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Is tithing required for salvation? November 28, 2014

Posted by Henry in False Doctrines.
6 comments

The question that the title of this post raises, is derived from a blog post over at Christiscoming777.com (TITHING: Is it Required? and Are there Eternal Consequences for not tithing) and my intent in this blog is to examine whether the claims put forward by the blogger are biblical. Whilst I know nothing about the blogger personally, scripture calls us to do the following:

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. Rom 16:17

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

I therefore do not intend to assassinate his character or to pass personal judgment on him so I will therefore limit my judgment only to whether the claims he has put forward are biblical. My purpose in doing this is to warn others in the hope they may learn the truth and avoid such destructive teachings and if perchance the said blogger would turn and repent from this doctrine.

The first time I encountered this blog article was when a poster here replied to one of my posts on tithing, providing the link to the article and asking me to consider what was being claimed in light of my own writings. After reading the article I attempted to write to the blogger to point out his error but my plea fell on deaf ears. He refuses to post any replies that are contrary to his views and he will not respond or engage with anyone who attempts to point out his error. This is a classic trait of a false prophet.

So lets examine the claims put forward in the post. The caption on the picture accompanying the post defines tithing thus:

“Tithing: giving God the first tenth of your income”

Is this the biblical definition of tithing? What do the scriptures say? I submit that this is not the biblical definition as this does not appear anywhere in scripture. This definition is a reinterpretation of the tithe law which can be found in Lev 27:30-34. Under this Law Israel were commanded to give a tenth part of all that the land brought forth and set it aside for the Levites who did not get an inheritance in the land of Israel. The reason for this was that the priests and the servants of the temple were drawn exclusively from the Levite tribe and therefore were forbidden to tend land. The tithe of the produce of the Land was therefore their portion to feed them. Those who did not tend land did not tithe money to the Levites. Let’s pause for a moment and consider the following question: If God had intended for the tithe to be money why did He not simply ask Israel to give money rather than impose a penalty on those who would buy back the tithe from the Levites (with money) at an extra cost of 20% of the monetary value on top?

The idea that the tithe was the first tenth would violate the commandment to give the “firstfruits” of the harvest to the priests. This definition of the tithe is therefore not biblical and should be rejected.

Moving on to the meat of the blog post, the blogger claims that after struggling with the anti-tithing arguments, God fully convinced him of its requirement and its eternal consequences. This conviction he says is based on, “A) His Word, and secondly B.) 8 amazing testimonies of encounters with Jesus in Heaven & Hell where tithing is raised as an important eternal issue.”

Lets first look at how the blogger was convicted of God’s word on the tithe. He highlights Malachi 3:8-10 as his first point of biblical reference. He affirms here that the scriptures reference the Law but in order to get over the hurdle of why Mal 3:8-10 is applicable to the New Covenant church, he has to perform some “scriptural gymnastics”. According to him,

“Tithing is not a sacrificial, ceremonial or temple law that in the NT are clearly explained as no longer required, rather it is a moral law or command (as its defined as stealing in the above scripture) and is a commandment not a suggestion.”

On the face of it this might sound somewhat reasonable to the undiscerning but the problem is he offers no scriptural reference to back up this claim. I will however show using scriptural references as to why this claim is false and the key text is in the passage of Malachi 3 itself and in verse 7 specifically. If you look at scriptures in isolation you can make them say what they did not intend to say. In verse seven we see the rebuke God leveled against Israel that they had gone away from His ordinances and did not keep them. The ordinance in view here though was tithing which they had neglected which is why God said they were robbing Him. If we return to Numbers 18 we learn here again that the tithe to the priests was an ordinance (Number 18:8). This verse refers to the Lords heave offering which was to be an ordinance. Verse 28 tells us that the tithe to the priest was the heave offering so we know assuredly that the tithe was an ordinance. If we look at Eph 2:15 and Col 2:14 though we learn that all the commandments contained in ordinances were abolished or cancelled out – Jesus nailed them to the cross. The tithe being an ordinance was therefore cancelled with all other ordinances contrary to the argument posed by the blogger.

The blogger goes on to use Matt 5:17-20 and 1 John 3,4 to support his idea of a distinction between the ceremonial, sacrificial or temple law versus the moral law the former which is supposedly abolished and the latter being in tact. But again these verses cannot be used to support his claims because this division of the law is not found in scripture but “leaven” he himself has inserted into the text which he then tries to buttress using scripture. As I already pointed out the tithe was an ordinance and the commandments contained in ordinances were abolished after Jesus fulfilled them. We therefore now have a righteousness which is of faith without the deeds of the law (Rom 3:20, 28).

In a further attempt to emphasize his point the blogger attempted to show that the tithe was a “pre-law principle” referencing Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek. It is spurious however to attempt to use Abraham’s example as a model for church giving as there are several problems with this account from Genesis 14. We do not know if Abraham was commanded to give a tithe as scripture is silent here. Whilst we know that Abraham was rich (Gen 12) scripture does not say that he gave tithes of his own wealth; He tithe to Melchizedek of the spoils of war, spoils which he did not want. This was a one time event and scripture does not say that this was ever repeated. It is therefore bogus to try to establish a principle from this account in instructing the church to tithe. It is even worse when this seemingly voluntary act is being used to prop up the argument to observe the tithe law in the church.

Another scripture the blogger attempted to use to support the argument for observing the tithe law is Matt 23:23. Here the blogger attempts to change the context of what Jesus said to put the focus of His address from the Pharisees to the church. In this verse Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and in this rebuke He affirms that, yes they should tithe, but should not have neglected the weightier matters of the LAW. The Pharisees who were Jews were still under the law and therefore were required to tithe. Jesus did not command them to tithe but affirmed that they were doing the right thing in tithing but not performing the weightier matters of the law. Incidentally the Levites and Priests who officiated over the temple and who received the tithes were also still around as Jesus had not yet gone to the cross. There is no record in scripture however where Jesus commanded His disciples and therefore the church to tithe and Matt 23:23 should not be translated into a command to the church to tithe. The blogger’s attempts therefore to place the tithing commandment within the Great Commission is therefore erroneous. If indeed Jesus had commanded the disciples to teach the church to tithe why is there no record in the New Testament of this? The simple answer is that tithing along with all other commandments contained in ordinances were abolished at Calvary (Eph 2:15) and this is why it is absent from the Apostles writings as something to be practiced in the church. Furthermore, only the Levites had a commandment to take a tithe of their brethren (Heb 7:5). It needs to be pointed out though that the commandment which established the priesthood of the Levites was also abolished such that their priesthood would be replaced by the priesthood of Jesus Christ. As a result of this change in the priesthood the law also had to be changed (Heb 7:12, 8:10, 10:16).

It is important to point out that Jesus did not simply abolish some of the old law and leave some in tact but the whole law which constituted the first covenant has been set aside and been replaced with the new covenant. Whilst the old covenant was based on the priesthood of the Levites, the new covenant is based on the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Under the new covenant love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:10).

In his final support for the tithe law to continue in the New Church the blogger relies on extra-biblical sources in the form of 8 so-called testimonies of encounters with Jesus in heaven and hell which he has collated. I won’t give much attention to these testimonies except to say that if these testimonies were true then what I have presented from scripture must be false because these testimonies contradict what the scriptures teach. Since we know that God cannot contradict His words and that the Bible is true then it is easy to conclude that these so-called testimonies are false in the light of scriptures. These are nothing but lies designed to tug at the heart strings of people who are struggling with whether or not they should tithe. Scripture warns that we should take heed that no man deceives us and so we need to apply ourselves to a careful study of the Word instead of being carried to and fro with every wind of doctrine.

In summation scripture tells us that tithing is an ordinance (Mal 3:7, Num 18:8, 28) and that the commandments contained in ordinances have been abolished (Eph 2:15, Col 2:14). Anything that contradicts this position is false and should be rejected outright and therefore the conclusion is that tithing is not required to go to heaven.

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The heresy of the Heaven’s Gate cult September 21, 2011

Posted by Henry in False Doctrines.
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27 comments

I first encountered the heavens gate cult when I read a news article about how the brother of the Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichol’s (who played Lieutenant Uhura in the original series) committed suicide in 1997 in what was a mass suicide conducted by the Heaven’s Gate group to coincide with the passing of Hales Comet by the earth. It was believed by those who were involved that the comet would take their souls to heaven. From a Christian point of view this of course is preposterous but what should be more surprising is the fact that this group claim also to be followers of Christ and cloak their beliefs in scripture. I personally have not studied the beliefs of this group extensively however from what I have learnt about them I know enough to designate them as a cult which promotes false doctrines.

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ warns us many times in His word that we should beware of false christs and false teachers who if it were possible would deceive the very elect. I fear that those who are involved with the heaven’s gate group are both deceiving and being deceived. For instance, where is it written in scripture that believers should commit suicide in order to attain to heaven or even that space objects such as comets would come to take our souls to heaven so that we should take our own lives to gain entry such a vehicle? Anyone who believes this must necessarily believe a different gospel than that written in the Bible. However, as Paul admonishes us we should test every spirit to see if they are of God, in like fashion as the Bereans who examined all that Paul had taught them against the word to see if those things that Paul claimed were so. The adherents of the heaven’s gate group would do well to study the scriptures daily to see if the teachings they received lined up with the Word of God.

 

Jesus Christ came into this world to die for our sins so that through Him – by believing in Him and His gospel message we might be saved and inherit eternal life. Paul writing to Titus said:

11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Rather than committing suicide to accelerate our journey to heaven we are to earnestly continue in the blessed hope, waiting for the appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Moreover, when we die though we be in Christ we do not instantly go to heaven. Rather we remain asleep until the great and terrible day of the Lord when Jesus shall descend from heaven to gather the dead and the living who are in Him to Himself. See the following verses:

 

16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess 4:16-18)

 

The heaven’s gate group however believes there is actually a different way to get to heaven – mass suicide. To them what is written here in the Word is not true but rather what their teachers tell them is what they believe to be the truth. However you cannot have it both ways – it is either you believe the Word of God as written in the Bible or you make it up as you go along or follow those who make it up as they go along.

 

The heaven’s gate group believes in two characters called Ti and Do who they claim are Jesus and God and at the same time the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11. The first question we need to ask here is whether God can send witnesses who contradict His very word. Let us first of all briefly examine whether these two characters could actually be God and Jesus. Jesus came into this world a messenger of the Father to bring good news to the lost. Jesus however told us that He is going back but will come again to gather those that are His to himself (Matt 16:27, Rev 22:12). Jesus knew however that when He left many false Christ would arise after Him to lead the people astray so He gave the desciples the signs to look for of His coming so that we are not deceived. We read for example:

 

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. (Matt 24:24-27)

 

In spite of these clear warnings given by Jesus Himself that we should not go after another who is already on earth and claiming to be Him but rather to look for His appearing as the lighting flashes from East to West the heaven’s gate group rejects these very words. They claim that Jesus does not need to appear in this way but that His coming is phased and it is up to us to be able to recognize if when he is here. To reject Jesus’ words here and to say that Ti and Do are God and Jesus incarnate is nothing but a lie in the face of the Bible. Whom do we trust? The Bible, the revealed word of God or do we trust another who contradicts this very word?

 

Could these two therefore be the Two Witnesses of God – not if they contradict the very word of God they cannot be. More importantly they do not fit into neither the prophesy nor the criteria to fulfill the prophesy surrounding the ministry of the Two Witnesses. The Bible makes clear to us that the Two Witnesses complete their ministry during the opening of the 7th Seal at a time when the 5th angel (of the seven having the seven trumpets and the last seven plagues to judge the earth) sounded. These events occur after the 6th seal when the heavens were opened and when Jesus gathers those that are His to Himself. We know this because in Revelations 9 the 5th angel sounded and released the angel of the bottomless pit which I believe is the same beast of the bottomless bit which made war with the 2 witnesses in Revelation 11 and killed them following the end of their ministry. For the heaven’s gate group to therefore claim that the two witnesses have already fulfilled their ministry is again another lie in the face of scripture.

 

This has not been a detailed study on the heaven’s gate group nor was it intended to be but I believe I have left the reader in no doubt about the deceptive nature of the group. Their purpose is clearly not to fulfill the mission of Christ even though they may have been deceived into thinking that it is. I only pray that those who encounter them will stay clear of them and those who remain in the group may see the light of Christ and be awakened out of their deception.

Activate Your Faith: Sow that seed January 21, 2010

Posted by Henry in False Doctrines.
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28 comments

One of the common teachings one will hear from Word of Faith teachers is that one should activate or release their faith and this normally requires one to “sow a seed” (in the form of monetary donation), usually into the teacher’s own ministry. Usually this type of exhortation is accompanied with further encouragement that the size of your seed will determine the size of your harvest. It is thought that it is imperative to activate your faith if we are to receive from God, and to move to the “next level” of blessings. However, are these teachings scriptural?

 Firstly, if one is a Christian such teachings leave us with a dilemma. When we first came to faith in Christ what did we do in order to “activate” our faith at that point? Did we sow a “seed” in order that we may activate our faith such that we may believe in the Gospel of Jesus and thereby receive the free gift of Salvation? Noting that the gift of Salvation is the greatest blessing we could ever receive from God the Father. Scripture tells us that we were alienated from God and enemies in our mind by wicked works yet He chose to reconcile us through the work of the cross (Col 1:21). Had it not been for God’s saving Grace we all would have perished. According to the Ephesians 2:4-9:

 “4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

 Verse 8 of the above portion of scripture tells us clearly that it is by Grace that we are saved through faith and not of ourselves. By ourselves we could do nothing talk less of “activating” our faith. More profoundly, how did we obtain this faith? It was given to us by God who gives a measure of faith to every man (Rom 12:3). Scripture also tells us that Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). Going by this scripture alone, we see then that it is Jesus Christ who starts us on the journey of faith, take us along and accompany us on the road of faith, and takes us to the finish line of faith. This happens as we abide in Him and He in us. If this is the case then how can anyone suggest that it is possible for individuals to “activate their faith” by their own doing especially by sowing a financial seed?

 Clearly scriptures show that this type of Word of Faith doctrine of activating our faith is false. It is designed to deceive the hearts of the simple (Rom 16:18) and make merchandise of the sheeple (2 Pet 2:3). I pray that those who have been deceived by this type of doctrine would wake up to the knowledge of truth.

False Prophet Simon and the Church Today November 26, 2009

Posted by Henry in False Doctrines.
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There are many false prophets parading in the church today professing to be God’s mouth-pieces. Seemingly they have caused the church (at least those they oversee) to become mesmerized to the extent that the people are unable to discern Biblical truth from the false doctrines they promote.  This scenario however is not new to the church as this very same thing was occurring during the early days of the church. Acts chapter 8 records that there was just such a “prophet” by the name Simon who had put the people of Samaria under a spell and convinced them that he was the true prophet of God.

Acts 8

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But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

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To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.

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And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

What we see here in this passage is no different to what is currently happening in Christendom today. Jesus warned us that many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many. The problem with “churchianity” however is that they do not exercise discernment nor do they believe that discernment should be applied in church. In fact one of the tricks used by these false prophets is to discourage the church from questioning anything they say as this is seen as attacking the “Lords anointed” and therefore challenging their “authority”. To support this position they misuse scriptures such as Psalm 105:15, which says, “Touch not the Lords anointed and do my prophets no harm.” Many people however fail to see the context in which this scripture was delivered and that it in no way related to exercising Biblical discernment. Scripture admonishes us on the contrary to, “Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom 16:17). In churchianity today however we have a situation where all churches and all doctrines are accepted as being relevant even where there is a blatant contradiction of scriptures. To many, our differences shouldn’t separate us but rather what we have in common should bind us. This is of course a departure away from scriptures and is termed ecumenism.

In churchianity today there are people who claim to be Christians but who also claim to equally belong to other religions at the same time. An example of this was seen in a news article about an Episcopalian female priest who claimed to be both Christian and Muslim at the same time. How can these things be one might ask. Scripture however warns us in 1 Tim 4 about this departure from the faith.

1 Tim 4

1

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

2

Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

One of the endemic problems in churchianty today, however is that people have become convinced that such departure away from Biblical orthodoxy is actually a “new move of God” or an “end-time revival”. The “Florida Outpouring” springs to mind here as a classic example. The situation is so bad that it is as if people have literally taken leave of their senses. They have allowed themselves to become so wrapt up in deception to the extent they are not able to discern between truth and falsehood. What is certain though is that the false spirit of Simon is rife in the church today and this type of spirit is bewitching the people and blinding their eyes to the truth.

May the Lord have mercy upon us that our eyes may be opened to the truth of His word and that we will be able to exercise discernment and do not so easily become so deceived by false spirits.

Abraham's "Blessings" Are Mine September 21, 2009

Posted by Henry in False Doctrines.
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It is very interesting to see the various subtle ways in which deception comes into the church, even in the most seemingly innocent of things that are taken for granted. Take this “worship” chorus for example which goes like this:

Abraham’s blessings are mine

Abraham’s blessings are mine

I am bless in the morning,

I am blessed in the evening

Abraham’s blessings are mine.

This is a chorus that is somewhat popular in some Pentecostal church circles and is conveniently sung at offering time. In fact the catchphrase, “offering time, blessing time” is normally echoed about this time as well just before the collection plate is passed around. This chorus is normally used therefore to reinforce the belief that one will receive blessings after they have given their offering. But what does it really mean to say that Abraham’s “blessings” are ours? We know from scriptures that Abraham had become rich and increased in much goods (Gen 13:2) as a result of God blessing him but can we as New Testament believers claim these things for ourselves and what is the scriptural basis for this?

Indeed scripture tells us that the Lord promised to make Abraham the father of many nations and that the future generations would also be blessed. In fact scripture, Gen 12:3, stated that all nations of the earth will be blessed through Abraham. But I think we ought to be cautious in interpreting these things. Under the Old Covenant Abraham and his forebears, namely Israel was blessed materially especially when they entered into the Promised Land. There was much emphasis then on material blessings but this is clearly not the case under the New Covenant. Under the New the emphasis is more on spiritual blessings. For example Jesus said in Matt 6:

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Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

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But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

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For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Jesus also said later on in the passage in verse 33 that we should, “… seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Jesus made it very clear here that our focus should be primarily on the things of God (the Kingdom of God) and less on the things of this world. Is it the correct approach to conclude then that when God promises to bless all nations through Abraham that the blessing being referred to here is material in nature? If we should apply proper exegesis of scripture however we will find out that scripturally the chorus aforementioned is flawed, to say the least. The chorus emphasizes “blessings of Abraham” but in looking at Galatians 3 we soon find out that what this blessing (and not blessings) of Abraham is:

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Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

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That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The blessing of Abraham is thus the promise of the Spirit by faith in Jesus Christ, which was to come to the Gentiles. On reading further in the passage it tells us that this fulfills the prophecy God gave to Abraham back in Gen 12:3, that in him all nations of the earth shall be blessed. The passage of Gal 3 goes on to say this:

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And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise

We can hopefully conclude then that as Christians we can indeed claim Abraham’s blessing but not his “blessings” since scripture gave us no such assurances. We are heirs to Abraham according to the promise, and as heirs we can receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. It should be evident then that the chorus is just another form of deception designed to deceive the hearts of the simple. Knowing this then can we still confidently sing this chorus believing we are inheritors of Abraham’s material blessings?

Revival or Religious Apostasy? September 18, 2009

Posted by Henry in False Doctrines.
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We live in an age where churches are growing up rapidly on literally every street corner and talk of revival echo from Christian TV channels across the globe but are we really seeing a revival? Is there a scriptural basis to support such an idea? Many of course would argue that we live in the “last days” but if this is so does scripture support a latter day revival?

It is important that we heed the warning of scriptures and not be swayed by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14) but we have a responsibility to test every spirit to see if they are of God or not (1 John 4:1). In the name of “dwelling in love” and not seeking to judge however, many have become complacent and compromising with regards to these warnings. As a result of this many false prophets have entered into the church claiming to “hear from God” on matters such as revival and many accept them in with open arms. If we look at the case of Paul in Berea (Acts 17:11) however, we see that although he was a genuine minister from God the Jews did not readily accept his words on his say so but “searched the scriptures daily to see if those things were so”.

Many Christians have forgotten that one of the “gifts” of the Holy Spirit is discernment (see 1 Cor 12:10), yet many would say we should not judge or call a minister into question but to leave it to the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth and impose any sanctions on the individual’s ministry. This position is taken supposedly so as not to “cause division among the brethren”. If this is indeed the correct posture to hold why then was the gift of discernment given? Evidently the gift of discernment was given with the intent that it should be exercised by the Church along with all other gifts for the edification of the whole church. In Paul’s encounter with the Bereans, for example, he counted them as being “more noble” than they of Thessalonica because they exercised discernment by comparing his message to scriptures. How much more should we as Christians exercise discernment?

Many “new age prophets” and “anointed men of God” have been declaring a “new outpouring” which they claim is the “new move” of God but on close examination of their doctrine we can see that they are not in line with scriptures. On hearing these things, a question that one should ask oneself therefore is whether the Holy Spirit could declare things that are not in accordance (and even contradicts) the written Word! The interesting thing about it though is that these “new age prophets” are the ones that are amassing huge gatherings culminating into mega-churches. On the face of it this might seem like revival to the undiscerning. After all, church growth and revival amounts to the same thing doesn’t it? But if the message of Christ isn’t being preached in these places and souls aren’t being saved then we have a serious problem. Scripture has warned us many times that in the last days many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive MANY (Matt 24:11,24)! Are we therefore mistaking a growing deception of religious apostasy for revival?

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