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March 26, 2000 Coy Wylie
1 John – Living in the Light
How to Test the Spirits
1 John 4:1-6
1. “Discrimination” is a bad word in our cultural vocabulary. Our courts are filled with lawsuits based on discrimination. In a multi-cultural society we are taught to be tolerant of one another. To an extent this is appropriate. Our Constitution states that all men are created equally. Acts 10:34 says, “God is no respecter of persons” (KJV); He does not show partiality. Therefore we are not to discriminate racially, economically, socially or culturally.
2. In this passage, John teaches we must discriminate doctrinally. We must “test the spirits.” We must learn to discern between “the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” These 6 verses are a parenthesis on his discourse about love. Love evidences our fellowship with God but love can never be divorced from truth.
An elementary school class toured a medical facility. A child asked why the doctors and nurses were constantly washing their hands. The nurse replied, “We wash our hands for two reasons: we love health and we hate germs.” The Christian who abides in Christ and walks in the Spirit loves truth and hates error. He discriminates.
3. As Christians, we are called “believers.” However, every believer is also called to be an unbeliever when it comes to error. The Bible not only encourages us to believe but also to not believe. Just as we can inhale and exhale at the same time, we cannot believe truth and accept error. You cannot love until you reject hatred. You cannot pursue righteousness until you abandon evil. John Stott has written, “Unbelief can be as much a mark of spiritual maturity as belief.” (p.157).
4. With this background in mind, let’s examine the command to test the spirits and three criteria by which we test the spirits.
I. The Command to Test the Spirits (v.1).
A. Why We Are to Test the Spirits.
1. John is speaking to believers. He calls them “beloved.” He says we are not to “believe every spirit” but “test” them as to “whether they are of God.” Why? Because there are “many false prophets” who have “gone out into the world.”
2. Historically, the background of this passage is in the era in which the NT was being completed. There was no NT cannon. The apostles were still in the process of writing the inspired books and epistles that make up our understanding of the Christian faith.
3. God delivered His word to the congregations of believers in part by the verbal word of divinely gifted and inspired prophets. We read about the powerful and prevalent gifts in 1 Cor.12 and 14.
4. John warns his readers not to “believe every spirit” but to “test the spirits whether they are of God” because not everyone who claimed to be a prophet was divinely inspired.
5. There was and is the great necessity of critical assessment of spiritual teaching. There are still many false teachers in the world.
B. What it Means to Test the Spirits.
1. Every believer has the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. In 3:24, we learned last week that God “have given us… the Spirit.” In chapter 2, John calls the presence of the Spirit “the anointing which you have received from Him…”
2. God has given us His indwelling Spirit but John now points out that there are other “spirits” loose in the world. If we have the Spirit, we ought to “test the Spirits.”
3. Christians often test teaching by how it sounds, the words used, the inflection of the voice, the stories told, if it moves them or makes them feel good. None of these are appropriate tests. “Test” in v.4 means “to approve or examine.” The term was used of gold put in the fire to test its purity.
4. There are two categories of spirits operating in the world. When someone proposes to speak for God, you should “test the spirits” or you might “amen” the wrong spirit! I’ve been in some churches where they would “amen” almost anything.
5. Behind every prophet is a spirit. The great question is does the Spirit of God or an evil spirit lead this teacher. Before we trust any teacher, we must “test the spirits.”
6. Paul wrote in 1 Thess.5:20-22, “Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.”
7. Jesus warned in Mt.7:15-16, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…”
8. Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29, “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”
9. Peter also offered this warning in 2 Pet.2:1, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.”
10. Today there is still a great need for biblical discernment and discrimination. Many believers remain biblically illiterate and spiritually gullible. They naively accept any teaching as truth.
11. In Eph.4:14, Paul says that a sure sign of spiritual immaturity is “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.”
C. Failing to Test the Spirits is Dangerous.
Every good parent teaches his children to discriminate, to discern. We teach them to never take candy from strangers or accept a ride from strangers. Why? We know that there are evil people in the world who will take advantage of the naiveté of our kids. Too many of God’s kids have never learned to discern. They don’t discriminate. They are led astray by spiritual candy with a pseudo spiritual wrapper that is nothing more than sugarcoated error. It tastes good and makes them feel good for the moment but leaves them with nothing but empty calories. There is no spiritual nutrition because there is no truth.
1. If you follow the wrong spirit, you will pay a price. The famous circus entrepreneur, P.T. Barnum is quoted as saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Satan has many slick sideshows that sidetrack God’s children and rob them of their spiritual riches.
2. There are “many” false teachers in the world today. The spiritual candy store is full. Satan has all flavors of teachers and preachers ready to fill your spiritual appetite with a sugarcoated experience that will leave you with a bellyache. Test the spirits!
3. Remember when Moses first appeared before Pharaoh? He had a rod that turned into a snake. Satan was not to be outdone so the magicians’ rods turned to snakes too. He knows how to put on a good show, to entice and lure us away from the truth.
4. The reformers insisted that even the most humble of believers has “the right of private judgment.” John is writing to the “beloved,” all Christians. You don’t have to have a seminary degree to test the spirits. You don’t have to attend a spirit-testing seminar. Why? Because the Holy Spirit already resides within you.
5. In this church we wear the name Baptist but our allegiance is to the Bible. Just because it is a Baptist teaching does not necessarily mean it is a biblical teaching. We “test the spirits” and the chief measuring stick is the Scripture!
II. The Criteria for Testing the Spirits (vv.5-6).
A. How Do They View the Son of God? (vv.2-3).
1. The first test is the acknowledgement of the historical incarnation of Jesus, that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” Believers are to test for truth based on a teacher’s attitude concerning the person and work of Jesus. The first question is always “What do they believe about Jesus?” because if you are wrong about Jesus you are wrong about God.
2. In John’s day there was a teacher known as Cerinthus who taught that Jesus became the Messiah at His baptism. The Spirit came upon and at His death on the cross, the Spirit left Him and He died and remained dead, thus denying the resurrection. Cerinthus taught his disciples that Jesus did not come as God but became the Son of God for season. This was a terrible false teaching.
3. Jesus did not become the Son of God. He has always existed as the Son. He was incarnated, came “in the flesh” to be our Savior. Jesus was fully God and fully man. The baby in the manger humanly did not know anything but divinely knew everything. The baby in the manger could humanly be only one place at a time but divinely was omnipresent, equally present everywhere. The baby in the manger was humanly terribly weak and hopelessly dependent but divinely was all-powerful. The baby in the manger was humanly unable to speak but divinely had spoken the worlds into existence.
4. Many religions seek to honor Jesus as a great man or a great teacher but do not recognize Him for who He is. Some of them knock on your door with attractive publications and reverent, religious words but they don’t believe that Jesus is the “express image of His person” (Heb.1:3). They will say He is God’s Son but just for a time, not for eternity. They will agree that He is a great prophet, but they want to put him on the level of Mohammed or Confucius.
5. A teacher must not only acknowledge the incarnation as a historical fact but they must also “confess” Him. They must commit their lives to Him.
6. Satan and his demons acknowledge the historical incarnation but do not “confess” Him as Lord. Evil spirits readily recognized Jesus during His earthly ministry. In Mk.1:24 we read the words of one spirit encountered by Jesus, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are; the Holy One of God!” In Mk.5:7 another said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” James 2:19 remarks, “Even the demons believe; and tremble!”
7. Christian Scientists claim that Jesus was a man who received the Spirit of the Christ. Mormons say Jesus was a man who became god to show us how to become gods. Liberal theologians deny the virgin birth of Jesus and thus deny His incarnation and His deity. All these people fail to “confess” Him as God.
8. There are many people in church every Sunday who believe Jesus is the incarnate Christ but have never truly confessed Him.
9. The one who is led by the Holy Spirit will always “confess” Jesus. Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would testify of Him and glorify Him. He said in Jn.16:13-14, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”
10. Paul states in 1 Cor.12:3, “No one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”
11. John says in v.3, to proclaim anything else about Jesus smacks of “the spirit of the Antichrist.” John has already mentioned the Antichrist in chapter 2. We know there is coming a world leader known as “the Antichrist,” however; “the spirit of the Antichrist” is “now already in the world.”
12. Be careful who you listen to that you do not take false medication.
B. What is Their Relation to the Spirit of God? (v.4).
1. In saying that believers “have overcome them” John is telling us that the false teachers have not succeeded in deceiving us.
2. False teachers are intimidating. They ask, “How can you believe that?” Raise the issue of creation in your biology classroom and watch them go into a frenzy. However, truth is absolute. It is immutable. It never changes.
If I play a B-flat on the piano you will hear a B-flat. A B-flat was a B-flat a thousand years ago and will still be a B-flat in the next millennium. It is absolute. Truth is absolute. Jesus is absolute. Heb.13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
3. Why have we “overcome” them? Not because we are smart, sharp or extremely intelligent, but because of the Spirit is within us. “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Although, Satan is great, the Holy Spirit is greater!
We all have insulation in our houses. Insulation keeps the warm air in and the cold air out or visa versa. The Holy Spirit is the God-given insulation in the believer’s life who helps us keep out error. Have you ever heard a sermon or listened to religious discussion and thought, “Something doesn’t sound right?” That is the Holy Spirit filtering out the error and leading you in truth.
C. Are They in Harmony with the Word of God? (vv.5-6).
1. Notice three pronouns in vv.4-6. In v.4 John speaks of “you” or Christians. In v.5 he speaks of “they,” false teachers. In v.6, he speaks of “we” or the God-ordained apostles.
2. Now in v.5 we see that that “they” are heard by the world. The world recognizes its own people and listens to their message. One of the easiest ways to recognize a false teacher is by whether the world is comfortable with him.
3. When you are on the job speak about the truth of Jesus, someone will invariably say, “I don’t want to hear that!” Why? Truth divides. People want to feel good about themselves. Truth always makes them take a hard look at themselves.
4. When I prepare a sermon, I don’t ever ask, “Will they enjoy this message?” My goal is not your entertainment but your edification. Truth always will help you.
In order to survive under the water, you need special equipment. Scuba gear enables a diver to live and function in a hostile environment. In the same way, the Spirit of God and the Word of God enable us to function in the world.
5. When John says, “He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us,” it sounds somewhat arrogant. In effect, he is saying, “You can tell our message is God’s message because God’s people receive it.”
6. I could never say that. It would be prideful and presumptuous for me to say, “Whoever knows God agrees with me and only those who don’t know God disagree with me.” I’ve known a few preachers who’ve come close to that level of arrogance though.
7. John is an apostle; I am a pastor. John personally walked with Jesus. By inspiration, he wrote words of Scripture. To agree with the apostles is to agree with Scripture. Eph.2:20 says the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.”
8. Turn the page to 2 Jn.10-11. Churches met in houses in those days. John was saying don’t let him in the church. In this church we discriminate doctrinally.
9. Someone might say, “Truth, truth, truth! Pastor you major on truth, but what about emotion? What about feelings? I want to feel the presence of God.” Amen! I want to feel Him too. He gave me my emotions. I want both spirit and truth. However, I want to be certain what I am feeling. I don’t want to get off into subjective feelings until I am dead on in objective truth!
We can navigate a course by the use of a compass. A compass points to the north because of the magnetic field. Christians can navigate life by responding to the “true north” of the Word of God. We have the Word of God before us and the Spirit of God within us. Let us “test the spirits” and the teaching of anyone who claims to speak for God.
Copyright © 1998 – 2003 Coy M. Wylie.
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Program Description: Tom welcomes guest Matt Ferguson, youth pastor at Calvary Chapel Bend and former Jehovah’s Witness as they discuss Matt’s background and experience in the Watchtower Society.
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could join us. In today’s program, Tom welcomes Matt Ferguson, youth pastor at Calvary Chapel here in Bend, Oregon. Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. On our program today, I’ll be having a conversation with Matt Ferguson, and we’ll be discussing a religious cult that most people are aware of because they-well, they seem to show up at everyone’s door. And some weeks ago we addressed the followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who take the same approach in trying to attract converts, but this week and next week we’ll be talking about Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Matt, welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Matt: Thank you, Tom. Appreciate you having me on here.
Tom: Yeah, Matt is the youth pastor at Calvary Chapel here in Bend, Oregon. Matt, you know, we’ve known each other for quite a while, but I really don’t know your testimony. How did you come by your knowledge of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, better known as Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Matt: Well, Tom, I was actually born and raised a Jehovah’s Witness the first 18 years of my life. I grew up in that organization, or that cult. My father was an elder in the Kingdom Hall. Both my parents were heavily involved in all the activities: going door to door, and the public speaking. So I was involved in it from the get-go, really. So I spent many, many of my early years learning the Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine and going door to door at a very young age. In fact, I was five when I first started going door to door, knocking on people’s doors, handing out the Watchtower and Awake magazines, and so I grew up very, very much involved in it.
Tom: So, Matt, in a nutshell, what would you say JWs-what they’re all about regarding theology? Could you give us kind of an overview?
Matt: Mm-hmm. Yeah, so the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ theology is really-it starts with the belief of who God is. They don’t believe in the Trinity, so their belief is that God is a single person, and not a triune and single Being united in three Persons like most Christians. They believe that Jesus is the Son of God but in the sense of being God’s first created being. So they believe that Jesus is really Michael the archangel. They get that from their translation somehow, but they believe that Jesus is Michael the archangel, who becomes Jesus when Jehovah, His Father, sends Him here to earth to ransom mankind from sin, from Adam. So their belief is that Jesus lived a perfect life; then He died. But rather than being crucified on a cross, their belief is that Jesus died on a torture stake. A couple other differences are [that] Jesus rose, but He rose spiritually in the Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine, not physically. Their methods of salvation, or how man is to be saved, comes by, I’d say, both Jesus’ sacrifice and then also obeying God’s commands, which are given primarily and solely by the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society. So it’s a mixture of Jesus’ sacrifice and a good dose of works.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, Matt, you know, it’s stunning, as you said-you’re five years old, you’re out there, going from door to door. So this is all you knew! I mean, obviously, many who know about Jehovah’s Witnesses-they’re not allowed to read any other material. They’re not allowed to-sometimes they have to have a conversation with those they’re witnessing to, but still… Now, where did this begin to unravel for you?
Matt: Well, really, Tom, it was probably my eighteenth year, and when I was eighteen years old, I started questioning some of the things that were being taught. I started really looking at the history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I started looking at some of the prophecies that were made, some of the contradictions that were pointed out to me…
Tom: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say, Matt: you didn’t come to this on your own. Somebody was challenging you, or was this when you were out witnessing, or what?
Matt: Well, you know, I had some people that were challenging me. In fact, my wife now, who I was beginning to date, which…that was-that’s a story in itself as far as that being a no-no, but she really challenged me. She was a brand new Christian, born again Christian. Two weeks after getting saved, she starts dating a knucklehead Jehovah’s Witness, and we spent a lot of our dates debating Scripture. And, you know, what was beautiful is she didn’t know a lick of Scripture, but she had something that I did not have, and that was evident. That was apparent to me, and that ended up being a relationship with Jesus Christ. But we, you know, we would debate. We would talk about differences between Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses. That got the ball rolling, and I started noticing some of the errors that were in their doctrine, or in their teachings.
Tom: You know, just a side note on that, one of my buddies is Greg Durel; he’s a pastor down in Louisiana, and he had a Catholic background. His wife was a Jehovah’s Witness, okay? They started dating, and then it definitely was the Lord that began convicting them both, so they accused each other of being wrong with their belief system, and they went out to prove that the other was-what they were believing in-was not true. And in that process, they both came to Christ, and they both admitted they were wrong! It was incredible!
Matt: That’s awesome. [laughs]
Tom: Yeah, it’s really a terrific, terrific story of the Lord’s grace. So then how did you come to the Lord?
Matt: Well, I came to the Lord after-as soon as I started dating my wife, Shari, and as soon as I started questioning some of my beliefs, and some of the things that the Jehovah’s Witnesses had erred on, or done wrongly, they gave me an ultimatum, you know-and this is something that some people know about the Jehovah’s Witnesses-but those who question, or those who basically don’t follow all that the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society say is what one must do, you’re faced with excommunication. So that was my choice, was excommunication, or go in line, basically. Follow in line. And so I came to the Lord by exiting the Jehovah’s Witness faith, and really, when I left, I had no desire to have anything to do with God. I was kind of just done with it. And it was really the Lord that drew me to Him. He used my wife; He used Calvary Chapel. I started attending a Calvary Chapel, which was word by word, Scripture by Scripture, and the Lord gradually drew me, and it was really the verses where Jesus invites people to Him that really spoke to my heart, you know? “Come to Me all you who are tired and heavy laden. Come taste and drink.” These different passages really spoke to my heart, having to do with a relationship with Christ rather than an empty relationship of works.
Tom: Mm-hmm. You know, Matt, many of the cults, they have a cult leader; they usually end up worshipping him. As I said, we did a program with the Higleys not too long ago dealing with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but you find out it’s not really Jesus Christ, it’s Joseph Smith, so you have an individual. But what makes the Watchtower Society unique, at least compared to others, is that now it’s the organization that’s the prophet; it’s the organization. How did you feel about that?
Matt: Well, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was really-you know, that was a big thing for me. That was Charles Taze Russell. He started that in 1870 or 1871. But, you know, he was the one who claimed that God spoke to him, and that he was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in finding the truth, and he started the Watchtower Society and, really, the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But the Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t even adhere or follow most of Charles Taze Russell’s teachings. They don’t-they really shy away from it, in fact. But then you look at all the material that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have-even their Bible, the New World Translation, is a translated Bible from the Watchtower Society, so all your material, all your doctrine and theology, is being fed to you directly by these men in Brooklyn, New York. So that was an issue, because though they claim to be men and women of the Bible, much, if not all, comes from the Watchtower Society. So that presents a problem.
Tom: You mentioned earlier about prophecies, failed prophecies. So this organization has to keep readjusting things or…give us some of those examples.
Matt: Well, you know, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have had a long history of making prophecy, and obviously we have prophecy in Scripture, and whenever one is dealing with prophecy, you better get that prophecy right. Scriptures tell us if they don’t, then you’re not to believe that person. That person is a false prophet. You’re not to be afraid of them is what Deuteronomy says. So they’ve made a lot of false prophecies, but most Jehovah’s Witnesses are not aware of it. They kind of deal with it in ignorance, because you’re discouraged strongly from looking into the history of it. But, you know, you can look throughout even a lot of their older literature and publications, many of the teachings of Charles Taze Russell, and you find hundreds of false prophecies, mostly in regard to the coming of Jesus, His Second Coming. They taught a lot in 1914, early 1900s, 1925, 1975, a lot of those-you know, a lot during that time, they made a lot of very clear prophecies that did not come to pass. Yeah, there was a lot of correction, a lot of covering up of those false prophecies. Then you have a lot of doctrine that was revised. You have a lot of doctrine about who Jesus is, you have a lot of doctrine about hell, and heaven, and all these things that are in a constant change, and so there’s a lot of revising and editing and covering up, basically.
Tom: Yeah, but you say that somehow doesn’t really filter back, or-you know, I’m not saying there aren’t some that recognize these things, because they’re going to hear it. I mean, if you’re going door to door, and all of a sudden you come into a situation where the people are really Bible believers, evangelicals, and so on, they’re going to question them. They’re going to ask these things. I remember in my own case, and it probably isn’t always this way, but usually you have a veteran and a neophyte, right? [chuckles] And I always like to look at the neophyte and say-well, whatever the Lord puts on my heart and mind.
But one of the things…you know, not too long ago, Matt, I did an article called “Warning to the Witnesses,” and I wanted believers to have some Scriptures there that they could-you know, whether they kept it right near their door, or something like that-that they could challenge the Witnesses on. And, Matt, a verse I like to use is John 8:24 where Jesus said, “I said therefore unto you that ye shall die in your sins, for if ye believe not that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins.” Now, in the King James, it’s italic in “he,” but He’s claiming to be Jehovah God right there.
Tom: So if they get that wrong-well, there’s no hope for them. And, again, because it’s the Scriptures, hopefully…well, the Word of God says that His Word will not return void. So it’s going to be there for them to think about, for the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of that verse and so on.
Matt: Mm-hmm. That’s a great Scripture. It is. In fact, I was-we’re in John right now it seems in a lot of our studies, but in our high school study, we covered that two weeks ago, and that was really the theme verse, you know, in Jesus claiming to be the great I Am, and really, you know, making a very radical statement there, and a very narrow statement. And I do take them to verses like that; that’s a great verse to take them to. You know, I look at Romans 10:9-13 where you have Paul saying, “Those that call upon the name of the Lord are the ones that are going to be saved.” There’s many Scriptures where you could take them to even in the gospels, and in their own Bible, in fact-the New World Translation-where you could show them where Jesus accepts worship of men. We have, obviously, like Isaiah 44 that talks about Jehovah God is the only One that is to be worshipped, and when you see these verses in the gospels where Jesus is being worshipped, and then you take all these verses and you start to understand that Jesus and Jehovah are one and the same, as far as both being God and both accepting worship. It’s irrefutable.
Tom: Now, Matt, I came out of a Roman Catholic background, and that’s works salvation. But it’s not the works that you guys-before as a Jehovah’s Witness-that you did. How did people handle-I mean seriously-all of this [going] out witnessing? And isn’t there some kind of quotient, or quota, that they need?
Matt: [chuckles] Yeah, I believe it’s four to five hours a month, I think, is the bare minimum. But, you know, most Jehovah’s Witnesses handle going door to door-they do so very zealously…
Matt: …and it’s admirable to look and see how zealous they are in going door to door, and in their study of the Bible, but you kind of nailed it: for me, going door to door was part of earning my way to salvation. That’s part of earning my way into God’s good graces and His favor. You know, it also-going door to door-fed into my belief that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were different than all the rest, that they were carriers of the truth, and they alone had the truth. But there is a very organized way that they handle this. There is, in fact, a time sheet. I crack up at it now at the thought of it, but you turn in a time sheet, and you mark down how many hours you go door to door. You have different classes of those that go door to door, and they’re called publishers. You have regular publishers who they, on an average, are under 10 hours a month. You have different classes of pioneers who spend a minimum of 50 hours a month going door to door, all the way up to 90. And yeah, there’s a very, very strict way, a quota, as you said, in how many hours you spend, how many magazines you place, how much donations you get for the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society-all of these things you turn in, and all these things are recorded and they’re put on your record.
Tom: Mm-hmm. You know, Matt, having said all of that, what would you say would be the type of people that are most vulnerable to being convicted, to being converted, basically?
Matt: I’d say that the most vulnerable would probably be those who spent a lot of time in religions that placed an emphasis on works, so I could go down the list, but you mentioned Catholics-a lot of current Jehovah’s Witnesses were former Catholics; those that a great deal of emphasis was placed on working your salvation out; a lot of emphasis placed on tradition and different practices. Jehovah’s Witnesses are very much about that: works and tradition. Also those that are family members that are involved one way or the other in that threat of dealing with excommunication, that threat of losing your ties with your family-that’s a big draw or a big kind of area in making their decision.
But I’d say many people are attracted to the Jehovah’s Witnesses because they claim to have the answer to life’s problems, and so they’re looking at the world around us, and any person is going to be attracted to somebody who claims to have all the answers, claims to provide a solution and who stresses-you know, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they stress very strict morals; very much centered on family values, much like the Mormons. And so it’s appealing to people who are looking at that and who are somewhat coming out of an area where it’s very works-based. So that’s appealing to them.
Tom: Mm-hmm. You know, Matt, it’s not unlike what we would call a self-help program, right?
Matt: [laughing] Right!
Tom: Because it is works salvation. But here’s what I do, and later, maybe even next week, I really want you to lay out your encouragement and how-give us some ideas about witnessing. But one of the things that I do is when they come to the door-and we don’t all do it the same, and there’s no one absolute way to witness. I mean, obviously you need to be prayed up and looking to the Lord-but one of the things that I say to them is, “Well, what’s your deal?”
And that kind of pulls them back a little bit. “What do you mean?”
“Yeah, what’s your deal? You see, I have a deal, and what I want to know is-is my deal…or is your deal better than my deal?” And of course my deal is the free gift of salvation that Christ paid for, so I want to know-again, I ask them, “So what’s your deal?”
And I find that interesting, based on all that you just said, Matt, because talking about the works, the hours, all of these things: if it’s works salvation, it doesn’t-I mean, nothing compares with God’s free gift of grace, Jesus having paid the full penalty for our sins-I mean, there is nothing like that, and it sounds a little bit crass to say it that way, but it shakes them up a bit, and it gets-hopefully, it gets them thinking, because they…there’s nothing out there-I don’t care, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, whatever-whoever is coming to you outside of biblical Christianity has got a bad deal, right?
Matt: Your mentioning that, that’s…you know, that was a big draw for me: in doing all these works that I was doing when I was a Jehovah’s Witness, all the hours I spent going door to door, all the hours I put in-they go to their Kingdom Halls three to five times a week, so you have all these things that you’re doing, all these works that you’re performing. You know, I could say when doing all those things, I could look at it and say, “Man, I’m doing all these things for the Lord.” But there was one thing that, like you were talking about, the free gift-the big thing for me was I was doing all these works for the Lord, but I didn’t feel any closer to the Lord, and I didn’t have a relationship with Christ.
Matt: And so there was a dryness, there was an emptiness, that all these works I was doing was not helping with. It wasn’t bringing me any closer to God; I felt so far from God. So, yeah, when you bring them to, “What’s your deal?” and you show them that free gift-you know, Ephesians 2:8,9 talks about “it’s by grace that you have been saved [through] faith and not of works, lest anyone should boast,” that’s a big point to go ahead and bring out to them. Our deal is, yeah, salvation-it fully is God’s giving His grace to us, His unmerited favor, and our salvation is dependent upon receiving it rather than this works-based relationship that doesn’t bring you any closer to the Lord.
Tom: Right. My guest is Matt Ferguson. He’s the youth pastor at Calvary Chapel here in Bend, Oregon, and Matt, as you’ve heard, if you’ve been listening, Matt grew up in the Watchtower Society, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and his insights have been terrific.
Matt, we’re about out of time for this session, but the Lord willing, we’ll come back to this next week. So, again, Matt, thanks for being with us.
Matt: Absolutely, Tom. Thank you for having me.
We’ve been reporting about and warning of the dangerous teaching of Mike Bickle’s spiritual influence over young vulnerable students, many of whom are willing to give up everything just to come live at his campus at IHOP (International House of Prayer) in Kansas City. Now we have more testimony of the strange happenings. This personal story is very important. It was shared by a young woman named Ariel, who spent time as an intern at IHOP. It is reprinted here in its entirety, along with some signs to look for if you are concerned that someone you love may be involved with a cult. (Need more background in IHOP? Check out the related articles after Ariel’s story):
It was the year I turned 23.I was bright-eyed, excited and full of hope & anticipation.Sure, I’d been through some rough stuff, but I knew that the Lordwas the keeper of my life and I was heading into a new season of trusting Him deeper.
I was moving to Kansas City! My long-awaited (14 years) dream of being in Kansas City to be a part of Mike Bickle’s ministry which had now branched into an International House of Prayer was finally materializing into reality. I had big hopes and dreams and wanted nothing but to serve my God with everything.
Since I was 12 years old, my family and I had driven the 3 hour trek to Kansas City for conferences at the church Mike Bickle pastored at the time (It is known by various names as they changed at different stages: Kansas City Fellowship, Metro Vineyard Fellowship & Metro Christian Fellowship). My spiritual roots had, in many ways, grown from the times that I spent in these gatherings and what I felt God imparted to my life while I was there. I had been around…marinating in the environment for about 14 years; so I knew a lot about the history that led up to what is now known as IHOP (the International House of Prayer). I remember one of the first times Mike shared his vision for starting IHOP. Many left Metro with Mike when he stepped down as senior pastor to help support it’s start-up.
So fast forward…IHOP was still within its first 5 years of operation and I was captivated by what I saw and heard. If there was a “poster child” that endorsed IHOP and who was convinced it was the best thing going, that would have been me. I say all of this to lay a back drop for what follows.
A long journey and a lot of waiting preceded the decision to move to Kansas City. My family and I unanimously agreed that after much prayer, it was the right timing so we sold or gave away half of what we owned, packed up the rest and moved to the Utopia of what we thought would be the greatest spiritual adventure of our lives. I had a background in the arts…music, dance, etc and couldn’t wait to get involved so I could really feel like I belonged there…not just a visitor hanging in the periphery and coming for conferences. I wanted to get “in”.
When we arrived on moving day, the “community” we were hoping to be a part of and the support of those we knew from IHOP appeared to be quite lacking. We were told that to obtain moving help from IHOP, we had to hire them at a ridiculous hourly rate ($20/per person, per hour) which we could not afford. When the neighbors who lived next door found out that it was just us and we had NO help moving in, their family came over and helped us unpack our moving truck for approximately the next 3 hours–for no charge–just to be good neighbors. Oh…and did I mention they weren’t even believers? They had compassion on our predicament and carried boxes and hauled furniture without complaining once. They simply smiled and said “welcome to the neighborhood”.
The un-relational climate we had seen hints of in the past became rapidly obvious upon our relocation to IHOP-KC. There was a lot of talk about “community” but everyone I met was so tunnel visioned on “always being in the prayer room” that they didn’t want to socialize or make time to build real relationships with people. There was a relational vacuum and the disconnect I felt upon my arrival was overwhelming. This was a significant concern of mine and my family but we rationalized it away with “oh, we just haven’t been here long enough. Eventually, we’ll feel more connected and involved and we’ll see the relational community that IHOP advertises here. Just give it time.”
Within a month, I joined the One Thing internship (which is an intensive 6-month long internship program for 18-25 year olds). I had really felt it was what I should do and had the support of my family that this was a great thing for me. They also felt it was a great way for me to connect to the ministry we had all moved here to be a part of. So our family’s income tax return went toward the steep $4,500 tuition fee for the program and I came on board in August. I was full of excitement and felt that things were finally coming together for me. At least that’s how it appeared.
This is where it all began for me….
A cult? Strong word you might say…and you are correct. It is not a word I use lightly or carelessly to label anything. But much prayer, time and years of research and personal experience have brought me to the conclusion that I can say confidently that the root system–or foundation–that IHOP is built on follows the basic premises and signs of a cult religious group. When I first left IHOP, I went through a severe culture shock that is hard to put into words. When I began studying the signs of cult fallout and the things that cult members go through after leaving a cult, my eyes began to open to what I had been a part of and recently come out of.
Below I have listed some common signs of cult operation. Below them I cite in underlined text short examples of my personal experiences as IHOP which illustrates these particular signs in IHOP’s day to day practice. After 6 years of being out of IHOP I still hold to my position that it is a dangerous place for people’s hearts and I have seen much destruction of families, relationships and marriages of those who have been involved with this movement.
I appreciate your taking the time to read and prayerfully consider the research and personal testimony I have included below.
1. A destructive cult tends to be totalitarian in its control of its members’ behavior. Cults are likely to dictate in great detail not only what members believe, but also what members wear and eat, when and where members work, sleep, and bathe, and how members think, speak, and conduct familial, marital, or sexual relationships.
As an intern at IHOP, our day to day lives were closely monitored and dictated. I was not allowed to go anywhere or leave IHOP premises without express verbal permission from a community leader except on our one day off. Our schedules started early in the morning with hours in the prayer room, then classes, then back to the prayer room. Our nights often ran late with required attendance at EGS (Encounter God Services) or any other special event Mike spoke at that we were required to attend. Sometimes we had to attend worship sets that ended at 10 pm or midnight. Sleep was minimal and was often un-restful when I did get it. Sleep deprivation is a commonly used tactic in many cult groups to weaken the mind and make a person more susceptible to the embracing of the doctrines taught by that cult. There are many biological and psychological effects of sleep deprivation on the mind.
2. A destructive cult tends to have an ethical double standard. Members are urged to be obedient to the cult, to carefully follow cult rules. They are also encouraged to be revealing and open in the group, confessing all to the leaders. On the other hand, outside the group they are encouraged to act unethically, manipulating outsiders or nonmembers, and either deceiving them or simply revealing very little about themselves or the group. In contrast to destructive cults, honorable groups teach members to abide by one set of ethics and act ethically and truthfully to all people in all situations.
Anyone who rebelled against IHOP’s rules went through a strict disciplinarian process. At its most minimal level of discipline, for an intern, this meant the loss of having a day off and having to do manual labor. Everyone was kept on a short leash. We also had weekly groups as interns that we were required to participate in where everyone was“interrogated” and pressured to open up and share their personal struggles, etc and answer personal questions about their lives, struggles, thoughts, fears, and walks with G-d. It often felt like going to some kind of confession (as in Catholocism) and some interns out and out refused to be so vulnerable and disclosing in front of people they did not know. We were all given journals and told that we had mandatory writing assignments to complete. We were to record details of our IHOP prayer room times, things God spoke to us, dreams, visions, or whatever else that happened in us spiritually and then had to turn in our journals weekly to have an internship leader review/read them. In the last month or so I was at IHOP I paid particularly close attention to the fact that internship leaders ironically prayed things over me in prayer times or at the altar in the prayer room that related directly to things I had put in my journals. So what often might have seemed prophetic was the result of the information about me they already had access to.
3. A destructive cult has only two basic purposes: recruiting new members and fund-raising.Altruistic movements, established religions, and other honorable groups also recruit and raise funds. However, these actions are incidental to an honorable group’s main purpose of improving the lives of its members and of humankind in general. Destructive cults may claim to make social contributions, but in actuality such claims are superficial and only serve as gestures or fronts for recruiting and fund-raising. A cult’s real goal is to increase the prestige and often the wealth of the leader.
There were always an underlying pressure to bring people into IHOP. We were encouraged to invite others and get them to join what we were doing. IHOP campaigns big time to recruit new interns. At every conference, advertising and marketing videos are used to this day to promote the internships. They are played on large TV screens like presidential campaigns and are just part of the propaganda used to “sell” young people on this new version of what walking with God is supposed to look like.
Each intern paid $4,500 to attend a 6 month internship. This covered some books/teaching material we were given as well as food, lodging etc. Check this out though: Every intern lived in the Hernhutt apartments (located next door) which IHOP owned anyway so the only expense was utilities and general upkeep. There was no rent. Plus when there was a mandatory fasting day, weekend, week, etc. no meals were served. So those who didn’t choose to fast had to go out and buy food and no interns were not allowed to have jobs so this got to be a big expense since there wasn’t extra money to live on.
I lived in a 2-bedroom apartment. It housed 6 girls from the ages of 20-23. 4 of us shared one room and 2 shared another. The prayer room costs nothing to attend and is free and open to the public. So hmmm….$4,500 for meals, my electric bill and some IHOP books. I currently live in my own apartment, pay all of my own bills including rent, food, gasoline, renter’s insurance, credit card bills, student loans, electric, cell phone, etc etc and ALL of that costs me approximately $1,500 a month. So basic math says that someone was getting a big paycheck because my expenses would have never cost that in an internship program where we were given so little.
4. A destructive cult appears to be innovative and exclusive. The leader claims to be breaking with tradition, offering something novel, and instituting the ONLY viable system for change that will solve life’s problems or the world’s ills. But these claims are empty and only used to recruit members who are then surreptitiously subjected to mind control to inhibit their ability to examine the actual validity of the claims of the leader and the cult.
In the time I was there Mike often used “them and us” types of statements when referring to “the church” or those outside of IHOP. We were given a sense of being on the “cutting edge” because we were ahead of the church and were doing something new & innovative that was going to sweep the world. It all sounded good so everyone wanted to be in on it as a “forerunner” and liked the label of being on the front lines. So no one dared questioned it.
5. A destructive cult is authoritarian in its power structure. The leader is regarded as the supreme authority. He or she may delegate certain power to a few subordinates for the purpose of seeing that members adhere to the leader’s wishes. There is no appeal outside his or her system to a greater system of justice. For example, if a schoolteacher feels unjustly treated by a principal, an appeal can be made to the superintendent. In a destructive cult, the leader claims to have the only and final ruling on all matters.
Our family became friends with a Jewish couple who were in KC for a conference. They were part of an orthodox Jewish congregation in Israel and were missionaries in the US. They had some grave concerns and red flags (regarding IHOP’s theology, the model that is used with everything IHOP related, etc) that they attempted to meet with Mike and discuss. After being brushed off by Mike multiple times in his refusal to meet with him…even though they were Jewish leaders from Israel and Mike knew of them, he finally told these friends of ours that “This is how we do things here. This is just how IHOP is. It’s not for everyone.” If there was something you didn’t like or didn’t agree with, you were basically told “IHOP wasn’t for everyone so if you couldn’t handle it, maybe you shouldn’t be here.” There was no actual accountability for anything deemed wrong/un-Biblical. We were told that IHOP has its own “culture” and you must assimilate into that culture and language to really understand it. If you had a problem with something, you were told that you just had not been around long enough to understand how they did things OR that you just weren’t a good fit. These were the answers I was given when I met with internship leaders right before leaving. There was never actual admittance of wrong doing or hurting anyone who was caught in the crossfire.
6. A destructive cult’s leader is a self-appointed messianic person claiming to have a special mission in life. For example, leaders of flying saucer cults claim that beings from outer space have commissioned them to lead people away from Earth, so that only the leaders can save them from impending doom.
Every intern was required to listen to the 12 hours of IHOP’s recorded history on CD footage. Much of this content was heavily edited before its publication. These tapes told of “prophetic words” and signs that were given to some of Mike’s mentors (Bob Jones, Paul Cain, etc)—who were all naming him as the leader of the next “big thing” God was doing. Over and over and over again I’ve heard it said (both directly by Mike as well as from others) that he (Mike) would be the leader of a movement that “changed the nature and expression of Christianity in the earth”. Every time, all recognition points to Mike. His “mission” to transform the church and capture the hearts of America’s youth has been his declared goal since the early 1980’s. One of the major dangers is that these grandious sounding claims and “prophetic” words are laden with flattery, narcissism, elitism and are a perfect guise under which anything Mike introduces through IHOP can fall under the heading of being a “new thing” God is doing.
This elitist teaching puts Mike on a pedestal and he has a Messianic-like devoted following of people who would do anything if he told them to without a moment of questioning or hesitation. From my observations and experiences on staff, IHOP members do not think for themselves or question Mike’s interpretation of scripture or the slant in the way he teaches it. At any conference, one will easily observe that if Mike recommends a book or promotes a teaching, a t-shirt or a speaker, at the next break, ALL of that item will be sold out in their bookstore. When I was on staff, I heard people continually sing Mike’s praises around the clock and quote more of what Mike says or thinks or teaches than actual scripture.
Mike has an alluring charisma and many seem to be instantly drawn to his convincing appearance of direction and purpose. He teaches with passion and emotion rather than truth and it’s that charisma that draws and hooks people causing many to blindly follow (and defend) his message.
I believe that the IHOP lifestyle by and large sets people up for disillusionment through the false hope that its deception provides. It is a pseudo, manufactured reality where people are told “you can live in Nirvana and enjoy the ‘high’ of being in God’s presence 24/7 and that can be ALL that you live for” so people sell all that they have, buy into a dream and move across the country to be a part of a ministry that makes captivating claims…and then their world often crumble to ashes when things aren’t as they seem once they arrive.
Mike’s primary target and focus is on the young people. His appeals from the pulpit and his well-polished speeches aim at capturing the hearts of America’s youth. Children and youth are not told or encouraged to respect or honor the parents G-d gave them. Instead, wedges are driven between families and a seed of pride, rebellion and elitism gets planted into the hearts of youth when they are told things like the following…
This is a very close paraphrase of what I’ve heard many, many times at One Thing, IHOP conferences and in teachings by leaders:
“YOU are called to be on the cutting edge. Come here and join a community of other people who are like you, called to what you’re called to. We understand you. You’ve been mis-understood in the church. You’ve had your wings clipped, your gifts misunderstood. Here you can fulfill your forerunner calling that your family just hasn’t understood about you. You might feel like you don’t fit back home, you’re on the outside, no one understands the fire in you. Well we get it. Youare the leaders that G-d is raising up in these end times and you will be kings and queens on the earth—reigning with Him. You were made for this place. IHOP is an incubator for people like you.”
Narcissistic speeches like this instill a sense of pride, arrogance and elitism in the hearts of youth who hear it and it feeds their need for validation and identity. They run to IHOP, leave their families, join internships…hoping that what they’ve heard is true. They go to IHOP looking for identity…instead of finding it in Jesus.
Once outside of the IHOP environment, they are terrified and overwhelmed by the “real” world and don’t know how to function in it when they’ve been in an intensive internship environment. There is a degree of re-acclimating to normal life that feels like an IHOP detox afterward. It’s a severe emotional drop because the hyped up services and conferences that were your manna are now gone and when there is no prayer room, your life in God feels empty and lifeless. Many simply don’t know how to engage with God in a real day-to-day basis once they’ve left. I experienced this and heard the exact same thing from a handful of my friends after they left IHOP and the internship. At that point when disillusionment sets in, I know many interns that walked away from God completely upon leaving the internship and went back into lifestyles worse than the ones they left when they came to IHOP originally.
7. A destructive cult’s leader centers the veneration of members upon himself or herself.Priests, rabbis, ministers, democratic leaders, and other leaders of genuinely altruistic movements focus the veneration of adherents on God or a set of ethical principles. Cult leaders, in contrast, keep the focus of love, devotion, and allegiance on themselves.
I believe my statements above illustrate this so I won’t be redundant.
8. A destructive cult’s leader tends to be determined, domineering, and charismatic. Such a leader effectively persuades followers to abandon or alter their families, friends, and careers to follow the cult. The leader then takes control over followers’ possessions, money, time, and lives.
Youth are pumped up at conferences and then go home to tell their parents they are moving to Kansas City to join IHOP, be part of an internship, etc. At the time, sadly, they don’t realize how much more they are giving up and leaving behind than just their families. I was hurled into a system that took control of my time, when I ate, slept, had time alone, etc. Picking up the pieces of my heart and rebuilding a Biblical view of God after getting outside of IHOP was quite a long process. I hope that by sharing all of this, I am able to spare others the heartache of what I went through.
You may or may not have been in a cult-like environment but here are some potential signs to watch for in safe/unsafe group leaders.
“I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be as wise and cunning as snakes but innocent as doves.” –Matthew 10:16
Research by Rick Ross,Expert Consultant and Intervention Specialist
Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.
1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
8. Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
9. The group/leader is always right.10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader.
1. Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
2. Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower’s mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused–as that person’s involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.
3. Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as “persecution”.
4. Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
5. Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
6. Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
7. A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
8. Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
9. Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
10. Former followers are at best-considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.
Please don’t just take my word for it. Start doing your own research. Ask the Father to lead you as you pursue what is TRUTH. Don’t just stop at the facts–look deeper. Do Google searches on cults and ask the Lord to unveil deceptions.
Blessings to you on your journey of walking with Him.
Witnessing to the Cults
We are besieged by heartsick Christians around the world who have lost a loved one, a child, a parent, a spouse or a friend to one of the many cults that abound in the land. Of course, we get just as many inquiries from Christians who have made the acquaintance of a Mormon or Freemason or Muslim and want to know the best way to share The Good News of Jesus with them.
There are as many variations to the questions and needs as there are groups out there. The New Age, for example, has about as many definitions as it has followers. But there are significant base parallels to every cultic group.
In every case, every attempt is made to humanize God,deify man, minimize sin, and separate you from the authority of Holy Scripture. The last is often done by adding to the Bible, that group’s own created scripture of higher authority, usually given by mystical means to that group’s spiritual leader. They will also make every effort to convince you that salvation is only available through that group and its special plan for your step into eternity.
This tells you then, that in order to witness to someone in any of the cultic groups, it will be necessary for you to deify and glorify God, reveal mankind as lost to God through sin, demonstrate the validity of the Bible and point the way to the cross as the only way of salvation for mankind.
Simple! No, not at all. Well, if someone shows up that you know is head over heels into some cultic theology, and you know absolutely nothing about it and you don’t have time to run to a library, then you can always start from the above premise and you will never go wrong. Trust me, the newly arrived cult member will quickly set you straight on his/her doctrine in any of the above areas.
But, assuming you do have some time to prepare, I strongly suggest that you learn the simple basics that separate that specific group from orthodox Christianity. Then you are ready to proceed. Almost.
With an acknowledgment and thanks to JEWS FOR JESUS for an old tract I carried around until it was unreadable, here it is rewritten with some of my own pointers on witnessing that I consider vital to your success on being a really effective witness :
1. Be a Real Friend. There are a zillion spiritual scalp hunters out there who want to win a lost soul for Jesus, but are completely unaware of the person who is attached to that soul. Try to have an honest and well rounded relationship with your friend before you attempt to witness.
Pray about your own motives and make the association a real one. It is the intensive person to person witness through which most cultists are being won to Christ. It’s really true that what you are usually speaks louder than what you say.
Be ready to love that person just exactly as they are and where they are, even if they never leave that cult. I am convinced that the vast majority of these people are where they are because they really want to serve God with all their hearts. These people are not God’s enemies nor are they ours. They are victims of false teachers. The Scriptures say “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.” (Isa. 9:16 )
2. Encourage Discussion on Life issues to get some insight on how your friend perceives and understand things. Listen to where his (her) heart really is. Get him to talk about the things which concern him and lead him into a discussion about what his group means to him. People are in cults for many different reasons.
In no way let him come to the understanding that you only care for him as long as you might convert him. Love that person right now!
3. In Some Way Give Your Own Testimony. A good place to begin is to tell specifically how God has answered prayer in your life. Avoid testimonies that talk about the peace and joy you have in the Lord.
Remember, those who follow Eastern religions and any number of the new cults will give just as fervent a testimony. Like the Mormons who use their burning in the bosom as a test of truth, each group has its own subjective method of instilling a counterfeit sense of security.
4. Answer all questions and objections from Scripture. But remember, you don’t have to answer every question when it’s asked. In fact, your friend will feel a whole lot more comfortable with you if you can’t. You can say, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I’ll find out”, or “Let me think about it a little more and I’ll give you an answer the next time I see you.” Then, find the answer, be sure you understand it and bring it back!
5. Get your friend to study the Bible with you. Don’t concentrate only on their theological problem areas. There is power in all the Scripture. A good beginning point is the first chapter of The Book Of John.
6. Offer to pray for your friend’s needs. While an apologetics kind of ministry is not always welcomed, few people will decline prayer and God seems to be particularly pleased to honor prayers as evidence of His love and concern in these cases.
7. Try to bring your friend into the communication sphere of other Christians who are former members of that cultic group. Such a meeting might be painful at first, but it does bring persons to the place where they can see that there really can be a God centered life after the cult.
8. Emphasize that Christ is the sin bearer for you and your friend alike. Remember that your friend has been programmed to think that he has to carry his own sin until it can be released only through his cult group leadership. It’s up to you to show him that is not true!
9. Ask for a decision. As a general rule, it’s not good to continually press for a decision, but you will prayerfully know when the timing is right in the matter.
10. Remember the areas that the cult cannot deal with and bring your friend to an understanding of these important matters; the power of the shed blood of Jesus, the Cross and the nature of salvation by grace. Be able to give a good, clear definition of the doctrine of the Trinity, an area of confusion with every cult.
11. Always pray before your visits. Going into this sphere of spiritual contact without the Holy Spirit is dangerous for both you and your friend. The Scriptures promise us the power of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us at times such as this.
Realize that your friend is under spiritual bondage which can only be broken through intercessory prayer. It is vital that if you have a burden for this person that you be involved in persistent, aggressive prayer directed against the principalities of powers of darkness over him. Pray according to the Bible that the strongman be bound so that his captive can be set free. Pull down those strongholds and cast down vain imaginations and “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)
Ask for the intervention of the Holy Spirit to draw this friend to the Cross of Jesus for salvation. Also, solicit the assistance of the prayer group at your church and/or among other believing friends and family.
This bondage can be broken through prayer in the name of Jesus. Many have been set free through the love, intercession and fellowship of committed friends and relatives.
12. If you need help, email usand we will be glad to help!
Find Ed Decker’s website HERE
Ed Decker, founder of Saints Alive, was a Mormon for 20 years of his adult life. He was a member of the Melchizedek priesthood, a Temple Mormon and active in many church positions. Through a crisis in his life, Ed met the real Jesus and his life was changed forever. An active author, speaker and evangelist, Ed has brought the light of Biblical truth to uncountable thousands of those lost in spiritual darkness. Today, the work of Saints Alive Ministries has expanded worldwide and includes ministry to other groups such as the Masonic Lodge.
1. Faulty interpretation of the Bible
2. They question authority of the Bible
3. Salvation by grace is added to “Salvation = Faith + Works”
4. Their god or gods are not the God of the Bible
5. Doctrinal changes – ” progressive revelation ”
6. Add extra-scriptural writings
7. Saying one thing in public, another in private
8. Only group God deals with – ” remnant ”
9. Date setting – false prophecies
10. Vigorously attacks Christianity
11. Concept of Jesus is contrary to truth of Bible
12. Head of the organization comes between God and man
13. Claim to answer all religious questions
14. Division of believers loyalty between church & God
15. ” Us against the world ” attitude
16. Doctrine of Last Things is overemphasized
17. Deny personality of Holy Spirit
18. Different view of immortality of soul
19. Definitions of human nature & sin different from Bible
From Cephas Ministry
Verses about listening to false prophets
The Bible is clear about listening to false teachers:
2 Peter 2:1-3
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves.
2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
1 Timothy 6:3-12
3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching,
4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions
5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
2 Timothy 4:3-5
3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
It is also clear about false prophets:
20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.
21 You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?”
22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.
16 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.
17 They keep saying to those who despise me, `The LORD says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, `No harm will come to you.’
18 But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?
1 The word of the LORD came to me:
2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: `Hear the word of the LORD!
3 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!
4 Your prophets, O Israel, are like jackals among ruins.
5 You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the LORD.
6 Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, “The LORD declares”, when the LORD has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled.
7 Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The LORD declares”, though I have not spoken?
8 “`Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign LORD.
9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.
10 “`Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace”, when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash,
11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth.
12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”
13 “`Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury.
14 I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the LORD.
15 So I will spend my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it,
16 those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign LORD.”‘
17 “Now, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who prophesy out of their own imagination. Prophesy against them
18 and say, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the women who sew magic charms on all their wrists and make veils of various lengths for their heads in order to ensnare people. Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own?
19 You have profaned me among my people for a few handfuls of barley and scraps of bread. By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live.
20 “`Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds.
21 I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
22 Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives, 23 therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will save my people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the LORD.'”
False teachers can repent of their false teaching and change. If they do, the church should forgive them and restore them if they remain in sound doctrine. If their apologies are hollow and deceitful and they persist in teaching false doctrine, they must come under church discipline as detailed in 1 Cor. 5, Eph 5:6-14 and Matt. 18:15-17. We must try them (I John 4: 1), we must rebuke them (Titus 1:13), we must have no fellowship with them if they do not repent (Eph. 5:11), we must withdraw from them (2 Thes. 3:6), we must separate from them (2 Cor. 6:17), we must turn away from them (2 Tim 3:5,7), we must mark them and avoid them (Rom. 16:17), we must not receive them into our house (2 John 10). We are to reject heretics (Titus 3:10).
If they are false prophets making false or inaccurate prophesies of the future, however, that is a matter between them and God. The church is to ignore their prophesies from that point on. They should no longer be allowed to prophesy in the church, in my opinion. They should come under church discipline as detailed in 1 Cor. 5, Eph 5:6-14 and Matt. 18:15-17. If they refrain from prophesy but teach false doctrine, the discipline process should start all over again.
It is hoped that this will be a helpful resource — to those who take their stand and make their standard God’s Word and desire to remain in sound doctrine.
1 Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless–not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.
2 Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
3 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.
From Crosswise – Walking in the Truth – A very important testimony
I grew up as the only Christian in my household. My parents came to know Jesus when I was about 10. My Father began to backslide after his grandmother died which took a pretty big toll on his relationship with my brothers, my mother, and I. Off and on since I was in about 7th grade, I had severe night terrors and nightmares. I attended a Bible High School as well as a Bible College after I graduated. I often tried to find a reason and a way to stop my night terrors, with little to no answers.
Meanwhile, my family was extremely rocky to say the least. My dad was an absentee, my youngest brother was abusive, and my mom was enabling them both. I always wanted to help them, but neglected myself in the process. Wanting to get closer to the Lord, I decided to go to an extension campus in Hawaii (without praying about it and for pretty selfish reasons). I knew I probably wasn’t supposed to go but went anyway to escape from everything else going on in my life.
The Pastor who ran the campus quit 3 days before our arrival and a local apprentice to the pastor was put in charge and (very) reluctantly took the position. It was a pretty messed up situation, to which I and everyone else on campus (about 20 people) ended up leaving as a result. At this point, my walk was very dry and I felt so out of place no matter where I was. I just needed a place I felt I could fit in and, at the same time, draw closer to the Lord and get some answers for weird things that would happen (like the night terrors).
TEXAS GOVERNOR’S UPCOMING LEADERSHIP EVENT INCLUDES CULT MEMBERS
By Marsha West
August 3, 2011
The prayer event I’m speaking of is The Response: a call to prayer for a nation in crisis. The cult Gov. Rick Perry has involved himself with is the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The NAR has dozens of offshoots and an assortment of names such as Dominionists, Latter Rain, Kansas City Prophets, Third Wave, Joel’s Army, Manifest(ed) Sons of God, Five-Fold Ministry, to name a few. Another offshoot, and the one I’ll deal with here, is the International House of Prayer (IHOP), a splinter group of the Kansas City Prophets. Confusing? You betcha!
I’m not alone in my view that much of the NAR and IHOP theology and doctrines are unbiblical, most conservative Bible scholars, apologists and pastors agree. According to Brannon Howse:
The Response…is being promoted as a time of prayer and repentance. However, how can Christians and Christian leaders gather together in a spiritual enterprise and a spiritual service, with individuals that embrace a theology and doctrine that teaches a different Jesus and a different gospel? I, and thousands of pastors and theologians, believe that the Word of God reveals that the teaching of the New Apostolic Reformation, (NAR) the Word of Faith movement and the prosperity gospel is completely unbiblical. (Online source)
The American Family Association (AFA) is sponsoring the event. AFA is part of the Religious Right a.k.a. the Christian Right (CR). Is the fact that cultists are involved just a slip up or a failure on the part of AFA to fact check? No. They know perfectly well who these people are and have decided to unite with them anyway.
So why would a so-called Christian group pal around with members of a Christian cult? In a word, pragmatism. This is the philosophy that “the end justifies the means.” In this case the end is getting people motivated to show up at a prayer rally. The NAR has the resources to accomplish this task because a large part of what they do is planning global prayer events. Although I have no way of validating how this project was conceived it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the NAR wanted to do a prayer event in Texas that included the governor so they presented the plan to the AFA and a partnership was created. Since it benefits politicians to have the support of the Religious Right, Perry also jumped on board. Another possibility is that AFA’s leadership has Dominionist leanings and they, feeling comfortable with this group, sponsored the event. Finally, it very well might be that the governor’s staff came up with the idea and presented it to the AFA, they liked the idea and agreed to sponsor it. Although it would be interesting to know how the idea for this event was conceived and how this group of organizers was put together, the fact remains that Gov. Perry and the CR are involved with cultists.
Full Article HERE
IHOP’s New Breed Leaders
- “The best of every blood line”
- “300,000 that will have a special measure of the Spirit”
- “getting the next generation into the warfare”
- ” the elect generation”
- “leadership over the one billion” (Mike Bickle & Bob Jones)
The IHOP (International House of Prayer) movement is now front and center stage as a national controversy continues to swirl around Texas Governor Rick Perry and his upcoming prayer rally The Response featuring prominent IHOP and NAR leaders as “endorsers.” The national media is scrambling to catch up with the significance of this event, and a few reporters are bungling it badly.
In the meantime, The Response showed no signs of faltering, as James and Shirley Dobson, Max Lucado and Maine Governor Paul LePage added their weight to a new promo webpage for the event, “What Others are Saying.” This quasi-political prayer event continues to be controversial because of the potential political ambitions of Gov. Perry who, according to one reporter, “may be counting on apostles and prophets to help propel him to the White House.” This same article recounts the attempts by the NAR and IHOP movements to bridge racial divides:
I happened across a forum that was discussing cults and those who were coming out of them. It caught my interest because this particular cult has its facility in the Northwest. The forum was on a site that had much information about the New World Order and health issues. Many Christians are interested in these issues and post comments.
The forum was very informative and the people really had some good sharing. The comments revealed that one reason why people got involved in these cults was that they were hungry for spiritual help in their lives. They are seekers.
Here are some of the comments coming from the people leaving this particular cult.
“For sure it’s a cult. As is christianity or any other religion.”
“I saw in many of the students a blind devotion to *** that bordered on dangerous; investing in ponzy schemes, kilns for alchemy, a scheme to make a toxic “purified” water where one ingredient was lye, building underground shelters for the end of the world, taking prozac because *** thought it would clear peoples minds, telling terminally ill or paralyzed patients that they can cure themselves and constantly asserting that if miracles or “manifestations” did not occur in our lives, then we were doing something wrong…..To conclude, we are all seeking for truth…”
” As with most cults people are drawn to the good parts of it and I will admit some of ***teachings make sense but the individual who tries to play the part of an all knowing god , if you will, can not keep the facade going for long in one continuous speech without carrying on with banter that varies from the intended message..”
“*** has supposedly “channeled” Jesus,…”
“That is when*** told us to Dig In and get ready for the Days to Come…. instruction was to constructed (sic) a secret place under ground by our self and dig it with our hand if necessary that no one would know the location, to be covered with at list 4 feet of dirt with a secret entrance and to have enough food for 3 years or more and enough supply to be able to rebuilt the world when coming out. Can you imagine the fear that hit us that night, but also like you mentioned in your letter the wonderful feeling of superiority of knowing that we were the chosen one, we were special.”
“As you know they are now back into the mode that the end of the World is coming as per the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012.”
Some of the commenters were still in the cult or were not against it.
“They teach the truth of life from their perspective and never demand any allegiance to that truth. They encourage us to find our own truth by testing the lessons and disciplines thru personal experience. If it doesn’t work for you…then they encourage you to seek until you find what rings true for you.”
“I’ve been able to get passed all the silly guilt, and feelings of unworthiness that plagued my personality. I know I’m something so much more than my body and personality. The *** has taught me that, and taught me how to remove the mask that covers the God that lives within me.Once we learn how remarkable we are and how remarkable God is, the World seems so UNremarkable.”
“This is great…. that each one of us can stand in our own knowing and own integrity as to what is right for ourselves without disempowering the other to get our viewpoint across.”
“By the way, I think the same way about all the other religions, cults and beliefsystems that claim to have the ultimate truth. So, along with the christian church(es), islam, hinduism, capitalism, communism, nihilism and all the other -isms, ramthaism is to me nothing but a pile of BS.”
Before I enter my comments I want to post what the moderator said. He was not the owner of the site.
“We have thousand of posts with a lot of information,we also welcome all resonable discussions on JZR.”
Here are my comments but they were not welcome at all.
As a Christian there are some aspects I will would like add to this conversation. Please kindly consider what I have to say based on the Bible, which I understand is a forbidden book on the compound.
Mediums like to portray the spirit world as ascended masters or the wise ones, etc. but the truth is that what is being accessed are evil spirits. They pretend to be something they are not. Spirit guides are not holy, they are imposters.
A well known verse concerning these matters is 2 Corinthians 11:14…
“..for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” Thus we have those hungry for “enlightenment” searching in all the wrong places for truth.
No wonder the Bible is off limits. It defies their teachings.
I do not mean to preach, just want to say that I found the answers, and I know my eternal destiny. Following Jesus Christ is not a religion, because there is nothing you can do to earn heaven. Salvation is a free gift for believing in Him and following Him. True Peace. No Fear. Blessings to you.
..thank you for the kind words….I found this site because I am worried and care about the people who are involved and I have a personal interest. Much has been learned from those making the comments, who also are concerned and have shared their experiences. Thank you so much.
I too was one who was brought up in the Christian faith and wandered away. But one day someone took the time and spoke truth to me and it seared me to the very core. I returned to the faith. The Jesus that is depicted as an ascended master of the Brotherhood is not the Jesus I follow, which is a main concern of those who believe in the Bible.
Another Christian comments…..
“God loves each and every one of us. He sent His only Son Jesus to die for us so that we will have a life with Him one day in heaven as well as a life worth living on this earth day to day just to be able to deal with what life throws our way, and most of us know that is a lot: heartache, family problems, jobs, finances, death of loved ones, the list could go on forever. He demands nothing of us.I could go on, and I know many disagree with all of this but God gives us that freedom to accept Him for a better life inside each of us and a life in heaven or reject Him to our own peril in an eternity in a burning Hell. Believe it or not believe it. We all have that choice. God bless and keep all of us safe! I wish you all good health!
Now the responses……
So trying to preach to us that the God of the Bible is the answer does nothing except to aggravate the problem since we all have rejected that possibility as most of us was looking for the truth which we did not find in religions in the first place So no amount of quotes from the Bible will change that in most of us since we believe Religions to be also cultish.
I do not take well to being threatened with eternal damnation in hell or any such nonsense if I do not believe in ‘Him’,…But take it from me sherri, what you have written does have that effect on me, because to me, it comes from that same old arrogant, condescending attitude of knowing it all and looking down on the poor sheep who don’t,
Instead of trying to understand the real nature of how we feel, you chose to preach us your truth as you call it completely ignoring the mechanic of it all. Preaching us with total ignorance…Please understand that last thing WE want to hear when coming out of a place like that, is someone trying to preach us their truth. Recovering from a cult like this one to some may take years and for many require real professional help, not preaching from someone that have no Knowledge what so ever, and no experiences.
I had to strongly resist the temptation to attack you and Kim myself. I didn’t want to sound mean. But my own truth welled up inside me. Then I realized that I can love the “sinner” but hate the “sin”. I really do hate what you are selling, but not you personally, and I think it would be mean of me NOT to say so, because I see what you two are proposing as the cause of most of the world’s problems.
I think the last comment hit me the hardest.
“…what you two are proposing as the cause of most of the world’s problems. “
It was said that “WE” do not want to hear preaching. But how can this man speak for all. The moderator was directing people to his site for help and that was great…I hope that people were finding help but the Christian’s solution, Jesus of the Bible, would not be tolerated. I wanted to continue making comments because people who get caught up in cults are usually spiritually hungry. This cult taught wrong aspects using the words Christ and Jesus. I guess they didn’t really want to know the true Jesus, that He is not a screaming Jesus, he is not an ascended master of the Brotherhood… but the Savior of the World who died because we are sinners.
My sister-in-Christ and I, decided to shake the dust off our feet and leave the site. We were not welcome after professing Jesus Christ as Lord.
It was not “our” truth we were speaking of, but the truth found in the Holy Bible. If I was to try to find truth within myself, like self-seekers, I would find no good thing. Romans 3:9 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Through studying the Bible and realizing what God expects of us by observing His laws, we become conscious of our sinful nature. This drives me to my knees in repentance of sin.
Glory be to God, the all high and mighty, and His Son Jesus Christ.
I was rather surprised by a comment stating that apologetics do more harm than good to the Christian faith. My first thought was, yes, those who do not want their views and positions analyzed against scripture dislike apologetics. False teachers say things like …..”Touch not God’s anointed,” or “Judge not”. While we cannot judge anyones salvation, we can judge what they are teaching against the Word of God. To not do so, is very dangerous indeed.
Here is a thought from CARM in the introduction of their site.
As the Christian faith is attacked more and more in schools, the media, movies, print, etc., it is vital that Christians learn why their faith is defensible, logical, and evidential. CARM stands on the truth of God’s word and God’s truth can easily be defended just as false secular system can easily be refuted.
Here is the beginning of an article:
There are several reasons why we need apologetics.
The first and most obvious is because we are commanded to defend the faith: 1 Peter 3:15 says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”
Second, we need apologetics because it helps Christians know their faith. This is something that is sadly lacking among believers. Most don’t know much about their faith, let alone be able to describe the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, His physical resurrection, or even to tell the difference between justification and sanctification. Apologetics helps to define and defend what the truth of the gospel is.
Read Entire Article HERE for all eight reasons.
I have a great deal of respect for godly leaders, teachers, and preachers who say things like , “Compare what I am saying against the Word of God. Check to see if what I claim is true. I am not infallible, but God’s Word is always truth. Interpret a verse in context to it’s passage or chapter.”
Acts 17:11. The Bereans listened to what Paul and Silas were preaching and they “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
Knowing God’s Word takes prayer, commitment and study on your part. These are the times when Satan knows his time is short and is he is burning the candle at both ends to deceive all of mankind, even believers. He is convincing the unbelieving world that God and sin do not even exist. Confessing Christians weak in their faith will fall away because they do not even know what their Bible says. They do not read it! Worse… they think that they are above being deceived.
Put on the armor of Ephesians 6. The armor is God’s truth in His Word. Do you know His Word? Do you know how to deflect the flaming arrows of the evil one? Are you prepared for battle?
There is power in God’s Word but first you must read it. Let God speak to you through it and then actually apply the principles to your life and walk in obedient faith that God will help you conform through the Holy Spirit. This is not something that we can accomplish on our own. If you do not rely on the Holy Spirit you will not be clothed in Christ and you will fall.
There was a flyer on my door yesterday left by a Jehovah’s Witness. It contained a statement, “Each year, Jehovah’s Witnessses mark the simple anniversary of Jesus’ death with a simple ceremony.”
JW’s deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the trinity, the deity of Jesus, and his bodily return. Are not all of these the basic biblical teachings of the Christian faith? If you actually talked with a JW how would you fare handling scripture? Could you explain your faith and then find corresponding scripture to verify your Christian position?
Can you defend your faith to others? If not..why not?