Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Many of us have been taught a gospel that is no gospel at all. Those of us who sit in the pews of our comfortable churches and live a life full of the fruits of self-indulgence and selfish goals and dreams. Those of us who name the Name of Christ as if we are His people, yet who bear none of the fruit of His Spirit, show none of His power, exhibit little of His love and holiness. We proclaim Christ and yet don’t live Christ. We seek for Him and yet don’t find Him. He is a foreigner to us, and a great mystery that we worship from afar, because we have been taught and followed no gospel at all.
This gospel that is no gospel requires nothing. It is an easy gospel, full of the desire for a good life, full of desire for happiness and security, and prosperity. It is a gospel that says we are fine. That gives us license to enjoy our affluence, and says that when we prosper it shows we are in favor with God and man.
This gospel that is no gospel is a gospel that answers every question with a positive affirmation. It is a gospel that seeks its own good, and its own power, and its own glory. It is a ‘feel good’ gospel, full of all the right verses, and with a constant need to confirm in its followers that they should feel good about themselves, about the world around them, about their circumstances, about their church, about their leaders, about their families, about their country, about their lives, and about their souls. It is a smooth, palatable gospel that makes promises of peace and hope and your best life now.
This gospel that is no gospel has led us down the wide way that leads to destruction. The vast crowd moves smoothly down the easy, wide boulevard, lined with trees, bright with sun, bands playing, kids holding balloons, clowns cavorting, drummers drumming and baton twirlers performing. This giant parade is self-propelled, well-orchestrated, and led by a charming group of men and women decked out in the finest uniforms.
Behind the scenes there are skilled technicians, making sure every good view reaches the cameras, and every performer in this spectacular event is doing his job, so that the onlookers at home and in person can be entertained. There are security forces in plain-clothes, ready to quietly deal with any strange behavior or disruption, for the parade must go on, and uninterrupted by anything out of place or unseemly.
After all, God is watching, and we are those who must please Him by our faultless parade skills, showing Him how much we care about Him by worshiping in style and with the finest of showmanship.
This gospel that is no gospel is a spectator sport. It is a parade that is carefully prepared each week, by the best paid minds in the churches. Those with the talent to put it all together, and create the best show possible. They were hired by the attendees, the crowds, to please them and to earn their salaries by making sure that nothing goes wrong or is out of place. To create flow, and crowd dynamics, and to build everything around a theme that makes a great point. To achieve a synergy with music and word that works up to a climax that will bring the audience to its feet with new vitality and encouragement for the week ahead, so they can hold onto their gospel until the next parade.
There are smaller parades on television so that the faithful can get their needed vitality and strength to go on even during the week. These shows are designed to fill in the gaps between the parade dates in their own hometowns. They are brightly lit sets with smiling people, and scripts that are full of this gospel that is no gospel. The viewers can watch people worshiping, and hear the parade music, performed by some of the very people who sing and dance in the real parades. Once in a while somebody tries to air a show that has another gospel, with some ugly and distasteful things in it, and preaches a lesser faith without as much positive in it, but these shows are quickly extinguished because they don’t attract the viewers like the others. The ratings take care of that problem for the producers.
Unfortunately, to their great future embarrassment, Jesus Christ, Lord of His Church, doesn’t have time for parades. He also doesn’t watch television. He’s too busy for that.
For Jesus is on
Narrow Road, not Broadway. He is out along the minor highways and small streets, busy healing the brokenhearted, the sick, the blind and the lame. He is busy taking care of the lonely and the afflicted. He is busy spending time with His small groups of disciples, who are in genuine need of Him. He is with those who suffer, and are in prison, and are in pain, and on their knees in their anguish and need for Him. He is with those who follow Him every moment, and rely on His love and strength and the power of His Spirit to get them through the day. He is close to those crushed in spirit, and who have no showmanship or loveliness of their own to parade around.
Christ is with those who need Him, not those who don’t.
For the faithful are mostly poor, and insignificant in the eyes of the world. The parade goes by many blocks away in their cities. They can hear the distant drums, and once in a while one of them ventures toward the parade, but security blocks them before they can ever get a glimpse, because they are not dressed right, and are obviously not part of the target market. They might turn on the television, and see one of the smaller parade shows, but it only makes them feel worse, as they aren’t participating in that wonderful life, so they turn it off.
The poor in spirit have only Jesus to be with them in this age of the parade. They hunger and thirst after righteousness, not after entertainment. They long for Christ, and to know the fellowship of His suffering, so they can know the joy and power of His resurrection in their lives. They carry a cross daily, which is the sign of Jesus’ life in them, but which makes them quite unacceptable and unattractive to the parade participants and crowds watching. That’s why crosses were banned long ago from parades, though they are allowed as discreet display on buildings along the way.
Jesus especially values those who obey Him. The True Gospel is the Way of Love, and those who love God love their brothers, as He taught. They share and are generous with one another. They don’t judge each other by their wealth, or status. They include one another in their lives, and are together as often as possible. The obedient know that love is the first and most reliable mark of the Christ-follower. And they seek to live that love every day toward others, even their enemies.
Jesus is too busy to go to parades. He is busy with those who are suffering for His sake all over the world. The thousands in prison for claiming His Name as their own. The millions in poverty who worship together without any parade trappings, and who would rather sing themselves, loudly and out of tune, than with the big crowds, bands, and be in disobedience. He likes to be with those would rather lead than be led. Those who would rather be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around them than leave their work to hired parade staff. Jesus likes these little ones, and prays for them, and helps them, walking beside them, living inside them, and He and the Father make their homes with them. Jesus is near to these strugglers, who can’t seem to get with the parade.
Of course, Jesus sends Word to the parade leaders often. Few of them listen, because listening to His Word, and seeing it without parade blinders on, would mean changing everything that they are doing, and admitting they were wrong to join the parade in the first place. Besides, how would they earn their living? After all, it’s their livelihood and income He’s talking about.
And Jesus talks to many who are in the crowd, and some of the performers in the parade, but it is so hard for them to hear above the din of the bands and the constant entertainment. Distractions keep them occupied, and they go back to their easy, comforting verses and their easy, comfortable gospel that is no gospel. Jesus gives up and goes back to His lowly people on
The parade continues. Perhaps only when poverty, or sickness, or the terrors of war, or the tragedies of life strike, will the parade pause; and perhaps, if enough of these things occupy the crowds and the performers and the leaders of this parade, they will be spending too much time on their knees and crying out to God to have the parade one week. And then, perhaps they will not have it the next week. And then, Jesus may come by again, and draw near to them in their affliction and loneliness, and they will listen, and hear His voice of love and mercy and He will take them out to
Narrow Road to join with others who are on the Way of Love. And they will be joyful in tribulation, and find power to live through suffering. And they will experience the Resurrection Power in their own lives, together with the faithful, and give up their parade life.
Perhaps it is a choice to leave the parade, and to go it with Jesus. Few will find it, He said. Will you?
Friday, September 6, 2013
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived
by the serpent’s cunning, your minds
may somehow be led astray
from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Or if someone comes to you
and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached…
you put up with it easily enough.”
2 Cor. 11:3,4
“…Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
It is not surprising, then, if his servants
masquerade as servants of righteousness.”
2 Cor. 11:14,15
Since Christ came, there have been those who knew Him, and preached Him truly and faithfully. These men, like Paul, suffered much to follow Christ, and were examples of his love and sacrifice. They lived the “sincere and pure devotion” which Paul talks about here to the people they brought into the
. Kingdom of God
They were examples to the flock of Christ’s compassion, humility, and generosity, giving of themselves without thought of being paid back, and desiring only that men and women find Christ for themselves, and that they be taught the truth consistent with Scripture and the life of Jesus. From the apostles on down, these men and women are our examples for life and service in Christ.
But today, as always, we have many who do not preach and teach the Jesus of the Bible. They are fakers and deceivers, deceiving and being deceived, and take many with them down the path of disobedience and confusion. Our churches in affluent
have gone down this path with alarming speed over the past decades, growing fat and complacent, leaving the elementary truths of God’s Word behind in their love affair with the world and its ways. America
Our leaders, the so-called shepherds of the flock, have led the way in being deceived, and in accepting the wages of the world.
The vast majority of our church traditions, practiced daily, weekly and monthly among the churches calling themselves by Christ’s Name, are weak and faulted, based upon the traditions of men rather than on the revealed will of God in His Word.
The traditional church service. The Sunday School. The tithe. The sacred days, like the Sabbath, Christmas, Easter. The role of pastors. The clergy/laity division. All are dangerously removed from Biblical teaching, and must be examined as man-made traditions, much like those gradually adopted by the Jews over the centuries, which Jesus our Lord spoke against, and still speaks against in His Word. Our desire to have religion and its trappings has resulted in a maze of religious tradition that entraps people who would know Christ from finding the way to Him.
God abhors religion. He hates man-created religious tradition, pomp and ceremony. He despises our attempts to rein in the Holy Spirit and put Him in the confines of liturgy and rigid conformity to comfortable schedules and staid religious structures.
Who are we to stand against the Word of God? To ignore His clear Ways? To replace His power with our placid, powerless religion? To preach a gospel other than that which Paul and the other apostles preached? Who are we to disobey the God of Heaven, who reached down in Christ to pluck us out of dead religion, and grabbed us away from the world and its basic principles? Who are we to mold ourselves after the weak and miserable traditions of men, instead of holding fast to the Truth that is the power of God in us?
As Paul told the Corinthian ekklesia of God in the passage quoted above, they were already being led astray by smooth-talking professional preachers and teachers who were more interested in securing lucrative and steady employment than in serving Christ by taking up their cross of pain and suffering. So today, we have a professional clergy that is dedicated to continuing the puny traditions of men, so that they can thrive in steady, salaried, comfortable positions of prominence.
If Paul were preaching today, he’d be standing against this unholy system of paid prophets and secure shepherds, because he stood against it in his day.
The tithe we preach and teach today has absolutely no place in the teaching of the New Covenant. The teaching of the New Covenant in Christ is giving, without reference or basis in tithing. Generosity, love, sharing, and giving up all one has is the new standard. Love for the brethren is the key concept in giving, and support for those who preach and teach God’s Word among us is expected, not in worldly business paradigms, but in spontaneous, abundant, loving provision out of hearts full of gratitude to Christ. Our giving to Christ is not counted in percentages, but in possibilities.
The church services we hold have no resemblance to those held among the scattered ekklesia of God in New Testament days. Their coming together was marked by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and though done in orderly fashion, was marked by the enthusiastic input of all in the Body that were present, with songs and teachings being brought by many, and confession of sin and prayer for healing of those sins being a regular part of their gatherings. The music was spontaneous and came from the heart. The gifts of the Holy Spirit were allowed to be manifest among the brethren as He led, and the unfettered growth of the Body in love and strength and encouragement was the result. There was mourning and grieving, repentance and confession as well as joy and praise. There was no “professional” staff hired to plan and develop sophisticated service traditions, and to do all the leading and teaching and preaching and music themselves.
Leaders were expected to shepherd the flock, down in the trenches, loving and working individually with their sheep. They knew their sheep as Jesus knows them, doing the difficult work of feeding and caring for them, as Jesus did. Every sheep was expected to grow and contribute, and the leaders were charged with teaching and preaching, making sure the flock learned how to follow Jesus, and going after the strays personally, as Jesus would. The leaders were charged also with training others to lead, and growing up others into the maturity in Christ that would allow them to teach others how to follow Christ.
There were no special days, because the birth of Christ, His death, and His resurrection were celebrated in the daily life of the Body. They were in the process of dying to self, and being resurrected to new life, and it wasn’t a once a year thing. It was daily. That’s why they met together often, as often as they could, because they loved to be together, and didn’t need special days and special events to make it worthwhile.
There were no staid traditions. It was each day with Christ, each day by faith and not by sight, each day in danger and difficulty on the
Narrow Road with their Savior. They, like many Christians in the non-affluent countries today, knew that following Christ meant exposure to mistreatment, and hardship. As it would for us in if we truly followed Christ, instead of playing dead religious games. America
We must fall on our knees and repent, asking the Lord God for forgiveness, and for His will in His Word to be revealed to us in freshness by His Spirit. We must weep and mourn and wail as James says, seeking God’s forgiveness for our apostasy and comfortable disobedience. We ask God for the wrong things, and we ask Him with wrong motives, to spend them on our own spiritual comforts and pleasures.
Woe to those who lead the flock of God into the wrong pastures! You who eat of the best, and sit at the seats of honor at the banqueting tables, and hold the pulpits away from the Lord’s people so that you can have the preeminence.
Woe to you who treat the Lord’s holy offices of leadership as a career, and your positions as secure ways of income!
Woe to you leaders who lead with unexamined and untested lives, emulating not Paul and the other apostles, not the Lord Jesus Himself, but the worldly leaders around you. Woe to you who rely on worldy management principles to govern the One Holy Nation of God!
“Woe to you who are complacent in
and to you who feel secure on
, Mount Samaria
you notable men of the foremost nation,
to whom the people of
You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches.
You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves.
You strum away on your harps like David
and improvise on musical instruments.
You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions,
but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.
Therefore you will be the first to go into exile;
your feasting and lounging will end.”
Listen to the Word of God, kneel and repent of your wickedness, before He comes and removes you from your exalted and comfortable position. Grieve over the ruin of the churches, put aside your self-absorption and insistence upon your security, and become like the Lord Jesus, the Servant, and like the apostles and prophets who are given us as examples in Scripture.
Abandon Broadway, and take the Narrow Roads with Christ, and find true fulfillment in your calling, or suffer the loss of all you have worked for!
Sheep of the One Flock, heed your One Shepherd’s voice, and leave the dead religious traditions of men. Follow Christ, your Lord and find His joy, His peace, His love, His Way. Leave the men and women who “masquerade as servants of righteousness” but preach a Jesus other than the Jesus preached by the Word of God. Leave them and follow Christ, for in the final Day, you will have no excuse!
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
SONS OF HELL
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” --Matt. 23:13-15
Sons of hell, this is for you.
I rebuke you for your hypocrisy with these words of Jesus.
There is a special place reserved in hell for those who make others stumble, and keep others out of the
, through their haughty and prideful religion. Those who claim to be Christians, and to know the way, and to be a guide to the blind, but instead, are more lost than the ones they claim to guide. Kingdom of God
Better for you to choose a millstone now, or a rope to hang yourself, than to lead another poor soul into hell with you!
Do you understand the gravity of your situation? Do you not know that the worst punishment is reserved for those who lead others astray? That God so cares about even the smallest, the least, of people, that He will judge with special severity those who make them stumble?
These teachers of the law and Pharisees were the most highly regarded religious people in their day in
. When Jesus taught, these men would come around and judge what He said. These were the leaders, the so-called proclaimers of truth to the common people. They had the Scripture, and stood up and read it every Sabbath in the synagogues. They were the ones who prayed very fervently on street corners, and led the processions to the house of God. They were the ones who taught the young, and claimed to be holders of the keys to getting into heaven. They were the ones who presided over marriages and funerals, and every major occasion of life among God’s people. Israel
Yet Jesus here rebukes them and tells them they’re not only going to end up in hell, but are taking others with them. They are keeping men and women and children out of the
, not bringing them into it! Kingdom of God
Does this shake you, brother? It should.
For many in the churches today are as much sons of hell as the teachers of the law and the Pharisees were in Jesus’ day.
I rebuke in the Name of Jesus those of you who claim to be the keepers of the keys to the Kingdom, yet who yourselves are blind, impotent, sinful, disobedient, and full of deceit.
I rebuke in the powerful Name of the One who came as Light in the darkness, this spiritual darkness you perpetuate by enslaving men and women to your self-declared leadership.
You who seek prominence, and position. You who seek to stand in front so your egos and your self-worth are fed by the respect of your congregations. You who speak words pleasing to the ears of your hearers, while letting them be taken to hell with the rest of the world. You who treat the Word of God as if it is your private reserve of wine, to be doled out in small glasses as you wish to favor those who come to hear you. You who care more about your programs and your church growth than you do about any individual man, woman or child around you. You who have found a secure niche in the hierarchy, who favor us with your pronouncements, and your profound opinions, and your carefully-worded press releases. You who speak from the seats of scholarship, safely dispensing your wisdom while the world dies for lack of knowledge. You who wear the suits, and make the gestures, and intone the correct phrases, and pray the right prayers. You who create whole industries around yourselves, and your ministries, and yet who do not speak the plain, simple, hard truths of God’s Word. You who claim to be leaders, but are followers only—followers of your spreadsheets, and your financial advisors, or your denominational pronouncements, or your boards of directors. You who claim to be free and claim to lead others to freedom, but who instead are the worst kind of slaves--slaves to pride and rebelliousness, slaves to self, slaves to religious convention and man-made tradition—who lead others into the same enslaving bonds, and sit on your couches in your comfortable homes and offices content and secure while your readers or listeners go to hell with you.
Jesus would have a Word with you.
He would like you to stop what you’re doing, and find Him. To become true disciples before you speak another word in His Name.
His greatest condemnation is reserved for those who claim to be what they are not. His fearsome condemnation sits heavy upon the hypocrites of our day, just as surely as it did when He spoke these Words to the religious leaders of His day.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will be clean.” --Matt. 23:25,26
You must first learn to listen to the Word of God, and to obey it. You must bear the fruit of the Spirit in your own life, learning the difficult and costly lessons of the narrow road with Jesus, before others can drink from your cup. Clean your cup and dish, take the plank out of your own eye, sit in humility and be nobody before the world, and then, perhaps you will be worthy to share this Good News with others. Then perhaps God will honor you with the great responsibility of speaking His Word to His people.
Jesus tells us we are not to be called “Rabbi” or “Father” or “Teacher”, and I would extend that in our day to “Pastor” and “Reverend” and “Doctor” and “President”. Within the Body of Christ, we are all brothers.
“For you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” --Matt. 23:8-12
Repent today of your hypocrisy, sons of hell, before the humbling comes!
Thursday, August 29, 2013
EVEN THE DEVILS HAVE RELIGION
“Then they asked Him,
‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’
‘The work of God is this:
to believe in the One He has sent.’”
The religious want religious answers. This answer from the lips of the Son of God did not satisfy the religious then, and it will not satisfy you if you want religion now.
Religion seeks but never finds, because religion rejoices in its own activities, and in the search itself. Religion wants prescriptions, and lists, and tasks. Religion wants a clear outline of “minimum standards”.
Religion desires a physical house of worship and a creed and an organization. Religion desires structure and rules.
Religion is never the answer, because religion exists to create more structure, and more requirements, and sustains itself through order and repetition.
The religious want to do things religiously, which simply means to do something over and over to earn a feeling of absolution or worthiness.
The religions of the world exist by teaching that without their religious structure and adherence to their many requirements, no man can know God.
Religion is what people get when they get what they want.
Jesus didn’t come to give what people want, but rather what they need, and what they must have if they would inherit eternal life with God the Father.
Religion kills. Religion imprisons. Religion deceives. Religion takes people to hell by the trainload. All man-made religious structures stand worthless and condemned since Christ.
The ekklesia of God, the Holy Nation, the Household of God, the Family of God, His Treasured Possession, is made up, not of those who seek religion or religious experience, but those who believe in Jesus with a saving belief, an empowered belief that comes when God the Father draws a person to Jesus. Nobody can be part of this true Body of Christ on earth except he or she be drawn by the Father. These called and chosen know Jesus’ voice, and will not follow religion, or any other shepherd. His sheep know Him, and follow Him only, doing the things He does, having His mind, being led and empowered by His Spirit.
Does any of this sound like your religion? If you list your religion as Christianity, and say you are a believer in Jesus because you go to a Christian church building and participate in the activities and services, and because you sometimes read your Bible and even pray, and that makes it so, then you may be entirely deceived, as the religious Jews were in their day. If you think you are saved because you believe in the “basic principles and precepts” of the Bible, and believe that Jesus is the Christ, please listen.
Perhaps your deep discontent, which you express to nobody but your own inner self, is because you know you are not truly experiencing the Christ-life, and abiding in Christ, but are just being a religious ‘Christian’!
Many of us have been raised in this religion. Many of us were caught in this religious trap. Many of us are hearing the voice of Christ, the Word of Christ, for the first time, calling us out from this empty life of observance and spectatorship.
Come with us on the only adventure worth having in this life, the Life of Christ lived in us, the fullness of Christ growing in us, the Way, the Truth, and the Life lived out through us.
If you truly believe, your life will be Christ’s, and He will live in you, and His Spirit will empower you to live a life of love and sacrifice for others as Jesus did. Remember, even the devils have religion!
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
PROCLAIM FROM THE ROOFS
“What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight. What is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” --Matt 10: 27,28
’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and do you not understand these things? --Matt 3:10 Israel
“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue…He…wakens my ear as one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me I will not be disgraced. Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I will not be put to shame.” --Isa 50: 4-7
There is no ecclesiastical, institutional call for those who speak the Truth of God from His Word. The call that comes to them comes in the darkness, not in the glaring lights of worldly publicity.
God’s spokesmen and watchmen on the walls of
are not picked for their advanced degrees, and their detailed knowledge of the intricacies of biblical scholarship. In fact, there is no earthly reason for their being chosen for such a difficult, lonely, arduous task. Only God knows the reason for His choices. And His Chosen are given their call by Jesus Himself, not by men or man-made organizations. Jerusalem
We are confronted daily with the blatant apostasy of the people of God. As Jesus was maligned and hated by the religiously motivated men around Him, so we will be maligned and hated by those who stand for religion today.
As in Jesus’ time, the teachers of Israel will often not understand God’s true purposes as shown in His Word, and will often stand in opposition to them.
That is all the more reason we cannot fight this fight with the weapons in our hands. We cannot stand if we don’t put on the full armor of God, because we are set among the tares, and they will be constantly working to choke out the Word of God and make it ineffectual.
But God is the God of the impossible, and He will do it for us.
Right now, brother or sister, you may love the Word of God because you are called to be a watchman on the walls, a prophet among the people of God. God’s Word may be your life’s blood, and your constant companion day and night. You may pray without stopping, keeping your ears open to the Spirit, trying hard to understand everything Jesus gives you. You may hear His voice speaking in the wee hours, in the morning hours, even when you go about your work or spend time with others.
You have waves churning in your heart and mind at the wrong around you, especially the wrong in the churches. You look at the Truth given us in Scripture, and you wonder where it went. You look at the behavior of so-called believers in Christ, who gather together and worship Him in comfort, yet who don’t carry out even the most basic of Christ’s commands, and you are in pain at this state of affairs.
Your soul, like
Lot’s, is vexed at the sin around you. And you are not primarily upset at the world, which careens toward self-destruction because the lost don’t know any better. You are primarily angry and frustrated at the gap between how you see the Church shown us in Scripture and the life of the churches today.
You pray daily for God to raise up men and women who will speak these things boldly.
What I am going to say is from the Spirit, and from the Son’s heart, and is the Father’s will for this time, though it is hard for me to say because it puts me on the line as well as each man who listens and hears and is willing to obey.
We are those who must obey Jesus and speak in the light, shout from the rooftops what He tells us in the dark and whispers to us in our ears. We are those who must obey His call to tell others what He is saying. He is demanding of us what Jesus talked about in the Parable of the Minas. That each of us has just one mina, one life, and that must be given wholly to advancing the
, regardless of our personal business, regardless of any worldly agendas we may want to pursue. Kingdom of God
Some of us, the spokesmen and watchmen He has called, are busy with our nets, trying to catch fish. Some of us are collecting taxes or busy with our corporate jobs. Some of us are raising families, and have our own businesses. Some of us are in “fulltime Christian work”, and are busy doing things for the churches, or other organizations. Some of us are laboring as carpenters, as Jesus did.
But each of us is required to build the
first, and to put aside our own agendas and plans. Jobs and earthly pursuits come last. Your search, men and women, for career fulfillment comes last. Kingdom of God
Many of us are like the man who told Jesus he couldn’t come with Him because he had personal obligations that prevented it. Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their own dead.” --Matt 8:22
Do we think that Jesus can’t take care of us and ours if we follow Him?
Today, even if you’ve spent time away from the Lord, and have sinned greatly, you are called to obey. As Paul, the murderous, violent man whom God used so mightily, we who have sinned and been away are now called to tell the truth where we have promoted lies.
Today, if you know this call of God in your heart, you are to obey, just as God is taking all other crutches and excuses away from me, and telling me to obey.
What do we do?
Speak out today to others around us about what God is saying. We are to obey Jesus, and be His true disciples, and that means we stand with Him, not with religious men.
We must forsake our nets, and follow Jesus.
We are to be willing to suffer with Jesus outside the gates of the city, setting our faces like flint as He did, and be willing to endure the mocking hatred of the religious crowd if we are to fulfill His calling.
Remember Jeremiah in the cistern, up to his neck in mud, starving, and yet unyielding in His commitment to God’s Word.
When the disciples saw Jesus cleansing the temple in
Jerusalem of the money changers and the merchants who had taken over ’s central place of worship, they were reminded of Psalm 69, the prophetic Word that David spoke about the coming Messiah. Israel
May it also be true of us as we awake each day and listen to Jesus speak to us, and as we are faithful to follow in His footsteps.
“I am a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my own mother’s sons;
for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.” --Ps 69: 8,9
As our Lord Jesus promised to His disciples, we won’t lose anything in this life that won’t be given back to us a hundredfold, both now and in eternity.
We will be given brothers and mothers and sisters and fathers and children and the warmth of family now, in the form of the Body of Christ. We will have greater riches than any we could have from the world.
That’s why our Savior says to us:
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” --Matt 19: 29
So, if you are in the muddy depths, look up for God’s deliverance, brother. If you are on the lofty heights of success, look down and rescue your brother who is alone in his struggles. Get together and be the Body of Christ, proclaim what God reveals in His Word from the rooftops. Do not hold back. Let’s present the Lord Jesus with ten minas for every one He’s given us when we stand before Him.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
FALSE TEACHERS DOMINATE THE MEDIA
“But there were false prophets among the people,
just as there will be false teachers among you.”
2 Peter 2:1
A quick flip through the Christian television channels will provide anyone who cares to watch a catalogue of false and misleading teachings. I just finished watching a man named Mike Murdock preach a false gospel, misleading the thousands watching him, and bringing many to destruction. Right here in broad daylight, in
, on a professionally-produced program that airs on a major Christian network. America
This man preaches a false gospel that is not of Christ in any way. He uses the name of Christ once every half hour or so, and the rest of the time twists and distorts the Word of God for his own ends. He preaches a false gospel that is not new, but in fact a false gospel that was introduced by false teachers while the apostles were still preaching and teaching the true gospel of Christ.
Christ calls this man to step down or be brought down at the judgment seat of Christ. Like so many before him in a long line of deceiving wolves, he tells the sheep they can have unlimited prosperity, money, and blessings in their lives if they just “hold God to His promises”. He tells his own story, a blasphemous and ridiculous tale of poverty, and crying out to God, and telling God that if He didn’t keep His promises, then He was a liar. And He didn’t want to serve a liar. So Murdock challenged God, and came up with a smooth and complete doctrinal system that purports to be the true gospel. Murdock’s gospel is a phony, man-made list of principles that claim to obligate God to make everyone prosperous. He is a manipulator, a master salesman, and a liar. It is time he and others who declare these preposterous lies in the name of Christ be called out.
“Many will follow their shameful ways
and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
In their greed, these teachers will exploit you
with stories they have made up.”
2 Peter 2:2,3
This man and others like him tell masterfully-crafted stories, scripted perfectly to grab at the heartstrings and the pocketbooks of their audience. This audience is made up of the lower part of the population in terms of education and success. The sheep are hungry, and he promises wealth and prosperity. He plays on their greed and their desperate need to be somebody. He plays on their fears, and exploits their desires for a better life. He never mentions Christ, or the cross, or the Way of Christ, of love and sacrifice for others. He instead plants dreams of multiple homes, fancy cars, lots of money, and great respect from God based on the “faith to plant seeds” and to give to his ministry and to others. He represents himself as a model, having been poverty-stricken, and in dire need (“no kitchen table, no kitchen chairs”), and having then gone to his knees to find the truth in Scripture.
He challenges God in his story, building himself up as a pure and honest man. He said to God, “God, if you are not a God who keeps His Word, then I don’t want to serve you. If you are a liar, then I won’t be part of this, because I don’t want to be with a liar. But if you keep your promises, I’ll be willing to do anything for you.” In other words, Mike Murdock is honest and dependable, but God may not be. If Mike doesn’t get what Mike wants from God, then God is a liar. What boastful arrogance and sinful pride. What Satanlike character displayed brazenly and openly on “Christian” television!
He was claiming a Scripture that talks about God giving good gifts to his children, and that if they gave up all they had for God, He would give them “a hundredfold back, in this life, and in the life to come.” (His interpretation, not what Jesus said or meant). He used this Scripture, along with a few others, as a basis to teach that God rewards those who sow upon the principle of the Seed Gospel. That anything good we sow will reap rewards in this life, now, for us. That God is obligated to keep that promise. That this principle guides us in giving, so that we receive material blessings in this life in proportion to the material giving we do in this life.
All of this is bunk. It is pure and simple false teaching, out of accord with the entire Word of God from beginning to end. Yet stupid and ignorant sheep follow these men and are led astray, because they look, talk and act like men of ministry, and they are teaching on a major Christian network. So the networks are equally at fault for carrying men like these, and for advancing their false teachings. Not only the teacher, but those who promote him and “send him on his way” will all be held accountable at the judgment seat of Christ for misleading many in His name.
I say about Mike Murdock and all others involved in promoting these teachings:
“They will be paid back with harm
for the harm they have done…
they are blots and blemishes,
reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.
With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning;
they seduce the unstable;
they are experts in greed—
an accursed brood.”
2 Peter 2:13,14
These men and women, who are Satan in disguise, call men and women away from the narrow road of discipleship to Jesus, and onto the broad way that leads to destruction.
I have seen them my entire life, and know their excesses. They use the giving of poor sheep to fund an extravagant lifestyle, with private jets, large homes, luxury cars, huge wardrobes, travel and the finest in everything. These men and women exhibit the perfect blend of public humility and private greed and corruption.
The empire of Oral Roberts, and his son Richard, are perfect examples. Their personal wealth, amassed to not only build “prayer towers” and a university, has been used to buy a fleet of private jets, and luxury palaces in several places. In the twentieth century alone, and now following into the twenty-first, we have dozens who live this way off their twisted gospels.
It is time, brothers and sisters, that we had the courage in Christ to call these men and women out.
“These men are springs without water
and mists driven by a storm.
Blackest darkness is reserved for them.
For they mouth empty, boastful words,
and, by appealing to the lustful desires
of sinful human nature,
they entice people who are just escaping
from those who live in error.”
2 Peter 2:18
This is serous business, brethren. These people lead others astray. They betray the very Lord who bought them with His sacrifice on the cross. They take others to hell with them.
Remember Jesus’ Words about Judas, on the night of His betrayal.
Jesus replied, “The one who had dipped his hand
into the bowl with Me will betray Me.
The Son of Man will go just as it is
written about Him.
But woe to that man who betrays
The Son of
It would be better for him
if he had not been born.”
Judas was one of the twelve, chosen by Christ Himself. Yet he betrayed His Lord for money.
These men, the Mike Murdocks, betray the Christ who called them and gave His life for them. So these men follow the way of Judas.
Woe to you, Murdock, and the others who mislead the sheep across the globe today. Woe to you from Christ, who says it would be better for you if you had not been born than to lead astray even one of His little ones. It is time you found judgment at the hand of God.
I counsel all who hear these words today. Stay in Christ. Stay close to Him. Never accept or promote the false teachings of these self-glorified men. As John says in his first letter to the churches, so I say to you:
“I am writing these things to you about those
who are trying to lead you astray.
As for you, the anointing your received from Him
remains in you, and you do not
need anyone to teach you.
But as His anointing teaches you about all things
and as that anointing is real, and not counterfeit—
just as it has taught you,
remain in Him.”
1 John 2:26,27
The Holy Spirit, God’s anointing in your life, will teach you the truth from His Word as you remain in Jesus. He will remain in you as He promises, through poverty, trouble, disease, danger, famine, the sword, and all other trials. He will be your strength and your shield. You need no material rewards in this life when you know and serve the living Christ. He will take care of you, with food, clothing and shelter, and so be content with that.
Resist these false teachers, and take every opportunity to speak out against them and their deceptions. Perhaps the Lord will save some of His own who are among the deceived.
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