ashamed to do in the light what they will do unblushingly in the dark, and so the Gospel has curbed many social evils and bettered living conditions, wherever it has been received.
Of old it was said of Paul and his companions when they entered a certain city, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” The trouble with this fallen world is that it is wrong side up. It needs to be turned upside down in order to be right side up. And twenty centuries of missions and evangelistic testimony have demonstrated the glorious fact that civilization always follows in the wake of the story of the cross, and men learn to think kindlier of one another and to be concerned about the welfare of their fellows when the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto them.
To take the position, as many who are hailed as “great thinkers” do today, that we are not to be so much concerned about individual salvation as we are to seek the social regeneration of the nations, is to be false to our commission, and is a case of sadly misplaced emphasis. Man is made for eternity. His few years here on earth are but as a moment in contrast to that which is to come and which lies beyond the grave. It is of all importance to every individual that he be properly oriented to his Creator — in other words that he be right with God — then all other necessary things will follow.
I recall hearing William Booth, the first general of the Salvation Army say, when explaining his “Darkest England” scheme, that its real objective was, not just the amelioration of social conditions, but first and foremost the bringing of men to repentance that their souls might be saved. I can recall the flash in his eye, and the noble bearing of his commanding figure as he exclaimed, “Take a man from the filth and squalor of the slums, exchange his rags for decent clothing, move him from the stifling stench of the city tenement to a neat little cottage in the pure air of the country, put him on his feet economically where he can make a decent living for himself and his family, and then let him die in his sins, unsaved, and be lost forever at last — really it is not worth while, and I, for one, would not attempt it.”
Godliness has “promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” But the only way one can enter into godliness is by turning to God as a repentant sinner and receiving the Saviour He has provided in the Gospel. Therefore the crying need of our degenerate times is for a revival of true old-fashioned, Christ-centered, Bible preaching that will call upon all men everywhere to repent in view of that coming day when God will judge the world in righteousness by His Risen Son.
[Dr. Harry Ironside (1876-1951), a godly Fundamentalist author and teacher for many years, served as pastor of Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church from 1930-1948]
Except Ye Repent
By Dr. Harry Ironside
Chapter 15 – CITY-WIDE REPENTANCE
While repentance is distinctly an individual exercise, yet we have in the Word of God, as we have already seen, churches called upon to repent, and we learn from our Lord’s words, in Matthew 12:41 and Luke 11:32, of the repentance of a city: “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it; because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.”
This is most suggestive, particularly in view of the failure of the cities wherein Christ had done most of His wondrous miracles, to turn to God. “If,” He declared, “the mighty works which have been done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes.” This was one of the passages that caused great distress of mind and absolute bewilderment to the sensitive souls of Charlotte Bronte and her gifted sisters. If Tyre and Sidon would have repented under such circumstances, why did not a loving God give them a similar testimony in order that they might have been saved from destruction? One answer of course is, that the men and women of these ancient cities will be judged at last only for rejecting the light they had, and not on the ground of knowledge they did not possess.
But from these Scriptures we learn that a city in God’s sight is a responsible entity, and that He holds it accountable to obey His word and walk in His truth. This raises a question as to how far ministers of Christ ought to concern themselves about the sins of the cities wherein they labor, and to what extent they should lift up their voices against the evils of the day, when tolerated by those in authority. Many preachers take the ground that the servant of God is to confine himself wholly to explaining the Gospel and to calling individual sinners to repentance. The Lord will deal with civic unrighteousness in His own way and time, we are told, and it is best that pastors and evangelists ignore what it is not in their province or power to correct.
And yet God has unquestionably set His seal in a remarkable manner upon the efforts of some of His honored servants who in their day and generation battled against entrenched wickedness in civic and national affairs. Think of the influence exerted for righteousness by Savonarola in Florence, Calvin in Geneva, Luther in Erfurt, Knox in Edinburgh, Wesley in London and all England, and a host of like-minded men who cried out unflinchingly against the iniquities of the times in which they lived. It is written, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth.” But our own Dr. Charles H. Parkhurst, whose name was a terror to privileged sin, well exclaimed, “But they go a lot faster when the righteous get after them.”
The prophets of old were set by God over cities and peoples and nations to call them to account for their evil-doing and to summon them to prepare to meet their God. The Saviour, as we have noted, dealt with cities as such, and nothing is more pathetic than His lament over unrepentant Jerusalem: “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:41-44). Link with this His impassioned cry as recorded in Matthew 23:37-39: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Surely none can read such passages as these without recognizing the civic consciousness of Jesus. He yearned over men, not only as individuals needing personal salvation, but as community groups which would be blest on earth if they would only heed God’s Word and repent.
To many of us the story of the repentance of Nineveh is far more wonderful than that of the miracle of Jonah and the sea monster. People object to the latter as being unheard of elsewhere and so contrary to ordinary human knowledge that it is unbelievable. But where else in all human history do we find a great, godless, pleasure-loving city brought to its knees as in the case of Nineveh? If it were not written in the Word of God and so definitely authenticated by our Lord Himself (as also the instance of the experience of Jonah) we might hesitate to credit it. But here it is, solemnly recorded on the pages of Holy Writ.
A great city containing “six score thousand souls that knew not their right hand from their left” — that is, little children — must have had a very large adult population indeed. This vast throng were given over to impiety and wickedness of such gross nature that God could tolerate it no longer and sent His prophet to announce its summary destruction. As in the case of the cities of the plain, whose stench had reached to heaven, He would blot Nineveh from the face of the earth. But the Word of the Lord came home so convincingly to the hearts of the King and his councilors of state that they not only repented themselves, but called upon all in the city to do the same. The results were unparalleled in the history of religious revivals. The entire populace fell down before the Lord in sackcloth and ashes bemoaning their sins and crying for mercy. And God heard and pardoned — much to the disgust of Jonah, who was more concerned about his own prophetic reputation than about the salvation of an entire people.
Perhaps the nearest thing to this in secular history is the story of Savonarola and Florence, Italy. The impassioned monk, moved to deepest concern by the lasciviousness, the licentiousness, and the godless luxury of the Florentines, inveighed against the city, threatening dire judgment from heaven if there were no repentance, and moved the populace almost as one man. Drawing his messages largely from the last solemn book of the Bible, he preached in the Duomo month after month expository addresses on the Apocalypse. The awful figures of judgment depicted therein he declared to be about to find their fulfillment upon the Florentines and all Italy unless the people repeated and turned from their corrupt behavior.
Nobles, merchants, and laborers alike felt the power of his words and at his call they brought their treasures of gold, jewels, and objects of art and piled them in the public square at his feet, to be sold or distributed for the relief of the poor and needy. The churches were crowded with penitent suppliants confessing their sins and seeking divine forgiveness. For a time at least the city was largely purged from its iniquity and men realized their responsibility to seek to glorify God in their lives and with their means instead of living in lusts and pleasures on the earth.
It is true Savonarola was burned at the stake in the end, because of the hatred of a corrupt clergy; in that he but shared the baptism of his Lord and participated in His cup of sorrow. He was, undoubtedly, the most Christlike man of his generation, and he suffered as his Master suffered because he was a witness to the truth. His own words were really prophetic: “A Christian’s life consists in doing good and suffering evil.” After the lapse of centuries the church that decreed his martyrdom honored him as one of its outstanding apostles. Like Israel of old, the fathers slew him and the children built his sepulcher. So it ever is in this inconstant world.
Calvin’s outward regeneration of Geneva is another marked instance of the power of the Word — when faithfully proclaimed — to influence civic life. Unhappily there was a great deal of Old Testament legality about it all, and like most men “who really amount to anything, Calvin made some stupendous blunders, as in the case of Servetus, for which the world has never forgiven him. But his influence throughout was on the side of righteousness and truth, and for this he will be remembered forever and shine as the stars eternally.
Macaulay declared that the Wesleyan revival saved England from the horrors of anarchy and revolution. Yet Wesley’s great work was preaching the Gospel and calling sinners to repentance. That message stirred London and the other great cities of Britain to their depths, and even where it did not result in actual conversion to God it made people ashamed of the enormities they had condoned in church and state and led to a national renovation that was an untold blessing to millions.
Jonathan Edwards’ clarion call to repentance and faith in God meant more to the young American nation than can now be computed. He put the fear of the Lord in men’s hearts and this largely molded the character of the fathers of the republic.
After the terrible war between the states the voice of D.L. Moody was heard throughout the land, and across the seas, arousing, heartening, and bringing spiritual deliverance to many thousands who had lost all that life held dear. Accounted Chicago’s most prominent and most valued citizen for a generation, his influence for good in that great city was simply marvellous and, though more than another generation has passed since his voice was hushed in death, “he being dead yet speaketh” and his influence is perhaps greater today than when he was alive. His favorite text was, “He that doeth the will of God abideth for ever,” and since his death the truth of this has been increasingly manifest.
Observe carefully that these men, and many others whose names might be added to the illustrious list, wrought their works of power, not by mixing in political squabbles, but by faithfully preaching the Word of God, denouncing sin fearlessly and persistently, enjoining men to repent or face high Heaven in judgment, exalting Christ Jesus as the only Saviour and the supreme example for all who professed to follow Him, and insisting that outward forms and ceremonies could never satisfy an offended God. There must be true self-judgment, a turning to God from idols to serve Him wholly and to wait for His Son from heaven.
Such preaching inevitably produces results in reformation of life and purification of civic relationship. When the conscience is reached and the will is so captivated by grace that men turn to the Lord and cleave to Him with purpose of heart, all other desirable results will soon manifest themselves.
What is needed in every city of every land is, not a mere “new deal” or a political reformation, but preachers of righteousness who will proclaim the Word of God, crying, “Thus saith the Lord,” without fear or favor, faithfully dealing with the problems of the day in the light of the cross of Christ.
So long as ministers are afraid to expose the vices of the rich lest their collections shrink, or fear to cry aloud and spare not regarding such entrenched evils as the ruthless exploitation of labor, the horrors of prostitution, and the abominations of the liquor traffic, lest they offend some who perhaps directly or indirectly derive a part of their income from these very sources, the world will only despise them and think of them as what they really are, conscienceless sycophants toadying to the wealthy while they attempt superciliously to patronize the poor for outward effect.
On the other hand the clerical demagogue, blatantly advocating godless schemes for the renovation of society that involve, if successful, the very destruction of the church of God itself, is beneath contempt. These men, as a rule, are unsaved and do not even pretend to be born again. Their place, if anywhere, is on the lecture platform, not in the pulpit which they degrade by their utterances. It is one of the amazing signs of our times that in many churches communistic propaganda and similar unscriptural plans for overturning the present unsatisfactory order of society are not only tolerated but applauded. Yet Sovietism is the avowed enemy of God and His Christ, and churches that nurture these enemies of the cross are sheltering in their bosoms vipers that if not sternly dealt with will sting them to death in the end.
Real Christianity is the truest friend the laboring man will ever know. It provides for happiness, not only in this life, but in the life that is to come. It respects sacredly the natural rights of all men, exhorting the rich to use their wealth for the blessing of their fellows and guiding the poor into paths of contentment and peace. The Gospel received makes the only real brotherhood that the world has ever seen. Tolstoi, disappointed to find how powerless his plausible theories were to move the hearts of men, exclaimed sadly, “I found out that there could never be a brotherhood without brothers.” This is the great secret many of our Christless social reformers have never yet learned. Did ministers everywhere realize it, they would cease trying to work from the outside in, and would begin at once to work from the inside out. There will never be a regenerated society without regenerated individuals. Hence our Lord’s stress on the heavenly birth: “Except a man be born again he cannot see [nor enter] the kingdom of God.”
This Kingdom is not, as many religious leaders would have us believe, simply an idealistic state of human society. It is the aggregate of those who have humbled themselves before God as repentant sinners and received the Lord Jesus Christ as their own personal Saviour: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1st Peter 1:23-25).
Let all God-anointed preachers proclaim anew what Spurgeon called “the three R’s,” Ruin, Regeneration, and Redemption, and we may hope to see again, not only individuals, but whole communities brought to repentance.
To this end we need to get back to our Bibles and back to our knees. Let prayer meetings be re-established in churches where for years there has not been spiritual fervor sufficient to maintain them, and all kinds of entertainments have been substituted in their place. Let the Word of God be given its rightful place, and let ministers and people cease criticizing and sitting in judgment upon it; but, instead, let them study it carefully in dependence on the Holy Spirit for divine illumination. In the light of that Word let our manner of life be sternly judged, putting away every known evil and confessing our past sin and failure. Then may we expect God to be gracious, to grant repentance unto life to cities long given over to our modern paganism, and so to bring again times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.
The days are dark. The need is urgent. Men are dying all about us in their sins. The Gospel is still the power of God unto salvation. Let it be faithfully preached, and it will do its work as of old. Nothing else has the same attractive power or will appeal so winsomely to the weary hearts and troubled souls of the men, women, and children, who make up our great, godless cities, whose appalling need should be a challenge to every preacher of the Word.
[Dr. Harry Ironside (1876-1951), a godly Fundamentalist author and teacher for many years, served as pastor of Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church from 1930-1948]
If you truly believe a man, you believe all that he says. He who does not believe that God will punish sin, will not believe that God will pardon it through the atoning blood. He who does not believe that God will cast unbelievers into hell, will not be sure that he will take believers into heaven. If we doubt God’s Word about one thing, we shall have small confidence in it upon another thing. Sincere faith in God must treat all God’s Word alike; for the faith which accepts one word of God and rejects another is evidently not faith in God, but faith in our own judgment, faith in our own taste. Only that is true faith which believes everything that is revealed by the Holy Spirit, whether it be joyous or distressing…I charge you who profess to be the Lord’s not to be unbelieving with regard to the terrible threatenings of God to the ungodly. Believe the threat, even though it should chill your blood; believe, though nature shrinks from the overwhelming doom; for, if you do not believe, the act of disbelieving God about one point will drive you to disbelieve him upon the other parts of revealed truth, and you will never come to that true, child-like faith which God will accept and honour. . .
At times you and I are assailed as to our faith in the Bible, by people who say, “How do you make that out? It is in the Scriptures, certainly, but how do you reconcile it with science?” Let your reply be—We no longer live in the region of argument as to the Word of the Lord; but we dwell in the realm of faith. We are not squabblers, itching to prove our superiority in reasoning, but we are children of light, worshipping our God by bowing our whole minds to the obedience of faith. We would be humble, and learn to believe what we cannot altogether comprehend, and to expect what we should never have looked for, had not the Lord declared it. It is our ambition to be great believers, rather than great thinkers; to be child-like in faith, rather than subtle in intellect. We are sure that God is true!…We stagger not at the Word of God, because of evident improbability and apparent impossibility. What the Lord has spoken he is able to make good; and none of his words shall fall to the ground.
taken from: Noah’s Faith, Fear, Obedience, and Salvation, Sermon No. 2147, Delivered on Lord’s-day Morning, June 1st, 1890, by C. H. Spurgeon.
Except Ye Repent
By Dr. Harry Ironside
Chapter 10 – THEY REPENTED NOT
More than once in the Holy Scriptures we are distinctly told that God speaks to men in the wonders of creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard” (Psalm 19:1-3). Yet nature in itself, beautiful as it is in some things and unspeakably terrible in others, is not sufficient to bring guilty man to repentance. The marvels of the universe ought to convince any thoughtful mind that back of all this amazing machinery is a Creator and a controlling Master Hand to whom every intelligent being owes allegiance. But something more is needed to subdue the sinner’s proud spirit and bend his haughty will to submission, and it is here that the work of the Holy Spirit comes in, acting in power upon the conscience of the godless soul.
We have seen that, while the goodness of God was designed to lead man to repentance, yet, experiencing all the benefits of that goodness, men drifted farther and farther along the downward way that leads eventually to everlasting ruin. It is one of the facts hardest to explain that people who are grateful to their fellows for the smallest favors can yet be recipients of God’s goodness daily, and that in ten thousand different ways, and still ignore completely the Giver of all good forgetting that “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
We need not therefore be surprised that, on the other hand, the judgments of God expressed through what many regard simply as natural calamities also fail, in themselves, to produce repentance, even though they may fill men with fear, horror, and anxiety. Our Lord when predicting conditions that will prevail immediately before His return describes a world in chaotic upheaval, nation rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom, on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, earthquakes in many places, the sea and the waves roaring, men’s hearts failing them for fear for looking after those things which are coming on the earth — yet no intimation of repentance because of sin and a turning to God for deliverance.
It was so in olden days. The prophet Amos furnishes us with a striking picture of the dire circumstances that Israel passed through in the days of her apostasy; but the horrors of famine, the loathsomeness of the plague, and the destruction wrought by fire, storm, and earthquakes, all alike failed to produce repentance. In this connection we cannot do better than read carefully a part of his fourth chapter, verses 6-12:
“And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.”
These sore judgments are similar in character, though not nearly so severe, as those predicted to fall upon Christendom in the last days, when transgressions have come to the full. And in that day, just as when in God’s long-suffering toward Thyatira, He “gave her space to repent” and she repented not, so, three times over, we find the same thing declared concerning those who shall experience the sorrows of the tribulation era. In Revelation, after we pass the third chapter, we have a series of visions in which is set forth most graphically the climax of the age-long struggle between the forces of evil and those of righteousness. Often has it seemed to the doubting and half-hearted that the victory over sin was never to be won, but that the powers of darkness grew even stronger at times than they had been before. But faith could ever look forward to the triumph of the Lamb and His hosts over the dragon and his deluded followers. In these great visions the final outcome is clear — “A king shall reign in righteousness”; yea, righteousness shall cover the earth as the waters cover the great deep.
But ere that time there will come the last terrific struggle, when the wrath of God and of the Lamb shall be revealed from heaven, and the wrath of the devil will be manifested on the earth as never before. Ungodly men caught in the vortex of this dynamic crash of opposing forces will have to suffer indescribable anguish, if they persist in high-handed opposition to the Kingdom of God. But all that they shall be called upon to endure will fail to work repentance in their hearts.
However one may interpret the ninth chapter of the Apocalypse, there can be no question that it is a portent of a condition unspeakably evil which will prevail upon earth for a time, inflicting terrible physical and mental suffering upon men, and destroying millions of the race. Then note the solemn words of verses 20 and 21: “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” It is evident that suffering does not necessarily produce repentance. Twice it is so stated in these two verses.
Advocates of the larger hope and universalists generally insist that all punishment is remedial and that eventually God will perfect through suffering all who now reject His grace. This passage lends itself to no such delusive dream. Those who are to endure the horrors of the judgments here depicted are not thereby brought to confess their sins and seek divine forgiveness. Instead, they harden themselves against God and persist in their immoral and ungodly behavior.
Yet it cannot be denied that suffering has had a very salutary effect on many people; but this does not refute the position taken above. When the grace of God co-operates with the trying circumstances to bring one to a sense of his personal need, his unworthiness of the divine favor, and his dependence on God for that which alone can enable him to rise above the adverse conditions in which he finds himself, suffering will be used to produce repentance. But where this is not the case it results in greater hardness of heart just as the same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay.
A kindred passage to that we have already been considering is Revelation 16:10-11: “And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.”
Here we see that the most intense anguish, instead of producing repentance, only hardens men in their sins and in fact leads them to add to the enormity of their guilt by blasphemously blaming God Himself for the distress which their own unholy ways have involved them in.
Again and again we have seen this principle exemplified in actual life. The student of history will recall how in past centuries, when wars, famines, and pestilences have decimated whole nations, the survivors in most cases have become worse rather than better. One thinks of the days of the plague in Paris in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when terror seized the populace, yet there was a turning from, instead of to, God, and the frenzied citizens plunged into all kinds of vile excesses and orgies of infamy in order to help them to forget the ever present danger.
If a small minority sought after God and recognized that the plague was His voice calling them to repentance, it was only because of His grace working in their hearts. And now that science has demonstrated the possibility of conquering such dire visitations as yellow fever, cholera, and bubonic plague by proper sanitation and extermination of vermin, the majority in place of gratefully owning the Creator’s goodness in making known such things to His creatures, that they may protect themselves against disease and physical suffering, actually deride religion and scorn the Word of the Lord, supposing that increased scientific knowledge has made the concept of an intelligent Creator and an overruling Deity unnecessary, if not altogether absurd.
In view of the well attested saying, that “character tends to permanence,” we may readily see what place these considerations should have as we contemplate what the Holy Scriptures reveal concerning the eternal destiny of those who leave this world impenitent and unreconciled to God. We would all like to believe that there is something cleansing in the great change called death, so that eventually all men will attain the beatific vision and become pure and holy, purged from all earth stains and fitted for fellowship with the infinitely righteous One. But the Scriptures positively declare the very opposite. There we learn of two ways to die and two destinies afterwards, according to the state of those who pass from time into eternity. The Lord Jesus Himself has said, “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). And in verse 21 He declares, “Whither I go, ye cannot come.” In Revelation 14:13 we read: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.”
Observe the vivid contrasts here. Some die in their sins; others die in the Lord. Those who die in their sins never go where Christ is; those who die in the Lord enter into rest and are rewarded for their devotion to their Redeemer. There is no hint that some post-mortem method of purification will be found whereby the first class will be brought to repentance and so to turn to Christ for the salvation they spurned on earth. And those who are in the Lord will never be in danger of apostatizing from the faith and losing at last the knowledge of the divine approval.
The solemn words of the Revelation 22:11, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still,” make this position doubly sure. Instead of death leading to a continued probation, we find that it rather settles forever the state of the saved and also of the lost. Character remains unchanged thereafter. The righteous continue righteous. The unrighteous continue in their unrighteousness. The holy remain holy for eternity. The unclean are defiled forever. And the reason is that the saved will then be fully conformed to the image of God’s Son, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, while the unsaved will, by their own refusal to heed the message of grace, have become hardened in their sin so that they will be beyond all possibility of repenting.
“Sow an act, you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, you reap a character;
Sow a character, you reap a destiny.”
Our Lord’s story of the rich man and Lazarus has been treated by some as a parable solely, and by others as all intensely literal; while many see in it a true story in which figurative language is employed in part when describing the unseen world. But however one may take it, the solemn figure of “a great gulf fixed” and forever impassible either by those who would go from hell to paradise, or from paradise to hell, remains suggestive. It was surely intended to teach the impossibility that anything the wicked might suffer in another world would lead them to repent of their sins and seek to get right with God. The great lesson the Lord meant to impress upon every listener was the importance of repenting here and now, and not indulging the vain hope of some after-death purgatorial cleansing that would accomplish for the one who died impenitent what the believer may know on earth when he takes God at His word. “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” And if men now spurn the grace of God, trample on the blood of Christ, and do despite to the Holy Spirit, God Himself apparently has no other resources upon which to draw, no other means of bringing hardened sinners to repentance than are now in operation.
This accounts for the few among aged Christ-rejecters who repent ere called to give account to God. No one who has worked much in government hospitals, prisons, and other public institutions, where he has had to contact large numbers of hoary-headed sinners, can fail to realize how exceedingly difficult it is to deal with them about eternal things. Often has my very blood seemed to freeze in my veins as some aged blasphemer has cursed me for my temerity in seeking to tell him of Christ. Never have I heard such torrents of vile words poured forth from human lips as when such a one has openly expressed his hatred for God and his contempt for all things holy. One could not but realize that years of persistency in sin had hardened the heart and seared the conscience as with a hot iron, so that all desire for anything better had seemingly passed away, reminding one of the awful description of lost souls given in Revelation 18:14, where a literal translation would read, “the fruit season of thy soul’s desire has gone from thee.”
In the light of these considerations, how earnestly ought we who know Christ ourselves to seek after the lost and endeavor now, while the day of grace lingers, to bring men to repentance that they might come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and in turn be His messengers to others. But if we would do this we must be wise evangelists, not soothing unrepentant sinners to sleep with a “simple gospel” that has no place in it for showing them their great need, ere attempting to present the Remedy.
To Jeremiah God said, as we noticed in an earlier chapter, “Break up your fallow ground, sow not among thorns.” The ploughshare of God’s truth must needs break up hard hearts if we would hear men crying in anxiety, “What must I do to be saved?” When they see their lost condition they will be ready to appreciate the salvation provided in grace.
This is what our forefathers in the Gospel ministry called “law-preaching.” It was the application of the righteous commands of God to the souls of their hearers, in order that “sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” We may possibly have a better understanding of “the dispensation of the grace of God” than some of them, but do we get as good results from our so-called “clear Gospel sermons” as they did from their sterner preaching? We are apt to be so occupied with the doctrinal presentation of the Biblical truth of justification by faith alone that we forget the indifference of the masses to this or any other supernatural message, and so we really fail where we hoped to help. Never be afraid to insist on man’s responsibility to glorify God, and to drive home to his conscience the fact of his stupendous failure. Where there is no sense of sin, there will be no appreciation of grace. Do not daub with untempered mortar. Do not be in such a hurry to get to Romans 3:21 that you pass lightly and hastily over the great indictment of the entire human race in the preceding chapters. There is a world of meaning in Mary’s words: “He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.” It is the “poor in spirit” who appreciate the “riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”
Our Lord Himself has told us, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” And we may be certain that only a sense of their sinfulness will lead any to avail themselves of the skill of the Great Physician. I have already said that this does not mean that men must pass through a certain amount of soul trouble or feel just so much compunction for sin ere they can be saved. But it does mean that men who have sinned with impunity, who have forgotten God, who have scoffed at His grace, or have trusted in a fancied righteousness of their own, should be brought through the Word and Spirit of God to a changed attitude that will make them eager for the salvation so freely offered.
An evangelist had noticed a careless young woman who throughout his preaching had giggled and chattered to an equally thoughtless youth. At the close an overzealous and most unwise “personal worker” stopped the girl at the door and asked, “Won’t you trust in Jesus tonight?” Startled, she replied, “Yes I will.” He directed her to the well known verse, John 3:16, and read it to her: “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.” “Do you believe that?” he inquired. “Sure, I believe it all,” was the ready reply. “Then, don’t you see, God says you have eternal life?” “O sure, I guess I must have,” she answered with nonchalance and passed out the door. Elated the young worker hurried to the evangelist with the information that “Miss — found peace tonight.” “Peace!” exclaimed the preacher. “Did she ever find trouble?” It was a good question. Far too many are talked into a false peace by ill-instructed persons who would not know what David meant when he exclaimed, “The pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow” (Psalm 116:3). It is the troubled soul who comes to Christ for rest.
How important that such should be urged to immediate decision lest, resisting the Spirit of God as He strives with them, they at last reach the place where they are given up to hardness of heart and “find no place of repentance,” though seeking it with tears. It is not that God will refuse to give repentance, but that there comes a time when it is too late to seek to change conditions that have become settled.
[Dr. Harry Ironside (1876-1951), a godly Fundamentalist author and teacher for many years, served as pastor of Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church from 1930-1948]
WHY BIRDS DON’T NEED SOCKS
This is a departure from my usual posts but this is something I have wondered about for a long time.
– The following is from Creation Moments, November 7, 2011, www.creationmoments.com:
“Have you ever watched ducks out on an icy lake paddling around in the near-freezing water? They will spend much of the day in that one spot with the temperature well below freezing, and yet the cold doesn’t seem to bother them. Perhaps on shore there are some sparrows hopping around in the snow. One wonders: Why don’t birds need shoes and socks? If you or I ran around with bare feet and legs when the temperature was below freezing, it would not be very long before we had a good case of frostbite. We could even lose so much body heat that our very lives would be threatened.
Birds have a network of arteries that all blood going into their legs must enter. These arteries are interwoven with the veins returning from the foot. When the blood going to the foot enters this structure, called a ‘wonder net,’ its temperature is 106 degrees Fahrenheit. The blood returning from the foot at the same time is only 37 degrees. The warm blood passing through the net reheats the cold blood coming from the foot before it enters the body. The result is that the bird loses very little body heat. So the blood going into the foot never becomes dangerously cold in normal winter weather.
The wisdom of this design is obvious. Could birds have survived having their feet frozen off before they learned to evolve this special arrangement? Our only conclusion can be that there is a Creator who cares for all of His creation, including you and me!”
From Got Questions?
“Why does God allow evil?”
Answer: The Bible describes God as holy (Isaiah 6:3), righteous (Psalm 7:11), just (Deuteronomy 32:4), and sovereign (Daniel 4:17-25). These attributes tell us the following about God: (1) God is capable of preventing evil, and (2) God desires to rid the universe of evil. So, if both of these are true, why does God allow evil? If God has the power to prevent evil and desires to prevent evil, why does He still allow evil? Perhaps a practical way to look at this question would be to consider some alternative ways people might have God run the world:
1) God could change everyone’s personality so that they cannot sin. This would also mean that we would not have a free will. We would not be able to choose right or wrong because we would be “programmed” to only do right. Had God chosen to do this, there would be no meaningful relationships between Him and His creation.
Instead, God made Adam and Eve innocent but with the ability to choose good or evil. Because of this, they could respond to His love and trust Him or choose to disobey. They chose to disobey. Because we live in a real world where we can choose our actions but not their consequences, their sin affected those who came after them (us). Similarly, our decisions to sin have an impact on us and those around us and those who will come after us.
2) God could compensate for people’s evil actions through supernatural intervention 100 percent of the time. God would stop a drunk driver from causing an automobile accident. God would stop a lazy construction worker from doing a substandard job on a house that would later cause grief to the homeowners. God would stop a father who is addicted to drugs or alcohol from doing any harm to his wife, children, or extended family. God would stop gunmen from robbing convenience stores. God would stop high school bullies from tormenting the brainy kids. God would stop thieves from shoplifting. And, yes, God would stop terrorists from flying airplanes into buildings.
While this solution sounds attractive, it would lose its attractiveness as soon as God’s intervention infringed on something we wanted to do. We want God to prevent horribly evil actions, but we are willing to let “lesser-evil” actions slide—not realizing that those “lesser-evil” actions are what usually lead to the “greater-evil” actions. Should God only stop actual sexual affairs, or should He also block our access to pornography or end any inappropriate, but not yet sexual, relationships? Should God stop “true” thieves, or should He also stop us from cheating on our taxes? Should God only stop murder, or should He also stop the “lesser-evil” actions done to people that lead them to commit murder? Should God only stop acts of terrorism, or should He also stop the indoctrination that transformed a person into a terrorist?
3) Another choice would be for God to judge and remove those who choose to commit evil acts. The problem with this possibility is that there would be no one left, for God would have to remove us all. We all sin and commit evil acts (Romans 3:23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8). While some people are more evil than others, where would God draw the line? Ultimately, all evil causes harm to others.
Instead of these options, God has chosen to create a “real” world in which real choices have real consequences. In this real world of ours, our actions affect others. Because of Adam’s choice to sin, the world now lives under the curse, and we are all born with a sin nature (Romans 5:12). There will one day come a time when God will judge the sin in this world and make all things new, but He is purposely “delaying” in order to allow more time for people to repent so that He will not need to condemn them (2 Peter 3:9). Until then, He IS concerned about evil. When He created the Old Testament laws, the goal was to discourage and punish evil. He judges nations and rulers who disregard justice and pursue evil. Likewise, in the New Testament, God states that it is the government’s responsibility to provide justice in order to protect the innocent from evil (Romans 13). He also promises severe consequences for those who commit evil acts, especially against the “innocent” (Mark 9:36-42).
In summary, we live in a real world where our good and evil actions have direct consequences and indirect consequences upon us and those around us. God’s desire is that for all of our sakes we would obey Him that it might be well with us (Deuteronomy 5:29). Instead, what happens is that we choose our own way, and then we blame God for not doing anything about it. Such is the heart of sinful man. But Jesus came to change men’s hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit, and He does this for those who will turn from evil and call on Him to save them from their sin and its consequences (2 Corinthians 5:17). God does prevent and restrain some acts of evil. This world would be MUCH WORSE were not God restraining evil. At the same time, God has given us the ability to choose good and evil, and when we choose evil, He allows us, and those around us, to suffer the consequences of evil. Rather than blaming God and questioning God on why He does not prevent all evil, we should be about the business of proclaiming the cure for evil and its consequences—Jesus Christ!
Final Preparations to Receive the New Age Christ
by Prof. Johan Malan, Middelburg, South Africa
Christianity experiences unprecedented attacks on its foundational truths. These attacks are motivated and coordinated by evil forces that are intent on deceiving all people as a prelude to revealing the Antichrist and physically establishing Satan’s kingdom on earth. Their main obstacle is biblical beliefs in the deity, atoning death, resurrection and second coming of Jesus Christ. As a result, attacks against evangelical Christianity are on the increase, being aimed at discrediting the canonical books of the Bible, and thus also the God and Saviour of the Bible.
When the Lord Jesus was asked about the signs indicating the nearness of His second coming He first and foremost mentioned the widespread occurrence of spiritual deception: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many” (Matt. 24:4-5). The many people who will be deceived by many false teachers refers to the general occurrence of a changed mindset, or new paradigm, in terms of which people will perceive Christ in the end-time. That accounts for the disturbing phenomenon why the entire world will marvel and follow Satan’s false Christ (Rev. 13:3). The Amplified Bible says: “…and the whole earth went after the [Antichrist] in amazement and admiration.” That will be a united, multireligious form of worship.
The ultimate form of deception will be reached with the appearing of the Christ (the Antichrist) who will pretend to be the universal Christ of all religions. He will be empowered by Satan to perform great signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:7-10; Rev. 13:2) and will also introduce a false peace and unity on earth (1 Thess. 5:3; Rev. 13:3). Halfway through his reign of seven years he will enter the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and in utter arrogance declare himself to be God (2 Thess. 2:4).
There are clearly different forms and stages of deception by which Satan attempts to draw people away from believing in, worshipping and following the true God of the Bible. Once they have rejected the truth they become spiritually so blinded that the ability to discern good from evil rapidly decreases to a dangerously low level. Such people entertain distorted and completely unbiblical views on Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the gospel. Among them are also former believers in Christ. Paul says:
“I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you put up with it well” (2 Cor. 11:2-4).
Much more than only perverting the image of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit with a view to depriving people of a biblical basis of faith, spiritual deception is now specifically aimed at deconstructing the biblical image and attributes of Jesus Christ to make Him conformable to the image of the Antichrist. This other Jesus will arise from the kingdom of darkness but present himself as the true Jesus who has come to save, bless and empower humanity. Preparations are in an advanced stage to receive him as the global messiah of all faiths. The mounting evidence on the nature and extent of this movement is very compelling, as indicated below:
There are various independent initiatives, driven by the same spirit of error, to distort the biblical image of Jesus. The following initiatives clearly set the scene:
Liberal interpretation of Scripture. Liberal, humanistic-inclined theologians do not respect the root meaning of God’s Word – particularly those sections which describe God’s supernatural intervention in the affairs of humanity – and decide for themselves which other meaning(s) to attach to these scriptures. Many of them take literal concepts such as heaven, hell, the devil, the Antichrist, Israel, the millennial reign of Christ, as well as the end-time judgements of God, and offer explanations which differ radically from those which the Bible gives. Their agnostic mindset eventually leads them to question and attack the very foundations of the doctrine of salvation by denying clearly stated biblical concepts on the virgin birth of Christ, the spiritual significance of His atoning death, as well as His bodily resurrection. The starting-point for this serious delusion is the denial of the virgin birth of Christ. If He was not miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit He could not be the only begotten Son of God who was destined to be the Saviour of mankind and the King who will rule the world in righteousness from the throne of David (cf. Matt. 1:20-21; Luke 1:26-35; Acts 15:16-17). Consequently, these theologians and their followers end up with anotherJesus who is satanically-inspired and humanly conceived. This counterfeit Christ is endued with various unbiblical attributes and presented as one of many divine figures in the deceived family of world religions. To them, He is not the unique Son of God who defies the sinful conventions of human existence and denounces non-Christian religions as false institutions aimed at worshipping the Father of Lies (cf. 1 Cor. 10:20; 2 Cor. 6:14-18). These misguided people are paving the way for the coming of the Antichrist (1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3).
The Jesus Seminar. On the extreme end of this rapidly expanding movement aimed at rejecting the Jesus of the Bible by utterly perverting His divine image is the US based Jesus Seminar which was established in 1985. They discredit more than 80% of the testimony of Jesus in the four Gospels as historically inaccurate. This is evident from their publication, The Five Gospels, to which the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas was added. In their efforts to portray the historical Jesus they strip the true, biblical Jesus of all His divine characteristics and render Him a mortal man who was no more than a human prophet. They do not hesitate to make grossly blasphemous statements about Jesus. During his visit to theological faculties at two universities in Pretoria, South Africa, John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar called the crucifixion of Jesus an act of transcendental child abuse and said that we should hate a God who surrendered His Son to such a cruel death. He also postulated that Jesus was never buried and did not rise from the dead. Another member of the Jesus Seminar, Prof. Marcus Borg, said during his visit to SA that there was never a full tomb, let alone an empty one, and added: “I think it is quite possible that his body was eaten by dogs.”
These ideas were eagerly accepted by prominent South African theologians who are members of the New Reformation. One of them, Prof. Andries van Aarde, wrote a book, Fatherless in Galilee, in which he describes Mary as a prostitute and Jesus as an illegitimate child who was begat by a Roman soldier. Being ‘fatherless’ in Galilee allegedly induced Him to fantasize about a heavenly Father. Despite its heretical premise this book was well received by fellow theologians. Those members of the Jesus Seminar and the New Reformation who do somehow agree that Jesus was a divine incarnation are quick to indicate that He was not the only incarnation of God. Religious leaders such as Buddha are also described as incarnations of the divine. The time for the revelation of the false Christ must surely be at hand.
Resurgence of the Gnostic Gospels. In keeping with the modern trend to relegate Jesus to the level of a mortal man and human prophet there is a new interest in the Gnostic Gospels. Since the time of the early Christian church theological development was strongly influenced by philosophy. Initially, it was the heathen Greek philosophy of Plato that had the greatest impact on religious thinking. Since the first century, Gnosticism developed concurrently with evangelical beliefs on the deity and incarnation of the Lord Jesus. This philosophy was derived from the concept “gnosis” (knowledge of spiritual mysteries) and teaches that knowledge, rather than faith, is the key to salvation. This philosophy enjoyed great support until the sixth century and during that time perverted the truth of various theological concepts. It was developed with the purpose of making the Christian religion more acceptable to Greek-speaking intelligentsia, but in the process the biblical concept of God was fundamentally changed. The Gnostic love for knowledge was shaped by the mystic beliefs of Plato, as well as his concept of God as the “Absolute,” which is not compatible with the biblical concept of the Holy Trinity. After these views were mixed with Christian concepts it was argued that there is a singular Creator-God, the Father, and that He created Jesus as a lower order God, or even as an angel. That was a vicious attack against the deity and incarnation of the Lord Jesus. Profs. Walvoord & Zuck (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1983:677) say: “Both Christ’s deity and humanity were challenged by this early Gnostic-like heresy. Those heretics diminished Christ to an angel whose ‘body’ was only apparent, not real.” But Paul defended the deity of the Lord Jesus, as well as His complete incarnation: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). He was fully God and fully man.
The large public acclaim enjoyed by false, apocryphal Gospels such as The Gospel of Judas, and other unauthentic accounts on the life of Jesus are indicative of this time of great deception prior to the dawning of the new dispensation of the Antichrist’s reign on earth. Just before Easter 2006, the National Geographic Society announced that they discovered the lost Gospel of Judas which contradicts the canonical gospels about Judas and his betrayal of Jesus. There were even claims in the press that this was the greatest discovery of the century and that it would result in a re-evaluation of Christians’ beliefs as we know it. The front-page headline of USA Today read, “Long-lost gospel of Judas casts ‘traitor’ in new light.” The Gospel of Judas presents Judas in a positive light as the only disciple who truly understood Jesus and who betrayed Him only because he was asked to do so. Jesus allegedly wanted to be released from the constraints imposed upon Him by His human body. The Gnostic Jesus described in the Gospel of Judas is not almighty God or the Creator of the world; He did not die for man’s sin, and did not rise bodily from the dead. It is no Gospel at all.
The Davinci Code. One of the modern platforms used to raise public awareness for the false Gnostic Gospels is Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, as well as a film with the same title. This book is based upon evidence derived from the Gnostic Gospels, which is presented as a true account of Jesus and His works. Many questions are raised concerning the deity of Christ and the trustworthiness of the canonical Gospels. Jesus is described as a mortal man who was married to Mary Magdalene, and these assertions cast doubt on the authenticity of the New Testament. The world has been looking for convincing proof that the Bible is not the Word of God. Scientists and researchers have been searching for credible reasons to reject the claims of Scripture. The public is hungry for such information. If the Bible is not the Word of God people are free to choose their lifestyles and behaviours without fear of punishment in this life or the next.
The Da Vinci Code has been on nationwide bestseller lists for extended periods since it was first published in 2003, including 87 weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. As one reads this novel one finds that Brown blurs the lines between history and fiction, thereby suggesting that Christianity is based on a lie. What is the proof? A Gnostic Gospel and Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper where he contends that the person sitting next to Jesus was a woman, namely Mary Magdalene. The central claim that Brown’s novel makes about the Christian faith is that almost everything we learned about Jesus is false, thereby reinforcing the claims of heretics and apostates. In May 2006, a film with the same title was released. In the first four days it grossed $224 million at box offices world-wide.
The novel opens with the murder of an elderly curator at the Louvre, the world famous museum in Paris. The curator was harbouring a secret that, if revealed, would destroy the very foundations of Christianity. In his dying moments the curator left a series of numeric and cryptographic clues that would decode the fatal secret. The investigation of the murder produced clues that lead to the Holy Grail. As it turns out, the Grail isn’t the cup that Christ drank out of at the Last Supper, but Mary Magdalene, the true Grail who held the blood of Jesus in her womb while bearing His children. Furthermore, it is claimed that Mary’s reputation as a prostitute was fabricated by church leaders to undercut her influence, and that of women in general, in the early church. The real story was kept by a secret society called The Priory of Sion, to which many famous Europeans, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, belonged.
The Da Vinci Code is one of a series of blasphemous Hollywood films aimed at destroying the biblical image of Jesus. The ball was set rolling by films in which Jesus is portrayed as sinner, e.g. Jesus Christ Superstar, Jesus of Montreal and The Last Temptation of Christ. By these films the scene has been set of the revelation of “the man of sin” (2 Thess. 2:3) who will soon make his appearance in the name of the true Jesus.
The New Age Christ. The highest ranking deities in the New Age Movement are (1) the universal god of all faiths, (2) the cosmic Christ, and (3) Lucifer. In his book Reflections on the Christ the head of Planetary Citizens, David Spangler, included a chapter titled: Lucifer, Christ and God. In it, an important role in the development of a Christ consciousness in humans is assigned to Lucifer: “When man entered upon the pathway of self, he entered into a great creative adventure… There he can say, ‘I have fully and absolutely accepted the responsibility of who and what I am. In so doing I am free…’ The being that helps man to reach this point is Lucifer. That is his role. He is the angel of man’s evolution. He is the angel of man’s inner light. Lucifer is the spirit of light in the microcosmic world. God is the spirit of light in the macrocosm, and Christ is the bridge between the two that spells freedom in manifestation… Lucifer works within each of us to bring us to wholeness, and as we move into a new age, which is the age of man’s wholeness, each of us is brought to the point of a Luciferic initiation, the doorway through which the individual must pass if he is to come fully into the presence of his light and wholeness.” Through the spirit of the cosmic Christ of the kingdom of darkness (the Antichrist), people are introduced to the false light and peace of Lucifer, who is the father of lies. Full luciferic revelations are at present still confined to the inner circles of the New Age Movement, as members must pass through various stages of spiritual illumination before the real identity of the movement’s leader is revealed to them. Ordinary members of the movement are not aware that they actually open themselves up to Lucifer when they strive to attain spiritual illumination through the Christ consciousness.
The coming interfaith Christ will be the highest incarnation of the god of this world and be enthusiastically accepted by the deceived masses as the common Messiah of all faiths. Nominal Christians and orthodox Jews won’t have any problem when, after his revelation as the cosmic Christ, he also reaches out to the other religions to gather them under his banner. Muslims expect the prophet Jesus, who is not God, to appear soon and act in unison with the Imam Mahdi, who is a descendant of Muhammad. Hindus await a Jesus who, according to them, will be and end-time incarnation of Vishnu and Krishna. Buddhists equate the coming Christ with the fifth Buddha. According to the New Age Movement, Lucifer will work in the hearts of people to accept the universal Christ, while motivating them to become christs (or little gods) themselves.
Satan’s spirit of error (cf. 1 John 4:6) is actively working in the world to blind people’s minds to the truths of the gospel, while guiding them on how to have mystical experiences and empowering them to perform signs and wonders with occult powers. The many demons which Satan has at his disposal are evil spirits who are sent out to deceive people, thereby advancing the interests of the kingdom of darkness. The following actions of these spirits are very evident in the time in which we live:
Strange phenomena. The New Age Movement and its associated false religions is at present focusing attention on the discovery and use of the miracle-working psychic powers of healing, as well as the promotion of various supernatural manifestations. Even at many Christian meetings strange phenomena are now common, e.g. falling (or slaying) in the spirit.
Other phenomena, such as laughing in the spirit, prophesying in the spirit and dancing in the spirit, which result from this experience, are also attributed to the Holy Spirit. Many believers blindly accept these phenomena without testing the spirits, despite the danger of spurious satanic imitation in such manifestations.
Most of the Word of Faith preachers create strong expectations of powerful manifestations of the Holy Spirit. However, there is no scriptural basis for the signs that allegedly occur at their meetings. There is also the phenomenon of gold-dust falling on the hands, arms or hair of those at the meetings, while some claimed that fillings in their teeth turned into gold!
Another modern fad in this movement is the so-called “New Wine” meetings where people experience typical symptoms of drunkenness. This is accompanied by falling, dancing and laughing in the spirit, also pogo stick jumping and making a wide range of animal noises, such as barking like a dog, crowing like a rooster and roaring like a lion! Are not the claims that such highly dubious phenomena and extraordinary behaviour are attributable to the activity of the Holy Spirit quite blasphemous, grossly insulting to Him and detrimental to the Christian witness to the world? It is not difficult to see how ideally this suits Satan’s purpose to discredit the Christian faith and deceive as many as he can. The express purpose of deceiving spirits is to destroy the faith of believers and to mislead, confuse, corrupt, overshadow and control them with the power of deception.
A new spirituality. The deceiving spirit of Satan imitates the Holy Spirit and instils a new kind of spirituality in people. It is a spirit of self-exaltation, pride and arrogance which makes you very important and powerful in your own eyes because of the gifts you have received, the recognition you enjoy, the strong influence you have over people, and also because of your material wealth. The presence, power and gifts of this spirit become the dominating reality in your life, while Jesus is subtly moved to the background. This spirit instills nice and relaxed feelings in you so that you forget all your problems and sins. He does not convict of sin, always condones it, and has no problems to live with lies, deceit, distorted versions of the truth, and moral laxity. He gives people the false hope that they are saved and will go to heaven. He uses so-called ‘prophets’ as human mediators to convey messages to you about what God wants you to do. He also majors on extra-biblical revelations from God through dreams and visions. He removes guilt complexes on his own authority, without specific reference to the cross, and surrounds you with light and joy. You are ever dependent upon him. He guides you through a process of inner healing to a spiritual reprogramming of your life in which the scars of the past, and even from before your birth, are put right by self-healing, positive confession, hypnotic regression and the breaking of generation curses.
This new spirituality is contemplative. People are taught to switch over to their ‘right-brain’ through meditation, walking labyrinths and practising mystical techniques such as yoga. They empty their minds by the using of mantras (the repetition of a single word or short phrase) which helps them descend to the deeper levels of their subconscious mind where they experience an altered state of consciousness. In this spiritual state some people meet spirit guides who teach or inform them, while others even hear voices speaking to them. There are also those who receive supernatural gifts such as prophesying, healing, tongues, astral travel, clairvoyance, and the performing of miracles.
This spirit also tells you that you are a king already, who has dominion on earth, and can claim and demand anything you like. You do not have to suffer poverty, disease or any other afflictions, and you can change anything through positive confession. You are in command of your life. He motivates people to organise transformation rallies as a means to usher in the kingdom of God on earth. He also makes his victims believe they can pull down demonic strongholds in any society by making use of strategic spiritual warfare. Any notable success is evading them as Satan will only be incarcerated when Christ comes (Rev. 20:1-3). In this dispensation, only individuals can be set free from the power of Satan – not entire cities or countries!
Berit Kjos posted a very helpful chart in which she indicates the transition from evangelical beliefs to the new spirituality: http://www.crossroad.to/charts/new-spirituality.htm From this chart it is evident that a spiritually blinded humanity explores mystical powers in its quest to become divine, united and in full control of its own destiny. People end up discovering a mystical christ in their own hearts (the god within) who guides them into gaining a position of dominion on earth.
The Secret. Modern times are characterised by a strong resurgence of the secrets of ancient mysteries. In her book, The Secret, Rhonda Byrne says that when Christianity started spreading the forbidden forces behind magical arts went underground. They were hidden in secret societies and occult orders until the late 20th century when interest in the mystical powers of the past was revived by the biblically illiterate members of postmodern society. This new thought enables people to do miracles. The author says that if you begin to understand the hidden, untapped powers that are within you, this revelation can bring joy to every aspect of your life, including you financial interests, your relationships and your health. In her article, A New Mask for an Ancient Secret, Berit Kjos (Feb. 2007) says: “Now as [in ancient times] those dark Luciferian teachings have become shining lights to post-Christian cultures inspired by ‘false apostles and deceitful workers’ – servants of Satan, the evil one who masquerades as an angel of light. After all, The Secret offers gullible seekers everything under the sun: There isn’t a single thing that you cannot do with this knowledge. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, The Secret can give you whatever you want. The law of attraction is the law of creation… You create your life through your thoughts. With this powerful knowledge, you can completely change every circumstance and event in your entire life…”
In his article The Secret Seduction (June 2007) Dave Hunt says: “The latest occult scam to capture the imagination of the West is called The Secret. The book by that name, a top New York Times bestseller, has quickly sold more than 6 million copies and the DVD over 2 million copies… The numerous misrepresentations [in the book] begin with the title itself. The Secret is not a secret at all, but recycled Hinduism, shamanism, and New Age folly. One of many huge lies is its claim: ‘You create your own reality with your mind.’ This was the serpent’s false promise to Eve – the promise of godhood (Gen. 3:5). Embracing that delusion cost Eve and her descendants Eden’s paradise – and would have barred mankind from heaven had not Christ died for the sins of the world. In the 6,000 years since Eden, the serpent’s promise has not been fulfilled in even one person’s life.”
The spiritual message of this book clearly implies that God is obsolete and that real spiritual empowerment is not to be found in the Bible but in The Secret. The popularity of this book throughout the world is staggering. This is indicative of the widespread interest in occult ideologies and practices which elevate fallen man to a position where he becomes the master of his own destiny. When he is his own god, everything is permissible, including any imaginable sin. In this frame of mind people will be willing followers of “the man of sin… whose coming is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:3-12).
A Course in Miracles. In keeping with the rising interest in magical, occult powers that are often marketed in a ‘Christian’ package to deceive more people in Western societies, a course in miracles is offered on internet websites, in books and by celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey. On her daily radio program Oprah will offer a year-long course on the New Age Christ from the Course in Miracles Workbook. Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual mindset – a New Age worldview that includes the beliefs that there is no sin, no evil, no devil and that Jesus did not die to pay the penalty for your sins. It is emphasized in the course that in Jesus we are not under the law, so everything is lawful. A perverted kind of forgiveness is propagated, which is the world’s way of promoting unity and healing apart from the cross. Oprah told her television audience that Williamson’s book, A Course in Miracles, was one of her favorite books, and that she had already bought a thousand copies and would be handing them out to everyone in her studio audience. Oprah’s endorsement skyrocketed Williamson’s book to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. A Course in Miracles was originally dictated to channeller Helen Schucman in 1977 by her spirit guide who claimed to be Jesus.
The Miracle Times (www.themiracletimes.com) say on their website: “A course in miracles is a message to you from… the whole resurrected mind of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It is an experiential guide to help bring about the illumination of your mind and body through the practical application of love, healing and forgiveness.” They define inspiration as follows: “Inspiration means: a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation. What is your qualification? You are the Holy Son of God Himself! You need only remember who you are. It is your purpose to inspire.” The real author of A Course in Miracles is described as “Master Jesus, who is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit… He became completely identified with the Christ, the Son of God.” People are influenced to see themselves as sinless: “See then the light that is all about you… You are as perfect as God created you.” Through positive thinking, forgiveness, love and positive confession people are to creatively change their lives by miracles.
The Moses Code. The global campaign of deception which is driven by Satan’s spirit of error, popularised by the media and promoted by celebrities, is taken one step further with the publishing of James Twyman’s book, The Moses Code. This book, as well as the film based upon it, elevates fallen mankind to the position occupied by Lucifer when he openly deified himself in heaven. He said, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:14). The author offers people a secret code which will dramatically change their lives from indigence and mediocrity to prosperity, royalty and abundance. That will happen when they can say to themselves, “I AM.” This code was revealed to Moses at the burning bush in the wilderness and enabled him to perform unprecedented miracles.
The book is promoted as follows by the publishers: “Twyman describes the most powerful manifestation technique ever known to humanity, hidden or ignored for almost 3,500 years. And yet, this powerful tool was responsible for some of the most amazing and famous miracles in the history of the world. Why, then, has the Code been held in such secrecy when it changed the world the few times it was applied? Is it possible that this technology is so powerful that our ancient forefathers decided that humanity wasn’t ready to wield such a mighty sword? When properly applied the Moses Code gives you everything you need to easily attract your Heart’s Desire. When used by large groups of people the Code also has the power to initiate a world based upon the laws of compassion and peace. In the first chapter you will learn what the Moses Code is and why it is so important today. In chapters two and three you will learn the beginning techniques for applying the Code in your life, and in the world. In short, chapters two and three will give you the necessary tools for changing your life and the lives of those around you.”
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1: “You’ve likely heard the story before, all about Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt, an astounding accomplishment that began with him standing before a burning bush listening to the voice of God. But have we ever really heard the deeper message being communicated, not only to Moses but to each one of us? Is it possible that there is a code hidden somewhere in this story, a secret that gives us the power to attract everything we desire into our lives? Could this secret be the most powerful gift God has ever given the world? What are some of the things you most want to receive? Abundance, your soul mate, the perfect house, or your dream car? Did Moses receive from God the secret of how to achieve all your dreams, easily and automatically, attracting into your life everything you have ever desired? If so, is it possible for you to use this same secret today and for the rest of your life, achieving what the rest of the world would call miraculous?”
It is further explained that God called Moses from the bush and he responded by saying, “Here I am.” He was standing on holy ground when he said, “Here I AM.” The author then continues: “It’s almost as if God smiles at him and says: ‘Ah, well said, Moses. Indeed, Here I AM. This ground is holy because it is the spot where you have known yourself to be who you are.’ You may be thinking: ‘Wait a minute! Are you saying that God was pleased because Moses seemed to recognize himself as one with his Creator?’ The answer is YES!!! For thousands of years we have been sold a lie, and this lie has led to the suppression and dismissal of The Moses Code all through the world. We have been told that we are weak and vulnerable, unable to do more than eke out a meagre existence on earth. If we’re lucky we’ll be able to accumulate a relative degree of comfort, maybe a few houses and a big bank account, but none of that ever really satisfies us. We are here but to live then die, hopefully with a few moments of joy in-between. We have imagined ourselves to be in a prison that we can never escape, and we have convinced ourselves that the prison yard is our real home. What if the door to that prison cell was never locked? What if the world we live in is nothing more than a projection of our thoughts about ourselves, and that God has never shared that vision at all? If God is all-powerful, all-knowing and fully present in every moment and form, is it possible that God would rejoice when we realize the TRUTH? … Hold on before you answer. Your response will determine your entire experience of life, and how willing you are to accept everything God intends for you. Your answer will determine how open you are to receiving miracles and ultimately crack the Moses Code.” The author further says that God told Moses He would lead the Hebrews out of the bondage of Egypt into the Promised Land where they would live in abundance. He says that the same promise applies to us, also in a material sense.
In their e-newsletter of March 4, 2008, Lighthouse Trails says: “The Moses Code – taking the next step toward a world-wide awakening (“Awakening” is a dominant New Age term, now being used by most, if not all, current so-called Christian leaders; every conference is an Awakening event): On April 5th, The Moses Code film will be released in a unique synchronized worldwide opening, just a few weeks after this week’s release of the book with the same title. The book and film will most likely become best sellers with expected promotion by Oprah Winfrey and others of influence. The book/film is following the release of last year’s The Secret, which has remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for over 59 weeks. The Secret, also a book/film, was highly promoted by Oprah and carries a similar-type message. In essence, both projects focus on humanity being divine and having the ability to alter our personal lives and ultimately alter the world in which we live through hidden mysteries that the projects supposedly reveal.”
The Moses Code represents self-deification and prosperity in its most extreme form. But it goes beyond this and also offers this secret code as the solution to all the world’s problems of division, hostility and suffering. The assurance is given that if thousands of people gather at the same time, assume their position as gods and co-creators, and focus their positive thoughts on problem areas such as the Middle East, everything will change for the better.
The arrogant and unrestrained proclaiming of another Jesus under the instigation of another spirit has become a world-wide phenomenon. Preachers, politicians and celebrities with very large constituencies are joining hands to celebrate the divine nature of humanity, raise the level of people’s consciousness, promote global unity and peace, and ensure prosperity and good health to all. The following are popular themes for preaching:
Ecumenism. It is generally believed that religious globalism holds the key to the revelation of God’s kingdom on earth and a future of unity, prosperity and peace to divided humanity. Within this approach the fragmentation of Christianity into many denominations (referred to as vintage Christianity) should be countered by establishing mega-churches without strict and very explicit creeds, and without standing strong on the inerrancy of the Bible. Mega-churches should merge into post-denominational city churches that function under the guidance of prophets and apostles. Regional, national and international ties should then be forged among the various local branches of the church. Collective actions such as transformation rallies or meditation meetings are believed to wield the spiritual power needed to overcome evil and change the destiny of societies. This is New Age philosophy. They believe that when a critical mass (a representative group of people who believe they are divine) comes together to meditate, the scale will swing away from evil and divisiveness, draw humanity into this oneness, and heal the world.
The uniting of the Christian church is only an interim objective which paves the way towards multireligious ecumenical ties – an alliance of world religions in which the members of all faiths join hands on the premise that they worship the same God. It stands to reason that if they believe they worship the same God, they are also awaiting the same, universal Christ to finally unite them. When he has come, no insubordination will be tolerated and all people will be obliged to worship him (cf. Rev. 13:3-4,8,15).
Ecumenically-minded preachers of deceived mega-churches are preparing the way for the coming universal Christ of the New Age Movement. The vagueness of their creeds, the ignorance of their members, and the strong impact of postmodern thinking allows them to present another Jesus who, in many respects, differs from the biblical Jesus. Without much resistance they unwittingly make Jesus conformable to the New Age Jesus, simply by denying His uniqueness, the redemptive significance of His cross, and His insistence on repentance. They only emphasise His mission to bless and unite all people, to inspire them to realise their full potential so as to prosper in everything they do, and to empower them to establish and extend the kingdom of God on earth.
However, where there are still significant numbers of evangelical Christians, like in the US and South Africa, ecumenically-minded theologians first engage in a relentless campaign to slander and discredit the biblical Jesus by reducing Him to a historical Jesus who was just one of many human prophets. After that, their spiritually uprooted and disillusioned followers will be introduced to the cosmic Jesus of the emerging New World Order, thereby drawing them into the multireligious structures of the ecumenical movement.
Dominionism. The message proclaimed by the emerging church is that they are called upon to take control over the world, thereby physically establishing the kingdom of God to the good of all people. A wealth of concise and well written articles have been produced on his subject by the Discernment Research Group: see http://herescope.blogspot.com See also Sarah Leslie’s excellent article, Dominionism and the rise of Christian imperialism on http://www.discernment-ministries.org/
Herescope offers interesting excerpts from an article by C. Peter Wagner, in which he says: “We need to take a new look at one of our most quoted Bible verses: ‘The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost’ (Luke 19:10). In the past, most of us thought that Jesus was saying ‘to seek and to save those who were lost.’ Consequently, we applied it to saving souls. But now we realize that we should have taken Jesus’ statement at face value, namely ‘that which was lost.’ What is it then, that was lost and that Jesus came to seek and to save? The answer is in the first chapter of Genesis. God’s original design was that Adam and Eve should have dominion over all of God’s creation (see Gen. 1:28). But they disobeyed God, they lost their authority, Satan usurped it and he became the god of this age. Satan’s kingdom encompassed all of the human kingdoms of the earth (see Luke 4:5-6). Why did Jesus come? He came with His kingdom, namely the kingdom of God, to invade the kingdom of Satan for the purpose of taking back dominion of God’s creation which was lost in the Garden of Eden. The Holy Spirit is now speaking to the churches and saying that God’s people must do what it takes to transform society, segment by segment, until God’s kingdom is seen on earth as it is in heaven” (C. Peter Wagner, Transform Society! Global Prayer News, Vol. 6, No. 3, Jul-Sep 2005).
Herescope also reviews an article by Rick Joyner, The true soldiers of the cross are mobilizing, in which he says that coercive measures will be used to usher in the kingdom of God before increased liberty will be allowed: “At first it may seem like totalitarianism as the Lord will destroy the antichrist spirit now dominating the world… and will shatter many nations like pottery.” In support of this vision, various dominionists have devised a strategy of defeating the so-called giants of unbelief, poverty, disease, illiteracy and self-centred leadership. The forces of marketplace transformation are the main method which dominionists intend using to overcome the negative factors which deprive societies of the prosperity and abundance of the kingdom.
The deceived church tries to do now what only Christ can do at His second coming! Their heavy reliance on human resources and methods renders their efforts unbiblical and dispensationally out of place. Instead of preaching salvation to lost sinners they endeavour to restore paradise conditions on earth during this dispensation, thereby pre-empting the coming of Christ as King to reveal His kingdom on earth. The counterfeit kingdom of dominionists differs substantially from the true kingdom of Christ, and actually paves the way for a false king, the Antichrist, who will arise from the ranks of fallen humanity before Christ comes.
Positive thinking. This ideology, which is also promoted by liberal theologians, represents a clever mix of humanitarian and biblical objectives. It appeals to governments, businessmen, churches and communities at large, whether secular or religiously oriented, to uplift society, eradicate poverty, treat the sick, educate the illiterate, and promote peace and reconciliation among all factions of society. This approach was refined and used very successfully by Norman Vincent Peale (The Power of Positive Thinking), Robert Schuller (Self-Esteem: The New Reformation) and Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life). The ideology of positive thinking, by its very nature, excludes all negative thoughts, e.g. sin, judgement, deception, false prophets, false religions, the Antichrist, the false prophet, Satan, suffering, tribulation, etc. It refrains from giving offence to anybody – not even to the sinner in his natural (sinful) state. All people must be made to feel welcome just as they are, and to accept Christianity for the sake of the advantages and blessings that are in store for them. No warnings are issued to any people on the basis of God’s impending judgments upon the wicked.
Positive thinking is contrary to the gospel message and leads to the perversion of the gospel in churches where it is taught. That is the reason why Rick Warren does not dwell on God’s judgements upon sin, which include the crucifixion of Christ. His poor doctrinal foundation also renders him ecumenical in his outreaches to pastors of various denominations, not even excluding the Mormons. A Jesus without the cross is not the true Jesus, however much people might think that he preaches the biblical Jesus. Furthermore, Warren’s approach leads him to support transformation initiatives towards changing the world through joint efforts to establish God’s kingdom. No warnings are given on the coming Antichrist and the great tribulation. What will his supporters do when the cosmic Christ appears on the scene as a peacemaker? Won’t they think he is the true Christ?
A marriage between religion and politics (NAR & Dominionism). There is a very conspicuous movement in the world to ally religion and politics. This was common practice in the ancient world empires, where the emperors deified themselves and were not satisfied only with political allegiance but also demanded religious worship. The Antichrist will do the same. (Rev. 13:4,7,15). Modern political leaders increasingly mobilise their followers by means of a religious ideology to help change and improve the word. They either collaborate with religious leaders in the ecumenical movement or they pose as religious leaders themselves. This is all part of kingdom theology, in which political, business and religious leaders work closely together.
Rick Warren says that stability in any nation is dependent upon a strong and healthy government, a strong and healthy business sector, and strong and healthy churches. He likened it with a three-legged stool. With a view to promoting this view he travels to various countries to address government leaders, business leaders and church leaders to make them aware of their responsibility to work together in realising the objectives of stable, prosperous, and purpose driven nations. According to dominionists, that is the way in which the kingdom of God will be ushered in. Little do they realise that the next world empire will be that of the cosmic Christ. He will have a three-legged throne – as political leader, universal messiah, and head of the global economy.
In this other gospel which is preached by leaders of the emerging church, promoted by political leaders, supported by global business, and popularised by celebrities, there is no reference whatsoever to the coming of the true Jesus for His bridal congregation, the subsequent revelation of the Antichrist and the judgements of God upon a self-centred, sinful, materialistic and utterly wicked world. “When they say, Peace and safety! then sudden destruction comes upon them” (1 Thess. 5:3).
The unlocking of occult powers
The paradigm shift towards the emerging new world order of the cosmic Christ has been underway for quite a number of years. Although it has been implemented as unobtrusive as possible, the changes are far-reaching and constitute a radical break from the truth of God’s Word to the alternative spirituality of the ‘angel of light.’ It is only in an advanced stage of change that people are actively exposed to the hidden sources of power which are offered to them. Special formulas, codes, or actions are needed to unlock these powers and use them for whatever purpose they are offered. In her article, Mysticism and Global Mind Change (Sept. 2007), Berit Kjos says: “Do you wonder why yoga, labyrinths and other meditational practices have suddenly emerged in churches across America? Or why ‘Christians’ now use the old occult formulas (a combination of concentration, meditation, visualization and mental projection) practiced by sorcerers, alchemists and ‘enlightened’ yogis to invoke the presence of ‘God’? This East-West synthesis didn’t happen by chance. For several decades, influential church leaders have been promoting a new way of thinking, an end to ‘separatism,’ and an inclusive oneness that would fulfil their vision of an earthly kingdom of God.”
A specific code, key-word, mantra, ritual initiation, mindset, symbol, belief system, or action is needed to invoke the occult powers or spirits which Lucifer offers in a disguised form to his unsuspecting victims. In The Da Vinci Code, a series of numeric and cryptographic clues were given to decode the secret. The breaking of the code in Da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper represents a major deviation from the truth of God’s Word. It introduces a false teaching that Jesus was not divine but an ordinary, mortal man who had a wife and children. The implications of these assumptions are that Jesus is not God, the Bible is not true, the rejected Gnostic gospels reflect a more credible account of Jesus’ life, and somewhere among his unknown descendants a person may emerge in the end-time to claim the office of the Christ.
The Secret is also based upon the idea that hidden powers can be unlocked to fulfil all your dreams and needs. A new thought pattern enables people to do miracles as they create their own reality with their mind. Visualisation becomes a method of focussing the mind on an occult source of energy, thereby attracting and activating it.
The Moses Code is presented as a powerful method of declaring yourself to be God, thereby tapping creative powers in the universe to realise your dreams and changing your circumstances for the good. In saying, “I AM…” and adding to it whatever divine attribute you wish, e.g. “I AM the way and the truth,” you will share in Lucifer’s rebellious deed of self-exaltation and deification. The condition for promoting yourself to the level of co-creator is to despise and disobey God’s clear commandments to you, thereby becoming your own god. If you are prepared to do that, Lucifer will immediately empower you to become his co-worker and also allow you to enjoy certain short-lived benefits in his kingdom. The serpent achieved great success with this lie, which was first used to deceive our first parents in the Garden of Eden. He said to Eve that if she ignored God’s commandments she would not die, as God said, but that she would, instead, “be like God” (Gen. 3:5). She never became a god, only a deceived rebel who turned against the true God at her own peril. If it wasn’t for God’s grace to restore repentant sinners she would have died in her sins.
The Antichrist’s rise to power
The coming Antichrist will follow exactly the same course while rising to a position of absolute power as a self-declared God. He will oppose and exalt himself “above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:4). When he openly states that he is the great I AM, Satan will strongly empower him do even more signs and wonders. He will be the lawless one, who breaks and despises all the laws of God, while acting “according to the working of Satan, will all power, signs and lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9). The devil will give him “his power, his throne and great authority” (Rev. 13:2). His co-ruler, the false prophet, will wield the same powers: “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men” (Rev. 13:13).
The Antichrist, who will call himself the Christ or God, will deceive the whole world to worship him in order to share in his great power. He will also use a code which will give people access to his dark powers. No one will be able to buy or sell, “except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of man: His number is 666” (Rev. 13:17-18). The numeric symbol of the beast and the mark of his name will be used to physically mark all his followers. They will have to sign an oath of allegiance to him whereby they commit themselves to worshipping him and his image, to utterly reject the God of heaven, and to also denounce the true Christ who will still, during that time, be worshipped by a minority of people.
Be warned that the use of hidden codes to access supernatural powers will make you an enemy of God because you will arrogantly call yourself God or the Son of God, thereby exalting yourself to His position, and thus sharing in the rebellion of Lucifer. Eternal condemnation awaits people who do that: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:9-11 KJV).
We are on the threshold of the revelation of the Antichrist. The large-scale deceiving of millions of people during recent years has prepared the spiritual climate for the appearance of the self-deified, universal Christ. It is obvious that secrets which are unlocked by codes are playing a major role in the satanic brainwashing of the masses: TheDa Vinci Code popularised the lie that Jesus is not God. The Moses Code proclaims the lie that human beings can equate themselves with God and use their power to do astounding miracles. Through the coded number of the coming universal Christ the lie will be embraced that he is the God of humanity, and that he is the one who gives his followers the powers to be prosperous and to do miracles.
According to the Bible, the judgements of God rest upon the Antichrist and his deceived followers. These judgements will be poured out upon them during the great tribulation and also during the second coming of Christ (Rev. 6 to 19). The Lord Jesus will deliver His true disciples from the coming wrath of God, and expects of them to prepare themselves for this appointment: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).
BOOMERS FEAR FUTURE (Friday Church News Notes, May 27, 2011, www.wayoflife.org
By David Cloud
A sad and telling report in USA Today is entitled “Baby Boomers fear outliving retirement savings” (May 24, 2011).
“Because of the stock market crash, real estate downturn and recession, many Boomers are now terrified that they will outlive their retirement savings. One woman, age 60, who was interviewed by Financial Engines, said that she ‘might be forced to become a bag lady.’”
This is the product of turning away from God and living for vain idols and investing totally in this world while neglecting the next.
The Shack god doesn’t take care of anyone, because he doesn’t exist, but the true and living Creator God revealed in Scripture is there for His people in good times and hard.
My maternal grandmother lived through the Great Depression, and God always provided their needs. One of her favorite verses was, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalms 37:25).
Finance is a reality of this present life, and the economy has a real effect on our lives, but God’s people can trust Him with the future. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
Red Flags of Deception
This article is being shared by many blogs right now because of the Harold Camping debaucle. Please pray for those who may be discouraged and turn away from God because of the harm done by this man. He is a deceiver and deceivers turn people away from the true and living God by misquoting or twisting scripture. The video showed Camping with a Bible in his lap, and this made Christianity look foolish. This will become old news soon, but the impact will always be felt because false prophecies demean the church.
Many Christians well-versed in scripture knew that the rapture was not going to happen on this particular day and time, and that Camping is a false prophet. The most popular verse quoted by those secure in God’s Word and His truth was Matthew 24:36. “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Many of us patiently wait knowing that Jesus will come like a thief in the night and will come when we do not expect Him.
No one seems to know who wrote the following article because it was from a blog that has since been taken down. I thank the author who wrote:
Red Flags of Deception
The following is a list of ‘Red Flags’ that are symptoms of deception in a person or group. In developing this list, I was concerned, not so much with addressing specific doctrines, but in identifying characteristics that are symptomatic of deception. I started writing this list when I noticed the many similarities between the Walk and the prophetic movement gaining momentum in Vineyard/Charismatic circles. These characteristics of deception predominate in Charismatic/Vineyard groups and in the Walk.
1. Spiritual elitism. This is the root of many delusions. Any kind of elitist belief is a certain indication of deception. Elitism is the belief that God has given a certain group special revelation/power/anointing that other Christian groups or previous generations have not entered into. They are on the spiritual cutting-edge, rising to spiritual levels not attained by other groups. It’s often dressed up as “Joel’s Army”, “Gideon’s Army”, and Elijah Companies of super anointed end-time warriors. Elitism is seen today in the ‘this-is-the-greatest-generation-ever’ kind of preaching we often hear. It can be found in the need to search out so-called ‘deeper’ truths and discover new, hidden mystical insights.
2. A tendency to marginalize the written Word. Watch out for any talk that plays down devotion to Scripture, such as “God is bigger than the Bible” or “God is doing a new thing, so put away your Bibles.” Marginalizing the written Word can take many forms:
a) Ignoring the Word. Neglecting private Bible study in daily life is a strong symptom of deception.
b) Disregarding the Word. A careless attitude towards obedience. I’ve seen examples of this in wild revival meetings in which people mockingly quote the verse, “Let all things be done decently and in order”, while they enjoy a good laugh over their disorderly and drunken behavior. Any teaching that plays down our requirement to be doers of the Word is a sure sign of delusion.
c) Deceived groups that marginalize the Word are often those who have an emphasis on prophecy. Beware of any emphasis on the revelatory, prophetic word, especially where there is a sidelining of the written Word. We are not to despise prophecy, but the real meat of the Word that nourishes the saints and builds them up in the faith is the written Word of God, not the prophetic. Teaching that would make Christians dependant on prophets or apostles for ‘current’ truth effectively marginalizes the Word of God.
d) “Fools despise knowledge.” Any kind of talk that does not give the Word the high regard it is due, effectively marginalizes the Word and is a sure sign that deception is at work in the group. As the Word says, “Choose my instruction instead of silver.” Love it more than anything else.
3. Prayerlessness in private. Neglect of private prayer time, alone with God, is a strong indication of deception. If it is prevalent across a church or movement, it indicates deception is taking hold of that group. Please note that deceived people will often continue to attend and even enjoy public church functions, especially when there is good sound, light or music – but private quite time loses its appeal.
4. Disdain for Berean spirited searching of the scriptures. Any kind of anti-Berean, anti-discernment teaching that discourages people from questioning what is going on or being taught is a sure sign of deception. If you ever hear the leadership of your church group say anything along the lines of “put away your Bibles”, or “don’t worry about being deceived”, then head for the exit as fast as you can.
5. An inability to separate Godly criticism of their words from personal attack. Equating ‘Berean’ (Acts 17:11) activity with criticism. Such leaders may often talk about the ‘Jezebel spirit’ and the ‘accuser of the brethren’ and warn people about moving in a fault finding or critical spirit. What they are driving at is that if you question what is going on, or challenge what is being taught, you are being critical and run the risk of incurring the Lord’s disfavor.
6. Lack of accountability. One common trait among the new wave of apostles and prophets rising to prominence these days is that they do not like to be held accountable for their teachings and failed prophecies. Any criticism of their teachings and prophetic utterances is taken as an attack against their ministry.
7. Discernment primarily the prerogative of leadership. A tendency to see discernment as a special gift or anointing not available to everyone to the same degree, or that increases with higher spiritual office. The ‘higher’ you are on the prophetic ladder, the more discerning you are. Since leaders supposedly have better discernment as per their higher office, followers tend to trust the opinions of their leaders over their own, since the ‘apostle’ or prophet must have better understanding anyway due to their higher standing in the spiritual ranks. Believers are not encouraged to trust their own discernment, or are encouraged only so long as it agrees with the overall word as set forth by the leaders. Discernment among the ranks becomes little more than a faculty (an inner witness of the spirit) that confirms what the Apostle or Prophet is saying.
8. Any form of Mystery Religion. A mystery religion is a religion that has successive levels of knowledge and ‘deeper’ truths, which are not necessarily available to all, at least not at first. Those in higher levels will know things not revealed, nor available, to lower levels. A new ‘believer’ comes in on the ground floor, and then progresses up through successive levels of spiritual understanding and empowerment as he is introduced to the ‘deeper’ truths.
9. Heightened interest with spiritual levels and rankings. Higher ‘spiritual’ rank is equated with greater closeness to God. Gifts and callings are typically ranked, and those higher in rank are seen as closer to God in some practical way, such as hearing from God more frequently and being more privy to God’s inner secrets. Those on higher spiritual levels have a privileged access to God that is not available to those holding lesser callings. As a result of their higher standing or special calling, God visits them more often and they receive greater mystical experiences than the rest.
10. Heightened interest in dreams, visions, new revelations and novel insights. This may not necessarily be explicitly stated in their Creed, and they may claim to believe the Bible as the Word of God. But in actual practice dreams, visions and revelations are the preferred stock-in-trade over sound Bible teaching and exposition of the basics.
11. An increase in subjectivity. Looking for subjective impressions, personal ‘prophetic’ words and ‘revelation’ for guidance and direction. Seeking the mystical ‘inner voice’ as guide over the written Word. You can be sure that if a person is seeking new personal ‘words’, it is because they are not in the Word, and serious deception cannot be long avoided.
12. Detractors dismissed as having inferior vision. They see themselves as being in tune with God, and anyone who is also in tune with the Divine will agree with them. Detractors are obviously not in tune with God and have inferior vision. This sets up a very neat circular reasoning that is almost impossible to get past. It is a defensiveness which is very difficult to penetrate, because they are convinced that detractors don’t have the same level of anointing or discernment as they have. As they see it, if detractors did have the same level of anointing, they’d be in agreement. They dismiss any criticism of their teaching or conduct as bitterness, jealousy or fault finding, while they themselves feel they have very sharp spiritual perception. People are truly discerning only as long as they support their movement.
13. Dismissive attitude towards detractors. Detractors given derogatory labels, such as ‘religious’, ‘old order’, ‘old wineskins’, or ‘Pharisees’. Detractors denounced as not being able to ‘handle it’, or they have a ‘Jezebel spirit’, or a ‘spirit of criticism’. They are ‘accusers of the brethren’, that sort of thing. Threats of God’s judgment on detractors and critics are a sure sign of a cultic mindset and delusion.
14. A ‘get-on-board-or-else’ mentality. A fear that you’ll miss God’s new move and be left behind if you don’t join up. God is doing a new thing and if you do not go along with it, regardless of how long you’ve been faithfully serving God over the years, God will pass you by and you’ll get left in the dust.
15. New thingism. God is doing a ‘new thing’ and you’d better get with it. There is now a further requirement if you want to remain a first class Christian and in God’s highest favour, which is to be a part of the new thing represented by the group. If you don’t come along, you run the risk of God passing you by.
16. A special anointing. A certain person or group has been anointed by God to introduce something to the rest of the Body. God has given it to them, and other believers can come to them to ‘get it.’
17. A priesthood. Placing a person or group in an exalted status with God, so that they become special intermediaries, is a sure sign of delusion. False movements and false religions invariable try to interject some kind of priesthood between the believer and God. This is seen whenever a person or group claims to have received something from God that can be received from their hands. They become an intermediary between you and Jesus Christ if you want more of God, and people are encouraged to go to the ‘anointed’ of the Lord to get it.
We see this today in certain revival circles where it is necessary to get more from God at the hands of a specially chosen vessel. Worship leaders have ‘an anointing’ to lead us into the presence of God. Prophets and apostles have a privileged access to receive things from God that the rest of the church needs. False religion always reverts to some form of human priesthood.
18. “Don’t think about it, just jump in” type of teaching that encourages people to throw caution to the wind. Encouraging followers not to worry or think things through, that God won’t allow them to be deceived. Just jump in before it’s too late or you may miss the boat.
19. Glorification of the vessel. An excessive focus on the ‘anointed’ person of God.
20. Old Testament ‘typed’ anointing. (A ‘Phineas’ anointing. The mantle of Elijah, etc.)
21. An excited interest in peripheral subjects not central to the gospel. A de-emphasis on the central themes of the gospel. They claim to agree with the gospel, but the bulk of their teaching, writing and prophetic messages show a greater interest in peripheral topics, novel insights and new revelation.
22. May talk unity, but bring division along lines of gender, age, race or nationality.
23. Watch out for leaders who love to surround themselves with minions who affirm their special anointing.
24. More interest in breaking through to new levels and remaking the church along new lines rather than reaching the lost with the good news of Jesus Christ.
25. False spirits love to show off and love center stage. They love to parade their subjective impressions and experiences up front for others to see. Publicly sharing highly subjective impressions and insights that cannot be proved or disproved one way or the other is a real “Red Flag”.
26. Conference chasing. Running from place to place to meet God. Any emphasis on experiencing God corporately more than privately is a symptom of delusion. Whenever people need to go to a conference or certain location to receive a ‘fresh’ touch, something is very wrong.
There is a whole generation of believers now who are bored with ‘quiet time’ alone with God, who don’t know how to meet God in the prayer closet, and can only meet with God and experience Him in public settings that provide the right mood and atmosphere, usually involving the right music. The reason so many are chasing God at conferences is because they are not in the Word and prayer at home.
27. The ‘anointed’ leader has a privileged access, a hot relationship, with God that the rest have yet to attain. They get angelic visitations, dramatic visions and prophetic insights, and they publish ‘prophetic bulletins’ to keep others abreast with what God is doing. Because the apostles and prophets are in such a privileged position of receiving the latest hot word from God, the rest are reduced to second hand status, anxiously awaiting the latest prophetic bulletin. Watch for groups that tend to place emphasis on the leaders anointing or relationship with God. This results in Christians running to conferences for a ‘fresh touch’ from those who seem to have ‘it’.
28. The Holy Spirit is seen more as coming to bring an experience rather than a greater understanding of the Scripture.
29. A tendency to distinguish between people who accept their movement as a true move of God and those who don’t.
30. Beware of any dichotomy between the Spirit and the mind. Any anti-intellectual position, such as the belief held in many charismatic circles today that exercising the mind will hinder the Holy Spirit, is a real indication of deception. Deceivers like to parrot phrases like: “God will offend the mind to reveal the heart.” This cute little mantra often repeated in certain revival groups sounds very spiritual, but is very false. A careful reading of the Word tells us the truth: God will inform the mind to convince the heart. Jesus often did offend the Pharisee’s – by telling them the truth! The Holy Spirit leads people to Christ by shining the light of God’s Word into their minds and convicting them of its truth.