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Contending for the Faith but the truth is hard to “sell” January 28, 2010

Posted by Henry in Contending for the Faith.
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The road of apologetics and biblical discernment can be a very lonely one because often times the truth (i.e., the truth of the Gospel) will be offensive even to professing Christians. In spite of that true Christians have a responsibility to be uncompromising about their faith even if we are going to be ostracized and rejected for doing so. The scriptures say in Jude 1:3 that we should contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints. Why? One of the primary reasons for doing so can be found in verse 4 of the said passage:

 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Whilst the “church” was sleeping certain men crept in without notice, men who were ungodly but who cloaked themselves in righteousness with the primary goal of deceiving the flock. These men have created a poison cocktail of biblical truths and half-truths, mixed in with lies and false doctrines which they feed to their undiscerning flock. This is why the work of Christian apologetics and applying biblical discernment is done.

 The reality however is that this work is usually opposed by the very people, the deceived undiscerning masses, it was set out to help to come out of deception. This is not surprising however since Jesus said in Matt 7:13-14 that broad is the way that leads to destruction and many there be that fall there in but narrow is the way that leads to Life but few there be that find it. There are some interesting parallels between Jesus’ own ministry and the work of apologetics and discernment today however.  At the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth the Pharisees and Sadducees were the self-proclaimed spiritual leaders who had replaced the by now defunct Levitical priesthood. But these supposedly righteous holy-men opposed Jesus at every turn. For example, in Mat 9:34 we see the Pharisees accusing Him of casting out demons by the prince of devils without discerning who He really was.

 An even more remarkable example can be found in John 5:38-39 where we see that the Jews did not believe Jesus’ testimony and sought to kill Him. Jesus said to them that they searched the scriptures thinking that in them they would find life but that the said scriptures testify of Himself. In verse 43 Jesus said that if He came in the Father’s name the Jews would not believe Him but if someone else came in their own name him they would believe. Jesus went further to say in verse 46 that if the Jews believed Moses that they would believe Him because Moses wrote of Him. This is no different to what is happening in the church today however. The point though is that if Jesus, the Son of God, who came in the flesh to deliver the Word from the Father, was rejected by those who studied the scriptures, how much more can we lesser mortals expect to be opposed and rejected by professing Christians for seeking to uphold the truth of Christ?

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?

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

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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;

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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.

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?