Archive for August, 2017

Praying for Flood Victims and For “the Light of the Glorious Gospel” to Shine Unto Them

As we remember  and pray for the flood victims in Texas, let us pray that many who do not know Him will turn their eyes and hearts toward the Lord, finding lasting comfort and His salvation through Jesus Christ. While great numbers of people throughout the world are spiritually blind, it is our prayer that many who are suffering during the earth’s present “birth pangs” humbly come before Him, acknowledge their sinfulness and need of salvation and receive Him as Lord and Savior. And we know that if they do, He will bring them comfort and peace, even in the midst of hardship and tragedy.

“. . . in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

As Harry Ironside said below in his essay about salvation, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

rp_BKT-IR-WHO-2.jpg“For God So Loved the World . . . That Whosoever!”

By Harry A. Ironside

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16).

Why do so many people think this is the greatest text in the Bible? There are other wonderful texts that dwell on the love of God, that show how men are delivered from judgment, that tell us how we may obtain everlasting life; but no other one verse, as far as I can see, gives us all these precious truths so clearly and so distinctly. So true is this that when the Gospel is carried into heathen lands, and missionaries want to give a synopsis of the Gospel to a pagan people, all they find it necessary to do, if they are going to a people that have a written language, is to translate and print this verse, and it tells out the story that they are so anxious for the people to hear. If they do not have a written language, invariably one of the first Scriptures they are taught to memorize is John 3:16.

I have a slip of paper sent to me by a friend in China. In those odd characters, this same message is written, and that message put into the hands of the Chinese has often been used to lead a soul to Christ. Not immediately, of course, for he does not understand it all at once, but it has led him to ask upon what authority is this statement based, and so eventually he is led to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many Truths in One Verse

How many truths are wrapped up in that one verse! In the first place, there is the personality of God—”God so loved.” A God who can love is personal. We had a woman in the United States who invented a religion a few years ago, and she said it was all love, and yet she said that God is impersonal. But that is not possible. Just imagine loving a cloud or thinking that a cloud is loving you! It is something utterly impossible; you cannot do it. Behind love, there must be a person with a warm, loving heart. “God so loved.”

This Chinese translation, which my friend sent me, says, “God so passionately loved the world, that he gave.” It was a divine passion, a heart in heaven throbbing in loving sympathy with men in all their trials and difficulties here on earth. What a wonderful revelation that is, and it is all wrapped up in this one verse.

Then there is the truth of the divine Fatherhood. This God so loved men “that he gave his only begotten Son.” There cannot be a son without a father. If God gave His Son, God Himself is a Father, and that is a revelation of which the pagan world never dreamed.

Then again, there is the lost condition of mankind. God gave His well-beloved Son, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” An unsaved man is in grave danger. You, dear unsaved one, are in grave danger of being so utterly lost that you may be banished from the presence of this God of love forever, and yet He has provided a means whereby His banished ones may return to Him. God gave His Son up to a sacrificial death on Calvary’s Cross for all men, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The universality of the offer of mercy is also here. It is a “whosoever” message, and what does “whosoever” mean? A gentleman came one time to my former home city and took an entire week for a series of lectures on John 3:16. During that time, he labored every night to prove that the world that God loved was the world of the elect and that “whosoever” was simply the “whosoever” that God had chosen from the foundation of the world. No wonder it took him a week to try to make out that kind of a thing. Any child can see the difference between a doctrine like that and that which is revealed in this text. Any one of school age knows the meaning of “whosoever.”

You may have heard the story of the old Scotchman who had been brought up with the idea that God had predetermined just so many people to be saved, and all the rest were created to be damned. He felt that he ought to be willing to say, “O God, if it is Thy will to damn me, I do not want to be saved”; but he did want to be saved and was in the deepest agony of soul about it. But still they all said, “If you are not one of the elect, you cannot be saved.”

One day he was out in the field plowing, when he found a piece of paper with a large text on it. He tried to spell it out, but he was not very good at reading, and so he read slowly: “For—God—so—loved—the—world—that—he—gave—his—only—be-got-ten—Son—that—who-so-ever.” He wondered what that meant, but as he did not know, he passed on to the next part. “That—who-so-ever—be-liev-eth—in—him—should—not—perish—but—have—ever-last-ing—life.”

“Man !” he said, “here’s good news for somebody. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who-so-ever! I wonder who is meant by that word. Here is somebody who can have everlasting life, elect or not elect.” And while he was pondering the question, he saw a lad going by with a bunch of books under his arm. He called to him, “Here, laddie, can ye read ?”

“Aye, that I can,” he replied.

“Well, will you read this ?”

Wanting to impress the old man with his great ability, the boy read like a race horse; “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

“O laddie, laddie, don’t read it so fast; read it again, and read it slowly so I can get every word, and be careful with that long word,” said the old man. And so the boy read it again.

“Does it really say there that somebody can be saved by just believing?” the old man asked. “What does that long word mean?”

“Oh,” said the boy, “whosoever means you, or me, or any other body; but there goes the bell, I have to run,” and away he went.

The old man stood there, and read it again, “For God loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that you, or me, or any other body believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

“Man !” he said, “that’s good news for a sinner like me; I don’t need to find out whether I am elect or not,” and he dropped down between the plow handles, and there confessed himself a sinner for whom Jesus died. He took God at His word, and his soul was saved.

One Text for a Whole Week

One of the earliest stories I ever heard about D. L. Moody was one with which some of you are familiar. When he was in Great Britain, he met a young Englishman by the name of Henry Moorhouse. One day Moorhouse said to Moody “I am thinking of going to America.”

“Well,” said Moody, “if you should ever be in Chicago come down to my place, and I will give you a chance to preach.”

Now although Mr. Moody was not two-faced, he was merely trying to be polite, for mentally he was saying, “I hope he won’t come.” There are so many people, you know, who want to preach, although God never meant them to, and Mr. Moody was not quite sure of Mr. Moorhouse. He was rather taken back one day when, just before leaving for a series of meetings, he received a telegram, “Have just arrived in New York. Will be in Chicago on Sunday.”

“And now,” thought Moody, “I am going away, and I told him he could preach here.” So he said to his wife and to his committee, “Here’s this young Englishman coming; let him preach once, and then if the people enjoy him, put him on again.”

When Moody returned, he said to his wife, “Well, what about that young preacher?”

“Oh,” she said, “he is a better preacher than you are. Why, he is telling sinners that God loves them.”

“He is wrong !” said Moody, “God doesn’t love sinners.”

“Well,” she said, “you go and hear him.”

“Why, is he still preaching?’ asked Mr. Moody.

“Yes, he has been preaching all week and has taken only one text, John 3:16,” was her reply.

When Mr. Moody went to the meeting, Moorhouse got up, and said, “I have been hunting and hunting all through the Bible, looking for a text, and I think we will just talk about John 3:16 once more.” Mr. Moody always testified that it was on that night that he got his first clear understanding of the Gospel and the love of God. Think what it meant in Moody’s life, and in the lives of tens of thousands who were reached through his ministry, to know that God loves sinners. Are you one of those who has been saying, “If I were only a little better, I could believe that God loves me?” O dear friend, hear it again:

“Sinners Jesus will receive; Sound this word of grace to all Who the heavenly pathway leave, All who linger, all who fall.”

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of Whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Just Like African Boys

I remember when I was a boy, going to a missionary meeting. A missionary was there from Africa and was showing us a whole lot of curious things, and then he said, “Now boys, I want to tell you the kind of Gospel we preach to the people in Africa. How many good boys have we here? A lot of us thought we were good, but our mothers were there, and so not one of us dared hold up his hand. “Well,” said he, “not one good boy here; then I have the same message for you that we have for the heathen in Africa; God loves naughty boys!”

“My,” I thought, “he is getting all mixed up,” for you see, I had heard people say, “If you are good, God will love you.” But, dear friends, that is not true. God is not waiting for you to be good so He can love you; God loves sinners and has proven His love for them by the gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Instead of waiting for people to be good, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Do you believe it, dear friend?

The difficulty is that men have this wrong idea about God and are always trying to make out that they are better than they are. “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6). You will find people down in the depths of sin, but they are always ready to compare themselves with other folk, saying, “I am as good as they are.” But God has no message and no blessing for men who are trying to justify themselves.

As long as you try to make a good name for yourself, God can only condemn you; but when you come into His presence and confess yourself a lost, guilty sinner, God has a message and a blessing for you. “God so loved the world”—a wicked, corrupt, and ungodly world, and you and I belong to it. “As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man” (Proverbs 27:19). God’s Word declares that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9, 10). Yet, knowing all the wickedness of which my heart and your heart is capable, God loves us and gave His Son to die for us.

My! What a Gospel this is; what a message to bring to poor, needy sinners! We do not come to men and say, “Turn over a new leaf; quit your meanness; give up this, and give up that.” We do not ask any one to give up anything; we ask you to receive the gift of God, and when you receive that gift, “the things of the world will grow strangely dim in the light of Christ’s glory and grace.”

A lad tried to preach on John 3:16 one day. He was asked to give his testimony but thought he had better get up a sermon. He divided his text into four heads:

God loved. God gave. I believe. I have.

Could you make a better division than that?

A Girl’s Horror of God

A little girl who lived in Luther’s day had been brought up with a perfect horror of God. She thought of Him as always watching her, taking note of every wrong thing she did, and just waiting to visit judgment upon her. Her parents could not get that fear out of her mind. Her father was a printer and was working on Luther’s first German Bible. One day she was in his shop, when just a comer of one of the sheets of the Bible caught her eye. She looked at it, and as she read it, her whole attitude toward God changed, and she said, “Mother, I am, not afraid of God any more.”

“Well, my dear,” said the mother, “I am glad of that, but why are you not afraid of God?”

“Oh,” she replied, “look what I found, a piece of the Bible, and it says, ‘God so loved, that he gave.'” It was just a part of two lines.

“Well,” her mother said, “how does that take away your fear of God ? It doesn’t say what He gave.”

“Oh, but if He loved us enough to give anything, I am not afraid,” said the child. And then her mother sat down and opened up the whole truth to her.

People are stumbling over the simplest things. Take, for instance, that word believeth.  What is it to believe in Him? It means to put your soul’s confidence in Him, to trust in Him, God’s blessed Son. When in Toronto, I picked up a copy of a broad Scotch translation of the New Testament, and the first thing I noticed was that this word believeth is not found there at all. Instead of beIieveth, there is the Scotch word, lippen, and it means to throw your whole weight upon. This is the way it reads, “Whosoever lippens to Jesus should not perish, but have the life of the ages”—the life that runs on through all the ages.

Just Lippen to Jesus

One day Dr. Chalmers spent hours with a poor, anxious soul, trying to lead her into peace, but she could not understand what it was to believe, and finally he had to leave her. On the way home, he had to cross a creek with a shaky old bridge over it, and as he was feeling his way across in a very careful manner, one of his parishioners who saw him, called out, “Can you nae lippen the bridge?” Immediately he said, “That’s the word for the old lady I have just left,” and he went back to her, and said, “I have got the word for you, can you nae lippen to Jesus ?”

Lippen?” she said. “Is it just to lippen? Aye, I can lippen to Him. He will never let me down, will He?”

“Yes, that is it,” he replied, “He will never let you down.” Have you been struggling, trying, working; have you been promising and trying to give up this and to do this, that, and the other thing? O dear friend, hear it, “Whosoever lippens to Jesus shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Another “Whosoever”

But now notice the alternative. They who trust in Jesus will not perish, but what about those who do not trust in Him? There is another whosoever. In Revelation 20, where we have that solemn picture of the last judgment, we read, “I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up, the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

Listen to it, sinner, whosoever in the day of judgment “was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Who are found written in the book of life? “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” There they are, those who believed, and those who did not believe; those who received the gift of God, and those who spurned the Gospel, trampling under foot the grace of God. They stand in the judgment as poor, lost, trembling souls to hear their dreadful sentence. You may be saved now without money and without price.

“There is life for a look at the Crucified One,

There is life at this moment for thee;Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved,

Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.”

Look, sinner, look to Jesus just now and be saved.

This sermon by Harry Ironside can be printed from this blog, or you may  order copies of “For God So Loved the World . . . That Whosoever!,”here.

KIDS AT RISK: Letter to the Editor: AWANA Continuing Down the Emergent Road

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

A while back I alerted you to the fact that Awana was joining forces with Josh Griffin who was the youth pastor for Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. Josh Griffin is also associated with Youth Specialties, an organization that promotes occult [contemplative] practices to youth.

Awana - Kids at Risk

bigstockphoto

Unfortunately, Awana is continuing down the emergent road. Here are some examples:

1. On February 22, 2017, Steve Kozak, the executive director of Awana YM, (Youth Ministries) wrote a blog post encouraging youth leaders to promote Lent. Lent is very popular among those in the emerging church. Wikipedia says “The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, and self-denial.”(1) Kozak in his blog said, “Teach your students to go without, so that they can experience an overflowing of Christ.”(2) Nowhere in the Bible is the practice of Lent mentioned.

2. On April 6, 2017, Awana YM held a youth leaders round table event at Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Community Church. Participants were Josh Griffin, Sean McDowell, Dr. Larry Acosta, Elizabeth Bjorling Prest, Steve Kozak, (Director of Awana Youth Ministries) and Ryan Guard, (Director of Student Impact at Willow Creek Community Church.)(3)

3. Awana is promoting several books that they feel youth group leaders should be reading. The following books are a compilation from two different blog posts. I am not familiar with all the authors, but I know many of these authors to be troubling.

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen [recommended by Sean McDowell]
The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George G. Hunter
The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
Bloom Where You’re Planted by H.B. London
Purpose Driven Youth Ministry by Doug Fields with a forward by Rick Warren, published by Youth Specialties/Zondervan
Your First Two Years In Youth Ministry By Doug Fields, published by Youth Specialties/Zondervan
Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries
Sticky Faith by Kara E. Powell, (Who spoke at the Youth Specialties National Convention) and co-authored by Chap Clark
Growing Young by Kara E. Powell, Jake Mulder and Brad Griffin
Leading With a Limp by Dan Allender
St. Augustine’s City of God (St. Augustine is very popular in the Emerging Church Movement)
Christian Origins of the Question of God (4 Volumes by N.T. Wright
The Holy Wild by Mark Buchanan(4)

Sincerely, L.F.

Footnotes:
1. Lent- Wikipedia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lent
2. Awana YM Lent: More Than Giving Up by Steve Kozak, February 22,2017 https://awanaym.org/blog/lent-more-than-giving-up
3. Awana YM
https://awanaym.org/events/youth-leaders-round-table-4-6-2017
4. Awana YM
(1)Books Youth Leaders Should Be Reading
April 7,2017; https://awanaym.org/blog/5-books-youth-leaders-should-be-reading

(2)Must Have Books For Every Youth Leader by Steve Kozak July 20,1017
https://awanaym.org/blog/6-must-have-books-for-every-youth-leader

Related Information:

Letter to the Editor: AWANA Now Teaching Children to Hear the Voice of God

A History of AWANA’s Contemplative Track Record and the Implications of Their New CEO

Revisting Awana’s Move Toward Contemplative – And Another Look at “Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation

Taizé Worship – Growing in Popularity, But Roots Are in Mystical Monasticism

Taizé Worship Service

Taizé Community in France during a worship service (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons; copyright owner: Damir Jelic; used with permission)

By Chris Lawson
(Author of Taizé: A Community and Worship: Ecumenical Reconciliation or an Interfaith Delusion?)

The worship practiced at Taizé has attracted many people from around the globe and from many different denominations. While many of the words found in Taizé worship music are words found in Scripture or words that do not necessarily contradict Scripture, the Taizé songs and worship services themselves are centered around contemplative, ecumenical, and oftentimes emergent spirituality themes. The emphasis is not on the teaching or exhortation of the Word of God but rather is to help participants “experience” God through sensory-focused music and singing. A church association in the UK describes the Taizé worship style as such:

The contemplative worship practices of the Taizé community are promoted at an annual international conference. Taizé worship is being incorporated in a wide variety of churches, both Protestant and Catholic and its pattern of devotion is emulated in other monastic communities around the world.

A Taizé worship service involves sung and chanted prayers, meditation, a period of silence, liturgical readings, and use of candles. There is no preaching. The style of prayer practiced at Taizé has attracted many worshippers from around the globe and from many different denominations.1

The main focus on the Taizé worship is the chanted prayers, meditations, and songs. However, the Bible warns against such practices:

[W]hen ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8)

The Contemplative Network, an online resource for those interested in meditative prayer practices, describes Taizé worship and prayer like this:

For those familiar with Taizé common prayer, but unfamiliar with Centering Prayer practices, they will discover that they grow from the same root of seeking to surrender the mind and heart to the intimate presence of God. They share the same spirit of ancient monastic traditions to open space to let the Word of God reverberate in all its dimensions. Those who have tasted of this open space during the silent period of a Taizé common prayer service may find themselves well disposed to explore related contemplative practices such as Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer.2

The Taizé worship is not based on the objective Word of God but rather offers spiritual experiences that are subjectively appealing to the flesh. In Scripture, we are instructed to build up the inner spiritual man and to resist the carnality of the flesh (Ephesians 3:16, Romans 8:1-16).

Jesus Christ instructed His disciples that they should not use repetitive prayers (chanting) like the heathen (New Agers, pagans, etc.) do. Anytime experience is given higher regard than God’s Word, it puts followers at risk of becoming victim to deception and even dangerous spiritual realms. Mystical and esoteric experiences are subjective, meaning they are not founded on anything solid or concrete. It is the Word of God (the Bible) that is to be our steering mechanism through life. Consider these verses that show the importance of the Word of God. You won’t find any verses giving credence to seeking after mystical experiences:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

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, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (Psalm 119:9)

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)

Taizé Worship Influenced by Catholic Prayers

The repetitive Taizé songs are influenced by the Roman Catholic notion that a person needs to say a certain amount of repeated prayers in order for them to be enough (e.g., the Catholic works mentality—which dictates that one must do enough works to reduce the time in Purgatory).

An example in Roman Catholicism would be the Rosary—a droning repetition of the same set of prayers, something like this: six repetitions of Our Father, fifty repetitions of the Hail Marys, and three repetitions of the Glory-be prayers. These repetitive prayers are usually said before or after mid-week Masses.

Jesus said, when asked about how to pray, to only pray to God (not Mary or saints or angels) and to not repeat the same prayers over and over again like the pagans “for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

Six different Psalms tell us to sing a new song unto the Lord, but not one tells us to chant. Now Psalm 136 is unique in that it uses the refrain “his mercy endureth for ever,” but this is not a chant in that each refrain is a response to a different statement. So, unlike the psalms, the Catholic uses endless repetition out of guilt (in doing penance) or to be heard by God or from the sense that the Taizé songs are sung to allow participants to go into mind-altering trance-like states.

Taizé Worship Practices Similar to New Age Meditation

Sadly, many of the spiritual experiences occurring during Taizé worship services are similar to what takes place during New Age meditation. The following quote is from Lacy Clark Ellman, author of the New Age website, A Sacred Journey. Her quote is from “Inside the Taizé Community: An Interview with Brother Emile.” The processes (i.e., techniques) she mentions are reminiscent of many transformative occult practices. Regarding Taizé worship, Ellman explains:

Singing their [Taizé monks] chants left me transported—centering me, bringing me peace, and thus opening me up to the Sacred. I’ve been known to describe it as the perfect combination of the contemplative and charismatic—the words simple and liturgical in nature, with the repetition making space for the Sacred Guide to enter. . . .

Instead of trying to facilitate an experience with bright lights and catchy songs, the [Taizé] brothers invite visitors into their own experience—a rhythmic practice of chants, reading, and [meditative] silence in languages found across the globe. They didn’t explain what was going on or how to participate, apart from a board that displayed which song was to be sung next.3 (emphasis added)

The problem with this explanation is that occultists (shamans, sorcerers, witches, etc.) and New Age practitioners around the globe are receiving similar experiences, in varying forms, through spirit contact via spiritualism, séances, channeling, etc. So too, non-Christians enter varying levels of voluntary and involuntary possession states using this same process.

Instead of encouraging Christian worship settings that provide for a clear understanding of sound biblical preaching and teaching of the Bible, Taizé worship services provide a fast track to spiritual experience via unbiblical forms of prayer, meditation, and silence. In many cases, they bypass the Bible altogether. In settings like this where anything goes—chanting, centering down to enter “the silence,” lengthy repetitive singing, and meditative/altered states—any form of spirit contact can occur.

Considering these things, it is of utmost importance that Christians heed this biblical warning:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. (1 Timothy 4:1)

When people are not being taught the Bible and warned about the dangers of false doctrine and non-biblical practices, they will inevitably, in mystical Taizé type settings, end up under the influence of deceiving spirits. As the above passage describes, strong delusion will overtake them. This is no small problem as it is running rampant in the church throughout the world.
The true Christian has only one option at this point, and that is to obey Scripture and separate from those who bring teachings contrary to the Word of God.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18; emphasis added)

(This is an excerpt from Chris Lawson’s book Taizé: A Community and Worship: Ecumenical Reconciliation or an Interfaith Delusion?)

Endnotes:

1. The Cornilo Churches, UK (http://www.cornilochurches.org.uk/taiz.htm).
2. The Contemplative Network, “Prayer With the Songs of Taizé (http://www.contemplative.net/prayer-with-songs-taize-t-1_43.html).
3. “Inside the Taizé Community: An Interview with Brother Emile” (http://www.asacredjourney.net/2013/08/taize).

RNS: UK’s Biggest Christian Festival to Showcase Islam

Attendees gather during the 2016 Greenbelt Festival at Boughton House in Northamptonshire, England. Photo courtesy of Greenbelt Festival

By Catherine Pepinster
Religion News Service

LONDON (RNS) — Greenbelt, the biggest Christian festival in the United Kingdom, will feature Muslim worship for the first time this year.
The decision by organizers of the annual festival — which began more than 40 years ago as a gathering that drew about 1,500 young people — has stirred some controversy, according to organizers.

Now Greenbelt draws a much larger crowd of about 20,000 over the August Bank Holiday weekend, Aug. 25-28, and offers not only music but also theological discussion and opportunities to work on social justice issues. While it sprung from evangelical Christians, in recent years Greenbelt  has expanded to include a much wider range of participants, including an occasional Muslim speaker. Click here to continue reading.

Related Reading

Chrislam – The Blending Together of Islam & Christianity by Mike Oppenheimer

Ten Questions for Those Who Claim the “Supreme Beings” of the Nations are the True God

By Sandy Simpson

When did ANY of the Patriarchs and Prophets in the Old Testament and the apostles or Jesus Christ in the New Testament ever claim that the “supreme beings” of the nations were Elohim/YHWH, the one True God? And yet, this very thing is being taught by popular figures within the Christian church today.

I have ten questions for the World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People (WCGIP) adherents such as Don Richardson, Daniel Kikawa, the late Richard Twiss, Terry LeBlanc, Danny Lehman, Aloha Ke Akua, YWAM as well as many in the Emergent Church (EC). The questions arise from their claim that the “supreme beings” of the nations are all the True God, YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have included Scripture verses with each of the following questions, and the footnotes provide further documentation.

 10 Questions with Scriptural Answers

1. Did Abraham claim that the God who called him from Haran was the same as the god Baal of the Canaanites?

So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. (Genesis 12:4; emphasis added)

The word for “LORD” in the above verse is YHWH, the name of God, the I Am. Baal was a false god of the Caananites, not YHWH. The “supreme beings” of Canaan were actually a polytheistic couple, Baal and Asherah, as in all ancient cultures modeled after the false religion of Nimrod and Semiramis at Babel.1

2. Did Joseph, upon being taken to Egypt, tell the Pharaoh they had always been worshipping the true God by the name of Amen (Amon)?

The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saith; Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings; even Pharaoh, and all them that trust in him. (Jeremiah 46:25)

The God of Israel, thus the God of Joseph, said He would bring punishment on the false “supreme being” of the Egyptians and the leaders who worshipped it. The “supreme beings” of Egypt were Amen and Mut.2

3. Did Moses, after going up to the mountain of God, come down and tell Israel their worship of the Golden Calf was good because it was the same as the worship of YHWH?

[T]hey have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 32:8)

The golden calf is contrasted against the true God of Israel by Moses. Interestingly, the golden calf was not only an idol meant to take the place of YHWH, but it was a symbol of the Pharaoh who was considered a “god” by the Egyptians.

I have established that the only god specifically called a “Golden Calf” by the ancient Egyptians in their writings is Pharaoh in the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts (these texts exist into later New Kingdom times in reworked formats). In these texts, Pharaoh calls himself a “Golden Calf,” born of heaven, who wishes to be allowed to board the sacred solar bark or boat, which carries the Sun god each day across the heavens. Pharaoh was called “Son of the Sun” and in New Kingdom times “the Sun,” in letters from Canaanite princes addressed to Pharaoh Akhenaten (reigned ca. 1350-1334 BCE).3

So Israel wanted to go back to Egypt and back under the rule of Pharaoh who was to be worshipped as a “god.”

4. Did Joshua, in conquering the nations in Canaan, claim that Baal was the True God?

And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. (Judges 2:8-13)

During the time of Joshua, the people of Israel worshipped the true God, by in large. But a generation after Joshua died turned away from YHWH to the worship of Baal & Ashtoreth. The “supreme beings” of Canaan were the Baals and Asherahs.4

5. Did Elijah test the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel just for a good laugh because Baal was really the True God?

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. (1 Kings 18:21)

The whole conflict was between the false god Baal and the true God, YHWH. Postmodern “progressive” inclusivists of today would have never had this showdown. It would have shown that inclusivism is garbage. The “supreme beings” of Canaan were the Baals and Asherahs.5

6. Did Jonah tell the people of Nineveh to repent to their god el, who was not Elohim but the consort of Athirat?

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. (Jonah 1:1-2)

And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. (Jonah 3:1-5)

Anytime you see the word “LORD” in capitals in English Bibles, it is the word “YHWH.” YHWH sent Jonah to Nineveh, and when they heard that God was going to judge them, they repented. Jonah then got angry because they were Gentiles who worshipped false gods.

The origin of the name Nineveh is obscure. Possibly it meant originally the seat of Ishtar, since Nina was one of the Babylonian names of that goddess.6

El and Athirat were the “supreme beings” of Ninevah.7 They were not worshipping the “El” Who is YHWH but a generic singular El which means “god.” They were continuing in the polytheistic worship of Babel which was the worship of a male and female supreme beings.

7. Did David tell the Philistines to continue to worship the god Dagon because he was the same as YHWH?

And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god. (1 Samuel 5:7)

The statue of Dagon fell twice in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, and the men of Ashdod admitted that their god was different from the God of Israel. The “supreme beings” of the Philistines were Dagon and Derceto.8 Emergent inclusivists of today would say that since Dagon was a “supreme being,” he was the true God, and they would get Bible translation societies to include his name in the Ashdod Bible.9

8. Did Daniel tell king Nebuchadnezzar to continue the worship of Marduk as the One True God?

The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. (Daniel 4:33-37)

Nebuchadnezzar had to be taught a lesson by the LORD (YHWH) so he would be humbled and recognize who the True God was. He had built a ninety foot statue either of himself, Nimrod, or Marduk since Marduk is a direct link to the worship of Nimrod. The “supreme beings” of Babylon were Marduk and Astarte (continued worship of Nimrod and Semiramis).10

9. Did Ezra and Nehemiah ask the Persians if they could rebuild the Temple as a tribute to the Persian god Ahura Mazda?

The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem. (Ezra 7:19)

The king Artaxerxes ordered that the temple implements be returned so they could eventually rebuild the temple of the “God of Jerusalem.” This was not for the Persian gods but for the True God. The gods of the Persians were Ahura Mazda and Spenta Armaiti.11

10. Did Paul use a clever missiological technique by telling the Greeks that God is Zeus, or the Romans that He is Jupiter or the Ephesians that He is embodied in Artemis?

And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them. (Acts 14:11-18)

This situation is entirely consistent with Paul teaching over and over again that the Gentiles “do not know God.” Paul was there to bring them the Gospel, not to syncretize their own god with the God of the Bible. This is exactly what he did in Aereopogus also when he explained to them Who the “Unknown God” was, and most of them did not want to hear the truth.

Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. (Galatians 4:8)

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Corinthians. 1:21)

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient. (Romans 1:28)

[N]ot in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God. (1 Thessalonians 4:5)

. . . that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:12-13)

[I]n flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8)

The “supreme beings” of the Greeks were Zeus and Hera, though Zeus had a number of other consorts spawning a pantheon of gods.12 Jupiter and Juno were the “supreme beings” of Rome, again spawning a pantheon of other gods.13 Artemis was a virgin goddess, never married, but was the daughter of Zeus and Leto.14

IN CONCLUSION
The obvious answer to the questions above, both from the Bible and historical records, is a resounding “No.”

. . . that ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them. (Joshua 23:7)

For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. (Psalm 96:5)

For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. (Micah 4:5)

The LORD will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen. (Zephaniah 2:11)

There is only one Name (Jesus Christ) under heaven by which men may be saved.

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

And yet present-day false teachers claim a person can be saved by “general revelation” of “God” without the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

This is abundantly clear in the books, messages, and DVDs put out by such teachers on this subject and now in the book by Don Richardson called Heaven Wins. The WCGIP and EC false teachers also cannot answer the many verses in the Bible, which state that the Gentiles “did not know God.” This type of teaching constitutes a grand delusion in the last-days apostasy and a new radical Replacement Theology where the one True God of the Bible is replaced with “supreme beings” from all cultures and Israel is replaced by all the nations. This heresy has even helped Bible translation societies to put the names of the false gods of the nations into the Bible! That’s how dangerous such teaching is. It undermines the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself and puts at risk the eternity of millions of souls.

(This article is from Sandy Simpson’s booklet of the same title. It is available through Lighthouse Trails.)

Endnotes:
1. See http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/canaanite-faq.html.
2. See http://socsci.colorado.edu/LAB/GODS.
3. See http://www.bibleorigins.net/EgyptianOriginsGoldenCalf.html.
4. See http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/canaanite-faq.html.
5. See http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/canaanite-faq.html.
6. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineveh.
7. See http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa102197.htm.
8. See http://voices.yahoo.com/biblical-overview-history-philistines-1952417.html.
9. See http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/GenericandSpecific and also http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=8655.
10. See http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/assyrbabyl-faq.html.
11. Sarah Iles Johnston, Ancient Religions (Harvard University Press, 2009), p. 199.
12. See http://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/zeusgirl.html.
13. See http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/roman.
14. See http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Artemis.html.

Note: For more information on the false polytheistic gods of ancient times, read my article “Monotheism in Ancient Cultures is Virtually Nonexistent” at: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/monotheisminancientcultures.html. It is important to note that in virtually every culture from Babel on, the “supreme beings” were not monotheistic gods but rather male/female pairings patterned on the worship of Nimrod and Semiramis of Babel. Also note that every one of these “supreme beings” spawned a pantheon of other false gods to be worshipped.

Barcelona Chief Rabbi to Jews: Get Out, Go To Israel

Photo credit: Israel Today

By  Tsvi Sadan
Israel Today

Following the Barcelona terror attacks in which 14 people were killed and some 130 wounded, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) asked the Spanish city’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Meir Bar-Hen, what he thought of the future of Jews there.

Generally speaking, European Jewish leaders are extremely cautious, and would seldom, if ever, dare to call upon Jews of their respective countries to pack their belongings and move to Israel. The negative backlash to Netanyahu urging Jews to leave Europe following the January 2015 attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris is still well remembered. “To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray; the State of Israel is your home,” said the Israeli leader at the time.

Netanyahu made a similar plea just a month later following the February 2015 attack outside a Copenhagen synagogue that left a Jewish security guard dead. Click here to continue reading.

SOZO – Climbing Up Another Way – Is There A Spiritual Ladder to the Lap of “Father God”?

LTRP Note: Today, a caller asked us if we had any information on SOZO. While we have had inquiries about SOZO in the past, we have never posted anything about it. Below is an article from The Berean Call discussing the origins and nature of SOZO. If you know someone who is getting involved with this, please pass this article on to them.

“Climbing Up Another Way – Is There A Spiritual Ladder to the Lap of ‘Father God’?”

By Mark Dinsmore (The Berean Call)

History and Structure of Sozo

“SOZO” is a psycho-spiritual deliverance and inner healing methodology birthed out of Bethel Church in Redding, California. But though the Bethel Sozo website banner says, “[A] Ministry of Bethel Church,” the FAQ section disclaims, “The Sozo staff are independent contractors and are not Bethel Church Staff.” Apparently for legal reasons, no one wants to call this “counseling” or “therapy.” Rather, they simply call it “healing prayer” (and yet, they strongly recommend a suggested donation for receiving “prayer” for which recipients (“Sozoees”) must first sign a waiver.

For background, it is interesting to note that Bethel was once an Assemblies of God (AG) church, and Bill Johnson was an AG pastor; but he led his flock out of AG in 2006 to jump into the NAR/River Revival movement. Johnson is now a self-appointed “apostle,” and his church is now a part of his own “Revival Alliance” network, co-founded with Che Ahn (Harvest Rock Church, Pasadena, CA) and John Arnott (Catch the Fire Toronto; formerly Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship; formerly Toronto Airport Vineyard Church).

Although Sozo got its start at Bethel, other Sozo groups have spun off, such as The Freedom Resource (TFR). Headed by author and executive director Andy Reese, TFR publishes its own manuals and presentations on how to use Sozo. According to TFR’s website, no one individual “owns” or controls the copyright for Sozo concepts and “tools” used in the program: “This particular style or format for ministry has evolved (and continues to evolve) from roots in the Argentine revivals, the understanding and writings of various practitioners of inner healing and deliverance, and from the experience of several churches and individuals including Randy Clark’s ministry and Bethel Church in Redding, California. It is changing and growing as we all learn, grow, and share experiences and tools with each other.” [Note: TFR just announced brand differentiation from Bethel Sozo and will now practice under “Freedom Prayer.”] Click here to continue reading.

 


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