Jesus sings a hymn hours before His betrayal.

In the Jewish tradition, the “Passover Psalms” were sung during and after the meal. These were Psalms 113-118. Typically, Psalms 113-114 were sung during the meal and Psalms 115-118 were sung at the close of the meal. In Greek, the word “hymn” isn’t limited to the singular, which makes it likely that Jesus and his disciples followed tradition and together sang Psalms 115-118. I would highly encourage you to read through all of these Psalms this week as you reflect on the passion of Jesus in preparation for Good Friday.
Psalm 116https://youtu.be/5xGUYScj7eo

Psalm 113 – 118 in Hebrew at the wall with English txt. https://youtu.be/EAGvxRTCLLg

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Rosh Hashanah 2021

The beginning of Rosh Hashanah is today and goes through the evening of the 8th.
Many believe when Jesus returns for those who belong to Him, He will do so on the Feast of Trumpets.  It seems reasonable to assume that if He was crucified on the Feast of Passover, buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, raised on the Feast of the Firstfruits, that the pattern would continue, and He would return on the Feast of Trumpets.  Interestingly, the Feast of Trumpets is also called the “Hidden Day,” because no one knows the exact day or hour of Rosh Hashanah. The only certainty is that the feast is to be celebrated on one of the designated days. This year (2021), the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah ) begins at sundown on Monday the 6th of September and goes through the evening of Wednesday September 8th.  

When that day comes, what will you wish you had said to those who will be left behind?    What will you wish you could say to them then?
As we discussed on Sunday we are those that love His appearing and also walk in 1 TH 5 

But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 

For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

16 Rejoice evermore.

17 Pray without ceasing.

18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

19 Quench not the Spirit.

20 Despise not prophesyings.

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

25 Brethren, pray for us.

26 Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.

27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

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Only Faith Works

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John Leslie

<mrjohnleslie@gmail.com>Sep 9, 2021, 4:32:19 AM (yesterday) to fullgospelassm@googlegroups.com

Comments below….

Matthew 9:29

Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.”

Matthew 15:28

Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Hebrews 11:6 

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

1 Corinthians 2:5 

That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Romans 10:17

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Hebrews 11:1 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not 

2 Timothy 1:7 

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Ephesians 6:16 

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

Romans 12:3 

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

1 Peter 1:7 

So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

So you see the humble walk by faith and not by sight!  This is a gift of God in the Holy Spirit that we can walk by faith.  The fruit of the Spirit is faith for we walk by faith and not by sight.  As was said last night the Lord said He would provide for the ones that believe him in this group and look what He has done.  He has provided for those who have trusted Him.  Many examples brought up last night.  

What a difficult time the fleshy man has with this message.  We must do ourself the fleshy man says.   Well if the Sprit says start an insurance practice, we say Lord I don’t know how but I obey in faith.  Then the Lord provides the way and we walk in it.  Yes as Levy had to work Saturdays for a time, as the Lord required, and blessed him for it.  Yet now he is not required to do so anymore.  Levy’s practice excelling yet it is by faith.  The Lord has done it.  Doing better than others who are much more able.  It is the glory of the Lord seen an vessels like us along with Abraham.  Abraham was provided for by the Lord’s faithfulness.  He too humbled himself and obeyed the Lord in offering up his life.  Only a meek man can walk by faith.   What does that mean?  It is a man that sees what he is before a holy God.  Admits his inability.  He fears God more than losing his life in this world.  More than failure he fears not pleasing the Lord.  Which is faith alone that pleases the Lord.  

The Lord will be glorified in Abraham and all those that walk by faith.  We see the meekness of Abraham to give Lot the first choice.  Abraham was not concerned for he knew in whom he believed.  

Pray in the Spirit that your faith may be increased and that you would love one another.  Even as He has loved you and given all for you.  

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The Sick Man Left Behind

The Sick Man Left Behind

“But Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.” — 2 Timothy iv. 20.

THESE are among the last words of Paul the Apostle, for we find them in the closing verses of the last of his epistles. The chapter reminds us of a dying man’s final adieu to his best beloved friend, in the course of which he calls to mind the associates of his life. Among his memories of love we find Paul recollecting Trophimus, who had frequently shared with him the perils of rivers and perils of robbers which so largely attended the apostle’s career. He had left the good man ill at Miletum, and as Timothy at Ephesus was within an easy journey of him, there was no need to add a hint that he would visit him, for he would be sure to do it. The love of Jesus works in the hearts of his disciples great tenderness and unity. The overflow of our Lord’s great soul has saturated all his true followers with brotherly affection: because Jesus has loved Paul, Paul loves Timothy, and Timothy must needs love Trophimus. From this love there arises communion of feeling, so that in sympathy they share each other’s joys and griefs. When one member rejoices the body rejoices, and when one member suffers the whole body suffers with it. Trophimus is sick, and Paul cannot forget him, though he himself expects in a few weeks to die a martyr’s death; neither would he have Timothy ignorant of the fact, though twice within a few verses he hurries him to come to Rome, saying, “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me.” If Timothy could not personally visit the sick Mend, yet it was well that he should know of his affliction, for he would then remember him in his prayers. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God.” Let us remember those who are one with us in Christ, and especially let us bear on our hearts all those who are afflicted in mind, body, or estate. If we have had to leave Trophimus at Miletum, or at Brighton, or at Ventnor, let us leave our heart’s love with him; and if we hear that another Trophimus lies sick not far from our own abode, let us accept the information as in itself a sufficient summons to minister to the afflicted friend. May holy sympathy pervade all our souls, for, however active and zealous we may be, we have not yet reached a perfect character unless we are full of compassion, tender-hearted, and considerate of the sorrowful, for this is the mind of Christ.

     Simple as the statement of our text certainly is, it is found in an inspired book, and it is therefore more than an ordinary note in a common letter. Like another verse of the same chapter, “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments,” has been judged to be beneath the dignity of inspiration, bat we think not so. The God who counts the hairs of our heads in providence may well mention his sick servant on the page of inspiration. Instead of cavilling at the littleness of the recorded fact, let us admire “the love of the Spirit” who, while he lifts Ezekiel and Daniel above the spheres, and raises the language of David and Isaiah to the utmost pitch of poetry and eloquence, yet deigns to breathe in such a line as this,— “Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.”

     Can we learn anything more from this plain line of apostolic penmanship? Let us see. If the same divine Spirit who inspired it will shine upon it we shall not read it in vain.

     I. From the fact that Paul left Trophimus at Miletum sick we learn that IT IS THE WILL OF GOD THAT SOME GOOD MEN SHOULD BE IN ILL HEALTH. Whatever the malady may have been which affected Trophimus, Paul could certainly have healed him if the divine Spirit had permitted the use of his miraculous powers to that end. He had raised up Eutychus from death, and he had given the use of his limbs to the cripple at Lystra; we feel, therefore, fully assured that had God allowed the apostle so to use his healing energy, Trophimus would have left his bed, and continued his journey to Rome. Not so, however, had the Lord willed; the good fruit-bearing vine must be pruned, and Trophimus must suffer: there were ends to be answered by his weakness which could not be compassed by his health. Instantaneous restoration could have been given, but it was withheld under divine direction.

     This doctrine leads us away from the vain idea of chance. We are not wounded by arrows shot at a venture, but we smart by the determinate counsel of heaven. An overruling hand is everywhere present, preventing or permitting ill, and no one shaft of disease is ever let fly by stealth from the bow of death. If some one must be ill it was a wise providence which selected Trophimus, for it was better for him to be ill than Titus, or Tychicus, or Timothy. It was well, too, that he happened to be ill at Miletum near to his own native city, Ephesus. We cannot always sec the hand of God in providence, but we may be always sure that it is there. If not a sparrow lighteth on the ground without our Father, surely not a child of the divine family is laid low without his sacred will. Chance is a heathenish idea, which cannot live in the presence of an everywhere present, living, and working God. Away with it from every Christian mind! It is alike dishonouring to the Lord and grievous to ourselves.

     This also delivers us from regarding affliction as Icing always brought upon men by their personal sin. Many a sickness has been the direct result of intemperance, or some other form of wickedness; but here is a worthy, well-approved brother laid aside and left on the road through a malady for which he is not blamed in any measure. It is too common nowadays for men to be of a hard and cruel spirit, and ascribe the illnesses even of those who are true children of God to some fault in their habits of life. We wonder how they would like to be dealt with in this manner if they were suffering, and could wash their hands in innocency in reference to their daily lives. In our Lord’s day they told him, “Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick”; and Solomon long before that time wrote— “whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” This was much better, more humane, and more truthful speech than the frozen philosophy of modern times which traces each man’s sickness to his own violation of natural law, and, instead of pouring in the balm of consolation, pours out the sulphuric acid of slanderous insinuation. Let the afflicted examine himself to see if the rod be not sent to correct some secret evil, and let him diligently consider wherein he may amend; but far be it from us to stand at his bedside like judges or lictors, and look upon our friend as an offender as well as a sufferer. Such brutality may be left to the philosophers, it would ill become the sons of God. We may not think a shade the less of Trophimus because he is sick at Miletum; he is probably a far better man than any of us, and perhaps for that very reason he is more tried. There is gold in him which pays for putting into the crucible; he bears such rich fruit that he is worth pruning; he is a diamond of so pure a water that he will repay the lapidary’s toil. This may not be quite so true of any of us, and, therefore, we escape his sharper trials. Let us, as James saith, “count them happy that endure,” and, like David, say, “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law.” What saith the Scriptures— “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” Lazarus of Bethany, Dorcas, Epaphroditus, and Trophimus are a few of that great host of sick folk whom the Lord loves in their sicknesses, for whom the promise was written, “The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.”

     II. We have only strength and space for mere hints, and so we notice, secondly, that GOOD MEN MAY BE LAID ASIDE WHEN THEY SEEM TO BE MOST NEEDED, as Trophimus was when the aged apostle had but a scanty escort, and required his aid. Paul wanted him badly enough soon after he had been obliged to leave him at Miletum, for he writes sorrowfully, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.” “And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.” How glad he would have been of Trophimus, for we see how he begs Timothy to come with all speed, and to bring Mark with him, whose service he greatly needed. Yet not even for Paul’s sake can Trophimus be suddenly raised up: his Lord sees it to be needful that he should feel the heat of the furnace, and into the crucible he must go. We think that the church cannot spare the earnest minister, the indefatigable missionary, the faithful deacon, the tender teacher; but God thinketh not so. No one is indispensable in the household of God. He can do his own work not only without Trophimus, but even without Paul. Yea, we go further; it sometimes happens that the work of the Lord is quickened by the decease of one upon whom it seemed to depend. When a broad, far-spreading tree is cut down, many smaller trees which were dwarfed and stunted while it stood suddenly shoot up into vigorous growth; even so, one good man may do much, and yet when he is removed others may do more. Temporary illnesses of great workers may call to the front those who would else, from very modesty, have remained in the rear, and the result may be a great gain.

     Poor Trophimus had in his healthier days been the innocent cause of bringing Paul into a world of trouble, for we read in Acts xxi. 27, that a tumult was made by the Jews, because they imagined that Paul had brought Trophimus into the temple, and so had defiled it. Now, when he could have been of service, he is sick, and no doubt it was a great grief to him that it should be so: yet for him, as oftentimes for us, there was no alternative but to submit himself under the hand of God, and feel that the Lord is always right. Why do we not yield at once? Why do we champ the bit and paw the ground, restless to be on the road? If our Lord bids us stand still, can we not be quiet? Active spirits are apt to become restive spirits when under the restraining hand; energy soon sours into rebellion, and we quarrel with God because we are not allowed to glorify him in our own way— a foolish form of contest, which at bottom means that we have a will of our own, and will only serve God upon condition of having it indulged. Brethren, he who writes these lines knows what he writes, and this is the verdict of his experience:— God’s work needs us far less than we imagine, and God would have us aware of this fact, for he will not give his glory to human instruments any more than he will allow his praise to be bestowed on graven images.

     III. Our text clearly shows us that GOOD MEN WOULD HAVE THE LORD’S WORK GO ON WHATEVER BECOMES OF THEM.

     Paul did not desert Trophimus, but left him, because a higher call summoned him to Rome. Trophimus we may be sure did not wish to delay the great apostle, but was content to be left. No doubt they both felt the separation, but like true soldiers of Christ they endured hardness, and for the sake of the cause parted company for a while.

     It would be a great grief to a true-hearted worker if he knew that any fellow-labourer slackened his pace for his sake. The sick in an army of an earthly monarch are necessarily an impediment, but it need not be so in the army of the King of kings. Spiritual sickness is a sore hindrance, but sickness of body should not delay the host. If we cannot preach we can pray; if one work is out of our reach we can try another, and if we can do nothing our inability should serve as a call to the vigorous to be doing all the more. Trophimus is sick, then let Timothy be the more energetic. Trophimus cannot attend the apostle, then let Timothy be the more diligent to come before winter. Thus, by acting as an incentive, the lack of one man’s service may produce tenfold more in others who are roused to extra exertions.

     Brethren, it will be the sweetest alleviation to the pains of a sick pastor if he sees you each and ail nerved to special diligence; his enforced rest will be the better enjoyed if he knows that the Church of God is not a sufferer because of it; and his whole mind and spirit will minister to the health of his body if he sees the fruit of the Spirit of God in you all, keeping you faithful and zealous. Will you not see to this tor Jesus’ sake?

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A SITUATION OF IMMORALITY 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 By Dr. Richard L. Pratt, Jr. with Ra McLaughlin


IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 3, Number 38, September 17 to September 23, 2001
A SITUATION OF IMMORALITY
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
By Dr. Richard L. Pratt, Jr.
with Ra McLaughlin
INTRODUCTION
In this chapter Paul dealt with a sin in Corinth that actually shocked him. Sexual immorality had taken place in the church, but this had not been too surprising. After all, even Christians are sinners awaiting final redemption in Christ. He was shocked, however, at the Corinthians’ response to their sin: they weren’t repentant or merely obstinate – they were proud of their sin!


REPORT AND INSTRUCTIONS
The church at Corinth had departed from Paul’s teaching by condoning sexual immorality. Paul had received a report that the church was taking pride in the fact that incest was occurring among them, and he responded to that report. First, he directly identified the problem and ordered action.

5:1. By saying, “It is actually reported,” Paul indicated his astonishment at the situation he was about to address. The original language of this passage conveys the idea that the news shocked and horrified Paul. He was appalled to hear that the church tolerated sexual immorality which even pagans found morally repulsive: a man [had] his father’s wife. In the context of sexual immorality, the verb “to have” did not refer to occasional sexual liaisons, but to a continuing sexual relationship. The man may actually have lived with his father’s wife as if she were his own wife.

Paul described the woman not as the man’s “mother,” but as his father’s wife. This terminology probably identifies her as the man’s stepmother rather than his biological mother. Paul did not indicate whether or not the man’s father still lived, but if the father was alive the immorality was all the more severe (see Lev. 18:8; 20:11; Deut. 22:30; 27:20).

5:2. Paul continued to express his astonishment by focusing on the Corinthians’ reaction: they were proud of their tolerance. Paul had already accused his readers of arrogance in theological matters (4:6,18,19), and blamed that pride for the divisions in the church (3:21-22). Here, he pointed to another way in which their pride had led to misconduct. They actually took pride in their willingness to accept the severely immoral man. Because the thing in which they took pride was so blatantly sinful, it exposed the error of their pride, and further supported his argument against the pride that had led to their divisions.

Instead of proudly accepting the man, the church should have been filled with grief. Paul desired his readers to experience great sorrow over their fellow’s sin because that immorality was destructive both to the sinner and to the church. Sorrow over the sins of others appears as a proper response on a number of occasions in Scripture (Gen. 6:5-6; Dan. 9:4-19; Ezra 10:1; Matt. 23:37; Rom. 9:2-3).

The Corinthians blinded themselves to the imminent destruction this immorality threatened upon the church and upon their friend, just as they foolishly had boasted in human wisdom despite the divisions it caused (1:11-12,17,31). This lack of concern for the church seems to have permeated the Corinthians thoroughly, and appears as a unifying theme throughout the entire letter.

Paul also demanded that the Corinthians take proper corrective action. Without having to be told, his readers should have put out the immoral man from their fellowship. Excommunication was the only proper response to such a flagrant and severe sin (in the Old Testament, such sin was punishable by the deaths of the sinners [Lev. 20:11] and the exile of the entire nation from the land [Lev. 18:28]). Paul would remind them of the procedures and purposes of excommunication in the following verses (5:3-13). At this point, however, he declared in no uncertain terms the situation called for church discipline.

5:3. Evidently, some Corinthian believers hesitated to discipline their wayward brother so long as Paul was absent. To counter this strategy, Paul argued that he was present with them in spirit. He had already made his preliminary judgment. If the charges were true as reported, he supported removing the man from Christian fellowship. Paul’s words sound harsh to our modern ears (compare 2 Thess. 3:6,14-15; 1 Tim.5:20), but they are in line with the teachings of Jesus (Matt. 18:15-17).

Moreover, Paul demonstrated a balanced outlook in other epistles (2 Cor. 2:6-8; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 4:32; Col 3:13; 2 Thess. 3:15). In 2 Corinthians 2:6-8, for instance, he strongly corrected the church’s unforgiving refusal to restore a repentant brother. In the face of the Corinthians’ tolerance (compare 2 Cor. 2:9), however, he encouraged the church temporarily to remove the man from the Christian community.

5:4. The procedures for church discipline for this public sin are straightforward. First, the right setting must be attained. Christian discipline is not to be performed in any manner the church desires. It is a solemn occasion when the church is officially assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus (compare Matt. 18:18-20). The apostle assured them that he also would be present in spirit (see 5:3), and that the Holy Spirit’s displays of power would be evident as well (see 2:4-5; 4:19-20). Church discipline is too serious a matter to administer in an ordinary setting.

5:5. Second, the church must temporarily give the offender over to Satan. To do this is to exclude the wayward brother from the Christian community and to treat him “as a gentile or a tax collector” as Jesus instructed (Matt. 18:17), to deliver him into Satan’s sphere of influence (John 12:31; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2). Paul used similar terminology to describe other church discipline cases as well (1 Tim. 1:20). The purpose (so that) of this action is the destruction of the sinful nature (sarx). The NRSV and NASB translate sarx more literally as “flesh.” These translations are to be preferred because Paul contrasted the “flesh” with the man’s spirit later in this verse. In Scripture Satan occasionally receives permission from God to test and trouble believers by weakening their physical conditions (Job 2:4-6; 2 Cor. 12:7), so it is possible that Paul referred to this type of destruction here.

In cases of church discipline, the goal of the process is that the person’s spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. Here Paul used an Old Testament term describing the day on which God destroys all of his enemies and blesses his people (Isa. 2:11-12,17; 13:6,9; Ezek. 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1,11,31; 3:14; Amos 5:18,20; Obad. 1:15; Zeph 1:7,14; Mal. 4:5). The New Testament often uses this term for the second coming of Christ (1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Cor. 1:14; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:10). Although a true believer under discipline may endure hardship, the goal of that hardship is repentance that leads to salvation on the day of final judgment. Discipline should ultimately be a redemptive act.


A SUPPORTIVE ILLUSTRATION
Paul sought to persuade the Corinthians that his instructions were appropriate by appealing to the common experience of leaven and its effects. He then turned to the religious analogue of Passover celebration.

5:6-7a. As in the case of the divisions (1:10-4:21), Paul’s main concern here was for the church, which he was jealous to protect from corruption. Thus, even though the incestuous man had sparked the occasion for Paul’s rebuke, Paul insisted that the larger problem lay in the church itself. The church should have recognized its holy calling (1 Cor. 1:2) and realized that its toleration of such public sin transgressed that calling.

Paul had already identified pride as the source of this problem (5:2). Here he returned to that matter by directly asserting that the Corinthians’ boasting was not good. Their attitude of boastful tolerance of scandalous sin in the church opposed the truth that boasting is to be done only to the Lord’s glory (1 Cor. 1:31; 3:21; 4:7). This attitude also failed to understand common experience. They knew that only “a little leaven” (NASB) ferments the whole batch of dough. The sin of this one man would have had a deleterious effect on the entire church if it had remained unchecked. On the basis of this common knowledge, Paul insisted that they “clean out the old leaven” (NASB).

Leaven was not pure yeast, but a bit of old dough that had begun to ferment. The older the leaven was, the greater the possibility that it had become contaminated. Thus, when Paul compared the offending brother to leaven, he implied that the man was a corrupted piece of dough that could potentially infect the entire church if left unchecked. Like leaven, he needed to be removed so that the community could become pure.

Instead, the church is to be a new batch without infectious impurity. As Paul pointed out, the church really is (as you really are) a pure, wholesome community of believers because it exists in Christ. Paul’s command might be summarized, “You are pure, so start acting like it.”

5:7b-8. The reason (for) for removing the leaven of the immoral person from the church is rooted in the significance of Christ’s death. He is our Passover. As the lamb was slaughtered in the first Passover in the days of Moses (Exod. 12:21) and annually after that (Exod. 12:42; Lev. 23:5; Num. 9:2-3), Christ has been sacrificed on the cross. His blood protects from the wrath of God like the blood spread on the entrances to Israelite homes in Egypt (Exod. 12:7). The Passover celebration anticipated the final atoning work of Christ’s death (John 1:29,36; Rev. 5:6; 13:8).

Building on this connection, Paul reminded his readers that one aspect of the Passover celebration was the removal of all leaven from the home, and the baking of bread without leaven. The absence of leaven symbolized their hasty deliverance from the trials of Egypt (Exod. 12:33-34,39). In much the same way, Paul urged the Corinthians to remember that they had to remove the old leaven of immorality from their church because they lived in the age of Christ’s Passover sacrifice. In this sense, the church is to keep the Festival of Passover every day without the old leaven of malice and wickedness. All evil should be resisted and removed whenever possible so that the people of God may metaphorically eat bread without leaven. Their lives are to consist of sincerity and truth. Immorality was unacceptable in the church because it introduced a corrupting influence among the people of God.

Paul said that the Christian life was to be without the leaven of malice. In all likelihood he referred to those who opposed him in Corinth (4:18), or to those who caused division (1:10-12). “Malice” clearly did not describe the church’s attitude toward the incestuous man. At this point, Paul was still thinking in broad terms. Rather than just correcting a problem of immorality, he was purifying, unifying, and protecting the church. Everything he had said so far in the letter aimed at this goal. He saw the particular Corinthian problems as manifestations of deeper root problems such as bad theology and bad attitudes. Thus, he comfortably urged them to avoid malice, a root problem, even though it didn’t pertain directly to the particular manifestation of that root problem which he happened to be addressing (proud tolerance of sexual immorality).


A POINT OF CLARIFICATION
Paul clarified and reaffirmed a point he had made in an earlier letter: Christians should not associate with grossly sinful people in the church, such as the incestuous man who was the subject of the current controversy, but believers should not disassociate from all sinful people.

5:9-10. With the call to excommunication supported by the ceremony of Old Testament Passover, Paul clarified one aspect of his instruction that may have been easily misunderstood. He first referred to a previous letter in which he had written that believers were not to associate with sexually immoral people (5:9). This instruction could easily have been misunderstood (or purposefully twisted) to mean that believers should withdraw entirely from all immoral people. Paul ridiculed this misunderstanding of his earlier words by noting that avoiding all immoral people can only happen if Christians leave this world. Since Christians must minister to the world, they cannot possibly separate themselves from all who are greedy and swindlers, or idolaters — these people are the church’s very mission field (see Matt. 9:10-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32; 15:1-32).

Possibly, those in Corinth who opposed Paul used this misunderstanding to undermine Paul’s ministry and authority. They may have suggested that Paul called Christians to stay away from all sinners, and on that basis discounted all his teaching. Paul treated the Corinthians harshly for this misunderstanding because: 1) it stemmed from a wrong reading of his prior letter; 2) it had also led to wrongful pride (5:1) and corruption (5:6) in the church; and 3) it had allowed the church’s toleration of the incestuous man.

5:11. Lest there be any confusion, Paul explained that he did not have in mind the sexually immoral people of this world (i.e. unbelievers), but anyone who calls himself a brother (i.e. people in the visible church). Professing believers in the church may not truly be believers, even though they claim to be. If they fail to evidence new life in Christ, there may be sufficient reason to doubt their salvation altogether. To protect the church from the corrupting influence of these so-called brothers, followers of Christ must not even eat with anyone in the church who is immoral or greedy, an idolater … slanderer … drunkard … or a swindler. As Paul was to write in this same letter, “Bad company corrupts good character” (15:33).

5:12-13. Paul concluded that he and the Corinthians had no right to judge those outside the church, those not submitted to the church’s governance. Such people make no pretense of being Christians, and God alone will judge those outside the church. Even so, the church must judge those inside the church. Those in the church submit themselves to the authorities of the body of Christ. Church discipline is a difficult and troubling process, and many try to avoid it altogether. Yet, the church must take action when its members flagrantly violate the ways of Christ. Consequently, as much as the Corinthian church did not want to take action, they had to expel the wicked man.

The phrase “expel the wicked man from among you” alludes to the legal language of Deuteronomy (Deut. 17:7; 17:12; 19:19; 21:21,22,24; 24:7). In all these occurrences of the phrase, the wicked are “expelled” or “purged” by being executed (sometimes for sexual crimes: Deut. 21:21,22,24). In Old Testament Israel God ordained execution as the means by which the nation was to purify itself of severe wickedness.

Paul applied these standards of holiness to the church, God’s New Testament people, but applied the Law somewhat differently by recommending excommunication rather than execution. Nevertheless, the fact that he used language typical of death sentences from the Old Testament reflects that he considered excommunication in the New Testament age to be quite serious. This form of church discipline should be reserved for the worst of circumstances.


APPLICATION
Although we might like to think otherwise, our world is not so different from Paul’s Corinth. Of course, not all of us will have to deal with sexual sins and church discipline situations like the ones in 1 Corinthians 5, but we can still apply many principles from this chapter to our lives.

First, we ought to keep close guard on our behavior. We must never engage in sexual immorality, such as fornication, adultery, homosexuality, or other deviant behaviors. Knowing that we have been made new in Christ — being sanctified, justified, and called to be holy — we need to behave in ways consistent with our new identities and natures. Ceasing from immorality and sin, we must live righteously.

Second, Paul also revealed many details about the nature of the church in this chapter. He taught us that believers share a spiritual union with other believers, and that the actions of individuals affect the whole church. When these actions take the form of corruption, they run the risk of infecting the church. As a result, the church needs to stand guard against such wickedness, sometimes going so far as to discipline its members. Discipline of this type cannot be leveled by individuals, or even by groups within a church, but only by the gathered corporate body. When the church meets in such an assembly, it carries the authority and power of Jesus. The most extreme form of discipline is excommunication, in which the church hands a professed believer over to Satan in the hopes that the experience will ultimately be redemptive, working repentance in the one disciplined.

Third, not only should this chapter of Paul’s letter inform our behavior and knowledge, but also our emotions. Like Paul, we should be shocked and appalled when churches tolerate, condone, or even take pride in heinous sins. Our proper response to terrible transgression should be grief — grief over the disrepute to which such sin subjects the church, and grief on behalf of the sinner who works toward his own destruction. We should greatly fear excommunication and the power of Satan to which it submits one, and because of this fear we should refrain from gross sin. When necessary, however, we should not fear to inflict excommunication. Realizing that God values the church so much that he commands us to put out those that jeopardize its purity, we should grow to respect and love the church more. We should also develop a greater appreciation for the safety it provides us from Satan.


DIGGING DEEPER
Sexual immorality (5:1)
In Greek culture porneia (“sexual immorality” NIV) referred to prostitution, and was not necessarily frowned upon or considered immoral. Corinth in particular had a history of openly accepting it, as well as of accepting very loose and open sexual lifestyles. To live like a Corinthian (korinthiazesthai) was proverbial for living a dissolute life. In Hellenistic Judaism and the New Testament, however, porneia was always negative, and referred to all extra-marital and unnatural intercourse, including homosexuality.

Yeast (5:6-8)
In ancient times yeast was scarce, and leaven was the popular alternative to yeast. Leaven was actually just an old piece of dough that had begun to ferment. When added to a new batch of dough, it spread its fermentation throughout the whole loaf, making the bread lighter. The longer the time period over which this process continued, the greater the danger grew that the dough would become spoiled and poisonous. When the dough became bad, it all had to be thrown away, and the process had to be begun again. Of course, the first batch of dough then had to be made without leaven. This is why Paul spoke of “cleaning out” (NASB) (ekkathairo) the “old leaven”(zume) (NASB) and replacing it with a new batch. Leaven by definition could never be “new” — only the batch could be new — and the older the leaven became, the more likely it was to be dangerous. The NASB translation is to be preferred to the NIV which translates “leaven” as “yeast” and inserts the words “without yeast” which do not appear in the Greek. Exodus 34:25 (see also Deut. 16:4) supports this idea, coupling the command to eliminate all leaven with the command not to keep any old meat.


ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION
How would you feel if you found out that a friend of yours, perhaps someone you had led to Christ, had been carrying on a mutually consenting sexual relationship with one of his or her parents? Would you be shocked? Disgusted? Grieved? Or would you be proud that, as an enlightened Christian, you were open-minded enough to accept this person into your fellowship? Would you feel any differently if that person were involved in a homosexual relationship? An adulterous relationship? A sexual relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend? Why or why not?

Who should judge believers when they engage in gross immorality? Does your church have a process that it follows in disciplinary matters? What is that process? What should be the ultimate goal of church discipline? Does your church have a process for restoring excommunicated members if and when they repent? How would you feel if you had to excommunicate a friend in your church?

In what way is an excommunicated church member “handed over to Satan”? What does this say about the church’s power to offer protection from Satan? Why and how do you think the church is able to offer such protection?

Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Why then did Paul instruct us to judge our brethren and submit them to church discipline?

What is the nature of our union with each other? How can it rightly be said that we are spiritually present where we are physically absent? Does this imply some type of omnipresence, which is a quality reserved to God alone?

How can the corruption of an individual spread throughout a church to defile everyone? Is this a function of the unity of the church, or is it simply a matter of influence? Explain your answer.

How does Christ’s death on the cross imply that we should live holy lives?

Paul called Christ our “Passover lamb.” What, if anything, does this say about the relationship between Israel in the Old Testament and the church in the New Testament? Explain your answer.

Why must Christians not dissociate from wicked and sinful people who are not church members? How can we preach the gospel to the lost without judging them?

How does this chapter relate to the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians? How does it further Paul’s argument? What underlying ideas connect the material?









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THE CURRENT END-TIME APOSTASY OF THE CHURCH – PART 1

THE CURRENT END-TIME APOSTASY OF THE CHURCH – PART 1

September 2, 2011Hunt, Dave

Presented at the Pre-Trib Study Group Conference, December 2005

THERE IS LITTLE DOUBT that we are today in the midst of widespread apostasy. By that term we mean: departure from the faith once for all delivered to the saints, for which we are to earnestly contend.1 I believe that apostates include two types of people:

1) Those who have knowingly turned completely from Christ and no longer even pretend to be Christians; and

2) Those who still claim to be Christians but have departed from

The latter would likewise be divided into two groups:

a) Those who deliberately twist the Scriptures, perverting the gospel “to draw away disciples after them”2 or who endorse false teachers (though they know better) because they want to share their fame and power3 –or who simply want to be “positive” so as to “offend” no one; and,

b) The naïve, who are genuinely deceived by false prophets/teachers.

Apostasy, of course, in some measure, has existed as long as the church. Most of the epistles involve, to some extent, correction of false doctrine and practice that was already in the early church in the days of the apostles. It is the mushrooming, widespread incidence of the apostasy described under number 2 above, however, among those who claim to be Christians, that I believe Scripture points to as a specific sign of the last days just prior to the Rapture.

The question, of course, must be faced whether today’s apostasy has anything to do with prophecies concerning the last days. If so, it would seem that this “sign of the last days” has been largely overlooked by many if not most prophecy teachers. They usually cite as “last-days signs” only “wars and rumors of wars…nation shall rise against nation…kingdom against kingdom…famines…pestilences…earthquakes,”unusual weather, the move to a cashless society, the revival of the Roman Empire, etc.

I have been criticized for years by those who complain, “Deal with prophecy, if you wish, but stick to your subject–don’t mix in apostasy!” In fact, one cannot adequately deal with the former while ignoring the latter. When asked by His disciples, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”5 the first words from Christ identified apostasy as the foremost sign of the last days. In His response, He emphasized religious deception three times-and He specified what it would involve:

Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.6 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.7 For 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.8

Christ’s warning made several things clear:

1)  The major sign of the nearness of His coming would be religious deception by professing Christian leaders; 

2)  A central feature of the deception would be false prophets showing “great signs and wonders,” which, though convincing, would also be false;

3)  The repetition of the word, “many,” indicated that this religious deception would be widespread, apparently worldwide, and, 

4)  The words “Christs,” “prophets,” “signs and wonders,” and “elect” indicated that the deception would be among professing Christians, i.e., those inside the church.

This warning was echoed by Jude. The first reason he gave as to why we must “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” was the fact that “there are certain men crept in [inside the church] unawares…ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”9

“False Christs”! There have been many in our day (from Jim Jones to David Koresh), who gathered followers by claiming to be Christ. There are numerous gurus in India who claim to be the latest reincarnation of Jesus Christ. The false “Christs” presented by novels, videos, and movies have multiplied since Jesus Christ Superstar beyond reciting. None is even close to the true Jesus Christ of Scripture. The “Jesus” of The DaVinci Code is a complete fraud dreamed up by atheists. The “Jesus” of the ABC-TV presentation of Judas confessed to Judas that he “blew it” in chasing the moneychangers out of the Temple: “I lost my temper.”

That Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ received almost universal praise as “biblically accurate” from solid evangelical leaders is another indication of apostasy that has crept into the best pulpits unawares. In fact, it was almost all unbiblical….Much of it was drawn from the visions of a mystic nun and incorporated devices from the imagination of the director to arouse emotions. Nor did anyone seem disturbed that a sinful man was pretending to be the One who declared, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,”10 and whom Paul described as “God manifest in the flesh.”11

The most prominent false Christ today is Sun Myung Moon, who openly declares that he is the Messiah come to earth to complete the mission that Jesus failed to accomplish: the establishment of the “perfect family.” Yet some prominent evangelicals have spoken at conferences convened by Moon, sharing the platform that featured the man who says he is perfecting the work “left unaccomplished by Jesus.”12

But what is the faith, a departure from which marks one as an apostate? Some might say that as long as a person believes that Christ died for his sins, was buried, and rose the third day, he is saved. But that declaration does not express the true gospel. As defined by Paul, the gospel declares the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ according to the Scriptures.13 Surely that involves who the biblical God is, who the biblical Christ is, what the biblical problem between God and man is, the biblical and only means of man’s forgiveness by God, and the eternal consequences, as taught in the Bible, for those who reject the biblical gospel. None of these is a peripheral point of doctrine to be ignored or compromised. To do so would be a departure from the faith into apostasy to proclaim a false gospel.

The entire Word of God, of course, is foundational to the faith. The Bible is one book, and it is all interrelated–each part to every other. Sadly, the church and the world are being robbed of the pure Word of God–and by those who claim to be evangelical Christians! Eugene Peterson’s The Message (NavPress, 1993) is one example. Instead of “that the world through him might be saved,”14 The Message says, “He came to help, to put the world right again.” That sounds like social and political action, the same old “social gospel,” downgrading salvation to earthly improvement, and it is found throughout this entire “version” of Scripture. John:3:31
 says, “He that cometh from above is above all.” The Message says, “The One who comes from above is head and shoulders over other messengers from God.” First Peter 5:10 says that God has “called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus.” The Message says that God “will have you put together and on your feet.” What Peterson has done to God’s Word is blasphemous!

Peterson dares to change the words and meaning of Scripture. Hebrews:11:4
 declares, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,” but The Message says, “It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference.” Obviously, both belief and action are important and interdependent. Moreover, Peterson has robbed his readers of the major theme of Scripture: the Lamb slain for our redemption.

Men like Peterson have no conscience about changing what God says, replacing His words with their own. Yet The Message is quoted more than 80 times by Rick Warren in The Purpose-Driven Life, which has now sold about 26 million copies [as of 2005], unprecedented in history. No greater promotion of this mass of heresy could be given than Warren’s endorsement!

Yet Peterson’s Message is also praised by other Christian leaders such as J. I. Packer, Warren Wiersbe, Jack W. Hayford, and Richard Foster. Peterson is “Consulting Editor, New Testament,” for the Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005) edited by Richard J. Foster. A host of “scholars” contributed commentaries, among them Bruce Demarest, Professor of Theology at Denver Seminary in Denver, CO; Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, MA; Tremper Longman III, the Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA; Earl F. Palmer, on the Board of Trustees of the long-apostate Princeton Theological Seminary and senior pastor of University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, WA, and many others.

The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible was touted as “THE BIBLE AS IT WAS INTENDED TO BE” in a two-thirds-page ad in the July 2005 issue of Christianity Today, next to the masthead declaring that Billy Graham was the founder (of CT) and that J. I. Packer is one of the executive editors. It is odd that Richard Foster and some 50 “biblical scholars” would go to the trouble to create and publish this “Bible,” considering the fact that Eugene Peterson, its New Testament editor, has said, “Why do people spend so much time studying the Bible? [Christians] should be studying it less, not more. I’m just not at all pleased with all the emphasis on Bible study as if it’s some kind of special thing that Christians do, and the more they do the better.”15

Showing the apostate contempt of these men for God’s Word, the Renovaré explanatory notes (bringing to evangelicals the old “higher criticism” of 150 years ago and still popular among liberals today) deny the Divine authorship of much of Scripture–even that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. Yet the Introduction hypocritically declares, “we read the Bible literally, from cover to cover [and] in context.”16 Renovaré cynically declares that Genesis 1-11 is neither historic nor scientific17 and that the entire book of Genesis is merely a collection of myths. 

Of Daniel, the Renovaré Bible declares, “We do not know who wrote it or exactly when it was written it was most likely partially written during Antiochus Epiphanes’ persecution of the Jews in Babylon, which began with the desecration of the Temple in 167 BC.”18 So it is the work of an imposter pretending to be Daniel 400 years too late! Apparently overlooked is the fact that perhaps a century before Antiochus, the Greek Septuagint was translated from even earlier Hebrew manuscripts, and it contains the book of Daniel as we have it today.

The powerful prophetic promise from God in Jeremiah:31:8-14
 to bring home the Jews scattered around the world is interpreted as a promise to all homeless people (nothing about Israel) and God’s promise that Israel can never be destroyed (31:35-37) is ignored! Israel is treated as having been replaced by the church.

How does this relate to departure from “the faith once delivered to the saints”? The Messiah doesn’t step off of a UFO and say, “Voilà! Here I am!” He comes in fulfillment of hundreds of prophecies and with a genealogy that proves His authentic identity. Israel takes up most of the Bible, and its history and its prophets’ inspired pronouncements are foundational to the Messiah’s identity. If the Bible is not 100 percent true in what it says about Israel, then we cannot believe what else it says about Christ and our “redemption through his blood.”19

If this “trashing” of the Bible, endorsed by many leading evangelicals and tolerated without opposition from others, is not part of the apostasy, then what is? We are losing the Bible in many ways, raising a generation on the spiritual junk food of religious videos, movies, youth entertainment, and comic book paraphrases of the Bible. The Word of God is being rewritten, dumbed down, and dramatized in order to cater to the tastes of the carnal mind. 

The emphasis throughout Scripture is always on the words. The Bible is not a picture book! We are to live by “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”20 a fact so important that Christ quoted it to Satan in His temptation.21 But the Bible is today being “improved” by script writers, movie directors, and actors who are replacing the actual “incorruptible word of God” by which we are “born again,”22 with dramatic representations (the entire New Testament is now on video) that may soon be the only “Bible” youth know.  

(To Be Continued)

Footnotes:

  1. Jude 3.
  2. Acts:20:30
    .
  3. Jude 16.
  4. Mt 24:6-10; Mk 13:7-13; Lk 21:9-19.
  5. Mt 24:3.
  6. Mt 24:4-5.
  7. Mt 24:11.
  8. Mt 24:24.
  9. Jude 4.
  10. Jn:14:9
    .
  11. 1 Tm 3:16.
  12.  Washington Post, 7/30/96; 8/1/96; Washington Times, 8/1/96.
  13. 1 Cor:15:3-4
    .
  14. Jn:3:17
    .
  15. “A Conversation with Eugene Peterson,” Mars Hill Review, Fall 1995, Issue No. 3, 73-90.
  16. Richard J. Foster, ed., The Renovaré SpiritualFormation Bible (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005), General Introduction, xxxi.
  17. Ibid., 14-15.
  18.  Ibid., From the introduction to Daniel, by James M. Rand, 1245.
  19.  Eph:1:7
    Col:1:14
    .
  20.  Dt 8:3.
  21.  Mt 4:4, etc.
  22. 1 Pt 1:23.
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THE CURRENT END-TIME APOSTASY OF THE CHURCH – PART 2

THE CURRENT END-TIME APOSTASY OF THE CHURCH – PART 2

November 1, 2011Hunt, Dave

Presented to the Pre-trib Study Group, December 2005

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH has been in full-blown apostasy for 1,300 years [having] persecuted and killed true Christians. It has never repented of this evil and is now enjoying the support of leading evangelicals in a way that would have shocked biblical Christians only 50 years ago. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) brought together the leading bishops and cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church in order to counter the Reformation. The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent contain more than 100 anathemas condemning every point of the true gospel and damning to hell those who believe it. For example: “If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law [Catholic rituals] are not necessary for salvation but men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification, let him be anathema”;1 “If anyone says that baptism is not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema”;“If anyone says that in the Mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God [but] a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross [and] not a propitiatory one, let him be anathema.”3 On December 31, 1995, honoring the 450th anniversary of the opening of Trent, Pope John Paul II declared that its anathemas are still in full force: “Its conclusions maintain all their value.”4

Yet Charles Colson, in his book, The Body, denied that indulgences are still offered by Rome.5 I sent him a copy of the seventeen pages on “the revision on indulgences” from Vatican II, 6 including Pope Paul’s anathema pronounced upon those who deny that the Church has the power to grant indulgences today.Colson never responded to acknowledge his error, which has led multitudes astray–and, unless it was done recently, did not correct it in subsequent editions. Isn’t this apostasy?

In Augsburg, Germany, on October 31, 1999, the very day of the month on which, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg door, representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) signed a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ). The choice of the city where the Augsburg Confession (the foundation of Lutheranism ever since) was read could hardly be coincidence. The Reformation was being overturned! Indeed, Charles Colson has said that “justification by faith alone doesn’t mean today among evangelicals what it meant in the reformers’ time.”8

For 1 billion Roman Catholics, nothing has changed. Catholics continue to pray to Mary for salvation and to wear her scapular (as John Paul did from childhood to his death), which declares, “Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” To wear that in reliance upon such a promise would be an abomination to any true Christian. Yet tens of millions of Catholics continue to believe that “the merits and graces Christ won on the cross” can be received only in small installments that can never fully save and that come only through the sacraments of the Church by Mary’s agency, so they must therefore still offer good works and suffering for salvation–finally in purgatory.

The very doctrine of indulgences that angered Luther and sparked the Reformation remains a mainstay of Catholicism. In fact, shortly after JDDJ was signed, John Paul II offered new indulgences for the “Jubilee Year of 2000,” such as: walk through one of the four “holy doors” that the pope opened for that year in Rome, and receive a plenary indulgence. [A plenary indulgence is a remission of the entire temporal punishment due to sin so that no further expiation is required in purgatory. (New Advent Catholic Encyclopediahttp://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07783a.htm)]

When the pope opened his eyes and rose from praying on his knees in front of the first “holy door” he had opened (this one at St. Peter’s), he saw George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual head of the Church of England, kneeling in agreement beside him. Doesn’t this denial of the gospel by Carey qualify as full-blown apostasy?

John Paul II boasted that pilgrimages to Rome for plenary indulgences began in 1300 under Pope Boniface VIII–a “pope” who had both a mother and her daughter among his many mistresses and who gave indulgences to his troops to destroy the historic city of Palestrina, slaughtering its 6,000 inhabitants and reducing it to a plowed field, which was sown with salt. Yet Boniface was hardly the most evil of the popes whom the present pope looks proudly upon as Peter’s successors who have handed that authority down to him. In 1302, Boniface issued the “infallible Bull,” UnamSanctam, making absolute allegiance to the pope a condition of salvation–still in full force today.

Martin Luther said, “We are not the first to declare the papacy to be the kingdom of Antichrist, since for many years before us so many and so great men have undertaken to express the same thing so clearly.” But it is no longer fashionable in “Protestant” circles to state the truth. We fear giving offense, forgetting the far greater offense of condoning a false gospel that is sending hundreds of millions to hell. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association [published] a special “Crusade Edition” of Halley’s Bible Handbook [removing] from it everything Halley had so carefully researched and documented on the evil of the popes and the slaughter of true Christians through the centuries. If this cover-up to avoid “offending” Catholics is not contributing to apostasy, then what is?

Zondervan published a revised version of the Handbook in 2000, which also contains no reference in its index to Albigenses, Waldenses, and millions of other evangelical Christians slaughtered by Rome. This new version declares: “The Roman Catholic Church responded to the Protestant Reformation by reforming and renewing itself, 9 worked toward ecumenism during the latter half of the 20th century, and has engaged in cooperative ventures with evangelicals and fundamentalists. There are Catholics whose theology is virtually indistinguishable from evangelical theology.”10

What a perverted promotion of apostasy! When challenged about this, Stan Gundry, Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Zondervan, responded, “The purpose of the rewriting was not to cover up the ugly truth about traditional RCC belief but to give a more balanced portrayal of the history of Christianity.”11 How could white-washing essential facts…and leaving out the slaughter of millions of Christians by the RCC give a “more balanced” history?

Incredibly, Zondervan is now owned by FOX News, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch. He has been knighted by the pope as a member of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great after donating $10 million for construction of a new Catholic cathedral in Los Angeles.12 Murdoch has consistently made TV shows aimed at destroying the family and pursues his godless ambitions through a vast empire, of which “Christian publishing” has become one part. Christian publishers began to put profits ahead of sound doctrine [and] sold out to the world monetarily as they already had spiritually. Is this not part of the “end-time apostasy of the church,” the major sign that Christ gave of the nearness of His return?

For at least 50 years, Billy Graham has…sent Roman Catholics who come forward at his crusades back to the Catholic churches they had left. Billy has praised John Paul II as a preacher of the true gospel,13 has declared that he and the pope agree on almost everything, and has hailed Bishop Fulton Sheen as the “greatest communicator of the 20th century.”14 Although Sheen preached a false gospel, claimed to turn a wafer into Christ and to offer Him repeatedly in a propitiatory sacrifice for sins, Billy thanked him for their “common commitment to evangelism” and expressed his gratitude to Sheen “for his ministry and his focus on Christ.”15 Yet Sheen’s hope of heaven was that Mary would let him in because of his 40 pilgrimages to Marian shrines at Fatima and Lourdes.16 When Sheen died, Billy said, “I mourn his death and look forward to our reunion in heaven.”17

J. I. Packer, a signatory to ECT, who called John Paul II “a fine Christian man,”18 had many years earlier declared, “Catholics are among the most loyal and virile brothers evangelicals can find these days.”19 Likewise John Stott said, “Evangelicals should join others in the Church of England in working toward full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.”20

There are evangelical leaders who generally preach the true gospel, yet they commend, approve of, and praise those who clearly deny the gospel. Are they not contributing to apostasy? What could be the difference between leading multitudes to embrace a false gospel by preaching it oneself or leading them to believe a false gospel by commending those who preach it? Would not one approach contribute as much to the eternal doom of souls as the other?

Norman Vincent Peale declared, “God is energy. As you breathe God in…visualize His energy, you will be reenergized.”21 “Just as there exist scientific techniques for the release of atomic energy, so are there scientific procedures for the release of spiritual energy through…prayer.”22 “Any method through which you can stimulate the power of God is legitimate [and] scientific use of prayer.”23

Yet Billy Graham praised Peale many times, endorsed his books, even declaring in an interview on national TV that he knew no one who had done more good for the cause of Christ than Ruth and Norman Peale. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who had done more harm to the gospel! Based upon Billy’s endorsements, how many souls followed Peale’s false gospel into hell? Surely, this is at least contributing to apostasy!

Graham likewise endorsed and praised Robert Schuller, though his denials of the gospel are no less reprehensible than Peale’s. Schuller has defined sin as “lack of faith in yourself. Jesus Christ has saved me from my sin, which is my tendency to put myself down…. Negative thinking is the core of sin. Jesus died to change us from negative thinking to positive thinking.24 [He] bore the cross to sanctify your self-esteem. The cross will sanctify the ego trip!”25[Emphasis added]

Graham praised Pope John Paul II, stating, “I don’t know anyone else that I could put as high as he is. He’s traveled the whole world spreading the Catholic faith. And I’ve admired him.26 He and I agree on almost everything.”27 Isn’t it apostasy for the leading evangelical to praise the pope for spreading a false gospel and damnable heresies?

The pope and his Church reject the biblical truth that Christ paid the full penalty for sin once and for all on the Cross. At the very heart of Catholicism is the lie that a wafer is turned into Christ to be endlessly sacrificed for sin in the Mass, that infant baptism makes one a child of God, and that no one can be certain of heaven. There could be no clearer denial of the biblical gospel with its promise of eternal life for all who believe. Yet Billy Graham boasted of his friendship with Roman Catholic leaders and expressed only approval, never once warning those who believe Rome’s false gospel that they are lost.

Charles Dullea, Jesuit Superior of Rome’s Pontifical Biblical Institute, urged Catholics to attend Graham’s crusades because “A Catholic will hear no slighting of his Church’s teaching authority…no word against Mass or Sacraments or Catholic practice.”28 Indeed, Graham called the Mass “a very beautiful thing and certainly straight and clear in the gospel I believe.”29 He has recommended Catholic books and literature, including a biography of Pope John XXIII…which he called “a classic in devotion,” and that contained…John XXIII’s devotion to Mary and the Saints, worship of the host, and trust in the sacraments for salvation.30

It is indisputable that John Paul II trusted Mary instead of Christ for his eternal destiny. In a February 1980 addendum to his Last Will and Testament of March 6, 1979, John Paul II entrusted “that decisive moment [of death] to the Mother of Christ and of the Church [and] of my hope.” Embroidered inside all of his robes was the phrase, Totustuus sum Maria, “Mary I am all yours.”

In “The Holy Father’s Prayer for the Marian Year,” John Paul II asked Mary to comfort, guide, strengthen, and protect “the whole of humanity” and added, “Sustain us, O Virgin Mary…and obtain for us the grace of eternal salvation.” She would have to be God to do so. Yet like Graham, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, emphasized that any disagreements Protestants may have had “with John Paul II are [irrelevant] to the foundations of the faith.” Land praised the pope’s “staunch defense of traditional Christian faith.”31 Pat Robertson enthused, “Pope John Paul II stands like a rock in his clear enunciation of the foundational principles of the Christian faith.”32 Is it not apostasy to promote those who preach a false gospel and damnable heresies even though one does not preach such lies oneself?

Ecumenism is one more form of the denial of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which “is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.”33Schuller exhorted “religious leaders [to proclaim] the positive power of world-community-building religious values.”34

One of these strange “allies” is Roman Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft of BostonCollege who, in the spirit of Rick Warren and his P.E.A.C.E. Plan, advocates a coalition of all religions to fight society’s social ills. Kreeft imagines that prayer to Islam‘s Allah or any Hindu idol is compatible with Christianity….He claims that God is blessing Islam…Confucius is God’s “prophet” in purgatory on the way to heaven;35 Buddha and Muhammad are both already there;36; through the Mass, the entire universe is being transformed into one giant Cosmic Eucharistic Christ;37 and everyone will be united in the Eucharist and Mary.38 The fact that both J. I. Packer and Chuck Colson gave their enthusiastic endorsements on the back cover of his book, Ecumenical Jihad, tells us much of the nature of today’s apostasy.

Ted Haggard, former Senior Pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, and [at the time] President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), said that “New Life doesn’t try to ‘convert'” Catholics [or] discourage its members “from becoming Catholic or attending Catholic Mass.”39

 Those commending instead of contending against untrue religions encourage the lost in their false hope and deceive the world as well as the church. The fact that a major element of the last-days apostasy would be a false “signs and wonders” movement among professing Christians involving false prophets was declared more than once by our Lord: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”40 He must be referring to pre-tribulation events. “Christian” leaders would hardly be performing “signs and wonders” in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ after Antichrist is in charge of the world. Those performing false signs and wonders do so in Christ’s name, calling Him Lord, yet they are not Christians at all, as Christ will say, “I never knew you!” – DH

Footnotes:

1 H J Schroeder, trans., The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent (Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1978), Seventh Session, Canons on the Sacraments in General, Can 4.

2Ibid., Seventh Session, “Canons on Baptism,” Can 5.

3Ibid., Twenty-second Session, “Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass,” Cans 1,3.

4Christian News, July 10, 1995, 1.

5Chuck Colson, The Body (W Publishing Group, 1994), 271.

6Second Vatican Council, Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences, IndulgentiarumDoctrina, January 1, 1967.

7Paul VI, IndulgentiarumDoctrina, Norm 12.

8Our Sunday Visitor, June 2, 1996, 6-7.

9Halley’s Bible Handbook (Zondervan Publishing House, 2000), 997.

10Ibid., 1009-10.

11Letter on file with author.

12http://www.traditioninaction.org/Cultural/D003cpKnighthood.htm.

13Saturday Evening Post, January/February 1980.

14Ad for Sheen Gems: The Best of Fulton J Sheen (video), vol 1-2, quoting Billy Graham.

15Billy Graham, Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham (HarperSanFrancisco/Zondervan, 1997), 692-93.

16The Woman I Love video (CliftonNJ: Keep the Faith)

17Nashua Telegram, December 10, 1079

18Take Heed Ministries, Belfast, Northern Ireland, March 1999.

19Christianity Today, May 17, 1985.

20Arthur Johnston, Battle for World Evangelism (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1978), 328.

21Norman Vincent Peale, Plus: The Magazine of Positive Thinking, Vol 37, no 4 (Part II), May 1986, 23.

22Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking (Fawcett Crest, 1983) 52-53.

23Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking (Center of Positive Thinking, 1987), 17.

24Hour of Power,   April 12, 1992.

25Robert Schuller, Living Positively One Day at a Time (Hour of Power, 1983), 201; Robert Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (Waco, TX: Word Publishers, 1982), 115.

26Larry King Live, February 24, 2005.

27Larry King Live, January 21, 1997.

28Newsweek, June 23, 1969.

29Plains Baptist Challenger, May 1975.

30Lawrence Elliott, I Will Be Called John: A Biography of Pope John XXIII (NY: Readers Digest Press, 1973).

31Adelle M Banks, Religion News Service, April 11, 2005.

32Pat Robertson,   The Turning Tide (Word, 1993), 279.

33 Romans:1:16
.

34The OrangeCounty Register, 1993.

35 Peter Kreeft,   Ecumenical Jihad (Ignatius Press, 1996), 96.

36 Ibid., 96-111.

37 Ibid., 158.

38 Ibid 144-45.

39The Gazette,   October 17, 2005.

40 Matthew:7:22-23
.

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THE CURRENT END-TIME APOSTASY OF THE CHURCH – PART 3

THE CURRENT END-TIME APOSTASY OF THE CHURCH – PART 3

December 1, 2011Hunt, Dave

Presented at the Pre-Trib Study Group Conference, December 2005.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith [apostatize], giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. (1 Tm 4:1-2)

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men [shall be] ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres [two of the magicians in Pharaoh’s court] withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. (2 Tm 3:1,4,8)

Paul thus declared that the major opposition to the truth in the last days would be from false prophets who would counterfeit miracles by the power of Satan just as Jannes and Jambres did in opposition to Moses. Although only God can do genuine miracles, what Pharaoh’s sorcerers did in mimicking the first two plagues was so impressive that Moses declared, “And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments.”But when it came to the third, “the magicians could not.”2

Surely we are seeing this prophesied opposition to the truth today. There is an entire “signs and wonders” movement among charismatics led by false prophets who pretend to do miracles in Christ’s name….There is no clearer sign of “last-days apostasy.”

Yet the great success of The Purpose-Driven Life and the growth of megachurches such as Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston (30,000 each weekend) have sparked a new optimism among evangelicals that even embraces the false “signs and wonders” movement. In his book Megashift, James Rutz writes:

We are now winning the world at an astonishing pace, swept along by a vast array of miracles. [God] has apparently decreed that plain folks like you and me are now a central part of an accelerated plan for a total transformation of the world….We are in the early stages of total transformation of our planet. The family of Jesus Christ is growing so fast that if our growth simply continues at today’s pace, most of us living today may see the fulfillment of Revelation:11:15
: “Now are the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and his Messiah! And he shall reign for ever and ever.”3

This is a delusion that harks back to the Manifest Sons of God heresy but is now gaining acceptance among evangelicals: there is no Rapture and no Great Tribulation. We are already in the Millennium, with the church taking over under the leadership of “miracle-working prophets.” These people expect to meet Christ with their feet planted on planet Earth, rather than being caught up to meet Him in the air and taken to heaven, as His Word promises. It is one more form of apostasy that is preparing a false church to welcome Antichrist….Among the dozens of false prophets we might name who claim to be part not of apostasy but of a great “last-days revival” are Oral and Richard Roberts, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, ReinhardBonnke, the Kenneth Hagins, Rick Joyner, Kim Clement, and many others often seen and heard on TBN and elsewhere. The major one, of course, is Benny Hinn. Hinn has been praised by evangelical leaders (including Jerry Falwell) and is the darling of the largest Christian TV network, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), upon which are regularly displayed false prophets to deceive the church and world.

[Another example is Pastor John Hinkle.] According to a “Voice,” which spoke “so loud and clear” to Hinkle “[and] sounded like a great bell” being rung in his ear, all evil would be “ripped from the earth” on June 9, 1994. Paul Crouch and the studio audience were overjoyed by this “wonderful revelation.”4 Crouch backed this obviously false prophecy to the hilt in at least three newsletters5 and on several TV shows.6 Pat Robertson was [also] enthusiastic about it.7

Yet anyone with common sense and a minimal knowledge of the Bible knows that “evil” is not a “thing” to be ripped from Earth but resides in human hearts. Evil will certainly be rampant under Antichrist in the Great Tribulation yet to come; and even at the end of the Millennial reign of Christ when Satan will be loosed, evil will manifest itself as never before in an attack against Jerusalem and Christ by millions of Earth’s inhabitants. Yet on June 9, 1994, Crouch claimed that Hinkle’s prophecy had been fulfilled!

Of course, false prophecies too numerous to mention are standard fare on TBN, from the assurance that the appearing of Christ8 will take place onstage at a Benny Hinn revival–to the confident declaration that soon the dead will be resurrected by placing them in front of a TV screen on which a TBN program is being aired. Benny Hinn’s false prophecies are too many to recite. For example, on December 31, 1989, claiming that he was in the very throne room of God, Hinn declared: “The Lord also tells me about ’94 or ’95, no later than that, God will destroy the homosexual community of America by fire.”Amazingly, as Hinn’s false prophecies increase, so does his audience, growing to at least one million on several occasions. Surely this growing delusion is another sign of last-days apostasy.

Hinn can’t even get his “testimony” straight. In the PTL Family Devotional, he says, “I got saved in Israel in 1968.”10 But in a 1983 message in St. Louis he said, “It was in Canada that I was born again right after ’68.'”11 Yet in Good Morning, Holy Spirit, he says he was converted in 1972, during his senior year in high school.12But he dropped out before his senior year. When was he saved?!

“People of God!” shouts Benny, “We must never speak such faith-destroying words as ‘If it be thy will, Lord.’ I amHim [Jesus]! The Word has become flesh in Meee!….You are a little god on earth.” Hinn and Crouch have declared this lie numerous times together on TBN, and Crouch stated in a newsletter that if we are not little gods, he would apologize in front of 10,000 times 10,000 before the “glassy sea.”13 If he is a “little god,” he won’t be there.

Not to be outdone, Morris Cerullo declares, “From the beginning of time, the whole purpose of God was to reproduce Himself. And when we stand up here, brother, you’re not looking at Morris Cerullo; you’re looking at God. You’re looking at Jesus!”14 And in fulfillment of Christ’s Word, false prophets keep coming in His name claiming to be Christ.

Paul’s warning (1 Tm 4:1-2) has come true with a vengeance. A major “doctrine of devils” is the occult technique of visualizing persons or events to bring them into the present for one’s private use. This is how shamans (witchdoctors) contact their “spirit guides.” This occult method is widely practiced in today’s church. Norman Vincent Peale taught it,15 as does Yonggi Cho, Robert Schuller, Richard Foster, Calvin Miller, Karen Mains, John and Paula Sandford, and others who practice “inner healing,” and so do many Christian psychologists.

Visualization is widely taught in the church as a means of creating the answer to one’s prayers and even calling Christ from His throne in heaven to appear in one’s presence. Of course, Christ will not oblige, but there are demons that are only too happy to appear, pretending to be “Christ” in order to further their deception.

Yonggi Cho tells his readers, “You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth. He is bound by your words. Remember that Christ is depending upon you and your spoken word to release His presence.”16 Likewise, Richard Foster (co-founder of the Renovaré movement and editor of the Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible) assures us that visualization in the imagination of what one desires is not mere fantasy but reality created in the mind.17 He writes:

Take a single event [from Scripture]. Seek to live the experience, remembering the encouragement of Ignatius of Loyola [founder of the Jesuits, fanatical defenders of the pope and Rome’s heresies]…as an active participant. And since Jesus lives in the eternal “now” you can actually encounter the living Christ in the event, be addressed by His voice, touched by His healing power. Jesus Christ will actually come to you. In your imagination, allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body. Look back so that you can see yourself and reassure your body that you will return. Go deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator. Rest in his presence. Listen quietly [to] any instruction given.18

This is occult contact with “seducing spirits [bringing] doctrines of demons” through the imagination and is the major technique used by shamans to contact their spirit guides. Yet in full agreement, popular evangelical author Calvin Miller writes:

One door opens to the world of the Spirit: imagination. We cannot commune with a Savior whose form and shape elude us…in my conversation with Christ, I see him white robed…I drink the glory of his hazel eyes, thrill to the golden sunlight dancing on his auburn hair. Do you disagree? His hair is black? Eyes brown? Then have it your way. His image must be real to you as to me, even if our images differ. The key to vitality, however, is the image…block by imaginary block we define him and we adore him. The Bible writers did the same.19

Instead of being inspired of God, the “Bible writers” wrote from their imagination?! This is not only blasphemy but “Christianized idolatry.” Every pagan image is first formed in the mind before it is fashioned out of wood or stone. [This] is another growing movement among evangelicals. Icons are displayed with candles to light in “prayer stations,” and church members in evangelical churches “pray through the image” to reach God, joining in the practice of Eastern Orthodox and Catholics.

Like Miller, Foster, and Cho, Robert L. Wise, pastor of a large Presbyterian church, endorses visualizing “Jesus” based upon his experience during a “Healing of the Memories” session:

I began to visualize myself as a boy of eight…startled to see myself carrying a large bundle on my back [of] needs and worries. “Now see if you can imagine Jesus appearing,” [I was] instructed. “Let him walk toward you.” Much to my amazement, I–an ordained Reformed clergyman with a doctorate in psychology–found Jesus mov[ing] slowly toward me extend[ing] His hands toward me in a loving, accepting manner. I no longer was creating the scene. Christ reached over and lifted the bundle from my back with such forcefulness that I literally sprang from the pew.20

Wise was sure that it was not his imagination–and we know that it was not Jesus. So it could only have been a demon impersonating Christ that came alive in this occult experience!

Yonggi Cho and Rick Warren recently had breakfast together….Cho [told Warren], “As a minister, you should know that prayer is the foundation of church growth and revival. [Y]ou should have visions and dreams because [these] are the vessels through which God works.”21 He failed to tell Rick that his occult practice of visualization has been the key to his success. Cho has some good teachings, but that only commends his heretical and occult teachings and makes them all the more appealing….Yet the Bible declares: “This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart”;22 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,”23 etc.

Robert Schuller…declares, “That’s what sets me apart from fundamentalists, who are trying to convert everybody to believe how they believe. We know the things the major faiths can agree on. We try to focus on those without offending those with different viewpoints, or without compromising the integrity of my own Christian commitment.” Of course, the major faiths do not agree on…who God is, who Jesus Christ is, the way of salvation, and all other biblical fundamentals. One can only wonder what “Christian commitment” it is that Schuller isn’t compromising….

Pat Robertson, responding to those asking why he had signed ECT, declared: “People of faith [in which he includes Catholics, Mormons, Moonies, Jews, et al.] are under attack as never before by forces which wish to destroy all religious values, all worship, and all freedoms for Christians like you and me [so] we must lay aside certain Protestant differences to join hands to support those things upon which we all agree.”24

Peter reinforces the warnings by Christ and Paul: “There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and many shall follow their pernicious ways and through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.”25 The language is remarkably prophetic. It is covetousness on the part both of the false prophets and those who believe their lies that allows the former to “make merchandise” of the latter. We see this in the “seed faith” teaching invented by Oral Roberts and followed by most of the other false prophets: “Send in your ‘seed faith’ offering to get the miracles started….” It would take minimal common sense to recognize Roberts’s unconscionable lie (has he no fear of God?), but it is the covetousness of recipients that blinds them to the truth in their desire to get “miracles from God” by feeding the covetousness of the “miracle worker.”

The gospel is “to the Jew first,”26 and Paul always preached it in the synagogue before going to the Gentiles. Yet some Christian leaders have claimed that there is a different gospel for Jews. John Hagee has said, “…I believe that every Jewish person who lives in the light of the Torah will come to redemption.”27 In 1987, Pat Robertson was…asked, “Do Jews go to heaven?” Pat replied, “The Jews go to heaven if they keep all the commandments of the Jewish Law.”28 Isn’t it part of the apostasy to deny to Jews the gospel that saves?

When Robertson failed to get the Republican nomination for president, he was asked, “If God called you to run, then why did you fail to get the Republican presidential nomination?” Pat responded, “I suppose we could ask the same question of Jesus: why did He fail the first time around and get crucified?”29

One of the most shocking evidences of apostasy is the acclaim given to Sir John Marks Templeton by evangelical leaders. Templeton’s books blatantly proclaim a false god and false gospel. Yet one of his major works, Discovering the Laws of Life, declares: “The basic principles for leading a ‘sublime life’ may be derived from any religious tradition. Astronauts traveled into outer space [and] did not bring back any evidence of heaven. And whereas drills had penetrated the earth, they’d found oil, not hell…spiritual theorists are inclined to conceive of [heaven and hell] as states of mind…we create our own heaven or hell right here on earth. Our innate goodness is an essential fact of our existence. The God within us–the godhood within you–is in a state of becoming perfect….”

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever; Christianity is not a religion, and it does not “progress” toward a better form. No Christian could possibly accept the Templeton Award as the person who had contributed the most during the year toward the Antichrist religion that Templeton is promoting. Yet Billy Graham did (1982), as did Chuck Colson (1993), and Bill Bright (1996)….

Just as God’s people Israel, to whom He sent His prophets to warn them of their apostasy and its dire consequences, would not listen, so it is today with many professing Christians. Glad to follow any pied piper who plays an enticing tune, and unwilling (and one day unable) to hear the Lord (“who is my strength and my song” – Exodus:15:2
), they dance merrily on to judgment.

Time on this earth is quickly drawing to a close. Let us determine once again to remain true to and earnestly contend for “the faith once delivered unto the saints.” And in that perseverance, may our example give renewed courage and conviction to many others–and may we rescue many before it is forever too late.

Footnotes:

  1. Ex 7;22; 8:7.
  2. Ex. 8:18.
  3. James Rutz, Megashift (Colorado Springs: Empowerment Press), 2005, 1-2,27,41.
  4. Praise the Lord, TBN, January 25, 1993; March 14, 1993.
  5. TBN Newsletter, August 1993.
  6. TBN, March 14, 1993.
  7. www.cuttingedge.org/news/n1194.cfm.
  8. 2 Tm 4:8; 1 Jn:3:2
    .
  9. G. Richard Fisher and M. Kurt Goedelman, The Confusing World of Benny Hinn (St. Louis, MO: Personal Freedom Outreach, 2002), 199-200.
  10. Ibid., 34.
  11. Ibid., 33.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Praise the Lord Newsletter, March 1993.
  14. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism, “The End Time Manifestation of the Sons of God,” tape 1.
  15. Norman Vincent Peale, Positive Imaging (Fleming H. Revell, 1982), etc.
  16. Yongghi Cho, The Fourth Dimension (Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1979), Vol I, 83.
  17. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (Harper & Row, 1978), 26.
  18. Ibid., 26-27.
  19. Calvin Miller, The Table of Inwardness (InterVarsity Press, 1984), 93-94.
  20. Robert L. Wise, “Healing the Memories: A Prayer Therapy for You?”,Christian Life Magazine, July 1984, 63-64.
  21. http://pastors.com/articles/ChoInterview.asp.
  22. Jer:13:10
    .
  23. Gn 6:5.
  24. Pat Robertson in form letter on The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., Letterhead, 4/19/94.
  25. 2 Pt 2:1-3.
  26. Rom 1:16.
  27. Julia Dunn, Houston Chronicle, April 30, 1988, Religion, 1.
  28. Donahue, NBC Television, June 1987.
  29. Bob Slosser, “The Election According to Pat Robertson,” Charisma & Christian Life, October 1988, 56.
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REVIVAL OR APOSTASY?

April 1, 2015Hunt, DaveMcMahon, T.A.

Knowing that we are in the last of the last days, with an imminent Rapture a very real hope, our thoughts often (and indeed should) turn to the signs that Christ said would herald the nearness of His return. The signs that are most widely cited include “wars and rumours of wars…[when] nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…and…famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes…these are the beginning of sorrows” (Mt 24:6-8).

Unquestionably, these specific “sorrows” have been both prominent and accelerating since Israel again became a nation in 1948. Since that time, the intensity and frequency of these signs have increased like the birth pangs of a woman approaching her time of delivery, exactly as Christ foretold. However, the first sign that Christ gave has been largely overlooked and His solemn warning neglected:

And Jesus answered and said…Take heed that no man deceive you.

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many….

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many….

For 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. (Mt 24:4,5,11,24) [Emphasis added.]

Concern for this prophesied deception has marked this ministry. Let us take a closer look at the religious deception that Christ foretold. He issued a warning: “Take heed [beware] that no man deceive you.” Its seriousness is emphasized by being thrice stated. Its nature is specified: false Christsfalse prophets, and false signs and wonders. His repetition four times of the word “many” indicates a worldwide deception of multitudes.

Paul issued a similar warning: “Let no man deceive you by any means….” He explains that the spiritual deception to which Christ referred will infect the professing church. That is evident from his words “falling away,” or apostasy:

For that day [of the Lord] shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin [Antichrist] be revealed, the son of perdition.” (2 Thes:2:3
)

Although a true Christian cannot fall away, a false Christian can. Fall away from what? From the faith in Christ that he or she has outwardly professed without inward reality. Those few apostates who announce themselves as atheists or convert to Buddhism or Hinduism are not the concern of Christ and Paul in this verse. They are warning of a turning from the truth within the professing church. Other scriptures confirm this, as we shall see.

Paul warns us not to be deceived into thinking that the apostasy won’t come. It must. Such a warning can mean only that in the last days many will reject the biblical teaching that apostasy is inevitable. The false prophets to whom Christ refers will use their signs and wonders to support their false teaching that revival, not apostasy, is underway. Paul therefore warns us not to be deceived with talk about revival: the apostasy must come, or Christ will not return!

False signs and wonders will be an integral part of the apostasy. The departure from the truth will be spearheaded by apparent miracle workers, and the delusion will be made possible by a prevailing emphasis upon experience over doctrine: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Tm 4:3). Christ declares,

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Mt 7:22-23)

These apostates of whom Christ speaks do not lose their salvation; they were never saved (“I never knew you”). Yet they are high-profile Christian leaders apparently performing signs and wonders in the name of Christ. Tragically, they seem to think that their ability to prophesy and to perform wonders proves that they belong to Him. The signs and wonders are so impressive that doctrine no longer matters—exactly what we see today!

Surely these of whom Christ speaks in Matthew 7 must be the same “false Christs and false prophets” to whom He refers in Matthew 24. Moreover, the signs and wonders they are able to perform are apparently so impressive that without discernment by the Holy Spirit even the very elect would be deceived by them. Obviously, something more than mere trickery is involved. These miracle workers are backed by the power of Satan, whom they unwittingly serve in the name of the Lord.

The Bible clearly predicts a last-days signs and wonders movement—but it will be of Satan, and thus a delusion that will deceive many. After a solemn warning that in the last days “perilous times [not revival!] shall come,” Paul makes this remarkable statement:

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these [apostates] also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. (2 Tm 3:8)

Jannes and Jambres were the magicians in Pharaoh’s court who, through the power of Satan, duplicated (up to a point) the miracles that God did through Moses and Aaron. Paul thus declares that the last-days opposition to the truth will not come so much from outside the church but from those within who are reprobate concerning the faith: depraved men who corrupt the truth. And they do so by performing apparent miracles in Christ’s name some of which (when more than mere trickery) are actually of Satan. In that way, they deceive and lead many astray—not out of the church but into false doctrine and thus a false hope within the church. Satan has no more effective tactic to damn souls!

Such [deception] involving the whole gamut of today’s revival scene must be seriously faced! Videos of the services show people crawling on the floor, howling like wolves, barking like dogs, roaring like lions, going through bodily contortions impossible without the aid of some spiritual power, unable to speak or even remember their names when they try to give a testimony—and worse. Many of those being baptized seem to lose consciousness or shake so violently that they must be carried out of the baptismal tank or they would drown. Others flail about so wildly as to require several men to handle them. That such things could now be widely accepted as evidence of the Holy Spirit can only testify to the depths of the delusion!

Jude exhorts us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Contend against whom? Surely not primarily against godless enemies outside the church. The warning concerns those within: “For there are certain men crept in unawares” (v. 4). Crept in can only mean inside the church.

Paul confirms Jude in addressing the Ephesian elders: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts:20:29-30
). The spiritual deception of which Christ warned would be rampant within the church.

In further confirmation, Christ warned His disciples that “the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (Jn:16:2
)—a most remarkable prophecy. He can’t be referring to the slaughter of Christians by the Caesars or by Mao or Stalin or Hitler, for they did not believe they were thereby serving God. Yes, when the Jews of Jesus’ day killed the early Christians, they thought they were serving God; so did the Roman Catholics when they slaughtered the true Christians before and after the Reformation; and so it was when Muslims killed Christians. But none of this was the complete fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy.

“Whosoever” is the key. Neither the Pharisees, the popes, nor the Muslims were alone in killing Christians. Others pursued them to the death at the same time. But Christ is saying that a time is coming when whosoever (in other words, everyone) who kills Christians will think he is serving God thereby. That can only mean that a world religion to which everyone must belong is coming, a religion that will seek to exterminate true Christians in the name of God. John saw the same scene in the future:

And it was given unto him [Antichrist] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them….

And I beheld another beast…he exerciseth all the power of the first beast…and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast….

And he had power to…cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (Rv 13:7-15)

To summarize, the scriptural warnings foretell the very delusion we find in our day: 1) a false signs and wonders movement led by many false prophets; 2) many being deceived through these seeming miracles; 3) the rejection of the biblical teaching concerning apostasy, and the insistence that we are in the midst of, or at least building up to, the “greatest revival in the history of the church.” The promise of revival will be part of the last-days deception, Paul warns, so beware! Instead, in the days preceding the Rapture there will be a great apostasy, a falling away from the faith. Don’t be part of it!

That we must earnestly contend for the faith against those who have crept into the church implies that the battle is not so much one of faith against unbelief, but rather of true faith against false faith. And that, too, is precisely what we see today. Articles in leading medical journals cite studies showing that those who have any “religious faith” are more likely to recover from illness. Christianity Today ran a major article naïvely promoting these studies as though they were supportive of the truth.1 Thus God has been reduced to a placebo that can come in any shape, size, or color.

Multitudes of Christians imagine that faith is believing that what they are praying for will happen and that if they truly believe, they will have whatever they ask. Obviously, if things happen because one believes they will, then one doesn?t need God. This is mind power, not the faith in God that Christ taught (Mk 11:22)….

The topic on everyone’s lips and mind today is revival. Christian TV and radio and best-selling books persuasively argue that we are in the midst of the greatest revival of Christianity in the history of the world….It comes as a shock to many to learn that the word “revival” does not appear even once in the entire King James Bible. The hope of revival, which excites so many today, is not even a biblical concept. Ask yourself a few questions: Is Christ not indwelling us? Is He not in our midst each time we meet? Are we not to be filled with the Holy Spirit at all times? Is not the Word of God sufficient? Why, then, run after signs and wonders as though unusual manifestations prove that God is at work while neglecting what God has already given us? In the meantime, undertake a study to see what the Bible says. Check every source (including TBC) against Scripture! Be a Berean.  TBC

Endnotes

  1. Christianity Today (Jan. 6, 1997), 20-30.

AN AFTERWORD FROM T. A. MCMAHON

In the eighteen years since Dave wrote the above article, the apostasy has intensified in ways that are mind numbing. I write this from the perspective of one who worked with Dave for more than three decades and learned from him how to discern trends that are taking hold in the church, drawing both professing and even true Christians away from the Word of God. I remember that just three years following our book The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days (1985) we were astonished by how much worse things had become, spiritually, during that short time. But that was then.

Today seems like light years (or “dark years”) away. At that time, the New Age was dawning. Today we have “Christian” yoga practiced in church sanctuaries. Back then, evangelical leaders were dialoguing with Roman Catholic leaders; today Lent, Ash Wednesday, and the sacred Catholic ritual of the Stations of the Cross have become popular among “Protestants.” In those days, Christian youth were mostly being entertained in their fellowships; now they are being led into emergent contemplative and social gospel ideas. Then, the cults were making headway; today cultic teachings abound throughout Christendom. Then, “Christian” psychology was infecting the church; now, that pseudo-science has contaminated “biblical” counseling. Bible studies (where the Bible was actually studied) and prayer meetings were then rare; currently, books by popular Christian authors have displaced Scripture completely, and prayer has turned into “Lord, give me…” sessions. Back then, faith was being turned into a “force”; today, rare is the Christian who can tell you what biblical faith even is. False prophets used to be found primarily on “Christian” TV; now they proliferate on bestseller lists and head up prosperous “non-profit” organizations. We used to see TV preachers encouraging greed; currently, they sell survival food that they promote through fear-mongering techniques.

We are in those days characterized by Scripture as ones in which the church “will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Tm 4:3). Discernment has all but disappeared. The only antidote lies in the Word—diligence in studying it, reading it, and obeying it by the Spirit.

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A Revival without Christ

Christ Becoming A Stranger Among Us?

David Wilkerson
The following is a prophetic warning from Azusa Street 75 years ago, concerning the dangers of a Christless Pentecost!

Frank Bartleman was an eyewitness to the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit in 1907 at Azusa Street, Los Angeles. He has been characterized as the Reporter of the Azusa Street Revival. Nearly 75 years ago, during the outpouring, he wrote a tract warning of a Christless Pentecost

He warned: “We may not hold a doctrine, or seek an experience, except in Christ. Many are willing to seek power in order to perform miracles, draw attention and adoration of the people to themselves, thus robbing Christ of His glory, and making a fair showing in the flesh. The greatest need would seem to be for true followers of the meek and lowly Jesus. Religious enthusiasm easily goes to seed. The human spirit so predominates the show-off, religious spirit. But we must stick to our text-Christ.

“Any work that exalts the Holy Ghost or ‘gifts’ above Jesus will finally end up in fanaticism. Whatever causes us to exalt and love Jesus is well and safe. The reverse will ruin all. The Holy Ghost is a great light, but focused on Jesus always for His revealing.

“Where the Holy Ghost is actually in control, Jesus is proclaimed the Head-the Holy Ghost, His executive.”

In another place, Brother Bartleman warned:

“The temptation seems to be toward empty manifestations. This does not require any particular cross, or death to the self-life. Hence it is always popular.

“We may not put power, gifts, the Holy Ghost, or in fact anything ahead of Jesus. Any mission that exalts even the Holy Ghost above the Lord Jesus Christ is bound for the rocks of error and fanaticism.

“There seems to be a great danger of losing sight of the fact that Jesus was ‘all in all’ The work of Calvary, the atonement, must be the center for our consideration. The Holy Ghost will never draw our attention from Christ to Himself, but rather reveal Christ in a fuller way. We are in danger of slighting Jesus – getting Him ‘lost in the temple,’ by the exaltation of the Holy Ghost and of the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus must be the center of everything.”

do not take Brother Bartleman’s warning lightly. The danger of a Christless Pentecost is very real today. I say to you it is possible to gather Spirit-filled people in one place, praising and lifting up their hands – and still have Christ walking among them as a stranger!

It’s true He said, “Where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.” (Matt. 18:20 NASB) But He can be in our midst as a stranger! Ignored, unrecognized – even by those who meet in His name! The Jews gathered every Sabbath in the synagogue to speak of His name, and to prophesy of His coming. They praised the name of the Father who promised to send Him. They spoke the Messiah’s name with awe and reverence. Then, when He came and walked among them – He was not recognized! He was a stranger to them!

Christ, a stranger in the midst of a Spirit-filled congregation? A stranger in the midst of those who speak His name – who worship the Father who sent Him? A stranger to those who sing His hosannas, who call Him “Lord, Lord”?

Yes! Absolutely yes! It is not only possible – it is happening among God’s chosen people today!

Let me show you three ways in which we are making Christ a stranger In our midst! May the Holy Spirit take away our spiritual blindness so we can once again see Him as He really is – LORD OF ALL!
I. We Make Christ A Stranger – By Giving The Holy Spirit Pre-Eminence Over Him!Christ, and Christ alone, must be the center of life and worship!

“And He is the head of the body, the Church: who Is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell…” (Col. 1:18-19 KJV)

“That in all things He might have the pre-eminence…” That is – distinguished and spoken of above all others. Having first place in all things. Not even the Holy Spirit is to be exalted above that name! The upper room must never overshadow the Cross! We dare not think of Christ as simply the one who sent the Holy Spirit. In other words, “Thank You, Jesus, for sending someone better.” Christ sent the Holy Spirit to reveal His own fullness within us.

When the Holy Spirit becomes the center of our attention, the church gets out of focus! The Holy Spirit descended upon Christ as He came out of baptismal waters, and the Father said of Him: “This is My beloved Son – In whom I am well pleased…” The Spirit descended bodily like a dove, but the focus was on the Lamb of God – who taketh away the sins of the world. Not the dove, but the Lamb!

Christ told His disciples of a coming Pentecost, when the Spirit would be outpoured for a single purpose: It was to be a power given to lift up the name of Christ! “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost Is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me… unto the uttermost part of the earth…” (Acts 1:8 KJV)

Jesus made it clear that when the Spirit comes He will not draw attention to Himself, but will focus on Christ’s words. He will exalt Christ.

“…when He, the Spirit of truth, is come… He shall not speak of Himself… He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show It unto you.” (John 16:13-15 KJV)

Jesus said, “He will show you My glory, My power, My Kingdom. He will remind you of all My words.” The primary work of the Holy Spirit is not fellowship, although He does bring believers together as one in Christ. It is not ecstasy. It is not simply to teach us an unlearned tongue. The Spirit has come to exalt Christ! To guide all mankind to the truth that Christ is Lord! It is not enough to say the Spirit has brought us close to each other – He must bring us closer to Christ!

The fullness of the Spirit is the fullness of Christ If you do not have a consuming love for Christ, you do not have a Holy Ghost baptism! Christ, the baptizer, sent the Holy Spirit to fire our souls over lost humanity, to get us out into the highways and hedges to reach the unsaved. To shake up our lazy lifestyles and get us to doing His work. The blessed Holy Spirit will be grieved, and finally withdraw, the moment men try to exalt Him above the Son of God! He will not permit His power to be abused by those who want only the gift and not Christ, the Giver!

What is a true Holy Ghost meeting? Is it where people all speak with tongues? Or where people are healed? Where saints jump for joy? Where saints are prophesying? More – much more than that! It is where Christ is being exalted, where His holiness pierces the soul, where men and women fall before His holy throne, broken, humbled – crying, “Holy, Holy.” The moving of the Holy Spirit is a moving closer to Christ, deeper in Christ, with a greater submission to His Lordship!
II. Christ Is Made A Stranger When People Praise Him, But Will Not Pray To Him!We praise a Christ to whom we will not pray! We have become a praising people, but not a praying people. For many of God’s people the prayer closet is a relic of the past. “Why ask God for what He has already promised? Just get hold of the promises and simply command deliverances!“We no longer want Christ as much as we want what He can do for us. We want an escape from pain and suffering. We want our troubles to vanish. And we are so caught up in our escape from pain, we lose the true meaning of the Cross. We refuse crosses and losses – no Gethsemane for us! No nights of agony! We don’t even know this suffering, bleeding, resurrected Christ!

We want His healing power. We want His promises of prosperity. We want His protection. We want more of this earth’s goods. We want His happiness. But we really don’t want Him alone!

The Church once confessed its sins – now it confesses its rights

How many of us would serve Him if He offered nothing but Himself? No healing. No success. No prosperity. No worldly blessings. No miracles, signs, or wonders. What if – onceagain we had to take joyfully the spoiling of our goods? What if – instead of clear sailing and problem-free living, we faced shipwreck, fears within and fightings without? What if -instead of painless living, we suffered cruel mockings, stoning, bloodshed – being sawn asunder? What if – instead of our beautiful homes and cars, we had to wander about in deserts in sheepskins, hiding in dens and caves? What if – instead of prosperity, we were destitute, afflicted, and tormented? And the only better thing provided for us was Christ?

Very few of God’s people pray anymore! They are too busy working for Jesus to talk to Him! Ministers especially have become so busy doing kingdom work, they have little or no time left to pray. There is time to visit, to build, to travel, time to vacation, to attend meetings, time for recreation, reading, counseling – but no time to pray!

Preachers who do not pray become promoters. They become frustrated building contractors. When they lose touch with God, they lose touch with their people and their needs. Preachers who don’t pray have egos that spin out of control. They want their own way. They substitute sweat for unction (anointing).

Evangelists who do not pray become stars, storytellers. They lack humility, so they manipulate crowds through emotional gimmicks. The cry of many pastors is, “Oh, God, where can I find an evangelist who doesn’t care about money, or who is not promoting something? One who can bring heaven down and make Christ real! Oh, God – give me a praying man to bring my congregation to its knees!” The shame of this generation is that we have too many talented men of God and only a few who have touched God in prayer.

There is even less praying in the congregation! I’m 100% for getting prayer back in our public schools! But that’s not God’s real problem! His problem is getting prayer back in our homes! His problem is to get His own chosen people to pray! And you are a phony if you fight for school prayer and neglect secret-closet praying yourself!

Do we pray? Oh, yes! When we need something. We have the formula down pat – “in the name of Jesus.” All we need Him for is to counter sign our petition checks before the Father.

I am weary of hearing people say, “This is such a busy age – I have no time to pray. I’d like to, but I don’t have time.” No! It’s not lack of time; it is a lack of desire. We make time for what we really want to do. Look at our Christian young people! Wasting hours of time playing Pac-Man, Galaxy War, goofing off, bored, restless, looking for some action! But no time to pray! No time for Jesus! Oh, God! Somehow! Some way! Get this generation on its knees. Not just the Lord’s Prayer, but a daily communion with Christ .

Our Savior, who has the care and concern for multiplied universes, has the time to pray just for you! He takes the time to intercede for you before the throne of God (Heb. 7:25), and you say you do not have time to pray to Him!

We work feverishly for a Christ we ignore. We will go anywhere, do anything, in His name. But we will not pray. We will sing in a choir. We will visit the sick and the prisoners. But we will not pray. We will counsel the hurt and needy; we will stay up all night to comfort a friend, but we will not pray. We will fight corruption! We will crusade for morality! We will stand up against nuclear weapons! But we will not pray!

Most of all, we don’t pray because we really don’t believe it works. Prayer is a bloody battleground! It is where victories are won! A place to die to self! A place where a holy God exposes secret sin! No wonder Satan tries to hinder prayer! A praying man sends a shudder through hell. That man or woman is marked because Satan knows prayer is the power that crushes his kingdom. Satan is not afraid of power-hungry saints, but he trembles at the sound of a praying saint!
III. Christ Is Made a Stranger In Our Midst – When We Want His Power More Than His Purity!Reader Harris, an Englishman and director of The Pentecostal League of Prayer, once challenged a congregation on this matter of power and purity. He said, “Those who want power, line up to my right. Those who want purity, line up to my left.” The congregation lined up 10 to 1 – for POWER!

In the book of Acts, Pentecost was synonymous with purity more than power. Peter told the council at Jerusalem what God did at the house of Cornelius, “God…giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us…purifying their hearts by faith…” (Acts 15:8-9 KJV)

Who is the man or woman of God who has power? Is it the one who can heal the sick and raise the dead? Is it the one who can best talk in tongues and prophesy? Is it the one who draws the most people and builds the greatest church? No! The one with the power – is the one with the purity! “…the righteous are bold as a lion… (Proverbs 28:1 KJV)

The prophet Malachi prophesied of a supernatural purge coming to God’s house.

“… the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple… but who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap. And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:1-3 KJV)

This is a dual prophecy. He speaks of Christ’s first coming, and also of His second! He will come again suddenly, as a thief in the night. But first, He will purify His Church.

We are not ready for the coming of Christ! Is this the Church triumphant? Covetous, divorcing, depressed, worldly-minded, grasping for materialism and success, competitive, lukewarm, adulterous, rich and increased with goods, unaware of spiritual blindness and poverty, pleasure-loving, recreation-minded, consumed with sports, politics, and power – is this the Church Jesus is coming for?Simply coping, filled with fear and anxiety, satisfied only to have good health and happiness?

My Bible says He is coming back for an overcoming Church! A Church without spot or wrinkle! A people whose affections are on things above! A people with clean hands and pure hearts. A people who are looking for His coming! A people with a “new Jerusalem state of mind.”

The question is no longer, “What can my faith get me? What miracle will He perform for me?” The question now is -“How shall I stand before Him? How shall I make it at the judgment?” “… who shall stand when He appeareth?” (Malachi 3:2 KJV)

The question is no longer, “How do! feel – how do! get happiness? How do I get the desire of my heart?”

The question Is-“Can I withstand that moment when I stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ? How can I withstand when I’ve lived so carelessly, so selfishly, so neglectful of His great salvation?” The central issue now has nothing to do with this world at all. At issue is-“HAVE I NEGLECTED CHRIST IN THIS MIDNIGHT HOUR?”

The purge is going to begin in the pulpit! “…He shall purify the sons of Levi…” (Malachi 3:3 KJV) God is going to accomplish that by “turning up the heat ” God isgoing to make things so hot, so fiery, so intense, God’s men will be driven to their knees! This isthe fire of the Holy Ghost! It isthe fire of persecution. It is the fire of tribulation. The fire of unbelievable hardships, ridicule, gossip, financial problems. He is going to shake everything that can be shaken! He is going to shake, and scrub, and burn, and purge – and purify!

No man or woman of God will escape the purging! God is determined to get all the dross and filth out of us. The purge will spread from the pulpit to the pew! Get ready, saints! God is getting ready to expose all sin, all adultery, all foolishness! The Holy Ghost is going to reprove us of sin. How can you play games when God puts you in His crucible and turns up the fire? Your Holy Ghost baptism is going to have some fire put to it now!

Malachi said-“…the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven: and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up…” (Malachi 4:1 KJV)

God also promises to bring down the strongholds of the enemy! He is going to once and for all let the devil and the world know who has the power!

If God is about to do all that the prophets predicted He would – WHAT A GLORIOUS FUTURE JUST AHEAD!

A purged, purified ministry!

A Church that God is calling back to repentance and holiness.

A people washed, cleansed – offering praises in true righteousness.

A revival among our young people! Drug strongholds coming down! Alchohol and divorce no longer prevalent among God’s people.

The sound of prayer-intercession!

A people of God who will discern between the holy and the unholy!

Everywhere, God’s people turning again to the Word.

A tested, tried people, once again devoted to the Person of Jesus Christ!

His Person being lifted up to draw all men to Him!

Christ no longer the stranger in our midst, but CROWNED – PRE-EMINENT!

A Pentecost that truly exalts the name and power of Jesus Christ, the Lord of all.

Scripture quotation(s) marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, ©The Lockman Foundation 1977.

Scripture quotation(s) marked KJV are from the King James Version.


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