Word Faith ; the next layer of error…NAR pt 4

 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.( 2 Peter 2:1-2)

The current apostasy that has insinuated itself thoroughly into the Evangelical and Pentecostal church, is the result of a series of false assumptions. the NAR is the fruit of an evolution of those assumption. Branham, the false Prophet, with his signs, wonders and miracles, laid the foundation, teaching that the end would be marked by a Revival of global proportions, rather than near universal apostasy.

Branham taught the Latter Rain heresy, and also the idea that we believers are ‘god men”. He strongly emphasized the “New Prophets for our age” teaching which led directly to restorationism, and the concept that the Church would only be perfected when Apostles and Prophetic ministries are fully restored, and that they would usher in the great revival of “signs and wonders’.

Another lesser known contemporary of Branham came to the forefront around the mid 1960s, named Kenneth E Hagin. Hagin is the Father of the Word-Faith movement. His emphasis was the false notion that we must speak the Word, and that then it will come to pass. He wrote little booklets such as “You Can Have What You Say” and “How To Write Your Own Ticket With God”, in which he taught faith as a concept, which one can learn to master the techniques of.

Another of His books was called “How to have Faith in Your Faith”, in which he literally separates Faith, from the object of Faith, ie God. Hagin taught that we are not merely to have Faith in God, but to have ‘the faith of God’. God used faith, to create the heavens and the earth, He spoke all into existence, thus having the Faith ‘of God’, means that we must realize that we too can speak our own reality into existence.(This is blatant occult gnosticism), but it has deceived millions around the world.

Devotees of Kenneth Hagin and his protege ,Kenneth Copeland redefined prayer, they went from lowly and humble supplication unto God, into Decreeing and proclaiming things into existence.

The so called “message of faith” downplayed the Sovereignty of God, for they taught in essence that the believer is a ‘little god’ and capable of having the same faith as God, if he but knew it by “revelation knowledge”. The emphasis on power, Healing and prosperity of the believer literally altered the faith of millions, and corrupted a good portion of the church around the world.

“Dad Hagin” as he came to be called, derived much of the essence of his teaching through the writings of EW Kenyon, an author, pastor and Evangelist whose faith was a strange mixture of Christianity, New Thought, science of mind and theosophy. Hagin devoured his books and inculcated Kenyon’s teaching into his own books and sermons, to the point where He was successfully sued for plagiarism by Kenyon’s daughter.

The Berean Call relates Kenyon’s powerful influence on the “Father of the Faith Movement”,

E.W. Kenyon wrote mockingly, “We have sung `Nearer the cross’ and we have prayed that we might be `Nearer the cross’ but the cross has no salvation  in it. It is a place of failure and defeat” (Advanced Bible Course, p.279). Does this sound familiar? It should. Kenneth Hagin copies him, (as he did most of his theology) saying, “Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price. No the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God…Satan and all the demons of hell thought that they had him bound, and they threw a net over Jesus and they dragged Him down to the very pit of hell itself to serve our sentence. (Death By Faith)

This kind of disparagement of the weakness of the cross, and glorification of power and victory, has saturated the “Faith Movement” to this day. The blasphemous denial of the victory on the cross, and the “Jesus had to die Spiritually ” heresy come from Kenyon, to Hagin to Copeland, Joyce Myers and a host of other Word Faith acolytes in the church today. Thus there current “revival” that is afflicting the Church and turning many into heresy, has come directly from heretics and gnostics such as Branham, Hagin, Kenyon and Copeland.

Oral Roberts ministry owned a Plane, to ferry him from meeting to meeting. His pilot was a man named Kenneth Copeland. Copeland became engrossed with Hagin’s teachings and totally absorbed them, transforming his life with “the Message of Faith”, and eventually compelling him out on the road as an Evangelist and teacher.

Copeland and Hagin became popular in the 1970s and 80’s hosting their Believers Voice of Victory conferences, mass producing cassette teaching tapes, and Hagin began his Rhema Bible college, which has trained thousands of ministers ,promoting the Word Faith heresies, such as “Little gods” theology, “Jesus died spiritually” , gnostic “Revelation knowledge”, and popularizing EW Kenyon’s new age Christian books.

The Word Faith Movement deeply influenced Evangelicalism (Not for the better in my view) with it’s emphasis on victory, prosperity and healing, as well as it’s disparagement of true repentance, Christian humility, and acceptance of suffering as possibly being part of God’s Sovereign plan. Copeland and Hagin have spawned proteges across the globe, such as Benny Hinn, Pat Robertson, Creflo Dollar, Bill Johnson, Fred Price, TD Jakes and Rodney Howard Browne, all of whom have had major influence on the church as it is today.

I suppose it would be inevitable, for there are so many thousands and perhaps millions who want this error, even more than they want the true gospel. If there wasn’t a Kenneth Copeland or Benny Hinn, someone would have to invent one, because there has developed a ready demand for their heretical message and practice.

A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?( Jeremiah 5:30-31)

What will they do in the end? Where will it lead us?

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The Myth Of The Great End Times Revival… NAR pt 3

The last enemy to be conquered is death. Who will conquer it? A mature church will come forth, with the kind of authority and power that will be able to stand in the very face of Satan. When the church reaches that level of maturity, God will be able to say, “This generation of the church does not need to die. She has reached a place of maturity. I will translate her because her maturity pleases me.” Earl Paulk- Excerpt from “Joel’s Army “By Jewel Van Der Merwe

Will the Son of Man find Faith when He comes to the Earth? Jesus…(Luke 18)

The NAR movement has been built on a set of assumptions, the one leading to the other. The rise and ministry of William Branham led to the assumption that the true church was going to come into a time when “Signs and Wonders” would increase and bring nations to their knees in repentance, through the Evangelists such as Branham and those who would follow Him.

There would be a revival, believers would learn to tap into the power of God (an occult concept), and the Church would go from being “despised and rejected” to being feared and honored. Around the same time that Branham and the Healing Evangelists were packing tents and wowing crowds of people with healings, miracles, and signs and wonders, a little book came out which added much to these expectations. It was called “Atomic Power Through Prayer and Fasting”.

Here is what I wrote about it in my book,”Weighed and Found Wanting:Putting the Toronto Blessing in Context”;

People like Branham had whetted the appetite of the church for signs, wonders, and New Testament Christianity. A book came out at the same time (1946) that enjoyed widespread popularity among Pentecostals and contributed to the general expectation before.of a “new day.” It was called, Atomic Power with God, Through Fasting and Prayer, by Franklin Hall.This peculiar book taught that those who would learn to control their appetites could come into a supernatural, and miracle lifestyle…To those “who could receive it,” answered prayer, signs, wonders, immortality, and even release from gravity awaited those who would fast and pray. Weighed and Found Wanting; putting the Toronto blessing in Context” By Bill Randles

A tremendous expectation arose among Pentecostals that “a New Thing would spring forth” in the form of a Revival and renewal of God’s people. In 1948 something like what was expected did occur in Northbattleford Canada, as Al Dager describes in His book “Vengeance is Ours”,

On February 11, 1948, a young woman at the Bible school prophesied that a great revival was about to break out. The next day, according to George Hawtin, the Holy Spirit fell with great power. [Quoting Hawtin] “Day after day the glory and power of God came amongus. Great repentance, humbling, fasting, and prayer prevailed in everyone.” News of the events at North Battleford spread and soon people were coming from everywhere in hope of receiving spiritual power.

That Summer the group, called “the Sharon Brethren” put on a camp meeting which attracted several thousand people from the United States, Canada, and all over the world, all wanting to be part of the “New Thing!” In a short time, the Latter Rain Movement was a worldwide phenomena.

What Is meant by “Latter Rain”?

The movement came to be known by that name, which comes from several passages in the Bible, such as Joel 2:23, Hosea 6:3 and James 5:7.In both the Old and the New Testament, there is an allegory used for God’s blessing, based on the cycle of rains in the Holy Land. The “former rain” is crucial for planting, it is a type of the giving of the Law on Sinai, on the day of Pentecost. The “latter rain” is a reference to the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2, also on Pentecost. Peter interpreted it so when he said, “This is that spoken of by Joel the prophet.” The former rain, the law, is for softening the ground for planting. In other words, the Law of Moses, and the Ten Commandments can be used to bring conviction to the hard hearted.The Latter rain was considered essential to perfect the crop for the Harvest.

Originally what is now known as the NRA was either called , the Latter Rain Movement, or the Manifested Sons of God. It was an anticipation for that last earth shaking revival, which Branham and the other healing Evangelists seemed to portend.The Revival is just around the corner, we just need to prepare ourselves for it.

The Manifested Sons of God is the same movement, a little further along. It comes from teachings about Romans 8, but with a new (heretical twist),

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. ( Romans 8:18-19)

Orthodox Christianity has always considered “the manifestation of the Sons of God” to be something which occurs at the parousia of our LORD. When He finally comes to establish His Kingdom, then the curse will be lifted off of the earth and the true Sons of God will be revealed.”Then shall the Righteous shine forth as the Sun…”( Matthew 13:43) and the Kingdom shall commence.

But the Manifested Sons of God movement teaches that the manifestation of the sons of God must occur before Jesus comes back. The Sons of God come into their own realization of who they are in Christ, a revival breaks out, and the Sons of the Kingdom overcome the Devil and possess the Kingdom in order to turn it over to Jesus at his coming.

The Orthodox hope is God centered, the Manifested Sons of God hope is man centered. They would say things like, “Why are you waiting on Jesus to come back? He is waiting on you to come into the revelation of “Sonship” and to commence the great end times revival?

In a nutshell, the Manifested Sons of God teaching, which undergirds the current (false) revival movement which has led to the NAR, is this:

Manifested Sons of God teaching, is “since all creation is waiting for the Manifested Sons of God to appear, so it (creation) can be delivered from corruption, what are we waiting for? Let’s hurry up and realize that we, corporately, are the Christ and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can mature into our full stature and be all that God intended us to be. We can crush God’s enemies, even death, and usher in the kingdom of God and take the world for Jesus through the miracle working power that is within us. Boy, have we been dense! We have been waiting for God to save us from this world in that “helicopter escape,” the Rapture, when all of this time, He has been waiting for us to get it together. We must realize who we really are in Christ, and the power within us and rise up and do what the church down through time has either been too carnal or too immature to ever do. The church must now put all of God’s enemies under her feet.( Randles, Weighed and Found Wanting)

Manifested Sons of God Teachers developed another “revelation” that the End times revival which will take over the World for Jesus, cannot occur until there is a full restoration of all of the so called “Five fold Ministry”, from Ephesians 4:11;

 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:( Ephesians 4:11-13)

Supposedly the Church “lost” the ministry gifts of Apostle and Prophet, over the centuries, just as in the Reformation, the church supposedly “lost ” the teaching of Justification by Faith. But the New Apostles and Prophets that God is raising up will get us to the point where we can come into the fulness and restore all things…then and only then ,Jesus can come back.

These are the assumptions undergirding much of the false revival which has raged since the 1940’s and which has radically shaped the Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, for the worse. They have filled the pulpits of our churches with false prophets, ridiculously unbiblical Words, pompous and self seeking “Apostles” and worse of all, false converts.

It could be that these developments will contribute to the final Apostasy and the Delusion Paul warned about in 2 Thessalonians.

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.( 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12)

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The Failed Deuteronomy 13 Test… NAR pt 2

 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.( Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

What I want to do is give a brief expose of the errant theology which has led much of the Evangelical Church to its current Apostasy, as manifested in the NAR. This is going to be a primer, and by no means an exhaustive study of the wrong paths so many have been led idown.

Moses gave two main tests to determine if a person was a true or false prophet, one of those being found in Deuteronomy 18, and warning that anyone who makes predictions in the name of the LORD which fail to come to pass, should be regarded as a false prophet.

The second test is less well known. It is found in Deuteronomy 13. God told Moses that He would actually allow false prophets to arise from time to time, and they would seemingly truly perform signs , wonders or make predictions which would come to pass. In other words, they would have seemed to have passed the Deuteronomy 18 test.

But that didn’t mean they were true prophets, and that people should follow them.

The second test is more concerned with the teaching of the prophet, than with the signs and wonders. If the teaching in effect caused Israel to go after other gods, that would be the proof that they were false, even though they did indeed seemingly perform signs.

Around the aftermath of World War 2, there was a kind of healing movement among Pentecostals, which involved Evangelists literally taking their healing crusades across America, preaching, and praying for the sick, and proclaiming miracles, signs and wonders in the name of Jesus. There were many who became quite famous, such as Oral Roberts, AA Allen, Jack Coe, Lester Sumrall, and Gordon Lindsey.

Another name which would become well known at the time was William Branham. (This is an excerpt from my book WEIGHED AND FOUND WANTING;PUTTING THE TORONTO BLESSING IN CONTEXT, )

William Branham was born 100 years and 10 miles from the time and place that Abe Lincoln was born, deep in the hills of Kentucky. He was born to very simple and poor parents. His mother was only 15 and his father was 18 years old. It has been reported that when visitors and well wishers came to the log shack to see the child, they also saw an otherworldly light resting over the babe.

Branham, who was the first of ten children, reports of his early life that, “There was always a peculiar feeling, like someone wasstanding near me, trying to say something to me, and especially when I was alone.” In fact, when he was seven years old, he had a strange visitation.

I was on my way one afternoon to carry water to the house from the barn, which was about a city block away. About halfway between the house and the barn stood an old poplar tree. I had just gotten home from school and the other boys were going out to a pond to fish. I was crying to go, but Dad said that I had to pack water. I stopped under the tree to rest when all of a sudden I heard a sound as of the wind blowing the leaves. I knew that it wasn’t blowing any other place. It seemed to be a very still afternoon. I stepped back from the tree and noticed that in a certain place, about the size of a barrel, the wind seemed to be blowing through the tree leaves. Then there came a voice saying, “Never drink, smoke, or defile your body in any way for I have a work for you to do when you get older.” 

As you can see, Branham led a very unusual life, which was marked by that ‘presence’, and which would one day lead him into a ‘signs and wonders ministry’ that would take him around the world.

From my book again,

In his early 20s, after being healed of a life threatening condition, Branham gave his life to God. He became a Baptist preacher, held a tent meeting in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and started a church (the Branham Tabernacle.) One day he wandered into a tent meeting of Pentecostals. They asked him to preach, and recognized the call on his life. That tent meeting had a profound impact on Branham. Later he said that they had something he lacked! After excitedly telling his wife, her family and his friends of the experience, people talked him out of mingling with “those folks,” so he backed away. In 1937, while he was both pastoring and working as a game warden, the Ohio River flooded, killing both his wife and young baby. Branham believed that it was a judgement from God for his refusal to join the Pentecostals. Shortly after that, he joined the United Pentecostal Churches, or the “oneness” people (Jesus only). These are people who believe that the doctrine of the trinity is “of the devil.” 

Branham’s life intensified after having an encounter with that ‘presence’ as he prayed in a cabin in the woods. In his own account, a light shone in the cabin in which he was praying and a figure walked out of the light,

He appeared to be a man who…clothed in a white robe, he had a smooth face, no beard, dark hair down to his shoulders, rather dark complexioned, with a very pleasant countenance…Seeing how fearful I was, he began to speak, “Fear not, I am sent from the presence of Almighty God to tell you that your peculiar life and your misunderstood ways have been to indicate that God has sent you to take a gift of divine healing to the peoples of the world. If you will be sincere and can get the people to believe you, nothing shall stand before your prayer, not even cancer.”

This was Branham’s “angel”. Branham would go on the road in ministry fo signs and wonders, but he would never be able to begin a service until the ‘Angel’ came to Him. Branham was once asked, “Do you do your remarkable miracles by the Holy Spirit?”, to which Branham replied, ” No, I do them by my Angel”.

There is no doubt that Branham had a powerful ‘ministry’ of signs and wonders. People would flock to his meetings, to receive prayer and to witness the healings, miracles and deliverances which were happening on a large scale.

Pentecostal churches were thrilled with the ministry of Branham, for it seemed to them to be the ‘great revival’ they had anticipated.

There was just one one problem, His teachings. The Pastors and leaders of the movement, begged him to just focus on praying for the sick and ministering to people’s needs, but please don’t preach!

Branham’s preaching scared people. More from my book, WEIGHED,

What did he teach? For that matter, what does Paul Cain, Mike Bickle, Bob Jones, John Wimber, Bill Hammon, Roger Forster, Gerald Coates, or anyone else who is part of the “prophetic move” teach? For the teaching is much more significant than the manifestation. The teaching is one of the fruits you can “know them by.”

Branham believed that we are in what he called, “God’s seventh church age,” based on the letters to the church in Revelation. According to Branham, “the angels of the churches,” were different men down through church history, who brought the church along, through new revelation. In fact, his tombstone, in Jeffersonville, Indiana, is shaped like a pyramid. On one side are the names of the seven churches. On the other side are the names of the messengers to each church, Paul, Irenaeus, Martin, Columba, Luther, Wesley, and of course, Branham.

The impact of the United Pentecostal Church is evident in his teaching. Branham also believed that the doctrine of the trinity was Babylonian and even “of the devil.” To him, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are three different “attributes” of Jesus.

Stranger yet, Branham taught that the Word of God wasgiven in three forms, the zodiac, the Egyptian pyramids, and the written scripture. Another strange doctrine, was his teaching on the “serpent’s seed,” the idea that Eve had sexual relations with Satan and produced the line of Cain, an evil “seed” which is continually being propagated to this day. The effect of this doctrine has a tendency towards misogyny, making women responsible for keeping the “seed” alive.

Branham died in 1965 in a head on car crash. The impact he had on many was so profound, due to the ‘miracles’ and signs he performed, led his followers to expect that He would be raised from the dead, so his burial was delayed by about six months. Much of modern Charismania is a direct result of his teachings,; Modrn Prophets and Apostles, the concept of having an Angel, the Word of Faith teachings, He was also a staunch advocate of Oneness Pentecostalism.

From my book again,

Though there were no doubt many voices raised against Branham’s heresies, by and large, Branham enjoyed great acceptance by the truly influential leaders of Pentecostalism. (To this day, he is regarded by many as a prophet and pioneer of the signs and wonders movement.) It is true that at the time of his death, his popularity was waning and his teaching became more obvious, but to the Manifested Sons of God Movement, as well as much of Christian media, and even the current “miracle ministries” and Charismatic leaders, there is a profound respect for him and in many cases a desire to emulate him. As Al Dager says, “To date, William Branham’s body is still in the grave. But his occult methodology of healing was picked up by hundreds of pastors and teachers upon whom he had laid his hands and who have traded on it to a greater or lesser degree.”

I believe that Branham, with his signs and wonders and false teachings, represents a classic Deuteronomy 13 test which is one of the streams which has led straight into the current Apostasy.The People chose the POWER over the Word and that is why we have what we have in what used to be our churches.

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Certain Men Crept in Unawares …. NAR pt 1

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. ( Jude 3-4)

The Church has always come under intense attack since her inception. Those attacks come, both from without, in the form of persecution and repression, and from within, in the form of serious attempts to corrupt it through false doctrines, and practices.

By far the greatest danger comes from within. What happens when false Apostles and Prophets arise and bring to unsuspecting congregations a ‘pseudo Word’ from God, thus supplanting the true Word?

I believe we are living in an age where we are beginning to find out , because the true Church is awash in a virtual sea of false Apostles, Prophets and teachers, and even false Churches which have arisen and grown, to misguide, demoralize and discourage those many who are sensing the need for God and for salvation in these distressing times.

I will begin this study with my own personal experience with spurious Christianity, and then move on to clearly delineating the undergirding doctrines which have infected the modern evangelical church to this day, serving to undermine and disrupt countless fellowships, confuse believers and to seriously misrepresent the church and the gospel of Christ to our cynical world.

I was raised Catholic, and came of age in the late 1970s, when I acquired a hunger for God, and for some kind of assurance of salvation. I had read the New Testament, (It was a paraphrase called “The Way”) and realized through the sermon on the mount that I was a sinner and in danger of judgment. The conviction gripped me powerfully and took me through the summer of 1977, and went with me to Iowa State University, troubling me, causing me to cry out to God, but I had no faith.

I even went to a small Assembly of God Church, (I had never visited a non Catholic church before), and could sense the sincerity and power of the worship, as people raised their hands, wept and even prostrated themselves before the LORD. I answered about 30 altar calls as well, rushing to the front of the church to be saved, but having no real faith, only conviction of my sin. I wept and prayed, wanting to shake the guilt, but always came up the same as before, not really knowing the gospel.

One day I was in deep sorrow and despair, because I knew I was still quite a deep sinner, and not saved, but not knowing what to do about it. I thought ‘This was not for me, I am too lost…” and had resolved to quit going to church. Ironically I had been reading the Bible while I was thinking this, But I was so distracted, I had no idea what I was reading.

A very clear thought came to me at that low point, which I am sure was the Holy Spirit. The thought was’ look at what you are reading and understand it…”. I had been reading and rereading 2 Corinthians 5, especially vs 21,

For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him….

In a flash, I saw the truth, that Jesus was my substitute on the cross, dying in my place as an offering to God. I received faith to be saved…It became so clear for me, how a Holy God could receive an unholy sinner such as I. I entered fully into the life of that wonderful church, and have not looked back since.

A few weeks into my life there in the church, someone handed me a “12 pack” of Kenneth Copeland cassette teaching tapes. I immediately received them and plunged myself fully into a teaching and even a worldview, that I didn’t realize at the time was heretical and injurious to my soul.

Copeland and his many teaching friends introduced me to “Word of Faith”theology. The premise of which is that Faith is a force, a Spiritual Law that even God uses to create things. We must learn how to “use that force” for good, (for the glory of God of course), and to shape our own world. Using faith rightly will cause us to overcome sickness and poverty, so that we can help others. We can do all of the Works of Jesus, because Jesus himself knew the “laws of Faith” and employed them to do miracles while He was on the earth.

These people were powerful communicators at the time, they had confidence, obviously, and they seemed to be all about the Word of God. They seemed to place the Word on a high, exalted level, and seemed to know a ton of scripture.

Copeland and Hagin, the two main preachers of the movement, were folksy, they came from Texas and Oklahoma, and spoke with those Southwestern drawls. Copeland seemed masculine and not as the caricature of a meek preacher, (in fact they were very adept at mocking traditional preachers), they were “unreligious” and seemed real.These were part of what drew me into this teaching.

The Word of Faith was a comprehensive system of theology. They had their own version of the fall of man, and of Faith and righteousness (both of which were impersonal forces in that system).

In retrospect they had what I have come to know as an “over realized Eschatology” which means that they taught that now is the time of glory, that we do not have to suffer or wait for the age of the “Glories that shall be revealed”, rather through ‘revelation knowledge’ we enter now into the glory. There should be no sickness or poverty now, for the true believer.

The fall of man, according to Word Faith preachers, was a loss of Dominion. Adam had all Dominion over the earth but lost it in the fall. Salvation is full Dominion restored, to the true believers who take God at His Word. This is why the Word Faith Churches want to influence the highest levels of all society, they are carrying out their ‘Dominion mandate”.

I also came to realize that the Word Faith movement was gnostic. I wouldn’t have recognized the term, on that day in my beginning when someone gave me the tapes of Copeland. Gnosticism is ancient, and it refers to ‘special knowledge’, which is revealed only to the initiated, but not to the rank and file. Word Faith called it ‘Revelation Knowledge’, and those who operated in it were functioning on a higher level than ‘most Christians’.

Most ominously Copeland and Hagin have taught a heresy about the cross, that Jesus’ death on the cross didn’t atone for our sin, He had to go to hell and suffer there in order to do that. Copeland also taught that any prophet who would have received the ‘revelation knowledge’ that Jesus did, could have died for our sins!

“The Spirit of God spoke to me and He said, “Son, realize this. Now follow me in this and don’t let your tradition trip you up.” He said, “Think this way — a twice-born man whipped Satan in his own domain.” And I threw my Bible down… like that. I said, “What?” He said, “A born-again man defeated Satan, the firstborn of many brethren defeated him.” He said, “You are the very image, the very copy of that one.” I said, “Goodness, gracious sakes alive!” And I began to see what had gone on in there, and I said, “Well now you don’t mean, you couldn’t dare mean, that I could have done the same thing?” He said, “Oh yeah, if you’d had the knowledge of the Word of God that He did, you could have done the same thing, ’cause you’re a reborn man too.”

Kenneth Copeland (What Happened from the Cross to the Throne, 1990, audiotape #02-0017, side 2)

How far can a person be moved away from the gospel which they once rejoiced in? Can a person be saved if they deny the cross? How about if they deny the Deity of Christ, or the true plan of salvation?

I really didn’t know all of that when I launched into Word Faith, the full truth of it just keeps coming out over the years.

After being in it for a few years, and also after having pioneered the church which I now pastor, my wife and I had a real crisis experience. We went to a Word Faith Pastor’s conference, and a car drove into the parking lot, with a ‘vanity license plate’, which read ,IAMAgOD.

My wife and I were shocked, and wondering what we were involved in. The rest of the conference attendees seemed blessed at the ‘bold witness’ of the license plate. I had another clear thought (which I am sure was the Holy Spirit), for the thought was,”All He is doing is taking your teachers out to their logical conclusion!”.

As a result, my wife and I embarked on a ruthless, painful, long term re-evaluatiuon of everything we had ever believed, to see of any of it lined up with the Scriptures. It took a long time to de-program ourselves, but Truth is the highest priority, We Must Love the Truth.The Truth Will Set Us Free.

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Leadership in Church… Church pt 16

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly  For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. ( Titus 1:5-10)

The Church is a family. Thus there is a hierarchy within the church, of responsibility. The Apostles instructed that elders be appointed, in order to give the church servant leadership. The leadership must be qualified according to the standards outlined above, and they serve for the purpose of promoting and defending the faith.

Jesus taught much about the true nature of leadership as opposed to the self serving leadership models of the Gentiles.

But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.  But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.( Mark 10:42-45)

Christian leadership is not based on the acquisition and use of power and authority over others as an end in itself. True leadership as taught and modeled by Jesus is servant leadership. “If you want to be great (Mega), you have to willing to be a servant(Diakonos)…”.

The Christian concept of Authority is merely the flip side of Responsibility. Someone in the Church should be responsible for the teaching, to defend it against error, to promote the Truth, and for ethical accountability in the body of Christ. Biblical authority only extends as far as responsibility.

As the Pastor of our fellowship, ( I serve as one among other elders), we have a responsibility to maintain the doctrine of Christ, to facilitate services of worship and edification, and to uphold church discipline. I too must submit to the same accountability to those ideals.Church responsibility, (thus authority) is very limited.

It is our belief and practice that all of us are in a position that we can be called upon to be accountable to the Word of God. If in anyway, if any of us deviate, anyone in the fellowship should have the freedom to approach us and to call us into account to the Word of God. Our ‘covering’ is the Word.

The characteristics listed above in Titus are simple. They involve personal character and demeanor. Humility, patience, control over passions and emotions, well spoken of in the wider community, and of course sound in doctrine and faithful to it.

The Bible condemns those who abuse authority, “lording it over others” or selfishly clinging to power to the exclusion of others.The Apostle Peter, who refers to himself as an Elder, and witness of the sufferings of Christ, had this to say to the Elders,

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.( I Peter 5:1-4)

Feed the flock of God… One can hardly read these words of Peter’s without remembering his own re-instatement into the ministry of Jesus after He had denied Him in the Passion. “Peter, do you Love Me? ….feed my sheepFeed my lambs“. The only pre-requirement for Peter, was Love for Jesus. Do you Love me?

The Word “Feed” is Bosko- in Greek, and it means to pasture, or to give food. In a wider sense it means to take on the role of a Shepherd. Jesus is “the Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls”.

The Primary task of the Pastor/elder/teacher is the feeding of the true flock of God. Jeremiah predicted in the name of God, “I will give them Pastors after my own heart who will feed the people with Knowledge and understanding”.( Jeremiah 3:15)

Peter also called on men to “Take the Oversight thereof…” , the Word for ‘oversight’ is Episkopos. Someone has to take the responsibility and look out for the flock. God calls some to do so, and Peter here urges them to do so in humility and love, and by example.

The Real Shepherd, the Chief One, who is the true “shepherd and Bishop of our Souls” will soon appear, and give a crown to those who were willing to serve in such a way. More on this soon…

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Bible Prophecy and Evangelism… Church pt 15

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:( Isaiah 46:9-10)

Approximately 30 percent of the Bible is prophecy. In the passage above, the God of the Bible challenges humanity, to believe in Him, who alone “declares the End from the beginning” and whose counsel always stands.

How did Peter, Paul and the Apostles of the New Testament often preach Christ? They started in the Synagogues, and shewed their fellow Jews that all of the prophecies of their scripture, had been fulfilled in Jesus.

The Apostles learned this method of Evangelism from Jesus himself, when He evangelized two of his distraught disciples after the crucifixion, on the road to Emmaus.

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.( Luke 24:25-27)

What a Bible Study! What an evangelistic encounter! They later said among themselves, ” Didn’t our hearts burn within ourselves as He read those passages?”. Jesus took these disciples through the Law and the Prophets and simply showed himself as the fulfillment of these predictions.

We see this method used all through the book of the Acts of the Apostles.

Peter stood up on Pentecost and preached Jesus from the Psalms, and the book of Joel.

Phillip witnessed to an Ethiopian Eunich who happened to be reading Isiah 53,

Paul would go into the synagogues and expound the Prophets, to show that Jesus was the fulfillment of their words,

And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.But God raised him from the dead:And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.( Acts 13:29-33)

Notice that Paul preaches that the cross was the fulfillment of scripture, ( He could have cited the 22nd Psalm, Isaiah 53, and numerous other passages.), then HE goes on to proclaim Jesus as the fulfillment of the second Psalm, as well as the 16th Psalm. His hearers, having been raised on these scripture were clearly touched, some in acceptance and others rejection of Jesus.

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.( Acts 17:1-3)

Christ had to suffer and die, all according to the scripture.

Much of the preaching in the book of Acts is of this nature, Prophecy and fulfillment. The coming of the Messiah is a major subject of the prophecies, as well as his suffering, death and resurrection. In the last week of Jesus ‘earthly life, God fulfilled hundreds of prophecies and typological predictions alone.

There are precise time oriented prophecies, such as Daniel’s prediction from 530 BC , marking the very day that Jesus would arrive in Jerusalem, present himself to the people of Israel and die as a substitute for them.

In this day and age of cynicism and unbelief, it is wonderful to assure people that they need not check their minds in at the door, in order to believe in Jesus. The Prophecies are God’s calling card to verify the Truth of the scriptures.

There are three major categories of prophecies which we can point people to in evangelism, in order to call on them to repent and believe;

  1. The First coming of Jesus the Messiah-
  2. Israel and her experience to this very day
  3. the Second coming of Jesus to the earth.

I find it amazing that one of the signature prophecy fulfillment of the modern day, largely is ignored; I speak of the resurrection of the nation of Israel. I point to it in witnessing to unbelievers, for it is a bill board sized sign and wonder performed before the eyes of the whole earth. God is calling upon the earth to take notice, to be warned and even to repent!

Consider this history- Israel was an ancient nation, well known throughout the Mediterranean world, which had a national polity, a temple, Kings and national borders.

But Moses, Hosea and other prophets predicted that she would be removed from her land and scattered and would have no nation for a season of time, as punishment for her persistent idolatry.

 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.( Hosea 3:4-5)

History tells us that this happened, when the Romans razed the temple in Jerusalem, slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Jews and then glutted the world’s slave markets with Jewish captives, and renamed the Holy Land of Israel, Provinca Syria Palestina, thus wiping out the name and nation of Israel as a polity.

This happened in the Roman/Jewish wars between 70 Ad to 120 Ad. Thus for almost two millennia, the nation of Israel didn’t exist, the Jews were scattered across the globe, and the prophecies of Moses, Hosea and others were fulfilled. There hadn’t been a nation of Israel until 1948 !

But the Prophets predicted that Israel would be resurrected (Ezekiel 37) , that the nation would be repopulated with Jews, and that they would come back to their land in unbelief, but then God would arrange the events called the great tribulation to eventually bring them back to faith in Him!

Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.  Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.  For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.( Jeremiah 31:9-11)

Why wouldn’t we proclaim these wonderful deeds of the LORD to this cynical and weary generation? Prophecy is evangelism, it is history written in advance and is a wonderful sign to the reality of God. What other nation was obliterated, scattered, assimilated, but then reconstituted after two thousand years, and brought back to their ancestral lands?

Show whoever will listen the uniqueness of Jesus, how He was prophesied centuries before in detail, how even his death was related in detail, and his resurrection, then tell them that the same prophets of the Bible predicted that he would come again, (in just such a time as this). Tell others of the marvel of Israel, of her punishment and now the beginnings of her re-instatement. Tell them that this portends the second coming of Jesus and the final judgment of the earth.

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The Law/Gospel Paradigm for Evangelism… Church pt 14

 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.( Mark 10:17-19)

We have been discussing the fact that a primary function of the true church must be Evangelism. We are called to “go into all of the World and preach the Gospel to all Creation…” We have a Great commission, given us by Jesus.

I would like to continue this discussion, by pointing to the Evangelism of Jesus himself. How did Jesus Evangelize?

In the example above, we note that in the case of the rich young ruler who asked Jesus for direction regarding eternal Life, Jesus spoke to him in a way that many would find to be counter-intuitive. Rather than explain to the young seeker, the plan of salvation, Jesus pointed him instead to two things; a discussion on the meaning of the word”good” and he also pointed him to the Law of God.

What or Who is truly ‘Good’?

” Good Master….” is how the young man adressed Jesus, to which Jesus asked him, “Why do you call me good? There is none good but God alone!”.

Why would Jesus quibble over the use of the word “good” in the light of such a momentous , frank, question, “What must I do to inherit eternal Life?”.

Jesus knew that unless we come to understand something about “good”, we could never inherit eternal life, even if the “plan of salvation” was explained to us. First we have to come to the point where we truly believe what Jesus told this seeker, (who obviously felt his need for salvation),

There is none good but God.

In this humanistic generation, unfortunately, there are very few who actually believe that, therefore there are few who will ever find the path to eternal life. The reception of the gift of eternal life, is premised upon the belief that “there is none good , no not One…”, in fact we are so bad, so spiritually and morally bankrupt, and so far removed from God, that it took nothing less than the Messiah to come from heaven to die on the cross to save us.We really are the “wretches” we sing about in Amazing Grace.

But so few truly believe this.Even if they have been taught the doctrine that “all have sinned and are coming short of the Glory of God…” in their head, very few believe in their heart that they are truly bad, undeserving and wretched sinners. There is such a strong instinct in all of us fallen beings, to justify ourselves at any cost, it is just plain hard to accept that we are not Good.

The rich young ruler thought He was good. In calling Jesus a “Good Master” he was acting as though he was qualified to evaluate the savior, according to his own standards. As Far as He was concerned, Jesus was Good, (just as he was good), all he needed to know was “how to attain eternal life’?

“Why do you call me good”? Jesus wasn’t denying his own goodness here, he was challenging the rich young ruler’s ability to judge what is good as opposed to what is evil for himself. It didn’t matter what the Rich Young Ruler thought of Jesus, all that matters is God’s evaluation.

In our fallenness we lack the ability to independently decide what is truly good or truly evil. Adam and Eve thought the forbidden fruit looked good. Saul saved for himself all of the ‘good Amalekites’, and Job’s wife decided by her standards, that God was no longer ‘good’.

We need an objective standard in order to perceive good and evil, because our own heart is desperately wicked, we tend to fool ourselves about the subject, to our eternal ruin.

This brings us to the other issue… Jesus pointed the young seeker for eternal life, to the Law of God. “What does the Law say…?” Why? Will the law give us eternal life? Can it show us the way to eternal life? Why would Jesus point a young man, seeking salvation to the Law?

“The Law of the Lord is perfect,, converting the soul…”Psalm 19:7

The Law of God is what shows us the true state of our own hearts. Without exposure to the Law of God, we think we are all right, fine in comparison with others…thus deceiving ourselves. When the Law of God does it’s work, we are crushed, we forsake our own sense of self righteousness, it actually turns us the seek another way of Salvation, in Jesus Christ.

The use of the Law in evangelism and in preaching has the same effect on our hearers.

Because the young man thought he was already good, and fully capable of determining ‘good and evil’ from himself, there would be no possibility of him believing the gospel. So Jesus didn’t tell him how to be saved, nor did he preach the plan of salvation to Him.

Instead he quizzed him on his own observance of the Law. What does the Law say?

Notice that Jesus quoted the commands of God from the second table of the Law, which deals with how we are to love our fellow man. But then Jesus tested the youth on the first commandment, which is the primal commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me….”,

 Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.( Mark 10:20-22)

Do you keep all of the Law? What about Loving God more than anything? Even more than wealth?

The answer to the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” is not”Sell what you have, give to the poor and come follow me…” . That isn’t what we tell people who are ready to be saved and give their lives to the One who purchased them with his blood. Jesus still hasn’t answered the young man, that question.

“Sell what you have, give to the poor and come follow me” is rather the answer to the statement,”Master I have kept all of these from my youth up…”. Really? Have you fully kept the law?

The Law pierced him. He went away sad! Jesus didn’t send Peter after him to try to make him feel better, either. Would to God that others would leave church sad, or walk away sad after an encounter with a witnessing Christian. That sadness is essential to some people being saved.The law makes us sad because it deflates our pride and self righteousness and shows us our sin and misery.

This is the Law/Gospel paradigm. look closely at the preaching of Jesus and the Apostles in the gospels and Acts. The Law of God breaks the heart up, preparing it for the gospel;

The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:  For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.( John 4:16-19)

And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.(Acts 24:24-25)

The Law of God was given to convict people of their sin, it is a Divine mirror to show us our faults, and to turn us to the gospel of the grace of God which saves. So many will never see the light, till they feel the heat. This is a major facet of evangelism which has been utilized from the beginning of the church to this day.

I highly recommend the works of evangelists such as Ray Comfort, who has been utilizing this paradigm and records his evangelism on YouTube videos. Watch him as he speaks to sinners, asks them questions, and gets them to confess their sinfulness through quizzing them on the ten commandments. I would that more Christians witness this way. Another resource is the tracts of Jack Chick. I really appreciate his signature tract, “This Was Your Life” , which is as clever a use of the threatenings of the law and the grace of the gospel as I have ever seen. ( I can’t verify all of Chick’s tracts but He has been wonderful on strict evangelism.

I Close with some precious gems from preachers of old….

God be thanked when the Law so works as to take off the sinner from all confidence in himself! To make the leper confess that he is incurable is going a great way toward compelling him to go to that divine Savior, who alone is able to heal him. This is the whole end of the Law toward men whom God will save.” Charles Spurgeon

Lower the Law, and you dim the light by which man perceives his guilt. This is a very serious loss to the sinner, rather than a gain; for it lessens the likelihood of his conviction and conversion …I say you have deprived the gospel of its ablest auxiliary [most powerful weapon] when you have set aside the Law. You have taken away from it the schoolmaster that is to bring men to Christ…they will never accept grace till they tremble before a just and holy Law. Therefore the Law serves a most necessary and blessed purpose, and it must not be removed from its place.

When the sinner sees the awful consequences of breaking the Law of God—that he cannot escape the certainty of judgment—he will see his need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. When we preach future punishment by the Law, the sinner comes to Christ solely to flee from “the wrath to come.”Charles Spurgeon

Martin Luther – “The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s law and show the nature of sin, because it will act as a schoolmaster and bring him to everlasting life which is in Jesus Christ.”

John Wesley – “Before I preach love, mercy and grace, I must preach sin, law and judgment.”

Wesley advised a friend, “Preach 90 percent law and 10 percent grace.”

Charles Spurgeon – “They will never accept grace until they tremble before a just and Holy God

John Wycliffe – “The highest service to which a man may attain on earth is to preach the law of God.

D.L. Moody – “God, being a perfect God, had to give a perfect law, and the law was given not to save men, but to measure them.”

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The Primacy Of The Gospel… Church pt 13

 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

A healthy ideal for church, no matter how large or small, would be to aspire that every member be trained and ready to share the gospel, as a way of life. We must not allow ourselves to lose the zeal for the welfare of other people’s souls that accompanied our own salvation.

“Do the Work of an Evangelist”. In other words, give other people the gospel at every possible opportunity. Not all are called by God to be Evangelists, in the sense of Ephesians 4, “He gave some Pastors, some teachers, some Evangelists and Prophets and Apostles…”, but all Christians have a call on them to share their faith with others.

Pastors and teachers should seek to equip the saints in the congregation, by making the Gospel itself the primary study subject, in all of it’s aspects.

It is familiarity with the gospel, and love for it, in fact it is being immersed in it, that prepares us to be able to share it in the course of life. We never outgrow the gospel. There can be no subject that is deeper than the gospel itself. The good news is so powerful, Paul called it “the Power of God unto Salvation”.

What is the Gospel? The Gospel in it’s simple form is given in 1 Corinthians 15,

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.( I Corinthians 15:1-9)

As usual in scripture, there is so much Truth packed into so very few Words, one could ponder on this and grow in it forever.

  • Christ Died for our Sins- But His death was in accordance with Scripture- ie Prophecy
  • How do we know He died? Because He was buried…
  • Christ rose again from the dead on the third day- Also in accordance with the Scriptural Prophecies
  • How do we know that He was Raised? Because He was seen by the Apostles…

But one could go deeper in this- for example, Who is Christ? Why did He have to die? What Scriptures predicted His death? What scripture predicted His resurrection? Who were those who had seen Him? Why is it significant that Peter saw Him? Or James(His half brother), or Paul ?

But in it’s simplest form, the Gospel is that Christ died for our sins, and rose again.

Every Christian should know the joy of sharing that simple truth with unbelievers, whether it is received or not. Early on I memorized a scripture that is one of the many encapsulations of the gospel, 1 Peter 3:18,

Christ died for sins, once and for all, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God, He was put to death in the flesh and made alive in the Spirit…”

But there are so many other aspects to the gospel, to be explored, expounded on, and to immerse our souls in. There is a passage in 2 Corinthians 5 that I preached on recently, which I called a “Grand Central Station of Gospel themes…”,

 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.( 2 Corinthians 5:14-21)

Briefly, consider the themes raised here, which are all aspects of the gospel;

  1. The Love of Christ-
  2. Our co-Death and co resurrection with Jesus
  3. The New Creation Gospel
  4. The Gospel of reconciliation unto the Father through Christ
  5. Substitution as the meaning of the Cross- Jesus took our place!

Anyone of these can be an aspect, one could meditate on, ponder, and present in the right situation to those who do not know Christ. I do not know how many times I have had the joy of telling someone, that Jesus loved them, and gave himself for them, or that we can be a New Creation, and participate in a New Creation that God is preparing. How many know they are estranged from God, and need to hear that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself”?

Every believer needs to be equipped with the gospel and to have a prayerful mindset to share their faith wherever they go. I know this is an ideal, but think of what a church would look like if all engaged in Evangelism, shared the gospel, used their home for it, saw the need and moved into it.

In the next session I want to share two other powerful aspects about Evangelism that believers can be trained in; Sharing the fulfillment of Prophecy, and the use of the Law of God, to promote conviction of sin.

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The Deposit… Church 12

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. ( 2 Timothy 2:13-14)

To the Church has been vouchsafed a precious deposit, the Truth of the Gospel. God has given us a Revelation from Him, which we are to be the custodians of. The Church is to “teach all nations” , and to ever fight to keep this precious deposit from corruption and distortion which would inevitably be attempted by the Devil, the Spirit of AntiChrist and unscrupulous and self serving pseudo Christian leaders.

The Church is the repository of the Truth. By “truth” we mean the revelation of God regarding Spiritual reality; Who we are in the sight of God, the way of Salvation, the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the Father and the Holy Ghost.

Jesus didn’t write a book, He committed all to the Apostles. The Church is built upon the foundation laid by the Apostles and Prophets, in the gospels, Epistles and the Revelation. Salvation comes to us as individuals through a revelation and acknowledgment of the Truth.

The Church is a teaching entity. We are called to incorporate the teaching of the Apostles and to turn right around and teach others, who will teach others also.

 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.( 2 Timothy 2:1-2)

The ministers and leaders in the church, in particular are called to diligently study the Scripture, and to handle them with fear and trembling, lest in any way they distort the meaning of scripture in preaching and teaching. We are not allowed to modify the Word, or change it or add and subtract from it.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

The primary responsibility of the True Church is to the Truth. We are to preach and teach the Truth, and maintain the true understanding of it to our generation. The central core of a Christian gathering ought to be the Word, and in a sense our ministry as Pastors and teachers, is not only to God’s flock, but we minister to the Word of God itself! ( Luke 1:2)

 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good work( 2 Timothy 3)

A Major aspect of ministry in the Church is the work of defending the once and for all faith, delivered two the Saints against heresy and distortion. True Shepherds are to confront Wolves, and rebuke gainsayers who would deny or distort the teaching which has been committed unto us. We will all give a thorough account for that which has been committed unto us, therefore we should make knowing the gospel and defending it our business.

 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

In every generation, the gospels need to be expounded, ie the teachings of Jesus, his miracles, and His blessed person, so also do the Epistles and prophecies. Who is going to perform this service? The Church must! We must pursue “sound doctrine” and tirelessly pray about it, agonize over it, lovingly tell and retell the Parables, teachings, miracles and passion accounts of the Gospels. We are the Church, the cutodian of these sacred things.

We must jealously defend them against distortion. Early in my Christian life, I was given a 12 pack of Kenneth Copeland cassettes, which launched my zealous but under instructed soul into the full spectrum of the “Word Faith Heresy”, for about five years.

This is no small thing, for the Word Faith heresy is a clever distortion of the true gospel, and of the person of Jesus Christ and it is a deification of the believer. We were taught that we were “little gods” ! Very clever communicators twisted and re-orineted the scripture in such a way as to make this seem reasonable.

A Question; Can you go to heaven if you believe the Serpent’s lie in the garden? Is the believer an incarnation, just as Jesus was, as Hagin proclaimed? Are we little gods, as Copeland used teach?

Fortunately the Holy Spirit revealed to me the painful truth that my “teachers” were heretics, and my soul was endangered. I had to spend about five painful years re-evaluating everything I had been taught in the light of the Word of God.

The gospel that I had once been taught, was being distorted into something other than the true, saving gospel. This can happen on an individual level and unfortunately it is happening on a large scale within the church. The Devil’s tactic is not only to out and out deny the gospel, but to distort it, and make it into something which it is not.

Whether it be a gnostic gospel or a works based salvation or an antinomian approach, the Devil is working overtime through his ministerial ‘servants’ in many churches. Pray that the Church recover a martial Spirit and “fight the good fight of faith”and insist upon its own loyalty to the Word.

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Worship: The Vision of God… Church pt 12

 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. ( 2 Corinthians 3:18)

Worship is serious business. When the church gathers to offer worship, in the name of Jesus, and through his blood, there is nothing on earth happening which is of greater import. God will be worshipped. Those who casually dismiss church, are shrugging off our highest duty as people, nothing less than the Worshipful beholding of God.

As the passage in 2 Corinthians 3 tells us, it is as we worship in Spirit and in Truth, that we are transformed morally and spiritually. We want to change, we want free of our various bondages and lusts, but it is in true worship, in seeing God as He is, (Through His self revelation) that we are actually reformed, into the image of Christ.

John tells us, “When we see Him, we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is…” (I John 3).

But the worship must be truly Spiritual and it must be in Truth.

The Spiritual aspect is that we do not rely on sensual aids to worship God; neither statues, icons, incense, mood lighting, … etc. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

We worship the Triune God, Father,Son and Holy Spirit by faith, that is based on His revelation of Himself in the Word. We focus our hearts on and worship and adore Him, not as we would like Him to be in our fallen imaginations, but as He has revealed Himself to be.

I cannot emphasize this enough, because I have come to the conviction that the primal sin of the modern church is the sin of idolatry. People tend to shape their own image of who they believe God to be, and then they worship that image. Churches tend to o the same thing.

This is why the need of the times in the church is the teaching on the Attributes and perfections of God. We cannot fully worship a God who we do not properly know. Our hearts tend to be idol factories, unless aided by Divine grace.

The God whom we worship is Holy, Sovereign, Righteous, Just, Loving, Merciful, Generous, a Savior, Shepherd, and Judge of the Universe! True Worship is fixing the soul, (or souls) on Who God truly is, and acknowledging, thanking and magnifying Him who is all of these perfections and more. There is no higher use for your mind than to think and meditate on the attributes of God, as revealed by Him in Scripture and in the Incarnation of God, in Christ.

Worship is a state of the heart as well as an action. The congregation, by teaching and exhortation must ” Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with Praise….” (Psalm 100), they should be led to “Fear before Him…” as in 1 Chronicles 16,

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The Lord reigneth.( 1 Chronicles 16:28-30)

Worshipping God is a mixture of Joy, thanksgiving, fear and awe, based upon the Revelation of God. The people respond, in Song, and at times the lifting of hands, clapping, prostration, and awe, as the 95th Psalm tells us,

 O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.  In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.( Psalm 95:1-7)

Furthermore it based upon the Lamb who had been slain to Redeem us. The Book of Revelation takes us into the very throne room of God, Showing us that even there Worship is central, and two phased…in Revelation 4 we have all of Creation worshipping God as Creator.

“Thou Art Worthy Oh Lord for Thou has created all things for thy pleasure…” (Revelation 4:11)

But Revelation 5 takes us deeper into the throne room, where we see that all of the worship of heaven is centered around the Lamb, “slain from the foundation of the earth”, to redeem men from every walk of Life. Worshipping God as Creator is right and due to Him, but it is inadequate now, for their has been a fall, and the Creation has been marred by sin.

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.( Revelation 5:9-10)

We conform to what we adore and worship. There are many false gods which people are worshipping now; sports, sex, political positions, various “isms” and stances which literally possess people these days, demanding all of them.

To worship anything less than the only true God and Jesus, whom He has sent, is to corrupt one’s self.

Only God and Christ is worthy of our soul’s desire, of all of our heart and affection, and the Worship of God in Christ is the only non corrupting worship. We worship goodness, truth and beauty when we worship God in Christ.

The Church holds these services, (literally a beneficial and essential service) calling men to gather and acknowledge, worship and draw near to God himself.

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