Tag Archives: False Prophets and Teachers

AUTHORITY: Whose Authority Should A Believer Be Under?

                           

                 Authority: Whose Authority Should A Believer Be Under?

There is a strong movement amongst church and Para-church leaders to push professing Christians under the umbrella of a group or a “leader.” I believe that the scriptures do, with great clarity, point to submission to government entities as long as they are affirming values that are objectively good and are punishing evil. (Romans 13:1-7). We are also exhorted to submit to our brethren in accordance with the biblical model given to us by Jesus, Paul and Peter. Christ centered leadership does not lord authority over others, as Jesus Christ himself showed us by serving the sick and the poor and by washing his disciples’ feet even as he was about to be brutally executed by his enemies.

Many of the well-known Christian leaders of our day reject any type of scriptural examination of their teachings, claiming that, as David spoke of Saul, so we are not to touch (or question) God’s” anointed.” Fortunately, we have the great apostle Paul as an example of how a leader is supposed to respond to a flock that tests his teachings. In Acts 17:10-12, it is clear that the Berean church was highly esteemed…because they tested EVERYTHING Paul taught them with the scriptures. They were not rebuked or rejected by Paul for daring to test his teachings. Instead they were considered to be more noble than other churches for examining his words, and have been recorded forever in the canon of scripture for that very act. May we find leaders who feel the same way about honest men testing their teaching in the refining furnace that is the word of God.

It is a very good (and sadly, a very rare) thing to have mature and honorable people in our lives who truly believe and understand the word of God. I am a firm believer that when the Lord brings us such people, they should feel the freedom to use God-breathed scripture to correct, train, teach and even rebuke us…getting us back on the straight path to Jesus Christ. The word of God should always be our final authority, as it was for the noble Bereans, for it will endure long after this earth and it’s inhabitants burn away. (1 Peter 1:23-24).

I personally long to know men and women of honor and truth with whom I can share this journey to Jesus Christ…believers who have put aside the deceptive lies of this world: wealth, status, sex, power, constant recreation, and instead joyfully subject themselves to the only one who judges righteously…Jesus Christ. But as noted above, such believers are few and far between as the wickedness of this world flows like an open sewer into the body, destroying the hearts and minds of even the most sincere followers of Christ.

Below are several scriptures that set forth the biblical model of authority, warning us that we should be cautious when submitting to fallible men, and reminding us that Jesus alone is our final authority. The scriptures also illustrate that biblical authority should not look like temporal authority. Instead it should look … like Jesus. I encourage those who read this to do so with a Bible in hand. This is far from an exhaustive study, but it does attempt to capture the primary theme of the verses that address this issue.

Matthew 23:8-12

In this passage, Jesus instructed a large crowd that they should not call anyone teacher or master, for Jesus Christ alone is our master. He also warned them that they (and we) are not to call anyone father other than our Father God in heaven. Instead, whoever is greatest among us must be our servant and whoever exalts himself will be humbled. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus also emphasizes the fact that those in authority through Christ should be a servant, just as Jesus Christ came to serve mankind and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Luke 16:15

In this passage Jesus points out that what is highly esteemed by men is detestable in the sight of God.

Nowhere is the above statement truer today than in the church, where both leaders and laymen are enamored with the wealthy “Christian” businessman or the “Christian” celebrity athlete. Often authority and respect are erroneously given to a wealthy businessman not because their hearts and character have been tested with the refining fire of scripture, but because character is simply assumed because they have had temporal success. In my experience I have seen church leaders ignore the fact that many of these men have stepped on the necks of business partners – even ones who were struggling financially – to gain more power and wealth for themselves. Also, the fact that many of these men have often ignored or left behind wives and children as they built an empire for themselves that will soon burn away (Revelation 18:10-19), is forgotten, because in today’s church, cash and outward appearances are almost always king. Paul and Jesus, however, cared nothing for material wealth and had no place to rest their heads as they traveled from city to city on foot, in order to love and serve the poor with integrity. (See Paul’s thoughts on all things temporal: Favorite Scriptures #1: Paul’s Perspective On This Short Life (Philippians 3:7-14)) Are those in power in our spheres truly caring for the weak and powerless on a consistent basis as Jesus and Paul did? Not likely, because as much as it is talked about in our sanctuaries, it is rarely a significant item on the schedules of the men leading our churches since there is much fund raising and book writing to do.

John 2:24-25

Jesus did not entrust himself to men for he knew what was in men.

While Jesus was God, and was fully submitted to the Father while on earth, this statement by John makes it clear that we should be very cautious when trusting ourselves to others, just as Jesus was. Perhaps that is why Jesus, in John 14:26 (and 1 John 2:27) told us that the Holy Spirit, not rabbis or pastors, would teach us all things. We must all simply take the time to study the word of God ourselves, with the help of the spirit, and not delegate that duty to any man.

1 Corinthians 4:6

Do not think of man above that which is written.

This is an excellent verse, making it clear that Paul does not want any man to place him or any other elder above the scriptures. The word of God alone is our final authority, not man.

1 Corinthians 4:6

The head of every man is Christ

This unambiguous statement by Paul makes it clear that in Christ, men do not rule over men. Jesus Christ is our Lord and it is to him alone that we must give an accounting for our lives. Thus, we should get to know what is important to him straight from the fountain…avoiding the middleman where the fountain often becomes polluted.

2 Corinthians 1:24

In this verse Paul makes states that he did not want to have dominion over anyone else’s faith. He simply wanted to be a helper…a servant to his flock because each one of them, and each one of us, stand and fall based on our own faith.

In 2 Corinthians 11 and in Galatians 1, we also see that in both Corinth and Galatia, the people in the churches were easily submitting themselves to a different gospel and a different Jesus than the one Paul preached. Why? It was undoubtedly because they, unlike the Bereans, did not test what they heard from their leaders with the word of God. Even Jesus Christ himself used the word of God when he battled Satan in the desert after starving for 40 days. He could have easily come up with his own memorable and powerful phrase with which to hammer Satan. But Jesus Christ himself chose to use the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God in reminding Satan that, “It is written….” With those words, Satan fled.

Jesus and Paul both warned us, and Paul with tears, that we must be on guard, for many false prophets and teachers will arise from inside the church. These greedy and power hungry men lord their authority over the flock, and as Peter said, turn us into merchandise…a means to comfort, wealth, power and fame. I believe we can all say that we have seen far too much of that type of leadership in the body…some subtle and some not so subtle.

In Galatians 2, Paul also makes it clear how he feels about challenging authority if he believes that false practices or teachings are taking place. He did not mind challenging even the great apostle Peter – and in front of other believers. Peter was leading the church back into legalistic practices, some of which Peter himself ignored when it suited him. So Paul called him out in a very clear and direct manner, not demeaning Peter but calling the sin that was taking place sin, with no attempt to prop him up or protect him from what he had to face. Paul’s only desire was to honor and glorify God by making it known publicly that Peter’s actions were wrong and were infecting the body.

Neither Jesus nor Paul was a respecter of persons. They loved people but did not idolize them or place them on a pedestal. The scriptures are clear: only Jesus should be worshipped and treated as above criticism. Yet somehow today, some in the church feel that we should cover or down play the sins and false teachings of our leaders because it will hurt the body if they are exposed. Quite the opposite is true. There is nothing…nothing more beautiful than a good, strong leader in Christ owning up to his failures and being an example of humility and teachability to the brethren. That…is true power through the spirit of Jesus Christ.

It is also clear that Paul did not believe that he had to run every decision he made by other men. When he received his calling to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, he stated that he did not confer with flesh and blood before undertaking that commission. (Galatians 1:16). He, like Jesus, did not need to be told by fallible men what he knew the spirit was calling him to do. Is it wise to run important decisions by men we trust, who know the word and use it as their lamppost? Yes. But if there are no such men available, we are able to trust the word of God and the mighty Holy Spirit within us to lead us into all truth. (John 14:26, and 1 John 2:27).

Ephesians 5:21

Submit yourselves to one another in the fear of the Lord.

Again, Paul makes the point that in Christ, we who are growing towards maturity are not supposed to lord authority over each other. Instead we should mutually submit to the biblical wisdom and insight that our brothers and sisters have for us through knowing and fearing God. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “follow me as I follow Christ,” meaning follow him to the extent that what he is doing is truly following Jesus. We do not have to blindly submit to the worldly advice and insights given to us by our friends and fellow believers, for each one of us are ultimately accountable to the only one who judges justly.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

Paul states that he and his brothers put their faith, not in men, but in the gospel, seeking to please God who tries their hearts.

I love that Paul emphasizes throughout his letters, that we must remain aware, at all times, that it is ultimately Jesus Christ to whom we are accountable. We must constantly live in a state of godly fear and awareness of his mercy, power and majesty as we remain in him, bearing fruit to the glory of the Father.

1 Timothy 2:5

There is only one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

This is another scripture that states clearly and directly that we, as believers, are beholden to no man, but are instead personally responsible for our own faith and must communicate our sin, our troubles and our thanksgiving to Jesus Christ himself.

Similarly, Hebrews 4:15-16, reminds us that we have a high priest in the heavens who can relate to our infirmities since he himself was a man. Therefore, we can approach his throne of grace with boldness so that we may obtain mercy from him directly in our time of need.   Notice how there is no mention of going first to a pastor or brother. We all may, due to the sacrifice of Jesus’s body on the cross, approach him directly and with great confidence. Furthermore, Hebrews 12:1-3, tells us, eloquently and with great spiritual power, that we are to fix our eyes not on man…but on Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith who, for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. It is the Jesus of the Bible that we must focus or minds, our hearts and our eyes on, not man.

2 Timothy 2:15-17

In this passage Paul reminds Timothy that he has known the Holy Scriptures since he was a child, and that those scriptures are able to make him wise unto salvation. Paul goes on to tell him that ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and for instruction in righteousness so that he – and we – might be fully equipped for good works.

The lesson here is that, if I am to mutually submit to another for instruction, correction and reproof, those admonishments must come from the scriptures…and not from the mind and heart of a man.

Hebrews 13:17

In this passage, Paul tells us to obey those that have “rule” over us for they are accountable to God for our “souls.”

Based on how the words “ruler” and “soul” are used in both this passage and in Romans 13:1-7, and based on what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 23:8-12(discussed above), it appears that this passage is addressing temporal rather than spiritual authority. Regardless, the Berean church established with great certainty that examining those who posses the gift of leadership with the word is a noble thing.

1 Peter 5:1-3

Peter instructs the elders to feed the flock of believers rather than to lord authority over them. He also encouraged them to be good examples to the younger brothers and sisters.

1 John 2:20,27

We all have the anointing from God and “know all things,” so we “need not that any man teach” us since the anointing from God will teach us instead. These verses are similar to Jesus’ statements in Matthew 23:8-12 and John 14:26, which are discussed earlier in this writing.

1 John 2:20 and 27 directly address two key issues as they relate to authority in the church today. First, they establish, with certainty, that there are no longer any specially anointed men who are not subject to a careful examination with scripture. While we all have different gifts and we can learn from each other…everyone who is truly in Christ is personally anointed by God. Secondly, these verses remind each of us NOT to delegate our responsibility to learn about Jesus Christ to an authority figure. We all are to seek God ourselves while he may yet be found and we must test everything we hear from men with the word, lest we be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. (Ephesians 4:14).

There are many men and women today who are desperately trying to obtain power and wealth by declaring themselves (or by having their cohorts declare them) apostles and prophets of Christ. They expect all believers to get in line under their self appointed headship and to obey everything they teach, including many so-called revelations, which often contradict scripture directly. One of the best examples of the obvious false teachings of both the Dominionists/NAR and Bethel, is their false eschatology, which is the exact opposite of the clear teachings of Daniel and Revelation. In Revelation 13:7 and in Daniel 7:21, 7:24, 8:24, and 11:33, it is clear that believers are NOT going to retake the world to usher in Christ’s return. Instead, the saints will be defeated by the antichrist, and Jesus will take his revenge in his time and in his way. It is not about us and our fleshly desire to reign. It is about Jesus Christ and his perfect plan, which takes place in his perfect timing.

There truly is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ, our wonderful and precious high priest who gave his body and his blood for us…cold and naked on a hard wooden cross. This great and wonderful God has given us the gift of his Holy Sprit, which will indeed teach us all things as we seek him with all of our hearts. (John 14:26). We must reject the worship of proud, charismatic men and must instead invest our hearts in the one thing that we know is true…the unchanging, everlasting word of God. Then we will be able to understand God’s perfect love and his will for our lives.

EPILOGUE

If we do find faithful believers who are truly following the model of a Jesus centered life, as illustrated by the apostles, by all means follow them as they follow Christ. But…know the word for yourself so that you, like the Bereans, are equipped to test everything, and do not fall for clever sounding phrases and thoughts sprinkled with the name of Jesus and other Christian language. Submit to committed followers of Christ as they teach you God’s eternal word…but understand this: all men will fade away and die, like grass in the hot sun (1 Peter 24-25), but the word of God endures forever. When we stand before God at the end of days, with everything laid bare before him, he will ask us if we truly loved him with all of our hearts, and if we did, why didn’t we take the time to test the things we were taught and practiced with the scriptures since many courageous men were burned at the stake so that we could have it by our beds and on our electronic devices. I hope that we are all able to tell Jesus, with great boldness, that we did love him and that we were not fooled by the call from proud and deceitful men to listen to their interpretation of the Bible and ignore our own, through the Holy Spirit. Seek the Lord in truth and with great earnestness while he may yet be found. Time is short my brothers and sisters. Make the most of it while there is still daylight….

False Prophets and Teachers: Wolves Among Us

The Written Word: What Did Jesus, The Apostles, and the Psalmists say about the Eternal Written word of God?

Teachers, Preachers and Mammon: Money and the Ministry

Leadership In Christ: Responsibilities of Teachers, Leaders and Hearers of the word

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“Greater works than these shall he (we) do….” What is the meaning of this scripture?

 What Does the Scripture Mean: “Greater Works than these shall he do….?”  

 John 14:12

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.  John 14:12 (KJV)

Jesus Christ says, In Matthew 18:8-9, that if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away, for it is better to live this life maimed than to have two hands and two feet and to be cast into “everlasting fire.” If that wasn’t clear enough, Jesus goes on to state that even if one of our eyes is causing us to sin, it is better to pluck it out and throw it away than to have two eyes for this life, but to be cast into the fires of hell for eternity. In John 5:5-14, Jesus heals a man who had been infirm for 38 years, and after finding him in the temple a few hours later…said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” (John 5:14)

The point of the above passages seem to be that physical health – and even bodily wholeness – pale in comparison to having our hearts turned away from sin, and fixed instead on the eternal things of God. Jesus Christ, the maker of both heaven and hell (John 1:1-5; Matthew 25:41; Colossians 1:16), is telling all of us, in no uncertain terms, that we must focus our minds and our hearts on the things of God and not on temporal things, because ultimately, everything temporal…even our physical bodies, will burn in hell if we choose the short term pleasures of sin over the everlasting love and mercy of Jesus Christ.

When I consider the previously referenced passages in Matthew 18 and John 5, in light of John 14:12 (quoted at the top of the post), and the life of Paul, it seems clear that the “greater things” Jesus is referring to, are eternal things…. things that draw the hearts of men away from the temporary and deceitful pleasures of this world, and into a real and permanent relationship with the Living God, through the death and resurrection of our great Lord. By the mercy of Jesus, and by his great sacrifice, we have the ability to, as co-laborers with Christ, draw others away from that infernal place called hell, which God prepared for Satan and his angels, to an eternal kingdom…one that can never, ever be shaken…and to treasure that can never perish, spoil or fade. By the grace of God, this great and everlasting inheritance will belong to us – and to those we help lead to repentance, not by healing their bodies or by performing signs and wonders, but through boldly sharing the unfettered power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth….”  Romans‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭

The scriptures clearly testify that healing sick bodies and even raising people from the dead (which of course our omnipotent God can do through us if he so chooses), are small and temporary things in light of eternity. Jesus says that the angels in heaven cheer for even one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7), so how much more valuable is a life dedicated to “greater things” such as drawing others to the cross of Jesus Christ, opening up a door for them to eternity in heaven? While a life of relentlessly sharing the gospel message of Jesus Christ in gentleness and confidence through the power of the Holy Spirit will not make us rich or famous, we will be serving our great God, who is a consuming fire…and we will be fulfilling His first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-40) by loving both God and man.

EPILOGUE

I encourage myself first, and everyone who reads this brief article, to consider everything – every word and every action – in light of eternity. Any little thing we do for the Kingdom of God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is far greater than even the greatest thing we do for the flesh. May the Lord God, our merciful and loving Father, help us to see everything in this short life in light of the cross…until that glorious day when we meet Him in the air to be in the paradise of God…forever.

19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.  Luke 10:19-20

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.    1 Corinthians 4:18

Preach the Word boldly, and do not be ashamed of the gospel

Portraits of Jesus Christ in the word: Who Exactly is our God?

Prayer: How to Approach God and What to Expect From Him

The Written Word: What Did Jesus, The Apostles, and the Psalmists say about the Eternal Written word of God?

Money and the Ministry: Teachers, Preachers and Mammon

 

                      Money and the Ministry:Teachers, Preachers and Mammon 

5 …Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.6 …Godliness with contentment is great gain.7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.        1 Timothy 6

14 Behold… I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you…. 2 Corinthians 12:14-15

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

    Jesus did not specifically address how leaders in Christ should approach soliciting – or even accepting money from their flocks, but he did teach all of us that we are to live only for the kingdom of God. He was an excellent example to us of what this should look like since He gladly gave up his glorious throne in heaven (See, Ezekiel 1), to live a sweaty, dirty life of abject poverty and even homelessness while on this earth. (See, Matthew 8:20; and John the Baptist’s poverty as an example of those who are great in God’s eyes,Luke 7:24-28). He also taught all of us that we should be willing to lose everything in this life in order to gain an eternal inheritance, where moths and rust can’t destroy it and thieves cannot break in and steal it…for where our treasure is, there also is our heart. Matthew 6:19-21

Jesus was not even close to an average middle class man. As Isaiah 53 states, there was nothing about Jesus’ external appearance that would make him desirable to mankind – he had neither good looks nor material wealth. He was born in a manger, in a barn, and he toiled with his hands as a carpenter for most of His adult life. In Luke 7:24-28, when the people who travelled to hear Jesus speak, asked him about John the Baptist, the greatest man born of woman, Jesus commented on his poverty, and told them that they should expect to find those who wear fine clothes in king’s palaces, clearly implying that those who are called to preach the message of His eternal kingdom should have nothing in common with either the wealthy or the rulers of this dying world.

When Jesus sent his beloved disciples to spread the message of the kingdom, he sent them out with nothing but the sandals on their feet and the tunics on their backs. He did not instruct them to ask for money but to simply go…and spread the message of the kingdom of God, knowing that the people who met them would, by the Spirit, provide for their needs. He made them trust, not in themselves, but in the one who meets all of our needs so graciously (Matthew 10:7; Luke 10:7-8).

Philippians 2:5-11, also sets forth Jesus’ attitude towards His time on Earth very clearly. In this passage, Paul states that Jesus did not consider His equality with God something to be keep Him from fulfilling his earthly purpose, but instead, He let go of that glory, making Himself of no reputation, taking the very nature of a servant being found in human form…and He was obedient all the way to a cold and brutal death on a hard, wooden cross. Likewise, Paul in Philippians 3:7-14, explained his attitude toward earthly wealth by stating that, whatever on this Earth was to his profit, he considered a loss for the sake of Christ. In fact everything was a loss to him compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord, for whose sake he gladly lost all of the things that the world cherishes.  Paul’s attitude towards life and eternity

Unfortunately, our culture and traditions have placed huge burdens and expectations on our churches and pastors. Pastors often have large debts from seminary and thus, come out of school, expecting to make a living from their church position not only to pay off their debt but also to cover the needs and wants of a typical middle class American. Churchgoers also demand endless programs for themselves and their families, and expect the pastor, as CEO, to provide for all of their emotional and spiritual needs along with offering trendy(read: worldly) media and worship – along with a staff to cover every possible area of ministry. As a result, money is required…often a great deal of money, and  Jesus Christ often becomes minimized or even transformed into a character that has little or no resemblance to who he really was, is and is to come in the Bible. While there certainly are some committed, humble pastors who don’t allow money (and the false teaching that accompanies it) to ruin their churches, in America that seems to be the exception and not the rule.

Fortunately for us, Paul, as a great apostle and teacher, specifically addressed how he lived and provided for himself as he travelled the world with his companions, laboring to preach the kingdom of Jesus Christ, regardless of the personal cost to him…and thus, by example, showing us what to expect from those who teach and preach to us in this present age. Paul didn’t seem to think that preaching should be a full time job, as we will see later, but instead, he viewed the gospel as a sacred trust, given to him by God, and thus, he had no problem laboring with his hands daily as a tentmaker (Acts 18:1-3) in order to provide for himself as he preached. He was willing to suffer anything in order to avoid raising questions about the purity of his heart towards his little flock…as the following scriptures will illustrate.

In Acts 20:22-37, Paul speaks to the Ephesian elders regarding his upcoming trip to Jerusalem, which he knows will result in imprisonment, afflictions, and eventually death. Yet those facts did not deter him from making the journey, as he boldly stated that he did not count his life valuable, if only he may joyfully finish the ministry he has received from Jesus Christ – to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God. Paul then goes on to warn the elders about the ravenous wolves that will spring up from amongst the brethren in an attempt to draw them away from the truth.

Paul also reminded the elders that God is preparing an eternal inheritance for His children, and that he, as an example to them, did not seek any material things from anyone, but instead, provided for all of his own needs and also for the needs of others, and he did this with his own hands…for as he said (and lived!), it is more blessed to give than to receive. As Paul was preparing to leave them, the elders crowded around him, embracing him, weeping…and kissed his neck. This beautiful picture of deep love through Jesus Christ – from the sheep to their shepherd – can only come through that very rare breed of teacher who speaks and lives with a pure, loving, and selfless heart.

In Romans 16:17-19, Paul tells the brethren to mark those among them who cause divisions and offences, which are contrary to the teachings they received from the apostles. Paul noted that some people do not truly serve Jesus, but instead are actually serving their own appetites through smooth talk and flattery in order to deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. He then praises them for their obedience and tells them to be wise in what is good and innocent towards evil.  Paul was warning the Roman believers, as he so often did to the other churches, to be on guard for greedy, false teachers who openly and often subtley, lie in order to obtain improper benefits for themselves from amongst the brethren.

In 1 Corinthians 4:1-17, Paul states that he has been given a trust by God and thus, must be a faithful steward of that trust. He then goes on to say that God has called him to be a fool for the sake of Jesus, like a man at the end of a procession, condemned to die in the arena. He says that as Apostles, he and his companions are willing to be despised, to be poorly clothed, to be beaten, and to be homeless. He states that he labors with his own hands, being reviled and being treated as the trash and the filth of the world, if only to spread the message of the gospel.

Paul’s point in this passage is that his one and only goal is to further the kingdom of Jesus Christ, despite severe and unending difficulties, which at one point while in Asia (per Acts) even caused him to despair of life itself. Furthermore, in verses 16 and 17, he implores believers (us included) to follow him and his ways. The suffering Paul brought on himself by his selfless attitude may be great…but in his eyes, they are far outweighed by the eternal reward he will receive in heaven. May we, along with those who instruct us, live for that eternal reward rather than for the temporary pleasures of this life.

In 1 Corinthians 9:14-19 (see, also Matthew 10:10 and Luke 10:7-8), Paul states that, while those who preach the Gospel do have a right to have their basic needs met from their teaching, he personally rejected that right in order to keep his message pure and to avoid being a burden on his flock. He states that he preaches the Gospel free of charge so that he can truly be emancipated from all men, and can serve everyone freely, that he might win even more to Christ. Winning more souls to Jesus Christ was his only purpose. His goals were not to win others to Jesus while maintaining a decent lifestyle. Every single thing on this planet was a loss to him except for knowing Jesus Christ and spreading that eternal message to others (Philippians 3:7-14)…so that perhaps, some might be snatched from the flames.

In 2 Corinthians 2:16-17, Paul noted that he and his followers were not like those who peddled the Gospel for profit, but instead, they trusted in the sufficiency of God to provide for their needs. They knew that they were sent by God himself and thus, would be cared for as God saw fit, in obvious contrast to those who preached primarily as a vocation. Because of this trust, Paul said that he and his companions were able to share the Gospel sincerely and without questionable motives.

In the above passage, I believe that Paul is, at a minimum, questioning the whole concept of preaching the words of God as a job. Paul never even considered soliciting one cent for his ministry work, despite the fact that he had been entrusted with the gospel by a visitation from Jesus himself – and despite a miserable material existence. Paul also seems to question the sincerity of those who teach and preach the eternal kingdom of God for material reasons, and I think we can see why he feels this way based on what we see in many of our churches today. While preaching and teaching the word of God may take place…the flow of money to fund lifestyles and trendy programs often slowly and quietly becomes more important, and the Jesus of the Bible and the hard truths of the word, slowly fade into the distance….

In 2 Corinthians 11:7, when distinguishing himself from false prophets and teachers, Paul again notes that he preaches the Gospel free of charge. In 2 Corinthians 12:14-16, the very next chapter, Paul tells the Corinthians that he does not seek anything of theirs, but instead, he simply wants them! He then gives an excellent analogy of how a teacher should view his flock by stating that parents (him) ought to lay up treasure for their children (them), and not vice-versa. Paul did not want to be a burden in any way on those he viewed as his precious children. What a beautiful heart this man had toward those God gave him to teach and to love! May we find men like him on this Earth.

In Philippians 4:10-16, Paul, despite the fact that he has no possessions to his name except for the clothes on his back, tells the Philippians that he has no needs of any kind. He then teaches them a deep truth of the spirit… that he has learned to be content in all circumstances, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or living in want. He has learned to do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens him. In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Paul expounds further on that thought by communicating what a blessing it is to be entrusted by God with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because he views it as a blessing and as a sacred trust, he makes it clear that he did not share the message with guile, flattery, as a pretext for greed or for the glory of men. Instead, he shared the Gospel for one purpose – to honor God, and he did so with great gentleness – sharing not only the Gospel with them, but his life as well.

When writing to the Thessalonian church Paul states that, he, Silas, and Timothy worked day and night so as not to be a financial burden to any of them. He says that the three of them behaved with purity, righteousness, and blamelessness amongst the believers. Paul then seems to make the point that, because of the integrity with which they lived among the people, they were able to exhort, comfort, and command everyone with love and integrity, just as a father does a child. They had earned the trust of the Thessalonians by their selflessness. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, Paul, when again discussing his visit to Thessalonica, condemns idleness and reminds the church that he and his fellow apostles were not lazy while amongst them, but worked tirelessly, toiling night and day that they might not be a burden to any of them. He then notes that, while they did have the right to receive something for their preaching, they gave up that right as an example for others to follow. Clearly, preaching with pure motives, and teaching others to do the same was an important goal of Paul’s ministry.

Shouldn’t those who want to teach us God’s word follow the example of purity laid out by Paul and his companions, who cared only about glorifying Jesus and thus, constantly refused to take anything from the precious flock lest their heart and motives be questioned and the message be spoiled? Paul was willing to do whatever it takes, even if that meant toiling with his hands night and day, to make sure that the message of Jesus Christ was preached with purity and power through the Holy Spirit.

In 1 Timothy 6:5-10, Paul seems to define what a teacher should consider as sufficient if he desires to receive a material benefit from the preaching of the Gospel. (see also, Matthew 10:7 and Luke 10:7-8). In this passage, Paul tells Timothy to avoid corrupt men who equate financial gain with godliness, because godliness with contentment is great gain. He reminds Timothy that we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. He also tells Timothy that those who desire to be rich often fall into temptation, and into many foolish and harmful lusts, which drown men in ruin and destruction. In verse 8, Paul then advises Timothy that, if he and Timothy have food and clothing, they should be content. I think that is an excellent instruction to those who seek to obtain anything material from their flock, and it is consistent with what Jesus said to his disciples when sending them out in Matthew and Luke (per the above citations).

In Titus 1:7-13, Paul, when describing what an overseer in Christ should be like, states that such a man should be blameless as a steward of God, hospitable, full of sound doctrine, and not greedy for dishonest gain. He notes that many deceivers, who must be silenced, subvert whole households by teaching for dishonest gain. Those people should be rebuked sharply so that they may be sound in the faith.

Peter addresses the issue of money and discipleship as well. In 1 Peter 5:1-5, Peter exhorts the elders of the church to shepherd the flock of God eagerly and willingly, and not for dishonest gain. He then teaches them not to lord their authority over the people, but instead to be examples to the flock, so that when Christ, the Chief Shepherd appears, they all will receive a crown of glory that will never fade away. Peter, like Paul, was reminding the church to focus on eternal rewards, and not on short-term temporal gain, lest the flock sense greed and reject the message of Jesus.

In 2 Peter 2:1-3 and 14-18, Peter warns the believers that many false prophets will appear blaspheming the way of truth and in their greed will exploit them with deceptive words. He goes on to state that these false prophets entice unstable souls, and that their hearts are trained in the ways of greed. They speak arrogant words of vanity, enticed by the lusts of the flesh and by depravity. We all need to heed Paul’s warning, and be on the lookout for this type of teacher by testing every sentence our leaders speak, and every demand they make, with the unchanging, everlasting word of God.

In light of the scriptures referenced above, and especially in the face of Paul’s willful and severe deprivations, shouldn’t we all be asking why so many of our pastors seek middle class lifestyles through the money they receive from their flocks? Aren’t they supposed to be teaching us (and themselves) to seek eternal rewards instead of storing up earthly possessions? Why then do they refuse to follow or even acknowledge the examples of Jesus and Paul, and take little or nothing from their disciples?

Clearly, scripture states that the apostles should be content with food and clothing if they take anything from their churches, but Paul refused even that! Perhaps the large buildings and the fancy programs should be abandoned and pastors should consider taking a job full time elsewhere, lest they become a burden on their flock, or worse – slowly become greedy polluting and weakening the gospel of Jesus Christ to suit their own needs and the itching ears of their congregations. Perhaps meeting in the homes of the flock, and redefining the role of pastor in order to meet the biblical example of a true church might be a radical, yet appropriate option. This would require a huge change in expectations on both the church and the pastor and will require each person to use their gifts more actively, rather than have one or two people up front doing all of the teaching, sharing, and shepherding.

The key problems that arise when money becomes an integral part of a “church” are that many pastors inevitably end up giving undue influence to wealthy donors who may or may not have good character in Christ, and/or allow false teaching to take root, in order to draw in more people who will be attracted to the worldly message which is often shrouded in Christian language. The unspoken hope is that the new attendees will start giving money as well, thereby perpetuating the worldly programs and of course, the ever increasing salaries.

Slowly and quietly money starts to breed corruption in the church, but Paul made certain that where ever he went there was never, ever even the slightest question regarding his motives for sharing the message of salvation through Jesus. Paul adored his flock, and he gave up everything to make sure that they knew they were loved. That is why, as his ministry wound down and he began his long march toward death, the elders in Ephesus embraced him lovingly, kissing him, and weeping knowing that the next time they would see him would be in the eternal kingdom he preached about so passionately.

While I certainly don’t have it all figured out, I do know that we, in the west, have ignored the biblical model of church and instead have largely followed more of a business model in establishing churches, despite the clear contradiction between that model and the church form as set forth by those who established the church in the years immediately after Christ ascended. Let us demand the same type of selflessness and humility from those who preach and teach us as Paul and his companions exhibited, and as church goers let us release our pastors from the unnecessary burdens we place on their shoulders so that we can all work together as a healthy and complete body of Christ. May our congregations begin to model those of the early churches, where large buildings, wealthy pastors, cool and attractive worship leaders, big stages and flashy programs were absent, but…the sharp and flashing double-edged sword of the word was relentlessly preached.

EPILOGUE

In Acts 9:31, Luke notes that the early church grew when the people were…edifying each other and were walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I cannot say that I have seen many churches that are edifying each other in the truth of the gospel and are walking in the fear of the Lord. Instead, what seems to be popular these days, in order to encourage growth(and donations) all while earning  the acceptance of the worldly masses, is preaching a weak, temporal success oriented message, with eye catching media and worship that mirrors the ways of this wicked world. The message of “Jesus Christ and Him crucified,” is rarely if ever heard, while false, “positive” teaching and so-called “prophecies” are omnipresent. Every one wants a reputation…either as a healer or as a prophet. Yet Jesus was of no reputation and Paul considered his status as jewish royalty (Philippians 3:4-5) rot.False Prophets and Teachers: Wolves Among Us

When I think of walking in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, I think of living in a place of trust with God – not trying to squeeze every dollar possible out of every attendee, and most certainly not watering down the word of God to attract more people. As Jesus Christ said, when He is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself. May we lift up Jesus Christ as He truly is in the word, and nothing else, regardless of the financial cost.

The Deceitfulness of Wealth: Your Best Life…Later Part 1

Ecumenicism: Praying With People from Other Religions

False Prophets and Teachers: Wolves Among Us

 

“…God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1John 1:5b)

“Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.”(Luke 11:35)

“An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign…. “ (Matthew 12:39)

“…I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119:128b)

A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9)

 “…Rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)     

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

“Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God….” (2 Cor. 10:5a)

Prove all things….” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

“For…the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain…. “( Zechariah 10:2b)

“Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.”  (Jeremiah 14:14)

In Acts 20:29-35, Paul warned the Ephesians elders, as he was preparing to leave them for what he knew would be the last time, that, after his departure, ravenous wolves would come in among them, not sparing the flock. Even from amongst the brethren, evil men would arise speaking perverse things in order to draw disciples away from the truth of Jesus Christ, and toward themselves.  Paul was so concerned about these false teachers that he reminded them that he had been warning them, with tears, about these deceivers for 3 years. He then commended the elders to God and to the word, and pointed out that he was not greedy and coveted no man’s possessions …but simply labored to teach them all things about Jesus. And here we are 2,000 years later, and the ravenous wolves…are here.

It seems that only a few believers have taken the time to truly, deeply, exhaustively study the scriptures for themselves. Most believers only know a few familiar passages, such as those focused on by their pastor, their mentor, or their family. All of us need to know for ourselves exactly what the unchanging, everlasting word of God says in full. The scriptures truly are the voice of God to his people, and, as Paul says, they are living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Heaven and earth will pass away – as will men – but the words of God will never, ever pass away (Matthew 24:35, 1 Peter 1:23-25). If we devote our time and energy to the scriptures, Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things, will guide us into all truth and will remind us of everything that Jesus said (John 14:26, John 16:13, 1 John 2:27). Each of us should ask the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts each time we pick up the Bible so that when we read it and meditate on it, the word of truth will become more than just wise sayings or stories about men  – but instead will be a sharp two-edged sword that pierces our hearts, minds, souls and spirits.The word is truth

One of the most important reasons for learning the scriptures for ourselves is so that we are not blown “to and fro by every wind of teaching”, or by every new evangelical trend (Ephesians 4:14-15). Once we know the scriptures, Paul says that we will have the ability to test and approve God’s perfect will (Romans 12:2) and thus, we will know if what we are being taught actually lines up with the word, or instead are simply wise principles or traditions and philosophies invented by men to deceive(Colossians 2:8). So much of what is being taught these days seems to be motivated by greed, a desire for power/control, or for the love of fame and celebrity. Because of this, we must all demand that every single word being taught to us lines up perfectly with scripture. Jesus Himself warns us several times to watch out for false prophets. He specifically points out that such men(and women) might not be obvious to most people. Instead, they are ferocious wolves…hiding in sheep’s clothing. By their fruit we will recognize them (Matthew 7:15-16)…..IF we know the scriptures ourselves, and exercise discernment by carefully testing every spirit( 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, and 1 John 4:1). Judging Righteously

Jesus goes on to tell his disciples that not everyone who uses His name will be saved, but only those who obey Him…not as works, but as evidence of salvation. Many will say to Jesus when he comes to take His children home that they prophesied, drove out demons, and performed miracles in His name. But He will say, “Away from me you evil doers! I never knew you.” (Mathew 7:21-23). Therefore, we must test the teachings and spirits we receive against the eternal written word of God, no matter how much we love the teachers we hear or the churches we attend. If they don’t line up with the Bible, we must address it directly, and if the elders do not listen, then we must turn and walk away from them…and never, ever go back – for what do temples of idols have in common with the temple of God? Come out from them and be separate saith the Lord. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).Biblical separation

For me to trust a teacher or self-proclaimed prophet or apostle, I need to see clear obedience to the words of Jesus Christ along with true Christ centered humility. If anyone calls themself a prophet, an apostle, a Seer or any other such name, I would argue that they have already failed the humility test.  Why the title? Simply be what Christ called you to be. Most importantly, every single teacher or leader in Christ needs to preach the pure Gospel message. This message says: believe that Jesus is who he said he was, repent, accept the mercy he has freely offered us through his death and resurrection for our sins, forgive everyone from your heart, obey the commands of Jesus and the Apostles, love, exercise self control, and seek holiness – for without holiness no one can see God (Hebrews 12:14). Every message that is not centered on scripture and the clear messages contained therein, must be ignored.Sin, Repentance and the Cross of Christ

Anyone who comes in the name of Christ, but has a spirit that is not in accord with the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, must be rejected. Even the great Paul did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom. He resolved to know nothing while he was with the people of God, but Jesus Christ and him crucified(1 Corinthians 2:2). He came in weakness and fear and with much trembling. His message and preaching were not with wise and persuasive words so that the faith of his flock would not rest on men’s wisdom (his own) but on God’s power (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)…and in Galatians 2, when he saw that Peter was teaching legalism, he did not hesitate to confront him publicly. Why? Because the truth of God is all that matters, and not the reputations of men. What is righteous judgement?

Why aren’t more teachers and preachers like that today given the fact that they have Paul’s words to instruct them? Shouldn’t we expect our teachers to have that same spirit as Paul? Shouldn’t those truly clothed in Christ understand that the message of Jesus isn’t about personality, appearance, temporal power, wealth, education or wisdom? So few seem to understand this – be it teachers or the flock. As a result we are all led astray by men, and are enraptured by the temporal. Paul made certain that no one made that mistake with him.

In Christ’s kingdom, external appearances count for nothing. Love, obedience, and humility through Jesus Christ are everything. When Jesus talks about the end times in Mathew 24, he states that many will turn away from the faith and betray and hate each other. Many false prophets will also appear and will deceive many people (Mathew 24:10-13). The statements of Jesus in both Matthew 7 and Matthew 24 regarding the fact that many who think that they know Him (and are allegedly performing all kinds of miraculous signs on his behalf) don’t actually know Him at all, and that many false prophets will appear deceiving many, is frightening really, and makes it even more clear that we need to stay away from the loud, charismatic, signs and wonder oriented teachers and churches. Instead, we need to allow the gentle and powerful Holy Spirit to teach us all things as we diligently study the scriptures and live in the world (John 14:26).

As we seek fellowship in Christ, we need to find a church or body that strictly conforms to the teachings of Jesus, Paul, John, Peter, and James. That is the only way we can be sure that it is of God, since, as Peter said, “All men are like grass and their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fade…but the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25. Jesus also said…“Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35.

In Romans 1:5, Paul teaches us that he received grace and apostleship, not to make everyone rich and happy through Christ, and not to perform healings or signs & wonders but… to call people from among the gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. That is the message that we all desperately need to hear. It doesn’t tickle our ears, but it speaks a deep truth from God to our hearts. Paul constantly preached the Gospel of Christ and emphasized love, holiness, obedience, and self-control. He told us to flee sin and he encouraged us to live – not for the things of this world – but for the unseen, everlasting kingdom of God. Money and Ministry: What does the Bible say?

Paul encouraged the church by stating that the One who called us, God Himself, is faithful and will help us make it to the very end. As he finishes this letter,  Paul, in Romans 16:17-20, warns the church in Rome to watch out for those who cause divisions and act in a manner that is not in agreement with Paul’s teaching. Such people are flatterers and smooth talkers who feed their own appetites and deceive the minds of the unsuspecting. This was a constant theme in Paul’s preaching. In 1 Corinthians 10:14 and 21-22, Paul exhorts the church to flee idolatry, and he reminds them that they cannot drink from the Lord’s cup and from the cup of demons. They  cannot be partakers at the Lord’s table and at the table of demons…lest they provoke His jealousy.

Clearly, every activity we participate in at church or anywhere related to spiritual activity MUST line up with the word of God, lest we foolishly, and dangerously provoke the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul states that we must demolish every argument and pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we are to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. Paul is demanding that we take an offensive approach in testing each and every message that we hear and every action we undertake, to make sure that it clearly aligns with the eternal scriptures given to us by God.

Paul, James, Peter, and John all warn us about false prophets and, like Jesus, Paul taught us that such men will be deceitful, hiding their true intentions. Just as Satan does, they will masquerade as angels of light, pretending to be pastors and teachers…bearing new and clever spiritual “truths”. 2 Corinthians 11:3-15, states that, just as Eve was deceived by the serpents cunning, our minds too may be led astray from our sincere devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus that we preach, or if you receive a different Spirit than the one you received, or a different Gospel …be wary. Paul also noted in this passage that he preaches the Gospel free of charge, clearly implying that those who seem money centered (whether by coming out with a constant parade of books/dvd’s or by preaching give-to-prosper) almost certainly have bad motives – very bad motives. (**see link 4 paragraphs up re money and the ministry).

As 2 Corinthians says, false apostles are deceitful workmen pretending to be apostles of Christ, and no wonder for Satan himself pretends to be an Angel of Light. It is not surprising that his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness and their end will be what their actions deserve. 1 John 4:1 makes it clear that we are to always test the spirits. If the spirit is not clearly of Jesus Christ, then flee from it…. with no turning back, no matter what any man says.

In Galatians 1:3-10, Paul begins his address to the Galatians by reminding them of the true Gospel – that Jesus gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of God the Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. He then states that the Galatians are so quickly abandoning the One who called them and instead are turning to a different gospel – which is not really a gospel at all. Some imposters were throwing them into confusion and were trying to pervert the true message of the Gospel. Paul then says that, if he or even an Angel from Heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached (meaning the initial, pure Gospel Paul preached) let him be eternally condemned. He then makes the same statement again, emphasizing that anyone who preaches a false gospel, be it human or an angel, should be condemned to hell forever. Paul then says that he is not trying to win the approval of men by bringing this message. Instead, as a servant of Christ, he is trying to please God and God alone.

Clearly, Paul knew, even back then, that the simple gospel message was not popular and would offend many, especially those who profit from their preaching. This certainly seems to be the case today as well, where the church, in large part, seems to be chasing unbiblical spiritual experiences along with material prosperity, rather than seeking the glorious face of the living God as perfectly and beautifully revealed in his everlasting word.

In Ephesians 4:11-15, Paul states that God made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists in order to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ might be built up until we all reach unity and maturity, obtaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men and their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love we will, in all things, grow up into Him who is the head, which is Christ.

The aforementioned passage  indicates that God raises up leaders to prepare us for good works in Christ so that we might be encouraged until we reach maturity. Unfortunately, this is not what I am seeing in most of our churches today. Instead, our church leaders seem to be ignoring the Gospel message of love and repentance through Jesus Christ, and instead are drawing people in with signs and wonders, trendy worship bands, a charismatic pastor, a false message of inclusiveness, prosperity preaching, bestselling self-help books or with a large, fancy building with great amenities. All of these things will burn to ashes when Jesus comes. But the word of the Lord endures forever….

Colossians 2:6-8 tells us that, just as we received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue in him, built up in strength and overflowing with thankfulness. Verse 8 tells us that we need to see to it that no one takes us captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human traditions and the basic principles of this world rather than Christ. Our teachers should be building us up in Jesus Christ, teaching us to continue in what we received: mercy, love, repentance, and peace. Is that what we are hearing from the teachers we respect or are we simply hearing the worldly principles and philosophies of success, happiness and wealth cloaked in Christian language, while actual scripture and the gospel message of the cross of Jesus Christ, is minimized, manipulated, or ignored?

Colossians 2:18 warns us not to let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels, to disqualify us from the prize. Paul says that such a person goes into much detail about what he has seen and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. That is a highly relevant scripture, because today many “teachers/prophets/apostles” are bragging about their unverifiable and highly unbiblical encounters with angels and spirits despite the fact that Jesus specifically commands his disciples not to rejoice in the fact that spirits are subject to them. Instead Jesus wants them to simply and humbly rejoice in the fact that their names are written in the book of life (Luke 10:20).

Countless verses  warn us to avoid all communication and contact with “familiar spirits” aka demons disguised as angels or spirit guides. Anyone who brags about encounters with angels or the bizarre miracles they have witnessed should be ignored and discredited as teachers. Teachers are held to a very high standard according to Paul and James. It is a high yet humble calling. Paul himself said that the only thing he bragged about was the cross of Christ, through which he was crucified to the world and the world to him. Unfortunately, people – leaders – who are doing exactly what Paul warned against in Colossians 2 – are taking root and are flourishing all over America, and America is drinking in and spreading this sickness throughout the world. People are hurting and hungry, but they are eating the wrong food. Instead, we must lift up the true, pure message of Jesus Christ as illustrated in the gospels, along with the teachings set forth in the epistles…and from everything else we must flee.

2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, states that the secret power of lawlessness is already at work in the world. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the works of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but who have delighted in wickedness.

I strongly believe that, in this present age, many, many “Christians” are delighting in the wickedness of these false and demonic teachers and the feelings they get from the false signs and wonders…rather than loving the simple truth of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that counterfeit miracles are allowed by God to test our hearts. Are we in love with the supernatural phenomenon that we are seeing and experiencing, or are we in love with the one who was from the beginning, Jesus Christ, and his commands to repent, forgive, love, obey, flee from sin, suffer for truth, persevere, and be holy?

2 Thessalonians 2 goes on to encourage the body of believers to stand firm in the faith, to continue to believe in the truth and to hold on to the teachings that Paul gave us. In 1 Timothy 1:3-7, Paul commanded certain men not to teach false doctrines, nor to dedicate themselves to myths or genealogies, which promote controversies rather than God’s work, which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. Paul then states that some have wandered away from the faith and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers but don’t know what they talk about or what they so confidently affirm. 1 Timothy 4:6-10 says essentially the same thing. I see many, many teachers these days who do exactly what this passage warns against. They don’t know the word at all, but simply pull verses out of context to fit their corrupt theology which brings in the masses(who also don’t know the word) and builds their bank accounts.

I love that Paul says that the goal of stopping false doctrine is love. It is not love to allow destructive lies to flourish in the body and possibly drag the ignorant or foolish to an eternity in hell where the worm doesn’t die and the fire is never quenched (Mark 9:48). As 1 Timothy 4:16 says, watch your life doctrine closely. Persevere in them, for doing so you may save both yourself and your hearers. Also, Romans 14:22b states that we should be careful about the things which we approve, lest they condemn us. We are all called to watch our lives and doctrines closely. We are told to be careful about what we approve so that we don’t lead other people astray. We are instructed to do these things not only for our own salvation, but also for the salvation of those who hear us and trust us.

2 Timothy 4:2-8, instructs us to preach the word, and to be prepared to correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. For a time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires they will gather around themselves a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn away from truth and turn aside to myths. But we are to keep our heads clear and are to discharge all the duties of an evangelist. This passage then goes on to say that, at the end, when Jesus comes to judge the world, we, like Paul, should all be able to say…I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

2 Peter 2:1-10, affirms what Paul said in Acts 20,  that there will be false prophets among the believers. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, with some even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them. Many will be deceived by them and will follow their shameful ways bringing the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit us with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has been hanging over them and their destruction has not been sleeping. If God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, then the Lord also knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the Day of Judgment.

I believe that the above scripture captures what is going on today in many popular churches. So many of these false apostles, prophets and teachers are making hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars through offerings, conferences, creating prophetic teaching centers, by claiming false revelations allegedly coming directly from God, and by selling book after book after book. They are, without a doubt, bringing the way of truth into disrepute by ignoring the Gospel of Christ and the teachings of the apostles, and instead are focusing on their “power” as manifested in unbiblical signs, revelations and wonders (where is insane laughter, barking like a dog, flailing on the ground when not possessed by a demon, fortune telling, shaking uncontrollably, calling the Holy Spirit sneaky and silly(Jen Johnson, Bethel),receiving gold fillings, having out of body experiences, being caught up in a glory cloud, etc. etc. etc. in the Bible?? Nowhere, but it is in Hindu India, and at many of your favorite “churches”. Watch Youtube videos on the Kundalini Spirit and you will see exactly what is going on in the American charismatic movement). These wicked men and women, unlike Paul, do not preach Jesus Christ, but instead preach themselves and for dishonest gain( 2 Corinthians 4:5).

In 1 John 4:1, we are told not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 John 1:7-11, also states that many deceivers have gone out into the world, many of whom do not acknowledge Jesus’ coming in the flesh. We are then instructed to watch out that we do not lose what we have worked for by following such people. John states that anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God. But whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to us and does not have the true teaching of Christ, we should not take him into our house. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.

I  love how, in 2 John 1:4, the apostle states that it gives him great joy to find that some of his children are walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. Apparently, the number of those who were seeking the truth, even back then, was not very large, so he expressed great joy when he found some who did remain faithful.

In Jude 1:3-4 we are commanded to contend for the faith. Jude then specifically states that certain men, whose condemnation was written about long ago, have secretly slipped in among the believers. They are godless men who have changed the grace of our God into a license for immorality. In verses 18-21, Jude states that, in the last days, there will be scoffers who follow their own ungodly desires. They are men who divide us, who follow mere natural instincts and who do not have the Spirit. But we are told to build ourselves up in a most holy faith and to pray in the Holy Spirit and to keep ourselves in God’s love as we wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring us eternal life. We are told to be merciful to those who doubt and to snatch others from the fire and save them. We are instructed to avoid even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

How do we do all of this? How do we keep the faith? How do we test the spirits? How do we keep from getting manipulated? We learn the eternal word of God for ourselves, without relying upon men to teach us. We pray that, through the Holy Spirit, the eternal truths of the scriptures will burn into our hearts, minds, and souls so that false teaching will never, ever pull us away from God. Jesus promises, in John 14:26, that the Spirit will teach us all things and will remind us of everything Jesus said.

The teachings of Jesus Christ, Paul, John, Peter, Jude and James are more than adequate to instruct us forever. Anything that does not clearly align with the teachings contained in the Holy Scriptures must be ignored. And by the grace of God, we will have the confidence and love to walk in humility, peace, and strength, pulling those we know and love out of the flames, so that perhaps we can help set them on the path to eternity with the one and only God. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of God the Father.” Hebrews 12:1

Revelation 2:2 This…is what God loves, and it is why he commended the church of Ephesus:

2I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars….

 

Kenneth Hagin possessed? You decide

Excellent “holy” laughter article and videos

IHOP’s cultish and demonic activities

Bill Johnson: False Teacher

More Heidi Baker Wickedness

 

***Additional verses defining what prophecy actually is, and on false prophets and teachers:***

*Please watch this video thru the 3 minute mark. It shows what can only be reasonably described as a demon, being imparted into a young man who is quietly praying at Bethel: An Impartation of darkness

21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.  1 Corinthians 10:21

Deuteronomy 18:9-22 , states that if a prophecy is truly from God, then it is true 100% of the time. The Holy Spirit doesn’t make mistakes. It also says that, in Old Testament times, death was the punishment for false prophecies. I bet prophecy was taken a lot more seriously back then! This long passage also forbids all kinds of wicked spiritual practices which are seen in the occult, and in a few very influential churches today.

Who did “readings” in the Bible? Not the Apostles. Demons, however, gladly did. In Acts 16 the slave girl “sees” who and what Paul is by an evil spirit, and it so disturbed Paul, that he cast the demon out of her. Also, demons continually told Jesus that He was the son of the Most High God, when one else knew it. So…if you are getting “read” or are getting your future told, just realize what kind of spirit you are likely dealing with.

Revelation 9:10b also says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Are the prophecies you are hearing the testimony of Jesus…or are they more like what was going on in the passages from Jeremiah and Ezekiel below:

Jeremiah 23:9-45 and Ezekiel 13 speak of lying prophets who only speak vain, happy things that they make up because the people want to hear them. That sounds like what is going on today. Revelation 19:10b says, very clearly, that the spirit of prophecy is the “testimony of Jesus,” not silly, happy positive thoughts made up by our own vanity to please ourselves and the flesh of others.

Acts 2:1-15, is one of the most misrepresented scriptures in the Bible by false. In this passage, the Holy Spirit comes upon the Apostles, causing them to speak in actual foreign languages that men from other countries understood. This lead many to think they had been drinking, despite the fact that there is no reference of any kind to them falling on the ground or staggering like drunks. Many assume that they were falling on the ground like drunk fools because it corresponds with the demonic manifestations they have seen and taken part in, and which they love and attribute to the Holy Spirit.     …And what did the Apostles say in these foreign languages? They did not foretell the future or speak false positive messages over people. No. They spoke about….”The mighty works of God.” That, my dear brothers and sisters, is the spirit of prophecy per Revelation 19:10b. Uneducated fisherman, boldly proclaiming the mighty works of God, early in the morning…and in foreign languages certainly could give rise to thoughts of drunkenness.

Acts 4:31 is very similar to the above passage. In this verse, the apostles are gathered together praying when the place where they were meeting was shaken by the power of God…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Did they writhe around on the floor, bark like a dog, see a glory cloud or gold dust, or receive gold fillings? No. They “spoke the word of God with boldness.” It was all about the word of God and not the “power” of men.

2 Corinthians 4:5 states, For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and us as your servants for Jesus’ sake…..This is quite the opposite of the current move amongst many evangelical teachers to label themselves apostles, prophets and healers. They preach themselves…with just a little hint of Jesus Christ, and then write best-selling books and jet across the world. As 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 says, Paul preached in weakness and fear, and with much trembling, so that the message would not depend on his gifts…but on God’s power.

1 Timothy 5:22 states that we are not to lay hands on anyone suddenly…. I believe the point of this verse is, that men, in their pride, often think they have a great gift to impart to everyone by the laying on of their hands. No one should touch you unless YOU know that they are men of enduring Godly character, lest they put something in you that is not of God. I have seen video of a woman lay hands on someone at Bethel church, and that person, who was praying quietly, immediately fell to the floor writhing, in what looked like demonic bondage and physical pain. Jesus didn’t put those things in to people…he cast them out and sent them to hell!!

1 Timothy 6:1-6 states that we should not listen to corrupt men who teach that financial success equals godliness.  Contentment in all things, as we love and quietly await our eternal reward, is true godliness.

Titus 1:10-11,16 talks about how men will teach false doctrines intentionally knowing that it will lead to riches. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny him.

2 Peter 1:21 says that all true prophecies come not from the will of man, but from the Holy Spirit….Therefore,  prophecy can’t be taught and it isn’t just some positive or encouraging thoughts that we speak to someone. It is a lie unless the Holy Spirit speaks God’s words through you – not your positive thoughts or my positive thoughts with prophetic lingo surrounding it. I don’t want to stand before the glory of the living God and have him ask me why I said i was speaking for him…….do you?

2 Peter 3:17-18 says that we should not be led astray by the deception of the wicked but should grow in the grace of the Lord.

Jude 1:3-4 says that we are to contend for the faith against liars who preach that God’s grace is a license for immorality….Any one who preaches that we are free to sin because of God’s grace needs to read the verses set forth in my Grace, Obedience and Salvation: The Narrow Road writing.

On Forgiveness:

Forgiveness: To The Merciful, God Shows Himself Merciful

On Wealth:  The Deceitfulness of Wealth: Your Best Life…Later Part 1, and

Teachers, Preachers and Mammon: Money and the Ministry

On the eternal power of the word of God:

The Written Word: What Did Jesus, The Apostles, and the Psalmists say about the Eternal Written word of God?

Who exactly is our God? Portraits of Jesus Christ in the word: Who Exactly is our God?

The Reality of Hell: Hell and the Wrath of God-Almighty

Ecumenicism: Praying With People from Other Religions

Catholicism and the Worship of Mary

What Is Important to God? Instructions For Life from Paul and the Apostles