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Compromising the Gospel May 25, 2012

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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Many Christians may get offended when I highlight the disparities between the church I see today and the church that was evident in scriptures. Personally I do not care if anyone gets offended but the truth of the Word should be proclaimed with all boldness and without fear or favour. Today we have too many watered down churches preaching a seeker sensitive, “cuddly feely” gospel instead of the unadulterated Gospel. Some will argue that I am dividing the church with such pronouncements but I have news for anyone who thinks that. The truth is that scripture declares that the wheat and the tares shall grow together until the time of the harvest so a division is already there. What we must never do is to compromise the gospel because we do not want to offend those sitting in the pews because they may leave. So what? Let them leave if they want for Jesus said wherever two or three are gathered in His name He will be there to bless. One wonders however if money is the driving force behind the “dumbing-down” of the gospel to ensure that church attendance is kept up which in turn will ensure that the finances are secure.

 

Today there are many people occupying our pulpits and profiteering from the gospel. They teach all manner of false doctrines just to get their congregation to part with their money. Such so-called ministers will often boast of their opulent wealth – with their mansions and private Lear Jets to boot – even to their very own undiscerning congregations who follow after these blind guides mainly because they tell them what they want to hear. This is not surprising however because the scriptures say that, “through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” (2 Pet 2:3). The sad truth about it however is that even when you show that such minister are in error their members will come out and defend them staunchly instead of doing the Berean thing and examine the scriptures to see if what these men and women proclaim is true.

 

There are various brands of Christianity, or “Churchianity” to put it more correctly, today with each declaring that they have the true gospel. The naïve and the simple-minded will however declare that all churches are the same despite not understanding that there is a gulf of difference between the various versions of what they claim is the truth. Perhaps the god of this world has blinded their eyes to the truth such that they are not able to glean the fact that there is only one truth and that two or more contrary positions cannot all be truth at the same time. It is not only the preachers therefore who are compromising the gospel but the hearers also when they neglect to “test every spirit” and study the scriptures as the Bereans did when they heard Paul’s message.

 

Many people in the churches are being destroyed through lack of knowledge of the Living God. In many cases a different Jesus is being preached to them and consequently they believe in a different god from the God of the Bible. But how can they believe the true gospel which they have not heard, or how can they believe in God whom they have not known? Consequently many are lost even though they are in church. In order to know God we need to first know who the true Jesus is for it is He who declares the Father. Encouraging or admonishing someone to believe God, and trust in His saving Grace is futile if they do not know the One True God. They need to know God for themselves first before they can trust in Him.

Activate Your Faith: Sow that seed January 21, 2010

Posted by Henry in False Doctrines.
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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.

Do we need “New Revelations” and are they valid? January 15, 2010

Posted by Henry in Teaching Things They Ought Not.
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In the current church age there are numerous prophets, apostles, and teachers that have arisen and who are buzzing with excitement, claiming to have “new revelations”, new teachings and new insight into scriptures. Some of these individuals use the Old Testament scriptures to base their “new” teachings, some radically re-interpret Christ’s message, and some even claim to have received new revelations from God that even falls outside of the realms of the already Revealed Word. These preachers and teachers promises that their messages will be “awesome”, especially as God is doing a “new thing” and they scurry around to hold concerts and conferences to deliver this “new message” to the masses.  Seemingly, they have whipped up a frenzy among church-going folks who rush to and fro to attend their meetings/gatherings in the veiled hope of receiving a “word from the Lord”. This is in spite of scriptures warning us not to be carried away with every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14).

What then is the position that Christians should take in regards to these teachings? We first need to ask whether there is a scriptural basis for anyone to lay claim to having “new revelations”. Certainly we could go down the road of arguing that Christ said “it is finished”, i.e., the redeeming work of the Cross was finished. This would mean then that we would not need anything else other than that which we have received through the Word, the Bible. We could also argue that God in sundry times past spoke to us via the prophets but today speaks to us by His Son (Heb 1:1-2). Since Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14), then what Heb 1:1-2 is saying is that God speaks to us today by the Word. Again this would mean there is no need for any new revelation since God continues to speak today by the Revealed Word.

In spite of those cogitations however we may examine further evidence as to whether claims of new revelations are valid. One area which is often overlooked with regards to this question is what is sometimes referred to as the “Great Commission”, the pertinent scripture being Matt 28:19-20:

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

What did Jesus command the Disciples to teach to all nations? The answer to that is, “to observe all things whatsoever I (Jesus) have commanded you”. This commission given to the Disciples is the same commission given to us today. Jesus clearly did not say to the Disciples to teach the Old Testament practices, to re-interpret scriptures or His words, or to teach “new revelation” that He will provide. How then can anyone claim to be a true follower of Christ and claim to have “new revelations”? It is noteworthy to mention here that there are those who will still insist that the Holy Spirit gave them new revelations. In that case what did Jesus say of the role of the Holy Spirit? To answer that we may look at John 14:26:

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Jesus did not say that the Holy Spirit would give us “new revelations” outside of Scriptures but that “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

Do we therefore heed Christ’s commands or do we go after our own way to seek new revelations or doctrines?

Are Denominations Important? January 14, 2010

Posted by Henry in Denominations.
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There are many different Christian denominations across the globe today, be it Baptist, Methodist, Apostolic or Oneness Pentecostals, Reformed, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventist, just to name a few. The interesting thing to note however is that none of these names existed during the early birthing and consequent growth of the Church. So why then do we have so many different denominations today and are denominations important?

Certainly for some people denominations are important to them because they feel that theirs is the “true church”. In my own experiences when having discussions with members of denominations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventist and Oneness Pentecostals, they all are of the view that their own denomination is the true church and consequently everyone else is on the wrong path. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have made claims suggesting that they are the Elect and the 144,000 who will be saved. A closer look at scripture will show however that in actual fact the 144,000 mentioned in the Bible constitutes 12,000 men of each of the 12 tribes of Israel who did not “defile themselves with women” (Rev 7: 4 – 8, 14:1 – 4). It is clear to see then that these 144,000 are not Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In contrast the Seventh Day Adventist say they are the true church because they have kept the Biblical Sabbath which they claim is Saturday (the seventh day) and that those who attend Sunday church do so in direct opposition and disobedience to God. They ignore the fact that the calendar we now use was instituted by Pope Gregory the Great, hence the Gregorian calendar. As such it would be very difficult to ascertain whether the seventh day as we know it today coincides with the seventh day God instituted as the Sabbath from the time of creation. The key point that the Seventh Day Adventists seems to have missed however is that God set aside the 7th day as a day of REST, what ever that day is or was. God did not say that we should attend church services on the Sabbath but to REST and do no work in it. The other point to note though is whether New Testament Christians are obliged to observe the Sabbath since Jesus fulfilled the Law thereby abolishing it, which also included the Sabbath. In any event Romans 14:5-9 has this to say:

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.

The Oneness Pentecostals on the other hand believe that one should be baptised in Jesus name only, as opposed to Jesus’ instruction in Matt 28:19-20 where he told the disciples to go out and teach all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Oneness Pentecostals however uses Acts 2:38 as one of the central pillars of their faith. This is what they use to support their claim that one should be baptised in Jesus name only because Peter said so. But who is Peter? Do we obey Peter or do we obey Christ? Notwithstanding, it is doubtless whether what Peter said was meant to be a baptismal formula since Jesus already gave us the baptismal formula that we should use. Peter was more concerned with telling the Jews of their need to be baptised in the name of the very Man whom they had crucified. After all scripture tells us there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved except Jesus.

The points highlighted above, although not exhaustive, do demonstrate some of the ways in which denominations do differ on points of doctrine. It may be argued that some of these points are not “foundational” to the gospel but the question should be asked, why do denominations differ on points of doctrine and beliefs? I believe the answer to this question lies in the fact that Bible tells us that heresies will creep into the church over time. This can be the only explanation for why there are so many different denominations, each with their own “brand” of Christianity, which differ in some way from another. It is interesting to note however that even from the early days, the Church was being divided up into denominations and Paul had to deal with this very issue in the Corinthian church (1 Cor 1:10-13):

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Instead of being haughty and puffed up about this denomination or that, we need to heed the words of Paul here and get back to the “basics” of Scripture. As Paul makes it clear, Christ is not divided, therefore no divisions should be found amongst us and we all should be speaking the same thing and be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement. It is my prayer that we who call ourselves the true church should heed Paul’s admonition.

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

9

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:

10

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

11

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

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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.

Deceitful Use of Scriptures October 8, 2009

Posted by Henry in Teaching Things They Ought Not.
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One of the things I find amazing in church circles today is how easily church folk can be fooled by this minister or that who can seemingly make scriptures appear to say something it actually doesn’t. For example, leading up to this year’s International Gathering of Champions (IGOC) conference, which was held back in August 2009, I received a flyer through the post informing about this conference. The title of the flyer was “Step Up” with a partial quote from Revelations 4:1, “come up here” which appeared to underpin the overall heading. For the main theme which was also imposed on the front of the flyer were the words, “Step Up out of…. Poverty, Obscurity, Bondage; Step Up and FULFIL YOUR DESTINY.” Needless to say I of course did not attend but on reading this at first glance and without prior knowledge of this scripture many might readily assume that what is being spouted here is Biblically based in scripture, that being, based on Revelations 4:1. I am also confident that thousands rushed out to this said conference without checking the scripture, as the Bereans (Acts 17:11) would have done, to see if what is being claimed here has scriptural merit.

Scripture admonishes us not to be carried away with every wind of doctrine but these warnings however seems to go unheeded by the church. The pertinent scripture here is as follows:

14 That 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; (Eph 4:14)

It would be to our profit however to obey the cautions of scripture which would save us much trouble in the end. Going back to Rev 4:1 however, does it actually say or support any of the things being claimed on the IGOC flyer? Lets look at what it actually says:

1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. (Rev 4:1)

Anyone who has read Revelations would clearly appreciate that this scripture is part and parcel of a much larger revelation which the Apostle John had received. In fact if we read the verses following on we soon see that John was having a vision of heavenly places and truly spiritual things which the angel took him up to see:

2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. (Rev 4:2-3)

Now how do these scriptures relate to what is being claimed on the flyer as aforementioned? The truth of the matter however is that John was being taken up to see God being worshipped and glorified. In contrast, the claims on the flyer of stepping up out of poverty and out of obscurity, seeks to achieve one goal and that is for man’s self-glorification – to put man in the limelight of self-illumination. To use scripture to make it appear to support this position therefore is quite deceitful to say the least. These conferences in any event are just more opportunities by which the organisers prey on the greedy and also the vulnerability of those who are desperate and in dire need, in order to fleece them.

No "Should" in Tithing September 18, 2009

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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In a discussion about tithing a young woman once said to me that I “should” pay my tithes. That basically was her final word on the matter. But is the tithe something that I or the church should observe? It is interesting however to see how close-minded some church people can be on the subject of tithing. They refuse to apply any rational thought to proper application of scripture but instead take it as a given that if one is a Christian and a churchgoer one should pay their tithes. For them the question doesn’t even merit discussion as the attitude generally is “this is what we believe in and this is what we do at our church”.

If however, we say that someone “should” pay their tithes then effectively what we are saying is that we are obliged by some law to pay a tithe. From a Biblical point of view however are we under a legal or other obligation to tithe? We should remember of course that we are no longer under the Law but under Grace because Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the Law. This is not to say however that since we are under Grace we can do what we like. Of course not! But does scripture support the view that the New Testament church should pay a tithe and are obligated to do so. Under the Old Testament which we sometimes refer to as the Law Israel was obligated under the Law to pay tithes but surely this Law does not apply to us today, or does it or perhaps you don’t really know? The Law that governed the tithe was part and parcel of the very same Law that Jesus has redeemed us from. But you ask, “What about Malachi 3:9-11?”

Many a minister has wrongly used this passage to convict their members to pay the tithe, suggesting that they are “robbing God” if they don’t and that they are cursed as a result. But clearly a close look at the passage will tell us who this passage was speaking to and it was not the New Testament Christians but the nation of Israel. Only the Levite priests of the nation of Israel had a commandment to take a tithe of their brethren (see Heb 7:5). The curse mentioned in Malachi 3 referred to the curse of the Law and not specifically to the issue of not paying the tithe. Some will argue however that the tithe was before the Law since Abraham tithe to Melchisedec in Gen 14. But on close examination of what occurred we can clearly see that this is no basis for establishing a tithe teaching in the church. What then is the motivation of pastors and church leaders to demand a tithe? Again others will ask if we shouldn’t tithe then what should we do? We should bear in mind that tithing is not supported anywhere in the New Testament. Paul’s instructions on giving to the work of the ministry were thus:

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Cor 9:7

Clearly we all have freedom in Christ to give according to how we feel led. Do you therefore still think that you are obligated to tithe, and on what Biblical basis do you make such a conclusion?

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