Archive for the ‘Signs of the Times’ Category

Emerging Church Lesson for the Day: What Did Paul Mean That He Became All Things to All Men?

By Mike Oppenheimer
Let Us Reason Ministries

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
What did the apostle Paul mean that he became all things to all men for evangelism? This is his summation after he describes his goal and those people whom he wanted to reach. He adapted his teaching to their thought in their culture to reach them. He divides the world into the religious with the law (Jews), and the Gentiles, without the law.
According to 1 Corinthians 9:20, Paul was emancipated from the law as a means of salvation, yet he knew how to speak to them because of his former beliefs and life with them (Galatians 4:21). He knew how to put the Gospel to them without compromise and without offence.1
To the Jews, he would observe the Mosaic customs as long as it did not affect his duty to Christ. There was no compromise of principles or the law though Paul was a Jew among Jews. He did not act as a person obligated to the law with the Jews, nor as a lawless person to the Gentiles, but always made it evident he was serving them under the law of Christ.
In Acts 17, Paul showed the philosophers they were wrong from logic, their own history, and the Bible and explained to them what is right. He used what the Athenians did not know, an altar to an unknown god, to make known to them what he knew. Paul was not complimenting their religious worship as they were idolaters. These religious men of prestige were offended as he told them they would be judged by a man who came back to life. Yet, Paul’s continual quest was to persuade men to turn “to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Paul certainly made a distinction (as did Jesus) between those who knew what God required and those in ignorance. Paul even pitted the Gentiles against the Jews to humble them from pride. Romans 2:14-16:
[F]or when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (giving the same summation as he did in Acts 17).
In 1 Corinthians 9:22, Paul said, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
If this statement by Paul were isolated from the rest of Scripture, one could assume Paul was willing to do anything to reach the lost, including adopting their lifestyle and compromise his ethics, morals, and beliefs. This is a doctrine that is popularized among the seeker-friendly, emerging church evangelism crowd today. If we use this logic, then for one to reach a drug addict, he must become one; one cannot reach a drunk unless he becomes a drunk, etc.
When we compare Scripture with Scripture, we find that Paul did not mean this. In order for a doctrine to be biblically sound, it cannot contradict other verses. Paul taught that believers are to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Paul would not have done anything contrary to Christ and His ways in his own life and ministry. Remember he rebuked Peter for compromising of the Gospel when Jewish brethren came to visit him in Antioch. Galatians 2:11-13, speaking of the Judaizers: “for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.” Saying to Peter in Galatians 2:14: “If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”

So Paul did not mean that we can act one way with one group of people and another way with another group to win them.

We have good examples that Paul did not act lawlessly among the pagans who were outside the Mosaic law: Romans 2:14, 1 Timothy 1:9-10. Paul simplified the message, knowing his audience, so they could understand and receive.
Paul explains that he is always under the law to Christ, and he is never free to do things that would be contrary to the new covenant. And in Galatians 5:13, he says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
Paul’s liberty in his evangelism was not a freedom to sin or to serve the flesh in any way. Paul was always strict in regard to sin, and he did not allow anything in his life that would bring the result of sin by spiritual carelessness.
Notes:
1. From Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament.
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UN’s ‘Absurd’ Birthday Present to Israel: Resolution Brands Them ‘Occupiers’

Courtesy and Comments by Understand the Times, International

Click to enlarge at source page.

When it comes to rulings promoted by the United Nations against Israel, there is only one way to make sense of the nonsense. Israel is despised by the nations of the world just as the Bible predicted that it would be in the last days. The God of Israel is the God of the Bible and will not be mocked. It is only a matter of time until Bible prophecy will be fulfilled and the nations that come against Israel will be judged. – Understand the Times.

From CBN (Posted for informational and research purposes):
May 3 – UN’s ‘Absurd’ Birthday Present to Israel: Resolution Brands Them ‘Occupiers’

On the same day Israel celebrated its 69th birthday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, better known as UNESCO, passed a resolution declaring Israel an “occupying power” in Jerusalem.   “All legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the “basic law” on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith,” the resolution stated. Last October, UNESCO passed a similar resolution denying Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, declaring them Muslim “holy sites.” The resolution also passed a day before President Trump is due to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.  Read Full Article

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Kingdom-Now Evangelicals

By Roger Oakland
While I believe Rome leads the way with the bold claim that God chose Peter and the succeeding popes to take the title of “Vicar of Christ” and determine what the sheep should or should not believe, other groups believe they have been called to usher in or even prepare and set up the kingdom of God here on Earth without the presence of the King. Often taking the position that Jesus will not actually physically return to rule and reign for a period of one thousand years, these groups see themselves as chosen by God to be human vessels for this purpose.
Common names for this teaching are: Kingdom Now, Dominion Theology, and Reconstructionism. It is the idea that before Christ can return, the world must be brought together in unity and perfection, and this work will be done by the Christian church. Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan, Jim Wallis’ social gospel agenda, and Tony Campolo or Brian McLaren’s emergent church are a few of the avenues through which this is being propagated. The goal is to basically eradicate all the world’s ills (e.g., disease, poverty, terrorism, and pollution) and thus, we will have created a “Heaven on Earth” Utopia.

While creating such a world sounds very good, it is not what the Bible says is going to happen. Many Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testaments, describe a very different scenario, such as the following:

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:9-14)
The following list of some of the erroneous teachings in Kingdom-Now theology illustrate how dangerous this belief system is, yet it has tremendously pervaded the church today:
Prophetic Scriptures are denied or fulfilled in 70 AD (as is also the belief of preterism).
The church is the new Israel (replacement theology).
Armageddon is the ongoing battle between the forces of light and darkness.
The Antichrist is a spirit, not an actual person.
We are already in the Tribulation, but at the same time, we are in the Millennium. It doesn’t get any stranger! It’s one or the other.
Rather than following traditional Bible prophecy, they follow “new revelations.”
Modern-day prophets must be obeyed and not judged for their inaccuracy.
They want to restore the Edenic nature even though Eden is where sin began.1
This movement has swept the planet, and those who refuse to join hands are considered “colonial,” “militant fundamentalists,” and “narrow-minded crackpots” who are not willing to catch the “new wave” and get on board with the mighty revival that is moving the world toward unity and peace. Many of the leaders in this movement have no problem whatsoever joining with the pope in Rome and the kingdom-of-Earth plans he has for joining together with other religions, including Islam.
While some discerning Christians can see how this trend plays a role in light of Bible prophecy, there is a huge portion of Christianity that does not. These are those who are reading books by authors who promote emerging church (or “progressive Christianity”) ideas for the postmodern generation that reject the teachings of the Bible and embrace establishing the kingdom of God on Earth right now. They are willing to join hands with other religions by reinventing Christianity into a “broad-way” spirituality where all are saved and part of God’s Kingdom. No longer do they believe in the “narrow road” to eternity. The kingdom of God is for all religions, they say (and even for those who believe in nothing). Unity, peace, connectedness, and oneness is all that matters, while biblical doctrine is being set aside as irrelevant to the “new reformation” at hand. Obviously, such a view leaves little room for the Cross and the biblical Gospel. And Scriptures such as this one are overlooked:
And he [Jesus] went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are. (Luke 13:22-25; emphasis added)
Unfortunately, while there may be many pastors, like Rick Warren, who still hold to a personal belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior, the time will come when the path they are now taking may cost them dearly. It is my hope that these leaders might wake up to see what they are doing before it is too late. And let us not forget the countless number of people following these shepherds who may never embrace a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of the truths being withheld from them for the sake of “peace” and “unity.”
It is also grievous to know that a good number of “Christian” leaders no longer believe (or have never believed) in the Cross as a propitiation for sin but maintain their belief that such a concept is both archaic and barbaric. They hold to the view that Christianity needs to be reinvented for our times. Brian McLaren, who in 2015 represented “Christianity” at the Parliament of the World Religions in Utah, holds to just such a view. In one interview, he said that the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death is “false advertising for God” and he equally rejected the doctrine of Hell as well.2
In addition, McLaren has played a significant role in promoting kingdom-now theology as can be seen in his book The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything. McLaren, who was once listed by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 most influential persons associated with evangelical Christianity, has sought to upgrade the Christian faith in order to make it relevant for today. He asks a number of questions at the beginning of his book that imply the church has misrepresented Jesus’ core message and promotes the idea that Christians need to be honest with themselves even if that means altering their faith. In his book, he makes the following statement:
Sadly, for centuries at a time in too many places to count, the Christian religion has downplayed, misconstrued, or forgotten the secret message of Jesus entirely. Instead of being about the kingdom of God coming to earth, the Christian religion has too often been preoccupied with abandoning or escaping the earth and going to heaven . . . We have betrayed the message that the kingdom of God is available for all, beginning with the least and last and the lost—and have instead believed and taught that the kingdom of God is available for the elite, beginning with the correct and the clean and the powerful.3
In McLaren’s 2016 book titled The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to be Christian, he describes this all-inclusive “kingdom of God” that incorporates “multifaith [i.e., all religions] collaborations.” He states:
This kind of collaboration leads to a fresh understanding of what it means to evangelize. I was taught that it meant converting people to the one true religion, namely, my own [Christianity]. Now I believe evangelism means inviting people into heart-to-heart communion and collaboration with God and neighbors in the great work of healing the earth, of building the beloved community, of seeking first the kingdom of God and God’s justice for all. Members of each tradition bring their unique gifts to the table, ready to share and receive, learn and teach, give and take, in a spirit of generosity and vulnerability. Neither my neighbors nor I are obligated or expected to convert. . . . As we work together for the common good, we are all transformed. Those who haven’t experienced this kind of transforming collaboration simply don’t know what they’re missing. . . . Through multifaith collaborations, I have come to see how the language Paul used about one body with many members (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12: 4– 5) applies not only to differing gifts among individual Christians but also to differing gifts among religions.4 (emphasis added)
While many evangelicals have now pushed Brian McLaren to the sidelines of evangelical Christianity, others have continued carrying on his message, sometimes in more subtle ways. But as the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun. Satan’s devices are always in play. His goal is to destroy the message of the Cross, and while he cannot ever actually destroy it, he can cause untold numbers to reject it by offering them substitutes. But we know there is no substitute for the finished work on the Cross by Jesus Christ, who is the only Savior for mankind.
What Does This Tell Us?
There is a common cliché: if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and has feathers like a duck—it is a duck! Efforts are underway to establish the kingdom of God on Earth right now without the King. Is this what Jesus intended would happen, or are we being misled by human beings who are following the thoughts of their own imagination or worse yet the inspiration of Satan?
While the idea that the kingdom of God is being established here on Earth by human leaders has been around for centuries, we should pay special attention when current events reveal that though the world gets worse and worse, we are being told it is getting better and better. When false religions become part of the kingdom, then clearly, this is not God’s kingdom, but rather it is the kingdom that belongs to the god of this world. Jesus made it very clear there are two kingdoms—one of God and one of this world—when he told Pontius Pilate shortly before He was crucified, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Jesus also said to Pilate in that same conversation “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Ask yourself this, are you hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd, or is it the voice of the god of this world who leads a kingdom that is not of God?
Endnotes:
1. Taken from “Kingdom-Now Theology” (Lighthouse Trails blog, March 6, 2007, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=3295).
2. Interview by Leif Hansen (The Bleeding Purple Podcast) with Brian McLaren, January 8th, 2006); Part 1: http://web.archive.org/web/20090103090514/http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blogspot.com/2006/01/brian-mclaren-interview-part-i.html; Part II: http://web.archive.org/web/20060127003305/http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blogspot.com).
3. Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), pp. 78-79.
4. Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration (New York, NY: Convergent Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2016), Kindle location 2768.
(Roger Oakland is the author of several books, booklets, and is featured in many teaching DVDs and films. His latest book, The Good Shepherd Calls, deals with the apostasy taking place in the church today.)
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World in Crisis: ‘Community Beyond Belief’ Follows Church Model Without Religion

LTRP Note: One of our readers sent us this article today. We have posted it for informational and research purposes only and not as an endorsement.

By Katherine Burgess
The Wichita Eagle

People at Wichita Oasis start showing up at around 10 on Sunday morning, drinking coffee and chatting before the music begins.

Once children are safely in the large playroom – complete with a chalk wall, a tent and plenty of toys – the adults and youths find their seats, ready for music and announcements.

But when the music starts, the songs aren’t about Jesus. And when the speaker begins, he or she doesn’t read a Bible verse.

Although Oasis follows a Sunday morning structure similar to many Christian churches, it calls itself a “community beyond belief,” focused on atheists, humanists and agnostics.

“When you move, it’s so nice to just be able to go to a church of your denomination, make friends there, network there,” said Alexandra Simmons, president of Wichita Oasis and a humanist. “I love being able to provide that for people. Just to have a nonreligious place to get together.” Click here to continue reading.

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‘Bible Answer Man’ Hank Hanegraaff Leaves Evangelicalism, Joins Eastern Orthodox Church

Hank Hanegraaff (source: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/QUDMJ5D9Q28/hqdefault.jpg – used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act)

LTRP Note: The following news article is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of either the content or the source. It is no surprise to Lighthouse Trails that Walter Martin’s successor Hank Hanegraaff (host of the Bible Answer Man) has converted to the Orthodox Church (which is a bridge between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism). Several years ago, we saw something like this coming because of Hanegraaff’s embracing of Rick Warren, Richard Foster, and other ecumenical contemplative figures.

Hanegraaff admits that the Eucharist was instrumental in his conversion. According to the Catholic Church, the Eucharist is “the real Presence” of Christ in the sacraments which blasphemously contradicts Hebrews 10:10-12, recrucifying Christ. Many in the Orthodox Church embrace this view of the Eucharist as well though they may reject the term “transubstantiation.”1

Hanegraaff, a Reformed preterist, has also provided a platform for anti-Israel figure Stephen Sizer. According to apologist David Reagan,

The two foremost critics of Christian Zionism are Reverend Stephen Sizer, an Anglican priest in England, and Hank Hanegraaff here in the United States, known popularly as “The Bible Answer Man.” Both men are virulently anti-Semitic. Sizer has “marketed a nightmare version of Christian Zionism that paints all Christian supporters of Israel as reactionary and dangerous fundamental fanatics intent on bringing on Armageddon.” Hanegraaff bluntly asserts that “Israel is the Harlot of Revelation.”2

Something to consider: Romans 11 gives a stern warning to Gentiles not to become puffed up or arrogant against the Jews. When a proclaiming Christian turns his back on Israel and the Jews and becomes puffed up as Romans 11 describes, is it possible that the Holy Spirit departs, and if that happens, a replacement would be sought. This is where contemplative mysticism comes in to play. We find it interesting that many who embrace contemplative spirituality also reject Israel and the Jews as having any significant role from God’s point of view.

Proclaiming Christians who have turned against Israel saying that the church has replaced Israel should take heed and realize they have put themselves in great peril and at risk of becoming apostate.

Given the large audience of followers that Hank Hanegraaff has, we expect his conversion will lead many to follow suit in converting out of Protestantism.

 

“‘Bible Answer Man’ Hank Hanegraaff Leaves Evangelicalism, Joins Eastern Orthodox Church”

By Brandon Showalter
Christian Post

An evangelical radio personality known as “The Bible Answer Man” and president and chairman of the Christian Research Institute was formally received into the Eastern Orthodox Church Sunday.

The Christian Post confirmed that Hank Hanegraaff was chrismated on Palm Sunday at Saint Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“What astounding news,” said Rod Dreher, an Orthodox Christian and author of the New York Times best-selling book The Benedict Option, in an interview with The Christian Post Monday.

“Many evangelicals seek the early church; well here it is, in Orthodoxy,” he continued.

“I am sure some will be scandalized by Hanegraaff’s conversion but I hope at least some will wonder how someone as knowledgeable about the Bible as Hank could convert to Orthodoxy, and go to a Divine Liturgy to taste and see what it’s like.” Click here to continue reading. Below is a video of Hanegraaff talking about the Eucharist and the Orthodox Church to listeners.

Notes:

  1. https://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/worship/the-sacraments/holy-eucharist.
  2. David Reagan, “Christian Zionism” (http://christinprophecy.org/articles/christian-zionism/).

Related Articles:

The Catholic Church Continues Drawing In the “Lost Brethren” Through Eucharistic Adoration

Catholic Evangelization and the Role of the “Eucharist” in This End-Time Deception

 

 

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E.U. Leaders Sign Rome Declaration and Proclaim a ‘Common Future’ (Minus Britain)

LTRP Note: Posted for informational and research purposes.

European Union leaders on Saturday in Rome during a meeting on the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. Credit: Tony Gentile/Reuters

By James Kanter and Elisabetta Povoledo
New York Times

ROME — Proclaiming “Europe is our common future,” 27 leaders of the European Union signed a statement on Saturday in Rome declaring their commitment to integrating the Continent even as a series of crises has badly weakened the efforts and Britain prepares to leave the bloc.

The statement, known as the Rome Declaration and signed on the anniversary of the day the bloc’s foundations were laid 60 years ago, underscored the aspirations of a “unique union with common institutions and strong values, a community of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

In a nod to reality, however, the leaders acknowledged that they were “facing unprecedented challenges, both global and domestic,” including “regional conflicts, terrorism, growing migratory pressures, protectionism and social and economic inequalities.”

The ceremony took place in a hall in Rome that was richly decorated in frescoes depicting scenes from the ancient world. It is the same room where the Treaty of Rome was signed on March 25, 1957, by six countries. That event helped lay the groundwork for today’s union. Click here to continue reading.

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Letter to the Editor: Bethel’s Attempt to Make “Same Old” Teachings Sound More “Mainstream”

To Lighthouse Trails Editors:

Bill Johnson of Bethel Church; Photo credit: Christianity Today | http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/may/cover-story-inside-popular-controversial-bethel-church.html

I wanted to write you about Bethel’s trend of trying to make their teachings sound more “mainstream” evangelical, even though their aberrant teachings are clearly not (as LT has pointed out over the past few years through booklets, blogs, etc.).

Bethel has gotten more sophisticated with their lingo and presentation of some rehashed Latter Rain heresies and “revival” pep-speak, but the calculated supposed “upgrade” that has escalated in the past few years has been an attempt to repackage their same old “kingdom-now,” Christian dominionism,” 7 mountain mandate,” into more palatable, mainstream language.

Why? Probably in an attempt to increase its already huge following (that continues to multiply over the Internet and worldwide: including its affiliated “Jesus Culture” band).

Who are they targeting? Not just young people who may not be familiar enough with God’s Word to discern error and unbiblical teachings, but Bethel is also targeting the unsuspecting, struggling evangelical who may not be familiar with some of the charismatic lingo, and “signs and wonders” and who are being enticed by the “power” and “revival” that Bethel falsely promises at every turn . . .

Here are several items with Pastor Rod Page (pastor of Lewiston Community Church, Lewiston, CA–20 miles from Bethel Church in Redding, CA), speaking about God’s Word, God’s heart, and God’s truth regarding those entangled, unaware that Bethel’s teachings (Kris Valloton, etc.,) are unbiblical and dangerous:

1) Link to 12/6/16 Herescope posting/article: “The Bethel Church Upgrade”: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-bethel-church-upgrade.html

2) Link to TBC Radio program: “Has Bethel Church Been Upgraded?” with Rod Page Part 1: https://www.thebereancall.org/content/has-bethel-church-been-upgraded-rod-page-part-1

3) Link to TBC Radio program: “Has Bethel Church Been Upgraded?” with Rod Page Part 2: https://www.thebereancall.org/content/has-bethel-church-been-upgraded-rod-page-part-2

Sincerely,

Concerned Believer

 

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