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“Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
I have observed and been involved with many churches – some grew; most did not. I noticed that very few churches experienced growth. Most came to the place where they plataued, both spiritually and numerically, and then they would gradually decline. The more I saw this the greater my discontentment became with the status quo of plataued and declining churches.
It has often been said that the church is but one generation away from extinction – the point being that personal evangelism is God’s appointed remedy. Indeed, the church is in trouble. There is little urgency anymore to win the lost to Christ. There is no panic to redeem the souls of lost people. What happened to all the stories of people’s lives being changed, as they were in the book of Acts, where people joined the church every day (Acts 2:41-47)? What happened to the church? Few people are changing anymore. They’re certainly not being saved every day. They are still just as disconnected, lost, and confused as they ever were. What happened to the church?
There has never been a more important time in history than now to help people understand the great things God is doing. He is gathering a people to Himself for His glory and honor, and He wants us to declare that message to the world. There are many churches that are content to sit in their holy huddle every week and get fed in the Word, but the reason we get fed is not only for our benefit, but so we can go out and minister to the world, so we can be salt and light.
A good definition of missions is taking Christ’s message outside of the church. Anytime we take the gospel outside the four walls of the church, we are engaged in missions. We want the church to be a desirable destination for people to come. The best way to reach them is to mobilize the church to go out and bring them in. We need to see the church as a mission to lost people.
Lots of things never get done, but the Great Commission cannot be one of them! It’s no secret that making disciples is the mission of the church. When we fail to make disciples, the church fails to grow. Jesus began with a handful of disciples and turned the world upside down! He wants us to follow His example.
Jesus told the disciples to make more disciples as they preach, teach, and baptize. Today, Jesus is still commanding the church to make disciples for His Kingdom. His commission is worldwide and we are to go – whether it is next door or to another country – and make disciples. This is not an option, but a command to all who call Jesus “Lord.” The question is: are we going to be obedient to the Lord’s command and if so, what does that look like?
There is a story about a man who prayed every morning: “Lord, if you want me to witness to someone today, please give me a sign to show me who it is.” One day he found himself on a bus when a big, burly man sat next to him. The timid Christian anxiously waited for his stop, so he could exit the bus. But then the big guy burst into tears and began to weep. He cried out with a loud voice, “I need to be saved. I’m a lost sinner. I need the Lord. Won’t somebody tell me how to be saved?” He turned to the Christian man and pleaded, “Can you show me how to be saved?” But the man immediately bowed his head and prayed, “Lord, is this the sign I’ve been asking for?”
What about you? Are you looking for a “sign” to start witnessing? The Lord has already commanded the church to go and make disciples. Perhaps the reason we’re seeing a decline in the church is because we’re not making disciples.
If I’ve seen any success in ministry, it was times when God used me to make a difference in another’s life. Those results are not easy to quantify. They don’t happen every day, but if a year goes by without it happening, something’s wrong. There needs to be tremendous urgency when it comes to making disciples and sharing the gospel with lost people.
One of the purposes of the church is to minister to the world. It is the duty and privilege of every child of God to win the lost to Christ and make disciples. The effectiveness of churches and individual believers is judged by whether or not we are reaching others with the gospel. Going and making disciples is central to what Christ has called us to do. There are seven truths with respect to the gospel, each of which has a bearing on our responsibility to share it with others:
First, the gospel is Elementary. It is the simple story of God’s love for humanity and His offer to save all who place their trust in Him: “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18:17).
Somewhere along the way, however, we have complicated the gospel to the degree that it has become convoluted and difficult to understand. People don’t need to have a thorough understanding of systematic theology in order to place their trust in Jesus. All they need is simple childlike faith. Look at the early disciples. None of the Twelve had a theological education. Peter was a fisherman, anything but educated. Matthew was a tax collector. He was not a biblical scholar.
One of the most common excuses I hear from those who are not actively involved in evangelism is that they simply don’t feel qualified. They say, “I just don’t know enough about the faith,” or, “I’d rather leave that to someone who knows more about the Bible than I do.” But the gospel is so simple that even a little child can understand it.
One of the reasons why children and youth are so vital to the life of the church is because they are ripe for the harvest. They have not become “set in their ways”. We need to focus on the story of the gospel, especially with young people. Statistics show that 19 out of every 20 people who come to Christ do so before they reach the age of 24. Young people are especially receptive to the gospel.
The renowned evangelist D.L. Moody once spoke with a woman who didn’t like his method of evangelism. “I don’t really like mine either,” he said. “What’s yours?” She replied that she didn’t have one. Moody said, “Then I like mine better than yours.” The point being that we are responsible to share the gospel with lost people. Some evangelism is better than none at all.
Not all of us may be able to discuss the finer points of theology, but like the blind man, we can say, “I once was blind, but now I see.” Those who know Jesus find it very simple to introduce Him to others. The gospel is elementary.
Second, the gospel is Exclusive. There is no other way to gain access to God and eternal life except through Jesus Christ. Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The exclusivity of the gospel goes against the grain of our postmodern culture and many take offense to the truth that Jesus is the only way to be saved. Postmodernists are appalled by the audacity of any one truth being the only truth, or any one way being the only way. The exclusivity of the gospel may not be popular, but Jesus tells us that He is the “only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life.” Any message which claims there is salvation in anyone or anything other than Jesus is heresy.
One of the most difficult questions many Christians fear being asked by a lost person is this: “What about all those people who never heard about Jesus? What about those people who have never had a chance? How can God send them to hell?” But these questions arise from a faulty understanding of why people go to hell. People don’t go to hell because God wants them to, they go to hell because they deserve to. All of us are sinners and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23, 6:23). But the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus died for our sins! He acted as our Substitute. He paid the penalty for our sins, so we could be forgiven. The gospel is exclusive.
Third, the gospel is Eternal. It is timeless, changeless, and applicable to all people, in all places (Matthew 24:14). Many things have changed in the two thousand years since Jesus ascended into heaven, but don’t be fooled by all the changes in our world; the most prominent things have stayed the same: people are still born with a sinful nature, they still rebel against God, and they are still helpless to save themselves. The message that God loves us and sent His Son, Jesus, to save us has not changed. It is timeless and applies to everyone. The methods we employ to share it may have changed, the language we use to communicate it may have changed, the customs surrounding our worship and singing may have changed, but the message is still the same.
The fact Jesus went to the cross in order to pay for our sins is good news. The fact Jesus was buried in a grave, but rose 3 days later is good news. Because of what Jesus has done, all people, from all nations, of every race, every color, and every social level have the opportunity to be forgiven, saved, and brought into a right relationship with God with the hope of eternal life in heaven. That’s good news. The gospel of Jesus Christ is eternal.
Fourth, the gospel is Exacting. It is a message which demands everything from those who accept it. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).
I often wonder how many people who claim to follow Jesus really understand what it is He wants of those who follow Him. Do they really understand that believing on Jesus means that they abandon everything to Him? Do they really preach a message in conformity with the one He preached? Or have they come up with their own version of the gospel?
When we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must be careful not to preach an incomplete version; one which calls for nothing, but promises everything. Sadly, this is what many people see and hear when they go to many churches today. They simply hear a part of the gospel: the part which speaks to what we get out of it and not the part which demands everything from us.
If it were that easy to follow Jesus, if all it entailed was believing that He is God and that He wants good things for us, then there is no reason why anyone would reject it. But the gospel, as Jesus taught it and Scripture explains it, means that we surrender ourselves, totally and completely, by faith, to Him. The gospel demands that we take up our cross, the instrument of death, and follow Jesus. It calls us to surrender our wills to the will of the Father, even as Jesus did. It assaults our pride and self-sufficiency, calling on us to renounce our own abilities and to see ourselves for the sinners we are. It demands we abandon our love for this world, and instead place our treasure in heaven and our hope in the world to come. A faith which demands nothing from us is neither a biblical nor a saving faith. The gospel is exacting.
Fifth, the gospel is Enlightening. It teaches us to obey all that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus does not call us to simply make converts, but to make disciples. The Great Commission includes the careful discipling of new believers. Jesus is not satisfied with any hasty profession of faith. We are not called to evoke decisions, but to make disciples. And that is an altogether different assignment.
Making disciples involves Christian training. That is why I believe many activities at church need to be geared towards Bible study, at every level. There is to be basic Bible study, designed to help people understand the basic claims of Christ and to help them come to faith in Jesus. And there is to be more intense Bible study as well, which is designed to help Christians grow, mature, and develop deeper in the faith. All of this is part of what it means to make disciples. The gospel is enlightening.
Sixth, the gospel is Effective. It thoroughly transforms those who believe: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The person who truly accepts Christ is a brand new person, old things have passed away and all things have become new. If a person is really saved, there will be a metamorphosis in their life, a transformation whereby they will be changed.
If there is no change, there is no salvation. Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them” (Mt. 7:20). That’s not only the fruit of new converts, but the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Do we possess those qualities in increasing measure?
If the fruit of the Spirit is not evidenced in our life, how can we say Jesus has changed us? How can we claim transformation if there is little to no difference between us and the lost guy next door? The gospel will change us from the inside out. It is not merely a moral code we try and obey; it is not merely a set of nice things we strive towards. The gospel is revolutionary, it is transformational, it changes all who truly accept it to be like Jesus. The question the world is constantly asking as they look at your life and mine is, “Did it work for them? Were they changed? Do I see any transformation in their life?” The authentic gospel of Jesus Christ is effective.
Seventh, the gospel is Extended. Those who truly accept Christ will be busy about the business of sharing Him with others: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). If we are believers in Jesus Christ, we have a stewardship of the gospel, something for which we will be held accountable. It is something God has entrusted to us. But more than that, it is something He has commanded us to do. Sharing the gospel should never be seen as a burden, like paying taxes, but rather as a privilege, like being an ambassador. In fact, that’s what the Scripture says we are: we are ambassadors, sent from Heaven’s throne to the world around us to be messengers of peace and reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20). We are to go to others on behalf of God Himself and to offer them the opportunity to know Him through Jesus Christ. We are to tell them of His love, and invite them to accept His offer of forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
While speaking in London, evangelist D. L. Moody was approached by a British companion who wanted to know the secret of Moody’s success in leading people to Christ. Moody directed the man to his hotel window and asked, “What do you see?” The man looked down on the square and reported a view of crowded streets. Moody suggested he look again. This time the man mentioned seeing people – men, women, and children. Moody then directed him to look a third time. The man became frustrated that he was not seeing what Moody wanted him to see. Finally, the great evangelist came to the window with watery eyes and said, “I see people going to hell without Jesus. Until you see people like that, you will not lead them to Christ.”
What kind of witness are you? When God calls you into account someday, for the stewardship of the gospel, when He asks you to tell Him how you handled the most precious and powerful gift He ever placed in the hands of humanity, what will you say? Now that you know and understand what the Good News is, what are you going to do with it? What difference are you going to make in the life of God’s church?
Sunday, I noticed in our church bulletin that there was to be a movie presented that Tuesday night. It was called Prince of Slaves. Never hearing about this movie before I went on-line but couldn’t find any information about it. I did not attend.
Wednesday I received a gang email to our church that read like this.
Thanks to all of you who came to “Movie Night”
For those of you who weren’t able to come, I just HAVE to share a couple of things I learned from Nil***ur, (rhymes with Jennifer), a Muslim lady who works with *******, and the movie, Prince of Slaves! Nil***ur was very friendly, outgoing, and informative.
First, Nil***ur did not wear any head-covering
because she said the Koran says to dress modestly so
as not to be a distraction to men, especially when
they’re supposed to be praying and worshipping. She
said the Taliban and the Wahabi sect in Saudi Arabia
are extremists in their treatment of women–they are
not true representatives of Islam. Saudi Arabia is
not a Democracy, and the Royal Family maintains
power by cooperating with the extremists. (Almost all the
terrorists involved in 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia,
none from Iraq, and were trained in Afganistan,
which she said has been badly affected by invasions of the
Second, she said “jihad” means the personal struggle
to follow God. Killing is only allowed in the Muslim
faith during a war. “Islam means PEACE and Muslim
means “SUBMITTED TO GOD”! Obviously, some of them
do not follow that, but sometimes I don’t think we
Christians follow our Savior perfectly either! (My
thought, not Nillofour’s!) Also, the Koran is a lot like our Bible, according
to Nillofour’s Christian friends. She urged us to get
an English version of the Koran from the library and
read it to see for ourselves.
Lastly, when asked why the vast majority of moderate
Muslims do not speak out more to condemn terrorism,
she said that usually doesn’t make it to the front
pages or the evening news.
Thanks for reading if you’re still with me. I was
just SO excited to see this historically accurate
documentary and to meet such a lovely lady who also
happened to be a Muslim!
I had to read these paragraphs a couple of times.
Second, she said “jihad” means the personal struggle
to follow God. Killing is only allowed in the Muslim
faith during a war. “Islam means PEACE and Muslim
means “SUBMITTED TO GOD”!
Also, the Koran is a lot like our Bible, according
to Nil***ur’s Christian friends. She urged us to get
an English version of the Koran from the library and
read it to see for ourselves.
Was i dreaming?…..Were these statements going uncontested in my evangelical church?
Okay..so i found an English version of the Koran on-line. Here are some quotations I found.
2:190-193 Fight in the cause of God, those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out: For tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; But fight them not at the sacred Mosque unless they first fight you there; But if they fight you, Slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith. But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.”
5:72-73: They do blaspheme who say: “God is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! worship God, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with God, – God will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrongdoers be no one to help. They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.
8:12-15 Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.” This because they contended against God and His Apostle: If any contend against God and His Apostle, God is strict in punishment. Thus (will it be said): “Taste ye then of the (punishment): for those who resist God, is the penalty of the Fire.” O ye who believe! when ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them.
First off, these Koran verses do not sound very peaceful to me…what do you think?
Then it states that those who say that Jesus is Christ, the Son of Mary… is a blasphemer. And then the trinity is denied.
It goes on to say:
5:75 The Messiah, son of Mary is but an apostle:
The Koran is not at all like the Bible. Christianity is based on Jesus Christ going to the Cross for our Salvation, and that He is the Son of God, not merely an apostle……!
Then I took a look at the people who produced the movie. Unity Productions Foundation. Anything with the name unity is suspect to me anymore. Their main cause is to “serve the cause of peace of understanding. Comprehending Islam values is of central importance to cause of peace of understanding.”
I found one of many organizations that support their work is the Kingdom Foundation which is a close alliance of “A Common Word.” A Common Word is an outlandish agreement that Muslims and Christians are on similar ground because we worship the same God. This is ridiculous.
So I am saddened because no one that I know of questioned this email. Did anyone in our congregation bother to investigate this claim put forth in our church? How is it that a Muslim comes into our church and reaches out to us but no one tell this woman the truth? I am sure she is a wonderful and lovely person, but that does not save her soul. Do I have some distorted view of what a church is?
This was the response I received when I asked if this woman was presented the Gospel in our church.
She didn’t really
talk about her personal faith; our discussions were
more about cultural things.
I think we do need to develop relationships in order
to lead people to a relationship with the Lord.
Yes, I agree that we have to reach out to the lost, but develop a relationship with them? I thought we were not be yoked with unbelievers and that we were to be separate.
Without knowing the scriptures and at least a working knowledge of other religions then we as the church are doomed. Will we follow any suggestion unquestioned? What if there were any baby Christians at “movie night”? What if there were some attending who are confused about their faith?
I am probably over-reacting. Am I intolerant? I certainly hope so. I pray so.
One of the most humbling and important books I am presently reading is War on the Saints. This book has forced me to take an even closer look at testing the deceiving spirits that are ever-present in this world.
One very important previous lesson that I have learned is that as my faith in the Lord grows so does the attacks from the enemy. Every time I learn a spiritual truth from the Lord, Satan pounds back with discouragement, fear or temptation. When the Lord called me into the discernment ministry, I was filled with excitement at His calling…but I also was at first worried about the opposition I would face. When the Lord called me to teach Bible study, I was willing but afraid at my lack of experience. The enemy whispered to me…You can’t do this….This is too hard…This takes up too much time…
I only share this because the deceiving spirits are very determined to undermine our walk with the Lord in these end-times. But with the help of the Lord and the other teachers who are forever encouraging me with their training…I trust the Lord will equip me with all I need to do his His will….and He has. What a wonderful God we have!
Not only do we have to face the evil strategies Satan throws at us personally, we have to determine whether or not our spiritual leaders have been deceived themselves. All throughout the Bible we are warned of false teachers who will attempt to lead us astray. Some of these teachers will be deceived by the seducing spirits and may truly believe they are in the truth. But they are themselves deceived by giving into greed, seeking honor, and enticed by the spotlight that surrounds them. Others are truly wolves in sheep’s clothing. They know the truth, yet bury it deep into their conscience so that the truth no longer sears them. Both are dangerous and will mislead the masses into the kingdom Satan is building here on earth.
“There are many deceived ones among the most able teachers today because they do not recognize that an army of teaching spirits have come forth to deceive the people of God and that the special peril of the earnest section of the professing Church lies in the supernatural realm, from whence the deceiving spirits with “teachings” are whispering their lies to all who are “spiritual,” i.e., open to spiritual things. These “teaching spirits” with “doctrines” will make a special effort to deceive those who have to transmit doctrine and seek to mingle their teachings with truth so as to get them accepted. Every believer must test all teachers today for himself, by the Word of God and by their attitude to the atoning cross of Christ and other fundamental truths of the Gospel, and not be misled into testing “teaching” by the character of the teacher. Good men can be deceived, and Satan needs good men to float his lies inder the guise of truth.”  emphasis mine
So one has to ask…Self, do I know the Word of God thoroughly enough to recognize a false teaching? Self, when a teacher gives scripture do I check to see if it is given in context with the passage? Self, do I support a false teacher and mislead others because of this lack of knowledge? Self….am I deceived? What tough and humbling questions these can be.
How we hate to admit that we are vulnerable to deception. But we must!
The man is deceived if he is a hearer but not a doer of the Word of God ( James 1:22).
He is deceived if he says he has no sin ( 1 John 1:8).
He is deceived when he thinks himself to be “something” when he is nothing (Gal. 6:3).
He is deceived when he thinks himself to be wise with the wisdom of this world (1 Cor. 3:18).
He is deceived by seeming to be religious when an unbridled tongue reveals his true condition (James 1:26).
He is deceived if he thinks he can sow and not reap what he sows (Gal. 6:7).
He is deceived if he thinks the unrighteous willl inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9).
He is deceived if he thinks that contact with sin will not have its effect upon him (1 Cor. 15:33). 
Doubt is actually a tool that can be used to question the experiences in our spiritual life. It is this doubt that leads us to question the spirits and to see if they are from God or Satan. Too often we quickly snuff out the light we would receive by turning our back to the fear of discovering a truth we have ignored. We are clearly instructed to test the spirits in 1 John 4:1-3.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus Christ is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
Next in 1 Timothy 4:1-2
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”
Teaching deceptions will abound. Verses from the Bible will be plucked and regrouped to create false theologies. Words will be twisted from their historical meanings to create “new”, “fresh”, teachings. I was taught not long ago to read the Bible from beginning to end. When done…read it again in this way. There are no “secret teachings.”
“All genuine ‘truth’ is in harmony with the only channel of revealed truth in the world–the written Word of God. On the other hand, all teachings originating from deceiving spirits:
1. Weaken the authority of the Scriptures;
2. Distort the teaching in the Scriptures;
3. Add to the Scriptures the thoughts of men; or
4. Put the Scriptures entirely aside.
The ultimate object of the forces of falsehood is to hide, distort, misuse or put aside the revelation of God concerning the cross of Calvary, where Satan was overthrown by the God-Man and where freedom was obtained for all his captives.
Countless concepts and beliefs which are opposed to the truth of God are injected into the minds of ‘Christians’ by teaching spirits, rendering them ineffective in the warfare with sin and Satan and subject to the power of evil spirits. All new insights and systems of beliefs should be therefore tested by the truth of God revealed in the Scripture, not merely by texts or portions of the Word but by the principles of truth revealed in the Word. Since Satan will endorse his teachings by ‘signs and wonders’, ‘fire from heaven’ and other supernatural signs are no proof of a teaching being from God…”  emphasis mine
The end-times will be filled with spiritual deceptions that will deceive many. Signs and wonders, supernatural manifestations, prophetic visions, prophetic words, inner voices, physical manifestations (jerking, shaking, falling, undulating, head wagging, slaying) will all have to questioned by the discerner. Do not let your doubts go unchecked by searing them with a hot iron or by simply dismissing them. If you do this you will open yourself up to deception. You will not be able to discern the lies of Satan.
You may want to pray something like this.
Lord, show me the truth even though I may not want to hear it. Close any doors that I have allowed to be opened that deceives my heart and mind. If I have believed any of Satan’s deceptions… immediately remove them from my life. Amen
“War on the Saints” by Jesse Penn-Lewis
 pg. 29
 pg. 22
 pp. 32-33
The first time i heard of Rick Warren was when that kidnapped women supposedly saved her captor. Remember this:
New York Times
September 28, 2005
Celebrated Hostage Gave Crystal Meth to Captor
By EDWARD WYATT Ashley Smith, who was held hostage in her apartment in March by the man now charged with murder in the Atlanta courthouse shootings, was hailed as a hero after she disclosed how she had persuaded her captor to surrender, partly by reading to him from the spiritual best seller “The Purpose-Driven Life.”
But in a memoir released yesterday, Ms. Smith also recounts that she gave the kidnapper some of her supply of crystal methamphetamine during her captivity and that she did not tell the police for some time afterward.
Almost 2 years have passed since that incident. I do not know what has happened since to that women or her kidnapper but i sure know a lot more about Rick Warren.
When i first heard of “The Purpose-Driven Life” i assumed that it was probably a good book and full of inspiration for the Christian life. But here is what i discovered instead….
by David Cloud
Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, pastored by Rick Warren, is one of the most influential churches in the world. Warren says, “This is a world class church making a world class impact.” He is right about the impact, but sadly that impact is not encouraging strict faithfulness to God’s Word. Everything about Saddleback is shallow. Truth has been boiled down to such a low common denominator that not much is left. For example, the Saddleback Statement of Faith has six simple points.
Note the following statement on salvation, which we are quoting in full: “Salvation is a gift from God to mankind. We can never make up for our sin by self-improvement or good works. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can we be saved from sin’s penalty. Eternal life begins the moment we receive Jesus Christ into our life by faith.”
Note that the gospel is not actually given in this statement. There is nothing about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, nothing about His shed blood and atonement. Sinners are exhorted to trust Christ but that is not explained in any sense whatsoever.God has commanded us not only to believe sound doctrine but also to earnestly contend for it (Jude 3).
That means we are to fight aggressively against that which is false. This is exactly what we see in the uncompromising ministry of the Lord’s apostles. Their epistles contain strong and clear warnings about false teaching. Paul often named the names of the false teachers. Such a ministry naturally causes divisions between those who are committed to the truth and those who are following error. Paul made no effort whatsoever to avoid doctrinal controversy.
Our day is described plainly in Bible prophecy: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Rick Warren claims that he has not compromised the Word of God with his principles and methods, that he has only modernized them; but when I look into the book of Acts and the Epistles I see a different kind of Christianity, a different kind of church there, than the one that Rick Warren has devised. Thus I must reject Warren’s Purpose Driven methods and I must warn those who have an ear to hear, regardless of how small that crowd may be, that they not heed the siren call of the contemporary church growth gurus. It is fearful that this church is influencing thousands around the world.
Have you heard of Warrens Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan? What possibly could be wrong with wanting peace on this earth. Well, plenty….the way Warren is planning to achieve this peace. Wait a minute..doesn’t the Bible predicts wars and rumors of war? Does Christ ever predict peace before his return? Nope. Here is what P.E.A.C.E. actually stands for:
P – promoting reconciliation
E – equip leaders
A – assist the poor
C – care for the sick
E – educate the next generation
Sounds great doesn’t it? But let’s take a look at Matthew 24:6-11 Here is what Jesus says about the signs of His return.
Mat 24:6 “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these things are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then they shall deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all the nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”
I attended a kick-off celebration at a neighboring church who is signing on to the “40 days of Community”. The workbook i purchased from their table is subtitled, “Better Together…What on earth are we here for? A CHURCHWIDE SPIRITUAL GROWTH CAMPAIGN.” First we watched a video of Rick Warren. The ad in the New Age section* of my local paper said he was speaking at the church, but this didn’t happen. The pastor called the video a “Rick-Fix”. Here are some of the pastors quotes:
You cannot fulfill God’s purposes by yourself.
The 40 Days of Community takes us from, me and God, to we and God.
Do this as a cell group.
We are to impress others with our love of others.
We are to focus on our relationships together.
We have the longing for belonging.
The key in interdependence.
Okay, so here we have a program that is stressing the relationships that we have with one another instead of the relationship that we have with God. On our little worksheet that was handed out to us, we learned that the “Community” is God’s answer to lonliness, getting more work done, defeat, waiting, and witnessing.
Here is where i lost it….What is witnessing the pastor asked? “SPREADING THE LIFE MESSAGE” was the answer.
Life message? Hello….Excuse me? What about the Gospel? Is this what Rick Warrens main thrust is. THE LIFE MESSAGE. I am still not over this. Let’s thumb through the book.
pg. 30 ” This is your chance to choose your spiritual legacy, which will also transform your physical legacy.”
(I thought we were to do God’s will for us, that He had plan for our lives…does this mean i get to choose God’s will for me? My spiritual legacy? I have no desire for legacy. All the Glory is for God, not man…..)
pg. 44 “We is more powerful than me.”
pg. 57 “The bottom line is this: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Non-believers, like most of us, are looking for deep, true, supportive friendships.”
(Not me…i search only for Christ, He takes care of the rest)
pg 59 You’ve got to spend time with nonbelievers in order to becomes friends with them.”
( I thought we were not be friends with the world but to be separate)
There is some really good stuff in the book too. Inspirational but that’s about it…This is a book about good works. Good works…is…er…good!… but even a non-believer can do good works, so what is the difference here? This body of good-workers support and love and pray for each other….This is absolutely wonderful…but? Okay, time to move on.. let us take a look at the Missions Projects Booklet and see what this particular church has selected. Food drive, county park clean-up, Crisis Clinic, HIV/Aids Foundation, Hospice of *****County, God’s Kitchen and Closet…OK.. again all good stuff. BUT NO EVANGELIZING……There is NO training for evangelizing, no mention of evangelizing.
What is the Great Commission?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Scanning this book “Better Together”, it is very easy to pick up on questionable statements. But the rule is this. I Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (KJV)
This is from the King James Version. “Better Together” uses the NIV, GW, CEV, NCV, NLT, LB, Msg, TEV,GNB, NASB, NKJV, NJB, and the ESV. It must be nice to have so many versions to select from. In fact, there are thirteen versions. Then you can select the version that best matches the point you want to make.
I applaud those who want to serve Christ and do His will, and encourage those who in His will are seeking the lost and spreading the Gospel. But many professing Christians do not even know what the gospel message is. The Gospel is this…Jesus died and rose again, and He took our sins upon Himself. We need to repent of our sin and turn AWAY from it. It is our faith that leads and sustains us as our santification grows in Christ.
What is Christ asking you to do for Him today? By having a relationship with the Lord, He will reveal what His specific plan is for you. He will lead you. He will guide you. Yes, we need our brothers and sisters in Christ, but His will be done…not our will that is created by another man’s agenda.
It all started when I decided to have a tarot card reading by a guy who told me he could see my aura and said that I “desperately needed one.” The advice he gave me was nothing relevant at all. He was a fake but fooled me for a time. They’re all fakes really because the occult knowledge doesn’t come from humans. How could it? It comes directly from the negative spirits these psychics have deliberately or inadvertently invited into themselves, sharing their eyes and senses. That’s why everywhere in the Bible mysticism and sorcery are condemned because they come from evil and can control you to the point of destruction and murder.
This joker told me I had an alien implant in my aura. He was fooled too because he claimed to have all these degrees in psychic matters but belonged to a ‘church’ which he felt justified him and ‘his’ powers. But it gave me enough creeps to ignorantly look through a state psychic directory not knowing yet that I should have just prayed to forget this idiot and his claims. So anyway, I came to find out that one can get an aura cleansing. How new-age! And what a nice way to get it out, I thought, so I had one. Came out feeling just wonderful. Looking back, I can definitely see now that I had a spirit transferred into me from the woman who did it. Unknowingly? Everything looked and felt different. I thought it was me but it was the spirit in me sharing itself as something wonderful. I always wanted to be a healer and I thought wow! I can be a psychic healer and really help people. The Bible says devils can come to you as an angel of light. Then it will reveal itself in the end, which it/they did to me.
So I signed up for a healers’ class a month later, still with this spirit in me, making me feel wonderful and different. I can now see the disguise it used. Meanwhile, I had started meditating daily and had some very strange dizzying sensations and slight hallucinations of things moving and bending while I said my preliminary prayers to God and Jesus. Later, I came to realize these were demonic spirits in me rejecting and reacting to my prayers. I had another aura cleansing a couple weeks later but not for these – I was still worried about that danged implant which was a lie given through the reader. In this one, I could actually see the aura bubbles of entities all around me ‘walking’ towards me. These were evil spirits entering my aura and the lady didn’t even know it, I would hope.
So my class happened on a Saturday. During the class we were told that we all could call on healing masters ‘out there’ that would channel this wonderful healing energy from the universe. What we were really calling on were demons masquerading as healing light spirits. Now I know all healing only comes through Jesus. All else is a fraud or at best, temporary. When I gave permission for one to use my hands, it did more than that. I felt a whole energy enter my body enough to rock me slightly so I had to make sure I had my balance. Now I had many in me – at least. We four students practiced on each other. Who knows what spiritually transmitted ‘diseases’ were being shared. The following Tuesday after coming out of a meditation, I had a very dark feeling come over me. The next day I had to call in sick to work because I was hearing voices in my head. Thoughts that I knew did not come from my own mind. Just like when you think “oh I need milk” there were thoughts I ‘heard’ but I knew I did not think them. They were mocking me and taunting me. After a few hours, I knew I needed to go see a priest. This was a highly spiritual matter and I needed to go ‘home.’ Back to my Church. Back to Jesus.
Later that morning, I sat there with the priest and told him some things. He said he knew of another priest who was an exorcist. Thank goodness. I don’t know what I would have done, possibly committed suicide because of these voices. So the next day I went to see this priest in his Church. He told me why I never should have left the Church and why I should come back. (By the way, I’m back.) I sat there in the front pew with him and a woman who was a member of his parish who stood behind me. The priest read a page in Latin over me holding the Crucifix. He also made the cross on my forehead with Holy oil and he had a Bible in his hand. At some point my hands went up and were frozen into a cursed position. I was aware of the demons in my head wanting to come out. One by one – about fifty to seventy five came screaming at the top of my lungs out of me over the next three and a half hours, all in different but similar ways. This was a deliverance from evil. They call it a deliverance. Jesus, Mother Mary and Archangel Michael were there fighting along with me and the priest. I remember a few specifically totaling about a minute’s worth. The rest my mind has erased. But Holy water, Holy oil, the Bible and the Crucifix were all placed on me causing me to arch my back and contort and then they would horribly scream out of me.
Unfortunately, this deliverance was interrupted and I still had one left in me that stayed for a couple weeks. I went through some very dark times with it. I tried to expel it myself and it finally was removed from me in a very peaceful way. I was at home and said a very sincere loving rosary. I looked out over the land in front of me and was thinking how beautiful it was and how much I loved God. I was leaned back gently in my chair and my head was turned slightly and I could feel it leave me. It was gone. It was removed by something I could feel was heavenly and very loving. It was just an incredibly peaceful feeling as if I was being floated on a cloud.
This episode left me weak for several weeks at first and a few came back to bother me. In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuked them, bound them, commanded them to leave never to return and cast them to the feet of Jesus Christ. Then I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me. I am stronger now and sense when they approach and I do this again. I know that I am a spiritual warrior now. We all are. This will happen to all Christians and non-Christians alike. You have to know when you need to fight. But only with Jesus Christ can you cast them away.
For those of you who do not believe in Jesus, just open your heart. It’s a simple gesture you can do even when no one is looking. He is there and He loves you. And he WILL protect you and save you from evil for eternity – because it is out there. That is His promise. Then, you will know why you need Him and for many more reasons too that you will find. He may not come on a dime or within the second you ask but he will come to you if you sincerely want Him to. He will make Himself known to you if your heart is open. He will not force his love on you but will give it freely and lovingly if you ask. That is why we are given a free choice. Choose Him. Read the New Testament – that’s Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the Gospel all the way through Revelations. Then so read through Revelations and watch the signs of the times – He will come again. And in remembrance of Him I go to Church every Sunday and eat the Holy bread and drink the Holy wine. As He said, “DO this, in remembrance of me.” The Bible is online too. Repent and be baptized!
Behold, I am writing anew, through scribes on Earth who are willing to listen to me again with new ears, in the light of the present crises on Planet Earth.
The second purpose of these writings is to call for the completion of the good news concerning the transformation of the world.
May the Divine Love and Light and Power of the One God be now manifest within your hearts and minds. May this Light and Love and Power lead you to seek That which dwells always in your heart’s centre. Find That, and make It manifest.
Man is on the threshold of a new understanding of his role on planet Earth.
He is near men now. He cannot be denied. His love now saturates the planet and brings change to the fore.
Many and varied have been these signals to men that something momentous and wonderful is afoot on Earth.
All religious groups await and expect their chosen divine revelation and read the signs as confirmation of their faith.
Revelation unites you directly with God.
When revelation of your oneness comes, it will be known and fully understood.
Therefore in the new world order, spirituality will supercede theology; living experience will take place of theological acceptances.
It is a work of loving synthesis and will emphasis the unity and fellowship of the spirit. This group is, in a pronounced sense, a channel for the activities of the Christ, the world teacher.
Do the above quotes sound like something from the churches who consider themselves on the “cutting edge”?
There are many who believe that they are hearing from God, and that there will be a “new thing” that is going to happen. We are to anticipate the “fresh moves” of God. A revival is going to occur that is going to be unprecedented in the history of the church. Churches are emerging, churches are doing spiritual warfare, they are relying on visions and inner voices to guide them through this new paradigm shift that is going to happen. The way the church is promoting change is through this “paradigm shift”, to change from one thought process to another.
If you hear an inner voice that begins to change how you feel about the Bible, or that leads you away from scripture, flee from it. Repent if you have opened yourself to deception. Test the spirits. Those who do not do this, do not love the truth. They prefer to believe that they have been given some special knowledge, available only to an “elite” and this only serves to feed one’s pride. This pride in special knowledge can be traced back to Genesis 3:5 “For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”.
One has to determine whether the voice one hears is from God or if it is a deceiving spirit. In Johanna Michaelson’s book “The Beautiful Side of Evil” she relates how she was deceived by a spirit calling itself “Jesus Christ”. When she tested this evil spirit it failed and the spirit disappeared from her life. How was this spirit initially contacted? By meditation and contemplation. Brian Flynn, a former new age medium, verifies the contact of evil spirits posing as positives entities in his book “Running Against the Wind”.
The Truth: The Bible contains many warnings about deception. The Church Growth Movement has been employing the methodologies of Second-order Change for at least three decades now, getting more sophisticated as time goes on. Much of this paradigm shifting towards Church “transformation” is done by methods of deception and coercion. Pastors and leaders are being trained in these methods. But people in the pew have little knowledge or expertise. All they know is that the music is changing, worship styles are different, or that new programs, curriculums, ideas and projects are being introduced in a manner which is compulsory. “If you don’t like it, you can leave,” parishioners are told. (1)
FROM Reinventing Jesus Christ – The New Gospel by Warren Smith
Sadly the Bible records that many in the church will fall away (2 Thessalonians 2:3). They will follow the “broad” way of the world rather than the “narrow way” of Jesus Christ. ( Matthew 24:3-5). But few will believe that most of the world could be so deceived about the “positive” alternative future they think they are creating with their spiritually compromised dreams, prayers, visualizations, contemplations and meditations. The Bible records, that when it comes to the end times, most of the world and much of what calls itself the church will be unprepared for what unfolds.
Below are the authors of the quotes. They are New Age “Ascended Masters” (fallen angels) using mankind as a channel for deception.
The second set of quotes are from Maitreya “the Christ” channeled by Benjamin Creme. This is what Maitreya says about Jesus: “Jesus of Nazareth and the Christ are not one and the same person. This is one of the most difficult claims for many Christians to accept in connection with Maitreya, the World Teacher, and it therefore needs some further explanation.”(3)
The third set of quotes are from Helen Schucman a non-christian Jewish woman who took dictation from an inner voice and wrote “A Course in Miracles” . This inner voice told Helen, “Is he (Jesus) the Christ? O yes, along with you. His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of you.” (2)
The fourth set of quotes is from Alice A. Bailey who channeled teachings from her “spirit guide”. Lucis Trust was established in 1922 as Lucifer Trust by Alice Bailey as the publishing company to disseminate the books of Bailey and Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society. Bailey changed the name to Lucis Trust, because Lucifer Trust revealed the true nature of the New Age Movement too clearly. (4)
After being called divisive and judgmental I decided it would be a wise thing to read scripture and pray about these issues.
My study group is in Matthew right now and what passage did we talk about? Judging Others. Matthew 7: 1-6. How timely!
First though, let’s take a look at society today. It seems that “tolerance” is the word of the day, and that all are seeking love, peace and unity. Yes, these are fine things up to a point. My breaking point is when those yearning for love and tolerance begin to change the gospel. My breaking point is when a pastor stands on the pulpit and tells me Revelation is no longer relevant.
Judge Not. Does this mean that a Christian cannot express views or opinions? No, it does not. Does “judge not”, mean that Christians should allow all false doctine to go unchallenged. Absolutely not. But…we are not to judge another’s character, and we are not to condemn another. Jesus tell us that when we see a speck in our brother’s eye, to first remove the plank from our own eye. But notice He does not stop at the plank in our own eye. We have to admit our own sin and bias first, then through God’s vision, not our own, we can then proceed. Only God can judge a man’s heart. To say that one can, is indeed self-righteous. However, we are still to use discernment between what is true and false and Jesus warns of false doctine and prophets in Matthew 7, as we continue on in this chapter.
What is it that we are hearing today? There are many roads to God. Jesus warned that we are not to follow the crowd. The crowd is headed for the wide gate and the roads to this gate are many. Jesus tell us “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Only a few? Yes, it says only a few…This is so opposite of what we are hearing from the Latter Rain folks. They say that there is going to be harvest of a billion souls for Christ in the end times. What? A billion? The Bible doesn’t say this. Is a billion a few? Can you see that we have to discern the truth by what the Word of God says? Do you think what I just proposed is divisive? It is. It divides the truth from the lies.
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you as in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace”
Jesus is warning us against deceptions and delusions here. Not all who profess to be Christians are truly so. Jesus states that many so-called prophets are false in God’s sight.
Does Satan appear to us with a pitchfork and with flames leaping from his mouth? No. He appears mild as a sheep, within the church, speaking calm words. False prophets minimize the sin of the people by applying a soothing balm and avoiding issues like the Wrath of God on Judgment Day.
“Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
Many in the church today profess knowledge of the scripture, say biblical phrases and do works, but the Lord says some are evildoers. This really is a frightening scenerio. How do we tell the difference from a false prophet and a true prophet? We cannot see men’s heart like God can. This is one reason why we cannot judge someone. So what do we do? We abstain from following the words of men. We must study God’s word on our own and pray that truth and discernment will be given us. Also we are told to discern their fruit. So be a fruit inspector. It is biblical.
False prophets, false teachers and their followers, do not want others to use discernment…they do not want their words scrutinized. Even my words should be scrutinized and compared to the Word of God. I don’t mind. I welcome it. I am also learning and praying for the Lord to teach and instruct me in His ways.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”
This is not the entire passage but it is known as the scripture that tells us to build on the rock of Jesus Christ. While this is very true what is overlooked is “what” Jesus is telling us to put into practice. Jesus is definitely our foundation but He is telling us that after hearing His words we must put them into practice. What good is the Word of God if we do not learn it, and hold it dear to our hearts? So what is our instruction?
Remove your sin or bias first before helping others.
Do not follow men for they may walk the broad path to the wide gate which leads to destruction.
Beware of false prophets wearing sheeps clothing.
Watch those who appear righteous, they may be evildoers.
Those who put these words into practice will protect themselves from destruction and deception.
Discernment is necessary in these times to recognize false teachings, apostasy, and spiritual conterfeits. We need the gifts of discernment and wisdom in these times of deception, so pray and ask the Lord for them. Committment is also needed to continuously study the Word of God and remain in prayer.
Those of us who create blogs and websites about apostasy, apologetics, heresies, discernment, or deception do so out of alarm of what we are seeing in our churches. We also do it because we love the Lord Jesus Christ. When I came back to the Lord and started going to church again, I was shocked to find out how much times had changed. Christian yoga, labryinths inside the churches, eastern meditation, no more need to bring your Bible, 10 minute sermons, quick services as to not interfere with the football game, Harry Potter books, and messages of inspiration but never conviction or sin. It was conviction of my sin that brought me back to the Lord. When the realization hit that time was short before the return of the Lord, I knew that I would fall short and was headed for destruction.
I have heard and read so much about counterfeit spirituality lately that my head spins. There is a false spirit being introduced into the church. It a spirit spouting love..peace..unity…light. Satan comes as a light. This same light comes from meditation. If you are experiencing joy and never any conviction of your sin, you should wonder why.
Do you possess the “attitudes of the Beatitudes”? Do you recognize how poor in spirit we truly are? Do you mourn over your sin? Do you literally hunger and thirst for righteouness, asking Jesus to expose your sin to yourself for correction? Are you merciful to others? Are you pure in heart, seeking only the Lord and not material things? Do you promote peace as it depends on you? Are you being persecuted for Christ’s sake? These are the attributes of Gods children.
If you truly are filled with the Holy Spirit then you will no longer tolerate sin in your life. When you read the Word of God then you will be convicted of your sin, which causes repentence. Then you will have the freedom that is in Christ.
So am I being divisive? I want to continue to divide deception and the truth. Am I judging others? I hope to be testing the fruit or the result of what one believes. If you feel that I am judging you personally, please forgive me. I only want to discern the truth and I wish this for others. God will be your judge not me. The Day of Wrath is coming. Are you ready?