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Is Pastor Creflo Dollar a true minister of God? Judge for yourself December 21, 2013

Posted by Henry in Uncategorized.
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WARNING: The below video is not for the fainthearted as it is very disturbing. In the video “pastor” Creflo Dollar talks about what he would do to non-tithers if he had the chance. Listen to the video and judge for yourself if this saying can be coming from the mouth of a minister of God.

In tithes we trust February 13, 2012

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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The modern church has come to be reliant upon “tithes and offerings” which are regarded as essential to financing the Gospel. Proponents of the tithe in particular have claimed that God purposed for the tithe to be used to finance the Gospel, i.e., the church structure/organisation. In this regard it is argued that Jesus Christ never abolished the tithe, and to support the arguments scriptures are cited which suggest that tithing was before the Law. Whatever the arguments though, “tithes and offerings” are the mainstay of most churches in Christendom today and forms the main source of income to meet the various needs of the church.

 

The question should be asked however as to whether tithing (in particular) meets the standard of New Testament giving. The term “tithing” here is used rather loosely to refer to the practice of giving 10 percent of one’s income to the local church. It should be pointed out therefore that though this modern form of tithing is not identical to the biblical practice it is usually the case that scriptures which pertains solely to the Law (the Old Covenant) are used to support the practice in the church today. So where exactly are we? Are we still under the Law or has the Law been set aside or perhaps we are partially still under the Law?

 

Perhaps the most overused scripture in “enforcing” tithing in the church is Mal 3:8-12. This portion of scripture appears to have the most currency because it drives fear in a believer’s heart in that they are robbing God if they do not give a tenth of their income and consequently they will be cursed as God will not rebuke the devourer. Of course none of us would like to be considered as robbing God and we certainly would want to escape from any curses imposed by God. One of the main justifications for tithing therefore is that the tither either believes or is lead to believe that they are insuring against this dreaded curse and are also “investing” for future blessings when they tithe. The fact that the church has to rely on this biblical injunction to raise funds demonstrates two things. Firstly, it demonstrates that the church has failed to recognised that the injunction in Mal 3:8-12 was not given to the Church but was said at a time when Israel was still under the Law and that since Christ fulfilled the Law it is no longer in force. Secondly, it demonstrates that both the church leadership and the followership have misplaced their faith by trusting in the tithe instead of putting their trust in God who is the source of all blessings. The church leadership demonstrate a lack of faith when they have to resort to using the Law to “encourage” giving in the New Testament age. Likewise the followership also demonstrates a lack of faith by putting their trust in the tithe as their insurance policy rather than to trust solely in God.

 

Under the New Covenant in Christ’s blood we are called to walk by faith (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11) and as such giving is an act of faith (Jam 2:14-18). Tithing however, contrary to what some have believed, is not an act of faith but an instruction or commandment given under the Law. Furthermore, attempting to “prove God” by tithing as a result of the enticement of “the windows of heaven” blessings again is not an act of faith. If God will bless us because of our contributions to the church then all we need to do is take Him at His words. It is for this reason that Mal 3:8-12 should not be used to stir a believer’s conscience in donating money to the local church. It is important to note here that before faith came the Law was in force (Gal 3:23) and the Law therefore acted as a schoolmaster (Gal 3:24). Furthermore Paul tells us in Gal 3:12 that the Law is not based on faith. Injunctions such as Mal 3:8-12 therefore demonstrates the nature of the Law in its capacity as a schoolmaster – it emphasizes the benefits (merits) if you obey and the punishments (demerits) if you do not. Does this injunction typify our new position in Christ? Is this a demonstration of how faith works in the current church age? Are we as foolish as the Galatians in thinking that we are justified by obeying the tithing Law?

 

Whilst the income generated from “tithing” (of one’s income) may serve a useful purpose in contributing to the spread of the Gospel, the ends do not justify the means. According to James 2:10, if we seek to observe the Law but fail in on one point we are guilty of the whole Law. If we then are guilty of the Law then are we under a curse. But thankfully Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law having been made a curse for us (Gal 3:13). The very curse therefore referred to in Mal 3:8-12 is the same curse that Christ hath redeemed us from. Why then do ministers continue to use Mal 3:8-12 to convict their church members to tithe of their income? Are they so fearful that if they do not instruct tithing that they won’t have any money to finance the church and are the members so lacking in faith that they can’t give unless they are faced with threats?

 

It is interesting to note that there are many church goers who help to propagate the myth that “tithing works”. By this they mean that when they pay their tithes they are blessed as this is usually followed by promotions at work, salary increases, unexpected gifts of money and general stability in their finances. On the reverse some claim that when they do not tithe all sorts of problems befall them so from this standpoint alone many put their trust in tithing to ward against the evil devourer that seeks to upset their finances. The simple truth however is that whether you tithe or don’t tithe you will have problems in your life including your finances. The Psalmist understood this fact only too well when he declared: Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all (Ps 34:19). Jesus also tells us in John 16:33 that we shall have many trials and sorrows in this world and Paul declared that through much tribulation must we enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). If you purpose in your heart to give 10 percent of your income to your church that is fine. However, tithing is not an insurance policy against the evil day and the church should not teach tithing as if this is the case. You should instead put your faith and your trust in God alone who is able to help you to overcome all the challenges in this life.

Many false Christs shall arise December 5, 2011

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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Today we live in a time of great deception when many false Christ’s, false Jesus’ and false Messiah claimants have appeared and are appearing on the scenes and are deceiving many people. The question that a Christian should ask themselves though is that if a “Messiah” claimant should appear to them today how would they know that he is who he claims to be? Is there a biblical basis for proving whether someone claiming to be the second advent of Jesus Christ is telling the truth? In order to answer this question it is necessary to look at some of the warnings given in scriptures. The problem with some Christians in particular though is that they refuse to accept that they can be deceived yet the warnings in scripture were in fact given to Christians or followers of Jesus. Some Christians however, instead of exercising discernment, take a blasé approach believing that God would not allow them to be deceived. As a result many are being deceived in the church today because of such blasé attitude of not exercising due diligence as scripture admonished.

As Christians we need to be attuned to the times we are living in. Jesus commanded us to watch and pray but many are praying and forgetting to watch. One of the signs we are to watch for is the rise of false Christs. Jesus said in Matt 24: 4-5

“4…..Take heed that no man deceive you. 5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”

Jesus was speaking directly to His followers here. These false Christs are already here however and many do not know it. They may not all claim the name “Jesus Christ” but nonetheless they purport to be the “anointed ones” who sit in the loftiest places in the church – they are on the Internet, in our pulpits and on Christian TV networks. They are everywhere and their messengers (“prophets” and “teachers”) are everywhere seeking to draw disciples after them. These “ministers” are leading many to believe in a false Christ by projecting a false image of Jesus Christ. So how then should we respond if one comes to us saying, “I am he who was promised!” or even saying, “he is in yonder place, lets go and meet him!” The answer lies in Jesus’ teaching in Matt 24:

23Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25Behold, I have told you before. 26Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

 

One of the problems with many church goers is that they love signs more than the Word and therefore have developed a false perception that signs are a confirmation of one’s anointing. For example, many are of the mistaken view that if one speaks “in tongues” that this is a sign that such a person is filled with the Spirit. In this regard they fail to properly apply scripture to examine if what they witness is actually a move of the Spirit. This is not to discount the fact that the charismatic gifts are still evident and active in the church but not every sign that occurs in church is a move of the Spirit. This is a vital point that many seem to miss. Perhaps this is as a result of a fear of not wanting to question the Spirit. However the scriptures teach that we should test the spirit to see whether or not it is of God. How do we test the spirit? We do this by examining their works against the scriptures. The scriptures say in 1 John 4:

1Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

This scripture highlights some very important implications for our world today and for the future. Today many different religious and pseudo-religious groups are awaiting a “saviour” or “messiah” of one sort or another. The implication of the above scripture however is that they have the spirit of anti-christ because though they await a “messiah” in this they have denied that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. So though they may call their awaited “saviour” or teacher, Jesus, Christ, Maitreya, messiah or anointed one, such an individual is no more than anti-christ in so far as their being represented as a denial that Jesus Christ already came in the flesh. In a world which is increasingly leaning towards a one world faith through ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue the imagination does not need to be stretched to see how anti-christ might be accepted by both Christians and non-christians alike.

The key thing to note about the second advent of Jesus Christ is that he will not come in secret unbeknownst to the world but His coming will be such a great event that no one will be in any doubt. Before that time however anyone else who appears on the scene claiming to be Christ will be none other than anti-christ. We have the assurance of Jesus Christ that is coming will be thus:

“..as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”  Matt 24:27

 

Let us therefore with patience wait for the true Messiah of the world and not seek after a false one.

Pre-tribulation Rapture Myth and the Remnant of Israel May 24, 2011

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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I have done a number of articles in which I have attempted to dispel the myth of the pre-tribulation rapture but in this study I will attempt to approach the subject from a different angle than I have done before.

Numerous studies have so far been carried out and numerous books, articles and blog posts have been written concerning the end times scenarios yet many are completely wide of the mark concerning the realities of those times. One of the popular positions is that the church will be “raptured” (secretly, unbeknownst to the world) sometime prior to the opening of the first Seal mentioned in the Book of Revelations. Following this event it is believed Israel will go through a seven year tribulation period (supposedly Daniel’s 70th week, See Daniel 9). It is believed that at the start of this week (the seven last years of planet earth) the anti-christ will make a covenant with Israel and in the middle of the week (3.5 years later) the anti-christ will break the covenant and cause the sacrifice and oblation offered by the Jews in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem (The third temple) to cease. This will be followed by the setting up of the abomination of desolation in the temple culminating with great tribulation at the hands of the anti-christ. It is then believed that it is out of this “hour of trial” that Israel will be saved and will be gathered to meet Jesus at His full appearing when all eyes shall behold Him. This is normally the general view adopted especially by pre-tribulation rapture “theorists”. In my view however all of this is simply fancily suppositions by people who do not apply proper exegesis in interpreting scriptures.

The first glaring contradiction in the afore-mentioned scenario is that though it is claimed that Daniel’s 70th week marks 7 years of tribulation, in effect there is only 3.5 years of tribulation since the first 3.5 years are characterised by a period of peace. This point however is just an aside and is of little consequence to the business end of this study.

One of the important points to note is that in order for the “theorists” to arrive at their conclusions they make namely two false claims. First they claim that Israel rejected God and therefore salvation went to the Gentiles instead and therefore Israel will only be saved after having gone through the tribulation at the hands of anti-christ (the beast of Revelations 13). The second false claim is that the saints who are persecuted by the anti-christ are merely tribulation saints who are distinct and apart from the church which has already been raptured sometime before or at the start of the 7 year tribulation period. In support of this latter claim it is suggested that the Holy Spirit will no longer be on earth when the church is raptured and so these saints are saved perhaps through the preaching of the “Two Witnesses”. Of course none of this is supported in scripture and I will demonstrate why.

The first thing we should note is that salvation came to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles (Rom 1:16). The question here then is this: Did allIsrael reject the gift of salvation? The apostle Paul had this to say in Romans 10:

1Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

12For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

We know from these verses that there is no “special way” for the Jew (or Israel) to be saved but through the said Gospel that is available to the gentiles. So then howbeit that some argue that the Jew will only be saved at an appointed time during the so-called 7 year tribulation period? Are we to believe that no Jew (or Israelites) were saved though God purposed salvation to come to them first. God forbid. In verse 16 of the same passage of Rom 1 Paul went further to say this:

16But they have not all obeyed the gospel.

Although not all Israel believed the gospel the crucial point is that some did – a remnant of Israel did believe the gospel even though the majority might not have believed. First, John the Baptist preached to the Jews and baptized many unto repentance. Then Jesus came and preached the gospel to the Jews and sent His 12 disciples to the lost sheep of the Houses of Israel (the 12 tribes). The theorists seem to forget therefore that the early church largely comprised of Jews initially before the gospel was spread abroad to the gentile nations. It isn’t correct therefore to say that the Jews rejected salvation – whilst some did, not all did. God had purposed to save a remnant through the election of grace through the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 11:5, Rom 9:27). The point needs to be emphasized here that God will not save this remnant of Israel at the end of the tribulation period after gentile Christians had been “raptured” but they were being saved since the going forth of the Gospel. Paul refers to these as the “first fruits” in verse 16 (Note that the 144,000 males of the 12 tribes of Israel are also referred to as the “first fruits” to God [Rev 14:4] – Christ being the first of the first fruits).

Having now established that God had purposed to save a remnant of Israel through the election of Grace and that this remnant are regarded as a type of “first fruits” unto God we can now address the issue of the “pre-tribulation rapture”.  The pre-tribulation rapture is defined as an event where Christ will secretly come in the clouds and gather all those that are his prior to the beast of Revelations 13 establishing his [second] kingdom. Do the scriptures support this view? If there were to be such an event as a pre-trib rapture then surely the remnant of Israel that are saved through grace would surely be amongst those that are raptured during the “first resurrection and catching away”. However, Revelations 12 presents a serious problem for this argument [if indeed the events of Rev 12 are in the future and not already fulfilled]. The relevant verse says this:

17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Note here that the woman referenced is Israel and this can be gleaned if we read from verse 1. The poignant point here then is whether the Lord would indeed rapture the “second fruits” (the gentile Christians) and leave His “first fruits” who incidentally have also been saved according to the election of Grace (they have the testimony = Gospel of Jesus Christ) at the mercy of the anti-christ beast. If there were any rapture taking place the first fruits would most certainly have been among the first to be raptured. Similarly the 144,000 who are referred to as first fruits to God were sealed first before the great multitude were seen gathering before God’s throne at the opening of the 6th Seal (Rev 7). If the scripture says therefore that the remnant, which we understand to mean those Jews who accept Christ since the inception of the church, were left for the dragon to make war with them then you can rest assured that so too the rest of the church will be left at the mercy of the dragon. This remnant are not merely tribulation saints but they include those who have the election of grace since the gospel began.

Perhaps the Lord has a plan and a purpose for the remainder of the Jews [Israel] who have rejected Christ but the remnant will clearly face the dragon which has 7 heads, 10 horns and 10 crowns as per Rev 12:17. That remnant isn’t separate and apart from the church but they are numbered amongst the church.  This scripture clearly demonstrates that there is no basis on which a pre-tribulation rapture can be established. I pray that people will wise up to the truths of these end days.

Defining Faith! October 11, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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A lot of people struggle with understanding what faith is and how it works and I must admit that at one time or another I too struggled with this concept. But if we are to grow in Grace and develop our spiritual walk we must understand what faith is. The scriptures truly stated that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). So how do we define faith?

 The Bible defines faith as follows:

 “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”(Heb 11:1)

 To demonstrate this, we could say that faith is a conviction which underlies our inner belief in the salvation of our souls, through the redemptive work of Christ, which will be revealed in due time. Without faith therefore it would be impossible to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the following verse demonstrates that it is the salvation of our souls that we receive at the end of our faith:

 1 Peter 1

7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

 The question that most people would like to have answered however is how can one exercise their faith especially when met with difficult circumstances. It is important to note though that you cannot have faith in faith itself but you can only have faith in God as can be seen in the following scripture:

 6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Heb 11:6)

 In exercising our faith therefore we must believe that GOD IS. We can only trust God for our salvation if we believe that HE IS. If we do not trust God and believe in Him for our salvation then nothing else matters  – we will not be able to trust Him for anything else. This is the “secret” to having faith in God. It is nothing to do with using scriptures as an incantation or using a 7-point formula. This is where the Word of Faith movement has high-jacked many people’s faith. In Matt 17:20 Jesus demonstrated that if one has faith like a mustard seed they can move mountains. Jesus used the mustard seed to demonstrate that though it is so tiny it has the assurance of growing into a huge tree. Jesus is therefore saying that with such faith we can overcome obstacles but not we ourselves but through the power of God.

 Having faith is not all about getting things from God, like houses, cars, jobs, money etc as the WOF proponents would have you believe but it is about trusting in God first and foremost for salvation and believing that He is able to fulfill all your needs. I have come to the understanding that you will NOT necessarily get from God what you set your heart on. For example, if you are jobless faith does not mean that you will get that job with a six figure starting salary but faith may mean that the Lord will provide you with a means to take care of yourself and family even though it may not be as illustrious as you imagined. Chanting a Psalm or confessing daily over a particular thing is NOT an exercise of faith but is rather an expression of unbelief. If you believe in God and pray and ask Him to fulfill your needs then all you have to do is just that. One of the important things to learn also is that the proving of your faith worketh patience (Jam 1:3) – which means that you should continue to believe and trust in God even if you have been waiting for a little while and He hasn’t shown up yet. Faith means that in the midst of despair when it seems that all is lost you continue to believe in God, in giving thanks and praising His name. Counting our previous blessings and remembering all that the Lord had done for us should also help to strengthen our faith that He will come through in the end, not according to our time but to His own perfect timing.

Children Obey your “fathers” in the Lord… September 27, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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How do you view your pastors? Do you put them on a pedestal and reverence them as if they were Christ Himself? Many, people in Christendom today literally worship their pastors who are held aloft of their congregations yet this is in contradiction of scriptures. Perhaps one of the contributing factors to this status quo is that today many pastors hold lofty titles such as “Most Reverend” or “Right Reverend” or more academic letters such as “Dr” compared to the early apostles. These early apostles did not demand to be reverenced by their flocks but instead they acted in “servitude” to Christ and His gospel.

This is not to say that as Christians and fellow brethren we should not respect our pastors but the reverence we show them should not be anymore or less than what we show to other ordinary brethren. By washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus showed us the example to follow in that those who lead must first serve. But in stark contrast to scripture those who lead in churches today are instead served by the congregation. They are held in high esteem and are literally carried about on a litter as if they were kings. Moreover, these ministers indeed rule their churches as if they were kings and many of the congregants run to and fro at the beck and call of these people. The question here is not whether or not one should serve their ministries and the pastor who lead these ministries but we should be seeking to serve each other as if we are indeed serving Christ Jesus. However, what is happening in many churches today is that there is a misplaced loyalty that is afforded to the pastor and the same is not afforded among the brethren. In this way many of the brethren have become somewhat of a slave to the minister and his every word is taken as law. Even if such a minister speaks in error no one dares to challenge it, because such a challenge would be deemed a challenge to his very authority as leader and head.

Truthfully the scriptures doth say we should submit to those that have been placed above us but likewise scripture admonish those in pastoral position not to laud it over the flock but to act in humility. However such humility is bereft in most of Christendom today. Seemingly pastors have replaced Christ as the head of their churches and require church members to subjugate themselves to their authority. But in truth we as Christians are to submit ourselves one to another as scripture commands, as submitting to Christ who is the Head of the Church. The status quo in many churches however lends itself to spiritual abuse by leaders and elders who have walked after their own way instead of subjecting themselves to the Word of scripture. As a result many church goers have become confused as to whether they should obey their pastors every command as failing to do so might incur curses. But the Lord would not have you walk in darkness as scripture imposes a duty on us to walk away from such false teachings and practices. Christ did not come to put us in bondage but to free us therefore we should seek to walk in the light of His truth instead of suffering through ignorance.

The Qualifications of a Pastor July 2, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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 In many contemporary churches, particularly the established ones, it is needful for an individual who wants to become a pastor to attend a seminary, at the recommendation of their church. After completing seminary education the individual may then have the right to append the estimable title of “Reverend” to their name and he or she may then seek appointment to a “local” church. This usual involves them being interviewed by the deaconate and approved by the members. The question which needs to be asked however is whether attending seminary automatically qualifies an individual to “pastor a church”? We could equally ask whether it is biblically correct to have a single individual as the “pastor” of any particular church. Indeed this is what has become the norm in churches today but the biblical efficacy of this needs to be tested.

 In order to answer the questions aforementioned perhaps it is useful to first understand what the term “pastor” denotes. The term is used to refer to a “shepherd” and in different translations of the Bible the word “pastor” is sometimes replaced by “shepherd” so the two words are interchangeable. A shepherd or pastor therefore is someone who tended the sheep and this is symbolic of God’s people being the sheep of His pasture and those who tend to them are seen as shepherds or pastors. In the Old Testament for example, God appointed pastors to tend to the flock of Israel:

 Jer 3

15And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

 The role of the pastors here were that of “feeding” the sheep with knowledge and understanding. The role of the pastors here are somewhat similar to the role of pastors in the New Testament. Under the New Covenant it is God who gives the gift of “pasturing” in the church:

 Eph 4

11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

 It should be said here that although the role of the pastor contributes to the “edifying (knowledge and understanding) of the body of Christ” this is not their role exclusively and we can see this from verse 11.  It stands to reason therefore that the body cannot be fully edified without the apostles, prophets and teachers who together with the pastors play the role of enablers in the perfecting of the saints till we all come into the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. But in our churches today we see a system where a single individual, the pastor, who supposedly fulfills all these other roles. In a similar vein, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to different individuals in the church and all these different gifts were meant to be working together for the edification of the whole church (1 Cor 12). But again in most churches today these gifts are recognized in the pastor alone, and he alone his treated as being able to manifest these gifts. But we can discern clearly from scripture that this is not what the Lord intended for His church. However, it would seem that a certain level of confidence is invested in a person who has attended seminary in that only he or she is regarded as having the “competence” to operate in the spiritual gifts. For example, only the pastor is viewed as having the “ability” or sufficient skill to demonstrate or impart the word of knowledge (or wisdom), a skill derived from his/her seminary education. But the result of this is to quench the Spirit to the detriment of the church.

 If we should look at the early church, instead of one man (or woman) standing at the head and preaching a sermon on Sunday we instead see a church which edified one another through hymns and psalms:

 Col 3:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

 This of course is not to say that sermons from men holding Theological qualifications isn’t relevant but it should not replace what Christ already laid down for the church in how it should operate. Attending seminary doesn’t automatically qualifies one to be a pastor as this is the gift of God although it could be beneficial in aiding one’s understanding of scriptures. The implication here however is that the ordinary Christian who has not attended seminary will not be able to understand the scriptures and this is clearly not true since wisdom and understanding comes from God alone. Another very important consideration here is that if an individual can attend seminary in order to be “qualified” as a pastor, based on Eph 4:11 above, what school does the apostle, prophet, evangelist, or teacher attend in order that they may be equipped to fulfill their roles? Evidently this lack of scholastic competence on their part increases the pastors’ profile as the only ones having the competence to officiate in spiritual matters.

 If we should however look at the original disciples/apostles we note from scripture that they were not learned yet the Lord chose them as the first apostles. We note that the Holy Spirit worked mightily through them to establish the gospel throughout the world as this was the commission given to them. The Holy Spirit is therefore more than capable of working through an individual without the need for formally attending a seminary and this should never be overlooked. The scripture says we should not quench the Spirit but this is exactly what the church has done by a displaced confidence in those who attended seminary vs those who have not. The only qualification that one needs therefore in order to operate in his/her gift is the qualification by the Holy Spirit. May the church return to this essential truth.

By what title do you address your pastor? June 25, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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In Christendom today it is quite customary for church ministers, pastors and certain elders to append titles to their names to perhaps signify rank and authority. For example, today we have pastor with titles such as, Senior Pastor, General Overseer, Apostle, Bishop, Archbishop, Cardinal, Rt Reverend, Patriarch, Metropolitan, Father, Abbot, Dr, etc. All of these different titles enable a system of hierarchy within the church and enables individuals to be exalted and venerated above their congregations as if they are somehow different or superior. The question I would like to ask though is whether any of this is biblical? Why have we become so besotted with lofty titles in the church? Does the Gospel support this milieu?

In attempting to answer the aforementioned questions we may note what Jesus said:

 8But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matt 23:8-12)

From verse 1 of the passage we note that Jesus was speaking to both the multitude gathered before Him and His disciples when He uttered these words. Jesus has made it plain here that we should not seek to appropriate titles unto ourselves as Christians but rather that we should see each other as brothers and sisters. Jesus fully well knew of man’s lust of the flesh for power and recognition and this can be seen from His description of the Pharisees and scribes in the previous verses. Are we not therefore disobeying Christ by maintaining this hierarchical system along with its associated titles? Howbeit that man’s heart has become so haughty to the point where he can claim to be a follower of Christ but blatantly ignore His position on this issue? It is interesting to note that even the disciples suffered from this haughtiness when they came to Jesus and asked who is greatest in the Kingdom (Matt 18:1-4)? Jesus’ response however was that unless one humbles himself as a little child he cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus made it clear also in Matt 23:11 that the greatest amongst “you” would be “your” servant. It is clear then that this system of hierarchical structures and associated titles are an affront to the Gospel to say the least.

It goes without saying that in our church structures today those that assume lofty positions certainly do not act as servants but are rather treated in a lot of cases as demigods. Instead of them being servants to the church they are instead served by the church in a relationship akin to sovereign and subjects thus creating a system of government with the church. The idea of priest vs laity for example is promulgated throughout the church yet scripture has made it know to us that in Christ we are all priests (1 Peter 2:9). If we also look at the example of the early apostles like Paul, we note that he addressed the Thessalonians for example as brothers as opposed to lauding it over them as General Overseer. This was the example given to him by the Lord Jesus, and this was the example that he followed.

Peter also laid down the standard of how the elders who “pastor” the flock should conduct themselves:

1The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 5Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:1-5) Emphasis added.

It is clearly laid out here that pastors/elders should not be “lording” it over the flock (God’s heritage) but should instead display a sense of humility in their character. Why then has the modern church become so far removed from these examples? Have we become so wise in our conceit? I pray the church would return to the truth of scriptures concerning this area.

Christianity: A Personality Cult? April 11, 2010

Posted by Henry in Denominations.
Tags: , , , ,
2 comments

In Christendom today it seems as though many people have somewhat “outgrown” the local church and instead flock to churches and leaders whose messages they think they identify with more. It would seem that the message in the local church is no longer “adequate” to meet the needs of these congregants hence they seek leaders whose messages would appear to be more relevant to where they are currently at and points to where they want to be – moving to the “next level” and all that jazz. Preaching “Christ crucified” has become a bore so they want a more vibrant and exciting message that speaks to their personal situation and circumstances. In this age it is all about which minister do you follow and whose teaching do you “apply” to your life and circumstances. Christ seemingly has left center stage, or rather pushed aside and it is the minister that is now hogging the limelight. It is the minister who is now saying, “I am the anointed one.” Interestingly enough though, this is nothing new to the church as Paul had to deal with similar issues in his day and we see this in 1 Cor 3:3-7:

 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

 We see in this portion of scripture that church people were divided amongst themselves saying I am a follower of Paul, and others say they were followers of Apollos yet Paul’s response was that neither he nor Apollos were anything. In so doing Paul decreased himself so that Jesus might increase. What a wonderful testimony of a true follower of Christ? We could also learn a lot from John the Baptist’s attitude also as in a similar vein to Paul. He testified of Jesus in John 1 saying: 27 “He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose” What a blessing it is to have such humility? When the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus replied (Matt 18:3-4), “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” In stark contrast to what Jesus has said here though the greatest in the kingdom are perceived to be the “movers and shakers” in Christendom today. It is these men and women who are regarded as “great men and women of God” and they are elevated to godlike status. In this regard the celebrity obsessed culture in our world today is no different from that displayed in “churchianity”.

 Most Christian conferences today, like the IGOC (International Gathering of Champions), for example, is little more than an ostentatious display of pomp and circumstance and instead of the people coming to “meet with Christ” they come to see these would be gladiators of Christendom. The net effect of this is that a Christ-centered Gospel has thus become replaced by idolatry. Indeed one proof of this is that it has become popular for church ministries to be named after the pastor who is the president or CEO. But imagine Paul in his day setting himself up as Chief Apostle over Apostle Paul’s Ministries Inc.? From a personal point of view I do not want to be a member of any man’s ministry but rather a member of the First Church of Jesus Christ.

 In the words of John:

 He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)

 May we extricate ourselves from this personality cult that seeks to replace true Christianity and return to the truth of God’s word.

Do the Jews need Jesus Christ for Salvation? April 3, 2010

Posted by Henry in Teaching Things They Ought Not.
Tags: , , , , ,
26 comments

There are some ministers today, even very “high profile” personalities like John Hagee who teach that the Jews do not need to believe in Jesus (or come to faith in Christ) to ensure their salvation. But is this view biblically correct? The implication of this position is that the gospel was given to non-Jews only but what do the scriptures teach? Paul writing in Romans 1 says:

 Rom 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

 Paul made it clear here that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (or Gentile). It is clear then that the gospel of salvation came to the Jew first as well as everyone else. To demonstrate this we may note from scripture that when Jesus called the Twelve Disciples and sent them out to preach the message of the Kingdom, He sent them to the Israelites only (Matt 10:5-7). Why was it necessary then that the gospel be given to the Jew first? We know from the Old Testament that God had made a covenant with Israel and this covenant is referred to as the Law, which was given unto Moses. This Law was to be observed in the Promised Land which God gave the Israelites under the covenant. However, the Children of Israel repeatedly broke God’s commandments and statutes and even went after other gods to worship them. The Lord therefore said He would make a new covenant with this people and we learn of this through the prophet Jeremiah in Jer 31:31-34:

 31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.  (see also Heb 8:7-12)

The new covenant that Jeremiah spoke of therefore is the same covenant that was fulfilled in the gospel through Christ’s death and resurrection. This is the new covenant that was made with Israel hence the reason the gospel came unto the Jew first. To substantiate this fact we may look at Heb 9:15:

 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament (covenant), that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament(covenant), they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. 16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. 18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, 20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (Emphasis mine!)

The new covenant which we as Christians partake of today is the new covenant that was promised and given to the Israelites. However the Jews in the main rejected it and the word of God came instead unto the Gentiles and we see this in Acts 13:46:

44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

Having examined the foregoing scriptures the question which needs to be asked is how can a minister of the new covenant claim that the Jews do not need to come to Jesus Christ for Salvation? By teaching such heresy these ministers are helping the Jews to continue to reject a covenant that was given to the Jew first and then the Gentiles. Indeed the scriptures, Acts 4:12, tells us that salvation is found in no other but Jesus Christ. Jesus put it this way:

  I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

 May we repent of such heresies and may God forgive us and have mercy upon us and help us to return to the truth of His Word. Amen

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