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From a great site The Great Apostasy you can now order  Christian books, music and movies.

 This is from “Eds” site.

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Believe it or not, I now have a full Christian bookstore online, complete with a secure shopping cart and seperate categories (run in conjunction with Amazon).

The offerings on the new bookstore site are fairly limited at this point … but they’ve been hand-selected so you shouldn’t find too much apostasy running around there (although some of the automatic recommendations that might show up in the sidebar from Amazon aren’t necessarily items I would’ve personally recommended).  As with all things, use your own discernment.

Most books are sold at a discount (sometimes as much as 30-70% off the cover price) … plus, you’ll qualify for free shipping with a total purchase of over $25.  That can make shopping here even less expensive than ordering through your local Christian bookstore.  -)

To visit my brand new online Christian bookstore, go to:  Believers’ Books, Bibles, Music, Movies and More 

–”Ed” and family

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False Teachers, False Teachings, & Non-Christian Cults 

Not too long ago it was pretty simple to expose false teachers and non-Christian Cults, but today this task has taken a much deeper level and quite frankly it is becoming more difficult. See, non-Christian Cults such as Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Moonies, and others are for the most part known about today, but there are many within our so-called Christian Churches today that many Christians are not aware of. It is a sad thing to say this, but many of us who are a part of the body of Christ have been deceived from teachers within more so than those outside of the Church.

What is the Big Deal? There are people who simple say: “why are you judging people, who are you to point a finger, just let people be, it really does not matter what people believe as long as they believe in Jesus.” The Bible does speak of not judging another person in the sense of being like the religious Pharisees who lorded over people and were hypocrites.

(Matthew 7) Jesus in Matthew 7 and the other accounts of the same sermon in the Gospels was speaking to the crowds on the issues of how people were be looked down upon in a way of disrespect and contempt, and this we are not to do. However, looking at other places on what Jesus and the apostles taught on Biblical judgment consider the following.”He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”(John 3:18 NASB)

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”(John 7:24 NASB)

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NASB)

“in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:12 NASB)

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 NASB)

“to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 1:15 NASB)

“12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:12-13 NASB)

These are just a few Scriptures that speak of the issues of judgment to come and if you don’t like it, well, then you just don’t like the truth of God’s Word. The Bible warns about false teachers and prophets who claim to be of God, and it is very Biblical to be on your guard against being deceived, even from those among us.

“13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:13-15 NASB)”

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'” (Matthew 7:21-23 NASB)”

28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” (Acts 20:28-31 NASB) ”

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”(2 Corinthians 11:13-15 NASB)

“6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:6-9 NASB)

Be Careful of False Teachers in Sheep’s clothing. Unfortunately when it comes to exposing false teachers it is not an issue of feel good mentality but rather on the issues of concern for the body of Christ. Let it be known that it is the purpose of this information and it is important to examines things for yourself. Non Christian Cults are more obvious in certain areas where they have false teachings, but when it comes to those who are supposedly of the Christian faith it is more difficult.

Tommy Tenney is a very common teacher within Christian bookstores and among Churches. However many Christians are not aware of Tommy Tenney’s Church background and affiliation with the UPCI, commonly known as the Oneness Pentecostal movement. Oneness Pentecostals deny the doctrine of the Trinity and teach another theological spin of who God is known as Modalism.

 Now according to the sources Tommy Tenney broke off from the UPCI but nothing has ever been stated on his part in rejecting the Oneness teachings on who God is and accepting the true doctrine of the Biblical Trinity. Along with that Tommy Tenney has connections with the charismatic chaos known as the Toronto Blessing movement. Tommy Tenney is Biblically teaching false things concerning the identity of God, the working of the Holy Spirit, and he endorses false teachers among the Faith Movement and Toronto Blessing. For more in depth information check out http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/ttenney.html & http://www.letusreason.org/Poptea10.htm &

Joyce Meyer? What does Joyce Meyer teach that is so bad? Is Joyce Meyer a false teacher? Is Joyce Meyer a Christian? Why should anyone be concerned? Joyce Meyers does not have all the same false teachings as those in the Faith Movement, but she does have some teachings that are the same with various Faith teachers. Examine this information for yourself and line up the Biblical gospel to the gospel that Joyce Meyer teaches, check out http://www.afcministry.com/Joyce_Meyers.htm

Bishop Thomas D. Jakes is a very popular preacher and writer. The purpose of this examination is to provide people with information concerning T. D. Jakes beliefs & teachings on the Trinity doctrine, his affiliation with the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI, Oneness Pentecostals), and other issues of concern. Our intent is not to be judgmental but to be open to the truth and test all things in light of the Scriptures. The concern is, Is Bishop T. D. Jakes a true or false teacher of God, and What is the evidence? Check out http://www.afcministry.com/T_D_Jakes_Examined.htm

Kenneth Copeland is a popular faith movement teacher. Many say do not attack Kenneth Copeland. I wish to say that I am not attacking at all, but I am sharing information that is needed for the body of Christ to know concerning what Kenneth Copeland Ministries teaches concerning what took place at the cross and what Jesus went through for atonement. I ask all those who read this to be open enough to look at this carefully and decide for yourself whether or not Kenneth Copeland is true or false doctrines on the message of the cross and salvation. For more information check out http://www.afcministry.com/Kenneth_Copeland.htm

Benny Hinn is known by being on TV and his crusades around the world. Is Benny Hinn a true teacher? Is Benny Hinn a false teacher? Is Benny Hinn a false prophet? Is he a true prophet? The following will be actual statements and quotes from Benny Hinn’s teachings on what he believes concerning certain topics and you examine for yourselves whether Benny Hinn is of God or not. For more information check out http://www.afcministry.com/Benny_Hinn.htm

Do not be Deceived! False teachers hide behind things like don’t touch God’s anointed, do not judge, and it is our Biblical Christian duty to expose those who are misleading people with false teachings on who God is, the Gospel message, and the working of the Holy Spirit. Non Christian Cults such as the Mormon Church (Mormons), Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc, all have false teachings on the identity of God, the Gospel, and if you are looking for information on them visit our other sections, and we welcome your questions or comments.

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“How to Try the Spirits” is from Tozer’s book, “Man, The Dwelling Place of God”, and I found it to be even more relevant today than when it was written.  There are 7 sections dealing with how to test spiritual experiences by asking “How has it  affected my attitude toward and my relation to:”

  1. God
  2. Christ
  3. The Holy Scriptures
  4. Self
  5. Other Christians
  6. The World
  7. Sin

 

How to Try the Spirits

THESE ARE THE TIMES that try men’s souls. The Spirit has spoken expressly that in the latter times some should depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. Those days are upon us and we cannot escape them; we must triumph in the midst of them, for such is the will of God concerning us.

Strange as it may seem, the danger today is greater for the fervent Christian than for the lukewarm and the self-satisfied. The seeker after God’s best things is eager to hear anyone who offers a way by which he can obtain them. He longs for some new experience, some elevated view of truth, some operation of the Spirit that will raise him above the dead level of religious mediocrity he sees all around him, and for this reason he is ready to give a sympathetic ear to the new and the wonderful in religion, particularly if it is presented by someone with an attractive personality and a reputation for superior godliness.

Now our Lord Jesus. that great Shepherd of the sheep, has not left His flock to the mercy of the wolves. He has given us the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit and natural powers of observation, and He expects us to avail ourselves of their help constantly. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” said Paul (I Thess. 5:21) . “Beloved, believe not every spirit,” wrote John, “but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1) . “Beware of false prophets,” our Lord warned, “which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15). Then He added the word by which they may be tested, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

From this it is plain not only that there shall be false spirits abroad, endangering our Christian lives, but that they may be identified and known for what they are. And of course once we become aware of their identity and learn their tricks their power to harm us is gone. “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird” (Prov. 1:17)

It is my intention to set forth here a method by which we may test the spirits and prove all things religious and moral that come to us or are brought or offered to us by anyone. And while dealing with these matters we should keep in mind that not all religious vagaries are the work of Satan. The human mind is capable of plenty of mischief without any help from the devil. Some persons have a positive genius for getting confused, and will mistake illusion for reality in broad daylight with the Bible open before them. Peter had such in mind when he wrote, “Our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (II Pet. 3:15, 16).

It is unlikely that the confirmed apostles of confusion will read what is written here or that they would profit much if they did; but there are many sensible Christians who have been led astray but are humble enough to admit their mistakes and are now ready to return unto the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls. These may be rescued from false paths. More important still, there are undoubtedly large numbers of persons who have not left the true way but who want a rule by which they can test everything and by which they may prove the quality of Christian teaching and experience as they come in contact with them day after day throughout their busy lives. For such as these I make available here a little secret by which I have tested my own spiritual experiences and religious impulses for many years.

Briefly stated the test is this: This new doctrine, this new religious habit, this new view of truth, this new spiritual experience how has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to God, Christ, the Holy Scriptures, self, other Christians, the world and sin. By this sevenfold test we may prove everything religious and know beyond a doubt whether it is of God or not. By the fruit of the tree we know the kind of tree it is. So we have but to ask about any doctrine or experience, What is this doing to me? and we know immediately whether it is from above or from below.

1) One vital test of all religious experience is how it affects our relation to God, our concept of God and our attitude toward Him. God being who He is must always be the supreme arbiter of all things religious. The universe came into existence as a medium through which the Creator might show forth His perfections to all moral and intellectual beings: “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another” (Isa. 42:8) . “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11).

The health and balance of the universe require that in all things God should be magnified. “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.” God acts only for His glory and whatever comes from Him must be to His own high honor. Any doctrine, any experience that serves to magnify Him is likely to be inspired by Him. Conversely, anything that veils His glory or makes Him appear less wonderful is sure to be of the flesh or the devil.

The heart of man is like a musical instrument and may be played upon by the Holy Spirit, by an evil spirit or by the spirit of man himself. Religious emotions are very much the same, no matter who the player may be. Many enjoyable feelings may be aroused within the soul by low or even idolatrous worship. The nun who kneels “breathless with adoration” before an image of the Virgin is having a genuine religious experience. She feels love, awe and reverence, all enjoyable emotions, as certainly as if she were adoring God. The mystical experiences of Hindus and Sufis cannot be brushed aside as mere pretense. Neither dare we dismiss the high religious flights of spiritists and other occultists as imagination. These may have and sometimes do have genuine encounters with something or someone beyond themselves. In the same manner Christians are sometimes led into emotional experiences that are beyond their power to comprehend. I have met such and they have inquired eagerly whether or not their experience was of God.

The big test is, What has this done to my relationship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? If this new view of truth-this new encounter with spiritual things-has made me love God more, if it has magnified Him in my eyes, if it has purified my concept of His being and caused Him to appear more wonderful than before, then I may conclude that I have not wandered astray into the pleasant but dangerous and forbidden paths of error.

2. The next test is: How has this new experience affected my attitude toward the Lord Jesus Christ? Whatever place present-day religion may give to Christ, God gives Him top place in earth and in heaven. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” spoke the voice of God from heaven concerning our Lord Jesus. Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, declared: “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Again Peter said of Him, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12) . The whole book of Hebrews is devoted to the idea that Christ is above all others. He is shown to be above Aaron and Moses, and even the angels are called to fall down and worship Him. Paul says that He is the image of the invisible God, that in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily and that in all things He must have the preeminence. But time would fail me to tell of the glory accorded Him by prophets, patriarchs, apostles, saints, elders, psalmists, kings and seraphim. He is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. He is our hope, our life, our all and all, now and forevermore.

All this being true, it is clear that He must stand at the center of all true doctrine, all acceptable practice and all genuine Christian experience. Anything that makes Him less than God has declared Him to be is delusion pure and simple and must be rejected, no matter how delightful or how satisfying it may for the time seem to be.

Christless Christianity sounds contradictory but it exists as a real phenomenon in our day. Much that is being done in Christ’s name is false to Christ in that it is conceived by the flesh, incorporates fleshly methods, and seeks fleshly ends. Christ is mentioned from time to time in the same way and for the same reason that a self-seeking politician mentions Lincoln and the flag, to provide a sacred front for carnal activities and to deceive the simplehearted listeners. This giveaway is that Christ is not central: He is not all and in all.

Again, there are psychic experiences that thrill the seeker and lead him to believe that he has indeed met the Lord and been carried to the third heaven; but the true nature of the phenomenon is discovered later when the face of Christ begins to fade from the victim’s consciousness and he comes to depend more and more upon emotional jags as a proof of his spirituality.

If on the other hand the new experience tends to make Christ indispensable, if it takes our interest off our feeling and places it in Christ, we are on the right track. Whatever makes Christ dear to us is pretty sure to be from God.

3. Another revealing test of the soundness of religious experience is, How does it affect my attitude toward the Holy Scriptures? Did this new experience, this new view of truth, spring out of the Word of God itself or was it the result of some stimulus that lay outside the Bible? Tender-hearted Christians often become victims of strong psychological pressure applied intentionally or innocently by someone’s personal testimony, or by a colorful story told by a fervent preacher who may speak with prophetic finality but who has not checked his story with the facts nor tested the soundness of his conclusions by the Word of God.

Whatever originates outside the Scriptures should for that very reason be suspect until it can be shown to be in accord with them. If it should be found to be contrary to the Word of revealed truth no true Christian will accept it as being from God. However high the emotional content, no experience can be proved to be genuine unless we can find chapter and verse authority for it in the Scriptures. “To the word and to the testimony” must always be the last and final proof.

Whatever is new or singular should also be viewed with a lot of caution until it can furnish scriptural proof of its validity. Over the last half-century quite a number of unscriptural notions have gained acceptance among Christians by claiming that they were among the truths that were to be revealed in the last days. To be sure, say the advocates of this latter-daylight theory, Augustine did not know, Luther did not, John Knox, Wesley, Finney and Spurgeon did not understand this; but greater light has now shined upon God’s people and we of these last days have the advantage of fuller revelation. We should not question the new doctrine nor draw back from this advanced experience. The Lord is getting His Bride ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb. We should all yield to this new movement of the Spirit. So they tell us.

The truth is that the Bible does not teach that there will be new light and advanced spiritual experiences in the latter days; it teaches the exact opposite. Nothing in Daniel or the New Testament epistles can be tortured into advocating the idea that we of the end of the Christian era shall enjoy light that was not known at its beginning. Beware of any man who claims to be wiser than the apostles or holier than the martyrs of the Early Church. The best way to deal with him is to rise and leave his presence. You cannot help him and he surely cannot help you.

Granted, however, that the Scriptures may not always be clear and that there are differences of interpretation among equally sincere men, this test will furnish all the proof needed of anything religious, viz., What does it do to my love for and appreciation of the Scriptures?

While true power lies not in the letter of the text but in the Spirit that inspired it, we should never underestimate the value of the letter. The text of truth has the same relation to truth as the honeycomb has to honey. One serves as a receptacle for the other. But there the analogy ends. The honey can be removed from the comb, but the Spirit of truth cannot and does not operate apart from the letter of the Holy Scriptures.

For this reason a growing acquaintance with the Holy Spirit will always mean an increasing love for the Bible. The Scriptures are in print what Christ is in person. The inspired Word is like a faithful portrait of Christ. But again the figure breaks down. Christ is in the Bible as no one can be in a mere portrait, for the Bible is a book of holy ideas and the eternal Word of the Father can and does dwell in the thought He has Himself inspired. Thoughts are things, and the thoughts of the Holy Scriptures form a lofty temple for the dwelling place of God.

From this it follows naturally that a true lover of God will be also a lover of His Word. Anything that comes to us from the God of the Word will deepen our love for the Word of God. This follows logically, but we have confirmation by a witness vastly more trustworthy than logic, viz., the concerted testimony of a great army of witnesses living and dead. These declare with one voice that their love for the Scriptures intensified as their faith mounted and their obedience became consistent and joyous.

If the new doctrine, the influence of that new teacher, the new emotional experience fills my heart with an avid hunger to meditate in the Scriptures day and night. I have every reason to believe that God has spoken to my soul and that my experience is genuine. Conversely, if my love for the Scriptures has cooled even a little, if my eagerness to eat and drink of the inspired Word has abated by as much as one degree, I should humbly admit that I have missed God’s signal somewhere and frankly backtrack until I find the true way once more.

4. Again, we can prove the quality of religious experience by its effect on the self-life.

The Holy Spirit and the fallen human self are diametrically opposed to each other. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17). “They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit . . . . Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8: 5, 7).

Before the Spirit of God can work creatively in our hearts He must condemn and slay the “flesh” within us; that is, He must have our full consent to displace our natural self with the Person of Christ. This displacement is carefully explained in Romans 6, 7,and 8. When the seeking Christian has gone through the crucifying experience described in chapters 6 and 7 he enters into the broad, free regions of chapter 8. There self is dethroned and Christ is enthroned forever.

In the light of this it is not hard to see why the Christian’s attitude toward self is such an excellent test of the validity of his religious experiences. Most of the great masters of the deeper life, such as Fenelon. Molinos, John of the Cross, Madame Guyon and a host, of others, have warned against pseudoreligious experiences that provide much carnal enjoyment but feel the flesh and puff up the heart with self-love.

A good rule is this: If this experience has served to humble me and make me little and vile in my own eyes it is of God; but if it has given me a feeling of self-satisfaction it is false and should be dismissed as emanating from self or the devil. Nothing that comes from God will minister to my pride or self-congratulation. If I am tempted to be complacent and to feel superior because I have had a remarkable vision or an advanced spiritual experience, I should go at once to my knees and repent of the whole thing. I have fallen a victim to the enemy.

5. Our relation to and our attitude toward our fellow Christians is another accurate test of religious experience.

Sometimes an earnest Christian will, after some remarkable spiritual encounter, withdraw himself from his fellow believers and develop a spirit of faultfinding. He may be honestly convinced that his experience is superior, that he is now in an advanced state of grace, and that the hoi polloi in the church where he attends are but a mixed multitude and he alone a true son of Israel. He may struggle to be patient with these religious worldlings, but his soft language and condescending smile reveal his true opinion of them-and of himself. This is a dangerous state of mind, and the more dangerous because it can justify itself by the facts. The brother has had a remarkable experience; he has received some wonderful light on the Scriptures; he has entered into a joyous land unknown to him before. And it may easily be true that the professed Christians with whom he is acquainted are worldly and dull and without spiritual enthusiasm. It is not that he is mistaken in his facts that proves him to be in error, but that his reaction to the facts is of the flesh. His new spirituality has made him less charitable.

The Lady Julian tells us in her quaint English how true Christian grace affects our attitude toward others: “For of all things the beholding and loving of the Maker maketh the soul to seem less in his own sight, and most filleth him with reverent dread and true meekness; with plenty of charity to his fellow Christians.” Any religious experience that fails to deepen our love for our fellow Christians may safely be written off as spurious.

The Apostle John makes love for our fellow Christians to be a test of true faith. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him” (I John 3:18, 19). Again he says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (I John 4:7, 8).

As we grow in grace we grow in love toward all God’s people. “Every one that loveth him that begot loveth him also that is begotten of him” (I John 5:1) . This means simply that if we love God we will love His children. All true Christian experience will deepen our love for other Christians.

Therefore we conclude that whatever tends to separate us in person or in heart from our fellow Christians is not of God, but is of the flesh or of the devil. And conversely, whatever causes us to love the children of God is likely to be of God. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).

6. Another certain test of the source of religious experience is this: Note how it affects our relation to and our attitude toward the world.

By “the world” I do not mean, of course, the beautiful order of nature which God has created for the enjoyment of mankind. Neither do I mean the world of lost men in the sense used by our Lord when He said, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16, 17). Certainly any true touch of God in the soul will deepen our appreciation of the beauties of nature and intensify our love for the lost. I refer here to something else altogether.

Let an apostle say it for us: “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:16, 17) .

This is the world by which we may test the spirits. It is the world of carnal enjoyments, of godless pleasures, of the pursuit of earthly riches and reputation and sinful happiness. It carries on without Christ, following the counsel of the ungodly and being animated by the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience (Eph. 2: 2) . Its religion is a form of godliness, without power, which has a name to live but is dead. It is, in short, unregenerate human society romping on its way to hell, the exact opposite of the true Church of God, which is a society of regenerate souls going soberly but joyfully on their way to heaven.

Any real work of God in our heart will tend to unfit us for the world’s fellowship. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15). “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Cor. 6:140. It may be stated unequivocally that any spirit that permits compromise with the world is a false spirit. Any religious movement that imitates the world in any of its manifestations is false to the cross of Christ and on the side of the devil and this regardless of how much purring its leaders may do about “accepting Christ” or “letting God run your business.”

7. The last test of the genuineness of Christian experience is what it does to our attitude toward sin.

The operations of grace within the heart of a believing man will turn that heart away from sin and toward holiness. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:11-13) .

I do not see how it could be plainer. The same grace that saves teaches that saved man inwardly, and its teaching is both negative and positive. Negatively it teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Positively it teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly right in this present world.

The man of honest heart will find no difficulty here. He has but to check his own bent to discover whether he is concerned about sin in his life more or less since the supposed work of grace was done. Anything that weakens his hatred of sin may be identified immediately as false to the Scriptures, to the Saviour and to his own soul. Whatever makes holiness more attractive and sin more intolerable may be accepted as genuine. “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psa. 5: 4, 5).

Jesus warned, “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they should deceive the very elect.” These words describe our day too well to be coincidental. In the hope that the “elect” may profit by them I have set forth these tests. The result is in the hand of God.

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Secrets of the Kingdom of God and the End Times.

In the Parable of the Sower we learn about the four different soils which represent the condition of our heart, which in turn determines if there is a bounty, or famine from God’s word.

Using the four soils as an example, only one person out of four, will respond to the Gospel and produce fruit.  This is discouraging that only 1 of 4 people may respond when we share the gospel with them, but…we also find out that it isn’t up to us to change or convert anyone, but it is their response that convicts them. If we do our part, the rest is up to God and that person to respond. So…one out of four isn’t bad…is it? When we look at our world today, this is actually encouraging.

So, what secret of the kingdom of heaven, is Jesus trying to explain to the disciples in the case of the weeds.

Matthew 13:24   “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28. ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. ‘The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29. ‘No’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”‘ (NIV)

In Jesus’ day this very thing would occur.  An angry farmer would sow weeds in another mans field. There were strict laws made to prevent this from happening.

So what was a farmer to do when he discovered that there were weeds, (probably darnel which looks like wheat until it begins to mature)growing along side his wheat?

Here is how Jesus explains the parable.

37. He answered. “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38. The field is the world, the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39. and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41. The Son of Man will send out his angels and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (NIV)

While studying this passage I was amazed at how much we are told about the end-times. The field is the world, so this passage is not about different types of Christians, it is about unbelievers who are professing to be Christians that are among us. In what we consider to be the church, (the wheat), there will be counterfeit Christians, (the weeds). They will be among us and we will not be able to always discern the difference.  An example of this would be Judas among the other disciples. They had no idea of what was in the heart of Judas Iscariot. Think about how much time they had spent together. They traveled, slept, ate, and preached as a group. Yet…they had no clue.

Jesus said pulling up the weeds may also pull up the wheat, so to let them grow together. The time will come at the end of the world that God will separate the weeds from the wheat.  The judgment for the weeds cannot be misunderstood. They will be thrown into the fiery furnace.

What can this teach us? We cannot judge another persons heart, and we are not to. This will be the job of the angels at the end of the world. In the meantime we will have to abide among the unbelievers who profess to love and follow Christ.  So God’s kingdom has counterfeit Christians and real Christians. While we cannot judge another’s heart, we do have to be alert to the false teaching from those INSIDE the church.  Those who truly walk with the Lord have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit while those professing to know Christ, but do not, are counterfeit.

This is further expressed in the parables about the Mustard Seed and the Yeast.

These two parables are not explained by Jesus. I believe this is so because there is more than one interpretation for each. For the purpose of this study we will  focus on the counterfeit aspect of the kingdom. These verses are from the KJV.

The Mustard Seed

Matthew 13:31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32. Which is indeed the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”

I have heard a positive interpretation of this parable that says that the tree is the spreading of the gospel to all the nations, and that the church will become a powerful influence in the world (field). The Bible does say that the gospel will be heard by all before the end comes, and this will happen, but let’s look at another interpretation.

This tiny mustard seed naturally grows to the size of a garden herb plant. In this scenario the plant becomes a huge tree of unnatural proportion. This plant is inflated beyond its normal size. It is so large that birds lodge in the branches. A bird that “lodges” has taken this to be its home. This tree represents an inflated kingdom of heaven. What is it inflated with? All throughout the Bible we are warned of false teachings. Many of these false teachings are full of prosperity, inspiration and feel-good messages. One can see how the kingdom of heaven may be artificially expanded with unconverted Christians.

Could the mega-churches of today be part of this apostate kingdom of heaven with  birds nesting in its branches. The birds from the previous Parable of the Sower depicted the birds as evil. These birds came and devoured the Word of God. Now we have “birds of the air” residing in this kingdom. These birds also symbolize evil. Many of the sermons in the churches are lacking in truth of the Word. The Bible is no longer taught. The birds have come and devoured the seed, The Word.

What about those who are in the process of establishing the five-fold apostolic ministries of prophet and apostles? They are determined to build a kingdom here on earth so that Jesus can return to claim His church, the spotless bride. They say the billion soul revival is just around the corner. There is a problem with this, which will be addressed a bit later. Those deeply involved in Kingdom Now theology are creating an extensive  network that will connect to a world-wide spirituality which will ultimately invite the world ruler to step in. 

The Yeast (Leaven)

Matthew 13:33. Another parable spake he unto them: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Three measures of meal was a common offering in biblical times. In this instance we have a woman hiding yeast in the meal until the whole portion was leavened. The yeast was mixed throughout the flour. We know what happens to dough once yeast is added. It inflates and grows easily to double its original size. The yeast changes the entire texture of the dough. Now in those days yeast was added the same way one keeps a starter of sourdough bread on hand today.  It is kneaded in till it is completely infiltrated into the whole loaf.

So what does this mean?  Yeast is always spoken of in the Bible as an evil influence. Yeast was forbidden in ceremonies (Exodus12:15) and we are told “Take heed and beware of leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Matthew 16: 6.

So Jesus is telling us about the inflation of the kingdom of God and of its unnatual, bloated,  puffed-up expansion.  The cause? Evil. We have the birds of the air in the tree and the yeast in the dough infiltrating the church before Christ returns.

This kingdom of Christians (the true church) will  have counterfeit Christians among us. The Bible predicts a falling away from the faith. II Thessalonians 2:3 says “Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”

So… this inflated kingdom He speaks of will not a righteous, holy, god-fearing kingdom. In fact, this kingdom  will be laced with sinful false teachings that will entice believers AWAY from the truth preparing the world for the son of perdition, the AntiChrist. II Timothy 4:3-4 “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 into fables.”

When Jesus Christ returns this will end the kingdom of heaven as He speaks of it in these parables. This kingdom of heaven on earth will be misinterpreted by those wanting to advance God’s cause for their own desires. These parables prophesy what God’s kingdom sadly will look like before His return. We have already been told the blind will not understand, but to the disciples the mystery is opened to them. As disciples today, we should see what is happening in our churches, see the mangled doctrine, because we have been forewarned over and over again in the New Testament.

Can you see how the three parables, The Sower, The Weeds and the Yeast, build upon each other? The first parable is explained, with us learning that the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven will be understood by disciples but not the world. The world does not comprehend or care, that faith will depart from the earth…not multiply. The gospel will be spread to the ends of the earth but the takers will be few. The seed will not take root. The birds who eat the seed, Jesus explains as the “wicked one”.  Along with the wheat, weeds will grow in the field (world), and live side by side. The mustard seed, the tiniest of seeds, grows into a huge monstrous tree with birds (evil ones) nesting in it. The bread (the kingdom) is also expanded unnaturally by the  hidden yeast (evil). 

Satan himself is introducing false ideas, false gods, and false religion into all of society.  This is nothing new, but can’t you see the change in the church? At first little by little, lies are introduced and the congregations like the lies. But why is it that they cannot see the deception? THEY DON’T WANT TO. People don’t have time to read their Bible, or have time for prayer.

The kingdom of God on earth will be populated by mostly counterfeits by the time Jesus returns. My take on this is that the church will be  totally infiltrated and those who will not accept this new spirituality introduced by the birds, will have to go underground. Why do i believe this? It is happening today.

Now what about the billion soul revival? This is not biblical because of Luke 18:8.  “…when the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” In fact, about the end-times, Jesus says in Matthew 24:9 “..and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”  What about Matthew 7: 14? “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  This verse was recently cited to a dominionist who said this was being “nit-picky”.  Today Bible believing Christians are being ridiculed and sneered at, being called uneducated and unenlightened. The derision is rampant.

Weeds & Yeast 

The secrets of the Parables are not secret to those who walk the narrow path, who have committed their life to the Lord, and who have been empowered by the Holy Spirit. Those who hold to the truths of the Word of God will not be deceived by the hypocrisy and false teachings of the weeds  and their rebellious words inflated by the yeast.

Please….examine yourself and the commitment you have or haven’t made to the Lord Jesus Christ. The future for the weeds is less than promising, indeed. The church, the true believers, are the kingdom of heaven today. The perfect kingdom we still wait for…after the physical return of Jesus Christ.

So take heart, brothers and sisters in Christ. Luke tell us in 21:28,  “Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”

“Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

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It is with great interest that I read about those who are building the kingdom of heaven here on earth.  There are many struggling to find peace and unify this world into what they think is God’s kingdom using extra-biblical revelation. Of course, God’s perfect kingdom is not of this world but apparently that is beside the point.

While studying Matthew, it startled me to realize the secrets that are revealed about the kingdom of heaven in chapter 13. Of the seven parables in this chapter, there are only two parables that Jesus himself explains. The Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Weeds.

Each parable starts “the kingdom of heaven is liketh”, except the parable of the sower, which has the phrase,”Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.”

What is it about these two parables that Jesus explained outright to us, that is so important.

First I should note that  parables were used because those who were sincere in wanting to understand the truth, those who were truly seeking Jesus, understood.  Those who did not understand were merely listening to stories, their hardened hearts not seeing or hearing. But those who were sensitive to the words were convicted.  Those who wanted to know more would inquire further.

The Parable of the Sower. Many of us are familiar with this parable.

Matthew 13:3-9

3. “And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold a sower went forth to sow; 4. And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5. Some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6. And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up and choked them: 8. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixty fold, some thirtyfold. 9. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

It was at this point that the disciples asked why Jesus spoke in parables. He said, 11. “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but them it is not given.”

So why were the mysteries revealed to the disciples but not to the others?

Matthew 11:25 “At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”

Matthew 13:17 “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things ye hear, and have not heard them.”

I Cor 2:10,14 “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God…The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The truths that Jesus was speaking of, was foolishness to those who did not have the spirit of God and so instead reveals his truths to those who are childlike when they come to Him. Jesus had just preached the Beatitudes on the Sermon on the Mount as to what our “attitudes” as children of God were to be, and yet the people would not believe.

 Matthew 13:12-13  “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.”

We must take the full counsel of God.  Those who interpret scripture to their liking or warp its message by taking it out of context… have no light in them. If you are looking for understanding and knowledge in the bible you will find it, but if you are closed to the truth…the truth you do have….will be taken from you.  What a huge implication this is.  If you turn your back on the Word of God, any understanding you have….will be removed. What light you have received….will taken from you.

This would like be receiving multiple warnings from your power company. After rejecting them over and over again by ignoring the bills, the plug will eventually be pulled. The power will be turned off. Likewise if you continually reject the complete teachings of the word of God, what little light you may have….God will turn out.

How careful we must be… to read the bible from front to back to ensure the understanding of his Word.

Jesus then says that this fulfills a prophecy in Isaiah 6:9-10.  “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart. and convert, and be healed.”

God told Isaiah to go and preach to a people who wouldn’t respond, so that their guilt would be certain. As Trapp wrote, Isaiah would “Preach them to hell.” What preacher could be satisfied with a ministry that made the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes? Isaiah might not be satisfied with it. The people might not be satisfied with it. But God would be satisfied with it.  This shows what the word of God can accomplish when it is received with open eyes, ears, and heart. It brings understanding to our heart, it makes us return, and it brings healing to our lives. If you are under the word of God and these things aren’t happening to you, ask God to work with your eyes, ears, and heart! (David Guzik)

Matthew 13:15 “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

Jesus was telling the disciples that what was true of the Israelites was also true of this crowd. Isn’t this true of people today? We do not want to hear anything that may convict of us our sinful lives, so we close our eyes to the truth. We do not want to admit that our pathways are wrong or that we may have believed a lie so we continue to put our hands over our ears and sing a song to drown out the voice of God in our wicked hearts. What an eternal fatal decision.

Matthew 13:17 “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired  to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things, which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

So why have these prophets and righteous men seen not and heard not? I looked at Strongs Concordance [G1937] desire. Here is the meaning.

1) to turn upon a thing

2) to have a desire for, long for, to desire

3) to lust after, covet

a) of those who seek things forbidden

Desire, covet, lust, things forbidden! Now this is beginning to make some sense. 

Jude 19 “These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”

It is at this point that Jesus explains the parable.

Matthew 13:19 “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.”

We can easily picture a trodden path. The soil is hard here and the Word of God bounces off. A man’s heart is hard in the same manner. He hears the Word but he doesn’t want act on it. The seed does not penetrate. The birds come and eat the seed before it has time to soften man’s heart.

We know this as the parable of the sower of the seed, but upon closer look it is truly about the condition of the soil. The seed is always the same. Let’s look at the next soil.

Matthew 13:20-21 “The one who who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the Word and at once receives it with joy. But since it has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”

This seed fell on rocky places and maybe found a bit of soil between the rocks. Here it sprouts quickly but when the conditions get dry or hot, the sprout withers. There is no root or foundation to sustain it.  This is how it is when we hear God’s Word and start to go to church, but this soon becomes inconvenient or people start to criticize our faith so we fall away when times get tough. 

Matthew 13:22 “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the Word, but the worries of this life and deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”

Isn’t it just like life to become full of pastime pleasures. Shopping, boating, golfing, tennis, movie theaters, plays, etc. When the truth of Word of God becomes second to lifes whims and riches, it becomes choked among the thorns. We forget about the treasure we had in our heart, and instead long for the treasures made of wood, silver, and gold. Our other gods.

Matthew 13:23 “But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

So the description of the soil is the condition of man’s heart when he hears the gospel. It may be any part of God’s word at anytime of ones life.

What four soils best describes your heart right now? 

1. It is hard-trodden, rejecting any truth that may ask you to change your ways?

2. How about rocky? Does God’s Word reach down deep to your very soul or are the roots of God’s Word shallow and ready to wilt in the heat?

3. Is your soil congested with thorns which crowd out God’s Word so that it cannot flourish?

4. Is your ground fertile? Do you welcome the seed of God’s Word into your heart and let it grow to maturity?

This fertile ground is now broken into 3 more categories.  A thirty-fold Christian may be who believes but can be lukewarm at times. A sixty-fold Christian may be someone who lives for the Lord but does not surrender entirely. But a hundred-fold Christian would be one who has commited fully to the Lord in all ways.

So it is not the seed or the sower who does not produce. It is the condition of the soil that tells the story of what one can expect when the seed is planted into it. Different soils produce different reactions. Only one of the four soils will produce fruit. What fruit have you produced for God? Is your Christian life thriving because of obedience to the Word? Do you read and study the Bible daily to ensure that you are on the right path?

The worker is not to blame. The sower has done his job by spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Next: The Parable of the Weeds – Counterfeit Christians

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The Bible teaches that all Christians should grow in spiritual discernment.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
– Hebrews 5:12-14 NASB

Paul told the Thessalonians:
Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 NASB

While he encouraged the Thessalonians not to discount or dismiss the Holy Spirit – by despising that which was being taught as coming from God (prophecy) – Paul instructed them to test everything.

In other words, if someone preaches or teaches something that he or she claims was inspired by God, we are not to despise it – which would result in quenching the Holy Spirit.
However, we are to carefully examine that which is being taught.

Earlier, Luke called the people of Berea – where Paul and Silas had been sent to preach – “more noble-minded that those in Thessalonica,” because
they received the word with great eagerness, examining [anakrino] the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.
– Acts 17:11-12 NASB

Thus the Bereans did not quench the Spirit, but rather tested what was being taught, using Scripture as their guide.

How to grow in spiritual discernment

The only way to grow in spiritual discernment is
a) by relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit who indwells every true Christian, and
b) by stuyding God’s Word, the Bible.

These two go hand-in-hand:

The Holy Spirit

One can not expect someone who has just accepted Jesus Christ as his savior to have a full, working knowledge of Biblical theology. The Bible indicates that people come to Jesus because the Holy Spirit draws them and they respond to His invitation.

When someone accepts Jesus Christ, he becomes regenerated (born again – a new person, spiritually). Among other things, he receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which puts him at a great advantage over non-Christians. Paul puts it like this:
11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
16 For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct. – 1 Corinthians 2:11-16

The Bible

The Bible provides the standard against which all teachings must be tested:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB

Hand-in-hand

This reliance both on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and on God’s Written Word should keep Christians focused on God.

If Christians were to rely only on their ability to listen to the Holy Spirit, they would leave themselves open to all manner of private teachings and interpretations – without any rules by which to rest such revelations.

At the same time, it they were to rely only on their own ability to interpret and apply the Scriptures, they would leave no room for God’s guidance in revealing to them the riches of his Word.

As Christians our focus should always be on the living God, with whom we have an interactive relationship.

Relying on the discernment of others

No Christian is an island. There is much to be learned from one another, as we share the wisdom and insights God has revealed to us from His Word, by His Holy Spirit.

Sadly, though, many Christians leave the responsibility for discernment almost completely up to others. Their guidance comes primarily from televangelists, authors (and, more often than not, their ghost writers), their pastors, or their favorite websites.

That’s like being spoon-fed by someone else – marking one as an infant, rather than as a mature Christian:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
– Hebrews 5:12-14 NASB

By all means, let’s learn from one another – eagerly receiving the word, while also examining everything carefully.

Discernment as a spiritual gift

Christians who believe that the Spiritual Gifts are still available today, see the gift of “distinguishing between spirits” (discerning whether they are human, from God, or demonic), to be a special form of discernment (revealed, instead of learned):
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
– 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, NASB

This article taken from Apologetics Index

 

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http://www.letusreason.org/Default.htm 

Mike Oppenheimer of:

Let Us Reason Ministries

MY TESTIMONY                         

I was brought up Jewish, went to Shabbat quite faithfully each Friday and celebrated the holydays at the temple and with family. Our family like many others, gathered together on the high holy days in observance. I attended Hebrew school twice a week and learned the language and eventually was Bar Mitzvahed and confirmed. While attending classes I asked a lot of questions about God the Rabbi could not answer. Though I continued each year, mainly to please my parents, I became less interested in the traditional religion of my parents and feeling hindered in my spiritual development, leaped head first into my own brand of freestyle spirituality after graduation.

By my own search in reading and attending lectures and gatherings I got involved in the New Age Movement, became a vegetarian and for 15 years practiced yoga and meditation. I ended up using psychedelic drugs for a time (LSD, mescaline etc.), as part of my regular religious observances and smoking “pakalolo” (pot) became part of my normal lifestyle. During these times I also experimented with various religions and the occult. I felt they each contained some part of the truth of the one “true” religion, just as Rosicrucianism teaches all religions are petals on the same flower.

I studied about the Ancient Masters of the East, learning about Buddhism and Zen I picked up on a number of the practices. I had a number of spiritual experiences which at the time I was sure were from God and leading me to a greater knowledge of myself and Him. I discovered and believed in the Ascended Masters that were guiding our world into a greater evolutionary path. I was involved with UFO’s and channeled messages. I was sure I was on the right spiritual path because of the various signs things just fell into place. At the same time I also read the Bible (even the New Testament), not denying my Jewish roots. I began reading over 50 books a year, having an insatiable spiritual appetite, but God was working on my exit out of this spiritual bondage.

I had also started to surf before beginning my spiritual pilgrimage. I fell in love with the sport and began traveling, surfing and entering contests. Surfing became my livelihood after I learned to shape surfboards for a living. I became the NY champion for a number of years and eventually the eastern surfing champion for two years. Hawaii proved to be an irresistible attraction due to its fantastic surf. I moved permanently to Hawaii with my girlfriend Kathy in the mid 70’s. This gave me more freedom to pursue both my first love of surfing and my freelance spirituality. We thought we were becoming enlightened. Reading books about the Ascended Masters involvement and “learning” about Earth’s past history on Lemuria and Atlantis. We desired to become servants of the New age movement, convinced that if we all united we could usher in an age of spiritual cooperation and enlightenment that so many were talking about. After nine years my searching came to a head when my girlfriend Kathy and I started to pursue our spiritual hunger more seriously and became involved in the “I Am Movement” (the Saint Germaine Society of the Ballard’s). Through calling on angels and powers unknown to us and by “decreeing” and using the Violet Consuming Flame to eradicate past life karma, we were learning to become active in the New Age Movement. At the time, Kathy was practicing affirmations, mantras, studying herbology, polarity therapy, kinesiology and learning about the supposed spiritual energies of the body. She also was a manager of a health store on the Island of Oahu.

At the same time, the Lord started moving ahead with His rescue plan and during one week we had two friends over who had recently became Christians. One was also a surfer that I knew from New York. We talked about end-time events for hours. Since I was familiar with, as I had been reading the Bible for years, and was especially fascinated about the end of the age. (At that time we both thought Christians were very narrow minded about their view of the Bible, God and the world. Kathy and I used to laugh about how the New Age was coming in without Christians even being aware of it, and were still trying to live in the old traditions and were not going to be part of it). Later that week my friends invited us to a seminar that just so happened to be on the New Age Movement with speakers Dave Hunt, Johanna Michaelson and Hal Lindsey. Talk about timing! It was also during that same week that I heard an audible voice say, “I am the Lord your God, you shall not want.” I recognized this was from Psalm 23 from my Jewish upbringing and had never experienced anything like it. Inside I knew this was the God I was searching for but still did not know. It was only later I would understand why this voice was outside and not from inside me.

I attended the Christian conference on Bible prophecy and the New Age Movement that week while Kathy stayed home doing her New Age affirmations. She wasn’t feeling well that day and unknowingly had really been going through a spiritual battle all that week. At the conference, I was shocked to hear the other side of the story. The information I heard seemed incredible. The speakers knew all about the occult techniques Kathy and I were following and practicing, and about the New Age Movement’s master plans. I spoke to Dave Hunt briefly during a break and he answered a number of important questions. One was why Jesus said, “why you have forsaken me?” Though I was reading the Bible all these years I could not understand the gospel contained in it. I was blinded by the viewpoints ingrained from the New Age influences. I was also challenged by Dave on the occult practices in which I was personally involved practicing. He was aware of the “I am societies” practices. One question he asked was, “If you’re God did you create the universe? I had never thought this through. If I’m trying to become god through all these New Age techniques, how could this be possible, when God was always all knowing and all powerful (according to the Scriptures and what I had heard through their speaking that night). It was through this question that a chain of events led to the Lord really ministering the truth to my heart and mind. When the conference resumed Johanna spoke and I was relating to a lot she had experienced, especially in regards to the Ascended Master “Jesus”. Then she spoke about another Jesus – the true Jesus of the Bible, which came as a total shock. I never thought there could be false Jesus’ parading around as the real one. They were only Jesus by name but not the One who is God come in the flesh. It all made sense. When she prayed my heart was pierced, I knew I had heard the truth, but the question was; what would I do about it?

All the way home I wrestled with the realization that I had wasted the past 15 years believing and doing the wrong things. (Prior to this I thought Christians were very narrow minded but now I had to reconsider that I was too open-minded and had bought into a lie.) I asked my friends who took me to the meeting numerous questions that were running through my mind. Being new Christians, they could answer only a few of them. They just kept saying to me, “we know the Bible is God’s Word and Jesus is the truth.”

Kathy was waiting up for me when I got home. It was late and she was actually scared that I would come home a Christian from the meeting! As I came in a peace came in the house and on her, as I sat her down and shared about how the Christians viewed the last days and how it wasn’t anything like what we were being taught in the New Age Movement. It was then that the Holy Spirit revealed to Kathy that not only were we following the wrong Jesus (2 Cor.11:4), but that we were worshiping Satan, and that he is a real being. Then the fear of God fell upon us and for the first time we got down on our knees and prayed to the true living God to forgive us for the occult beliefs we had been deceived into practicing. The Lord got the last laugh, but it was a pleasant one of victory.

The next morning we both went to a Christian church and the pastor got to the pulpit and said that he was told to change the sermon. He spoke on sin, Satan and Jesus Christ, we thought our friends had tipped him off but it was the Lord. We heard the gospel explained and dedicated our lives to the Lord, repenting and asking Christ to forgive us. Thank the Lord He intervened. We were saved together in the year 1986. It was later that week I found out that it was on the 20th anniversary of my confirmation day when God spoke that previous week to me Psalm 23. The last thing I read in front of the congregation in the temple 20 years before had been Proverbs 4:1-2 “Hear my children, the instruction of a Father, and give attention to know understanding. For I have given you good doctrine, forsake not my law.” Unfortunately, I did forsake His Law, for 20 years- but God brought me and my soon-to-be wife back. Five weeks after our spiritual birth Kathy and I were married and today have a 15 year old son who has been learning and become very interested in the debate of creation versus evolution among other interests.

Immediately, I began to study the Bible and learn apologetics in order to give answers to those who ask why we believe in Christ and why Jesus is God in the flesh. Since 1988 I have continued teaching on the cults and aberrant world views including how the cults deny grace and opt for works to be accepted by God. These include the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, and also the occult (New Age world view) which is now very present inside the Church.

By the grace of God I have had the privilege to have taught at Hope Chapels, Calvary Chapels, Church of Christ, Youth With A Mission, United Methodist Church, Grace Brethren, Assembly of God and various other Hawaii congregations. I have also had the opportunity to share in small group studies around the Island and have been involved in a number of debates. The Lord has currently provided us with the opportunity to host a TV program and had live call-in broadcast called “Let Us Reason” on a local Christian station as well as featured on several other live radio broadcasts in Hawaii. I am currently a missionary for Witness Inc., the world’s largest counter cult ministry reaching out to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In 1994 Let Us Reason Ministries was founded as an up-to-date apologetic resource center to instill both confidence and a desire to lead others to Christ. This is done by helping equip believers with both Biblical, and logical answers for their Christian faith. I have learned many things along the way that need to be passed on to others to encourage as well as equip them in their witnessing. It’s my hope that this ministry will be able to prompt believers to personally meet and evangelize people who are in cults and false religions as well as discern and call attention to false doctrine within the Church.

Mike Oppenheimer

 

(used with permission from Let us Reason)

 

 

Here is another testimony that you might like to read.

kim

https://kimolsen.wordpress.com/2007/12/25/a-testimony-of-a-former-new-ager/

and another

https://kimolsen.wordpress.com/2007/09/13/the-toronto-deception-by-former-tacf-pastor-paul-gowdy/

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I just wanted to provide a place for everyone to make prayer requests.  We all have someone dear to us that needs the mercy of the Lord, or we may need some prayer for ourselves when we are discouraged from Satan’s attacks. We must expect oppostion from the enemy and prayer gets us through this.  All that I ask is that when leave a prayer request make sure you pray for those who have left their own requests. 

Be as specific as you like but keep it short. Make sure that anything you say about a friend or family member would not be embarrased by your request.

We have the Word of God to guide and teach us but prayer is how we communicate with the Lord which enhances our relationship with Him.

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Prophesying and preaching the Gospel at a Psychic Fair

A group of IHOP–KC evangelists went to a psychic fair in Kansas City recently. They set up a table and began prophesying God’s destiny over approximately 100 people involved in New Age religion and witchcraft. God broke in and did amazing things. Since the weekend of the fair, people from the fair have contacted the evangelism team wanting to know where they can meet with them to recieve ministry, and several have been saved since. It was an exciting weekend, where the Lord moved and people were born again, including one of the mediums working the fair. Click below to read and listen to the testimonies. http://www.ihop.org/group/group.aspx?id=1000003885

 

Please read this article that I found on the IHOP website. There is so much wrong here that I can not begin to fathom it. Remember that the New Age Jesus is not the same as our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan comes as an angel of light and professes love and peace.  I have highlighted many of the red flags in red….my comments in blue.  I would like to add that it sounds as though some good came out of this, but hard to say.

 

***UPDATE*** IHOP has pulled this article from their website so the above link no longer works, but it is preserved here on my blog.

A Weekend with the Witches

By Ken DeBenedictis

I’ve been having these conversations with fellow believers about the “New Age

Movement” for years now. I know, I know… it’s evil. It’s deceptive. Witchcraft.

Demons. Cooties.. Look out their gonna get you..blah, blah, blah. I have to admit that the

very fact that it causes so much nervousness and controversy amongst the prophetic Body

of Christ makes me want to set my coordinates and head straight in. So when the

opportunity came for some friends and I to go to a Psychic Fair, I couldn’t have been

happier.

My friend, Erika had noticed an ad on a billboard announcing the fair and felt a tug from

the Lord to explore the idea of being involved. She gave me a call and the two of us

began to search out the contacts on the website that she read off the billboard. I gave the

organization a call and had a real interesting conversation with one of the head

organizers. He asked me who I was what I was wanting. I simply told him that we were a

network of friends called the “Mystics of Yeshua” ( this is deceptive) and that we wanted to be involved as

venders. He began to interview me and wanted to know just what kind of “vendors” we

were. Wisdom began to speak through me (to deceive another person?) and I explained that we work as a group of

interconnected “readers” and “seers” who channel Yeshua’s energy into people. We also

do aura cleansing. He seemed to like that answer and began to ask further about the

cleansing. I said that if people coming to us had any negative energy that they wanted to

get rid of, the pure light from Yeshua would remove any dark energy that they might be

carrying. I figured the answer was satisfactory, because the next thing out of his mouth

was him telling me we could have a section of the “reading room” and share it with the

other psychics and mediums.

“How much do you charge?” he asked.

“Uuhm…nothing”, I replied. “We believe that if you give this kind of service away free

of charge, it comes back to you somehow”.

He said he knew what I was talking about and put me on hold.

We exchanged information and were told the process of how to apply. Apparently the

registration was already past and this was a “unique situation” for the organization.

Nonetheless, within minutes I was told that we could have two tables and we could pretty

much set up the way we wanted. I thanked him very much for the opportunity and knew

right then that Yeshua was on the move.

Within two days we had assembled a team of eleven people through cell phones and

emails and gathered together at a coffee shop to get everyone on the same page. Our first

rule of thumb was no Christianese or church-language of any kind. (sounds like Willow Creek) If we were going to

get through to anyone in this environment, we had to speak THEIR language, not try to

make them understand ours. Speaking “energy” was a key and walking with Wisdom was

essential to this mission. In order to follow Him in this strategy, we truly had to be sheep

in wolves clothing.

Erika, Liz and myself arrived at the Community College where it was to be held and

strolled in past the crystal tables, wolf skins, and witchcraft how-to books. A hypnotic

toned base flute was playing in the background, as was the lingering smell of Nepalese

incense. It couldn’t have been more ideal. We found a stocked pond full of fish and we

were the only ones at this derby! We met the director of the fair and she told us that she

had been expecting us. We signed the code of ethics statement, which to my surprise

impressed me with their integrity more so than some of the prophetic ministries I have

been to. (?) We walked in with our gear to a wide-open expo center. There were stalls of

tarot card readers, psychics and mediums all around the edges of it with rows of chairs

for people to wait in the middle. I couldn’t help but think of some of the prophecy teams

that I have ministered with at prophetic conferences. Surprisingly, it was very similar in

appearance until I looked to my right to notice an albino woman’s eyes roll back in her

head as she read her cards for a nice young couple. Not exactly lining up with

1Corinthians 14:3, but it seemed to flow with the spirit of the thing. We proceeded over

to our area and by the director’s recommendation and grabbed two stalls next to each

other at a corner so that “our energies could stay together”. We politely thanked her for

her help and suggestions and began to set up shop. I looked over at Erika who was now

hugging one of the witches, and realized we had just entered into a large door of God’s

grace. It was truly remarkable how cooperative everyone was being and how much love

seemed to be exuding from us. The Lord was opening doors one right after the other.

It didn’t take long to get started. We put up our sign, anointed ourselves with oil and

prayed in tongues for a few minutes. When the time was right, Yeshua’s Spirit began to

lead people over one by one. Our first customers was a grandmother, mother, daughter

trio who sat there intently listening as Erika began to speak Word’s of Love into their

hungry hearts. It truly flowed like a river and within seconds woman number one was in

tears. We couldn’t believe how easy it was. Before long, a steady flow of people began to

come. We started getting in the groove pretty quick. We’d introduce ourselves, explain

what “Yeshua” meant, informed them that one person would be the “channel” while the

other would be the “oracle”. That there was no need for fear because it’s the same spirit

that’s working through both of us. We told them it would be pure love and light that they

would feel and to be open to receive it. Time quickly went by under this anointing and we

all felt the power of the Spirit upon us. I looked over at Liz who was now having a good

time with the folks, as she had her hands in the air trying to catch the next wave of Love

Energy. The wide-eyed couple across from her was whispering, “Yes, we feel it! Yes we

feel it”. It was quite a scene. The Lord was loving it. By now we were beginning to create

quite a buzz at the expo center and people began to ask about us to the people in charge

of the fair.

Like any good leadership group would do, they sent an inquiry.

“What is Yeshua?” a woman would ask.

We’d explain it in its most basic terms until; they decided that they too wanted a reading.

We knew we were being tested and gave them a quick prophetic word in the most loving

way we knew how. I didn’t think it was much, but apparently she did because within a

half hour we learned the registration people were sending people over to us. According to

them and a lot of the other readers, our energy was the “hottest”.

By the second day, we were in our flow. We now had three booths given to us and up to

five people ministering. My friend Doug who had stall number two had told me he had

never prophesied the way he was that day. His last customer had been prophesied over,

fell into conviction, (wow, this is actually good) accepted Yeshua, and was baptized in the Spirit in one shot. Many

were having similar experiences. I was finding that the majority of the people we were

talking to and “reading” were from denominational backgrounds and had never

considered this kind of thing coming from the “church”. It was truly amazing to learn just

how many people had been hurt by careless and uninformed pastors. I felt like for many

former Christians, this was their turning point. Many times, after “channeling” love

energy for a while, I would prophecy in the first person as if the Father was speaking to

His daughter or son. I’d begin to tell them about how I (or He) had made them, their

calling and their importance to Me (Him). How the Father had been there through any

specific hurt, wound or trauma in their lives and wanted to heal and wash them. That He

had now sent a prophet into their lives in a Psychic Fair to reach them in a personal way.

It was like an arrow being shot into their hearts. Tears of relief and joy rolled down the

cheeks of person after person. At one point, I looked over at all of our tables and noticed

every person was weeping.

One of those I spoke with reminded me of a female Bob Jones. I discerned she was a

psychic reader and began to prophesy accordingly. She gazed into my eyes intently as I

was speaking and then glared an evil glare. I stopped to look into her and told her that we

had a little negative energy problem and said that I would be not talking to her, but to it.

After sending Mr. Negative away in the name of Yeshua, the woman thanked me and I

continued to explain that her gift was a gift from Yeshua and that she had abused it. (this gift was not from Jesus!) That

instead of using it for the King of Kings, she had been using it to serve herself and the

spirit of Baal. Her eyes rolled back and she grinned a demon smile. But then the strangest

thing happened, as she seemed to come to her senses and looked at me as if for help.

Tears welled up in her eyes and she said that it had become so hard. She truly knew that

God had spoken to her and wanted to change. I told her that a prophet’s life was a hard

one and then we both started to weep as the Holy Spirit began to rest on us. I told her that

that the King was returning and sides were being taken. Who was she going to serve? I

looked into her eyes and I knew that for her to give this up meant that the demons would

kill her.( i have never heard this before)  She grabbed my hand and thanked me and got up and left. I couldn’t believe

what the enemy was doing. It enraged me. There were so many of the Lord’s end-time

prophets stuck in the trap of sorcery and witchcraft. It made me all the more determined

to go in and pull out these trapped prophets.

Later that afternoon, Erica and I were approached by an older woman who had been a

reader/psychic in one of the other booths. She was about to go home for the day, but said

that something had made her come over to talk to us. My friend Liz had already

connected with her once and I knew that the Spirit had been working on her. She sat

down and Erika just bathed her in love and acceptance. I was ready to speak and the

Spirit began to swirl around my head. I know when this happens, it’s time to let ‘er rip. I

opened my mouth and began to speak the Word of the Lord to her. For some reason I

bypassed the “energy” language and spoke of Christ the King. How He was coming back

and that she was being called as a prophet to this nation. That she was loved and that the

Lord wanted her back home. Tears were streaming down her face as she wept in

repentance. She went on to say that as a Baptist, she was hurt by a pastor and never

returned. That someone had prophesied that her husband would lay hands on people and

see them get well. It had never been realized. I explained that the Lord had forgiven her

and was calling her to serve Him. Today. Right now. She nodded in agreement and the

Lord told me to anoint her with oil right there. I told her that I was accountable to God if

I did this and wanted a real commitment. I wasn’t playin’. I signaled for LeeAnna who

was sitting at the table next to us, to help us. She came over and the three of us baptized

this dear woman in the Holy Spirit for everyone to see. I continued to prophecy over her

life and spoke of how God had had spoken to her at thirteen years of age about so and so

and this and that. After we had finished, her eyes as big as saucers, she said that no one

but God would know what I had just said. (or the demons) She went on to explain that she had given her

life to the Lord at thirteen and He was reminding her of that. The swirl of the Spirit was

all over everyone. She cried, we prayed, and she said that she had been dreading the car

ride home, but now she couldn’t wait to talk with the Lord. She got up drunk in the Holy

Spirit and went home to do some “house cleaning”. The next morning at the fair, I arrived

to the expo to see the directors of the fair taking her belongings and her name badge out

of her booth. Joan had retired from her practice. She was now a prophet to Yeshua.

There were many other stories of salvations and tears. There were miraculous words of

knowledge and battles in the spirit. I even had a conversation in tongues with a witch. It

was pretty awesome. All in all, we all felt the Lord’s heart for people following the New

Age movement and how He is building teams like ours to go and plunder the enemy’s

camp. It just goes to show you that where the darkness is darkest, the brightness of His

light shines that much brighter. Let’s not miss these opportunities to shine.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light; those who dwelt in the

land of the shadow of death, upon them a Light has shined. You have multiplied the

nation and increased it’s joy; they rejoice before You according to the joy of

harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

Isaiah 9:2-3

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I have two books by Ray Yungen, “A Time Of Departing” and “For Many Shall Come In My Name”. Both of these books are packed with information regarding the universal spirituality which is “preparing the world for the end of the age”.

What caught my interest in this article is the mention of Marcus Borg.  I have studied him previously because of his involvement in a seminary board which demotes Jesus to a historical spiritual man.

In September this year, a local Episcopal church about 2 miles from my home, advertised  in our local newspaper, a study group based on the book “The Meaning of Jesus” by Marcus Borg. “It explains ways to relate to Jesus in a new way.” This alone made me shudder. Also they promoted “prayer and meditation in the Celtic tradition”.

I read about apostate churches all over the country but when it happens so close to home, I weep inside because of the reality of it all.

kim

Filling the Vacuum with Mysticism

Source: Ray Yungen

by Ray Yungen

Why are the mainstream denominations so open to meditative and holistic practices? David R. Griffen, professor of theology at a United Methodist college in Clairmont, California, states:

A spiritual vacuum exists in organized religion that might he filled by theologies that draw–for better or worse–from what is called parapsychology, paranormal studies, psychic phenomena and, somewhat pejoratively, the “New Age” movement.1

New Agers have become very much aware of this “spiritual vacuum” and have directed their efforts toward filling it. Metaphysical leader James Fadiman makes the following observation:

The traditional religious world is just beginning to make changes, but it’s a slow process–denomination by denomination. When religious institutions begin to lose members year after year, they eventually become aware that they’re not meeting people’s needs. Before long they’re scurrying around looking for innovative programs and improvements.2

Even atheists have observed this trend. Science-fiction writer Richard E. Geis comments in his personal journal that:

The mainstream Christians are lip-service religions in the main, convenience religions, social religions, and they are the ones most subject to erosion and defections and infiltration and subversion. A large and successful effort seems to have been made by the occultists’ New Age planners to dilute and alter the message of most of the mainstream Christian religions.3

This is made evident by a quote which appeared in a newspaper interview with the owner of a New Age bookstore. She reveals:

A lot of people come in who are very Christian. They are looking, by whatever means, to move closer to God on an individual basis.4

This shows that a great number of people who consider themselves to be Christians have a rather dull and dreary attitude toward their faith. They are looking for something to fill the void. One of the foremost individuals who has attempted to fill this void with the New Age is Marcus Borg, professor and author of many widely read books. In one of them, The God We Never Knew, he lays out very concisely how he went from being a traditional Christian to a “mature” Christian. He relates:

I learned from my professors and the readings they assigned that Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world…. By the time I was thirty, like Humpty Dumpty, my childhood faith had fallen into pieces. My life since has led to a quite different understanding of what the Christian tradition says about God.5

Like multitudes of liberal Christians who believe as he does, Borg turned to mysticism to fill the spiritual vacuum that his way of thinking inevitably leads to. Borg reveals:

I learned about the use of mantras as a means of giving the mind something to focus and refocus on as it sinks into silence.6

This is a recurring theme in all his books, including his very influential book, The Heart of Christianity. Even though Marcus Borg would certainly not call himself a New Ager, his practices and views on God would be in line with traditional New Age thought (i.e., God is in everything and each person is a receptacle of the Divine, which is accessed through meditation).

Borg is a key example of what I am trying to convey. He is not some Hindu guru or counter-culture type personality. He represents the mainstream for millions of people in liberal churches. But his spiritual platform is pure New Age as he makes clear when he expounds:

The sacred is not “somewhere else” spatially distant from us. Rather, we live within God … God has always been in relationship to us, journeying with us, and yearning to be known by us. Yet we commonly do not know this or experience this…. We commonly do not perceive the world of Spirit.7

This perception is, of course, as I have shown [in Yungen’s book], the outcome of mantra-induced silence.

The following is another barometer of Christian tolerance to New Age ideas. The late psychologist M. Scott Peck wrote a phenomenal best seller on psychology and spiritual growth titled The Road Less Traveled. The book contains insights and suggestions for dealing with life’s problems, which is why it has generated the interest it has. But the book also incorporates the central theme of the Ancient Wisdom:

God wants us to become himself (or Herself or Itself). We are growing toward godhood. God is the goal of evolution. It is God who is the source of the evolutionary force and God who is the destination. This is what we mean when we say that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end….

It is one thing to believe in a nice old God who will take good care of us from a lofty position of power which we ourselves could never begin to attain. It is quite another to believe in a God who has it in mind for us precisely that we should attain His position, His power, His wisdom, His identity.8

Madame Blavatsky and Alice Bailey [New Age occultists] could not have said it any better. Peck revealed where he was coming from when he said, “But (The Road) is a sound New Age book, not a flaky one.”9 This book, which was on the New York Times best seller list for over 400 weeks, has been incredibly popular in Christian circles for years. Peck himself said the book sells best in the Bible Belt.

What is happening to mainstream Christianity is the same thing that is happening to business, health, education, counseling, and other areas of society. Christendom is being cultivated for a role in the New Age….

This ultimately points to a global religion based on meditation and mystical experience. New Age writer David Spangler explains it the following way:

There will be several religious and spiritual disciplines as there are today, each serving different sensibilities and affinities, each enriched by and enriching the particular cultural soil in which it is rooted. However, there will also be a planetary spirituality that will celebrate the sacredness of the whole humanity in appropriate festivals, rituals, and sacraments. There will be a more widespread understanding and experience of the holistic nature of reality, resulting in a shared outlook that today would be called mystical. Mysticism has always overflowed the bounds of particular religious traditions, and in the new world this would be even more true.10

The rise of centering prayer is causing many churches to become agents of transformation. Those who practice it tend to embrace [a] one-world-religion idea. One of the main proponents of centering prayer had this revelation:

It is my sense, from having meditated with persons from many different traditions, that in the silence we experience a deep unity. When we go beyond the portals of the rational mind into the experience, there is only one God to be experienced…. I think it has been the common experience of all persons of good will that when we sit together Centering we experience a solidarity that seems to cut through all our philosophical and theological differences.11

In this context, we may compare all the world’s religions to a dairy herd. Each cow may look different on the outside, but the milk would all be the same. The different religious groups would maintain their own separate identities, but a universal spiritual practice would bind them together–not so much a one-world church as a one-world spirituality.

Episcopal priest and New Age leader Matthew Fox explains what he calls “deep ecumenism”:

Without mysticism there will be no “deep ecumenism,” no unleashing of the power of wisdom from all the world’s religious traditions. Without this I am convinced there will never be global peace or justice since the human race needs spiritual depths and disciplines, celebrations and rituals, to awaken its better selves. The promise of ecumenism, the coming together of religions, has been thwarted because world religions have not been relating at the level of mysticism.12

Fox believes that all world religions will eventually be bound together by the “Cosmic Christ”13 principle, which is another term for the higher self.

As incredible as this may sound, it appears to be happening now. The New Age is embedded in American religious culture far deeper and broader than many people imagine. If your concept of the New Age is simply astrology, tarot cards, or reincarnation, then you could easily miss the real New Age as it pulses through the religious current. If mystical prayer continues its advance, then we could one day see, perhaps sooner than we expect, many Christian churches becoming conduits of New Age thought to their membership.

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