Posts Tagged ‘apostle paul’

Discernment Ministries Not Needed? Would the Apostle Paul Agree?

By the Editors at Lighthouse Trails

This week, someone sent us an online article, written by a pastor who said that the church does not need discernment ministries  anymore. While the pastor’s comments that such ministries are making great money by doing this kind of work were erroneous, it was the pastor’s rationale and conclusions about discernment ministries as a whole that were most troubling. His rationale was that discernment ministries should not be criticizing and challenging leaders and teachers within the church (but rather outside the church; e.g cults, Mormonism); his conclusion was the church does not need discernment ministries and people should stop listening to them. He lumped all discernment ministries together, suggesting that they are all jealous of each other and spend a lot of time fighting amongst themselves. (By this reasoning—that discernment ministries are invalidated because of fighting and jealousy—then there also should be no marriages, families, churches, organizations, or virtually any human institution because institutions are made up of sinful humans who do at times fight and struggle between each other.) He suggested that many of these discernment people will end up dying early anyway because of the high level of stress involved. Needless to say, we found such an article very sad because we knew there would be people who would read it and would be persuaded by the pastor’s words.

There is one thing true in what this pastor stated, and that is that there can be quite a bit of stress involved with discernment. But, again, his rationale is faulty. It would suggest that since being discerning (or having a discernment ministry) is stressful, it must be wrong. But if we look at the lives of the apostles, the Old Testament prophets, and many martyrs who have lost their lives over the last 2000 years for standing for truth, no doubt, their lives were stressed and difficult. To speak the truth is not easy, and to speak the truth within the church is downright tough. Few knew this more than the apostle Paul:

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (2 Corinthians 11: 25-27)

Even though Paul determined to put his trust in the Lord and serve Him only, what he went through sounds pretty stressful. Why was he willing to go through those sufferings and persecutions? Because he had full

The Martyrdom of Paul (Illustration by Joseph Martin Kronheim, public domain)

confidence that he was called to warn and to preach for the edifying and exhorting of the body of Christ:

[I]f ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;  who now rejoice in my sufferings for you . . . warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. (Colossians 1: 23-24, 28-29; emphasis added)

At Lighthouse Trails, we by no means claim to be of the caliber of the apostle Paul. Nor do we want to be looked upon as such. We are just one part of the body of Christ, working diligently in a work we believe God has called us to do. We do not claim to be anything special, but we do claim that God in His wisdom has a place in the body for such a ministry as ours (Paul addressed this in 1 Corinthians 12; vs 21:  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you”).

We know there are some who name themselves among “discernment ministries” who are guilty of not exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit when writing and reporting. They are at times vitriolic, unkind, practice mean name calling, and go after a figure’s personal effect rather than staying focused on the teachings, doctrines, beliefs, and promotions. It has been a criteria of Lighthouse Trails from our beginning that any author or writer we publish is allowing the fruits of the Spirit (e.g., love, gentleness, goodness, meekness, etc., Galatians 5:22-23) to be prevalent in his or her work.

Scripture says that as the days on this Earth grow darker and darker, spiritually speaking, more and more proclaiming Christians will turn away from the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ (e.g., “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” 1 Timothy 4:1). Lighthouse Trails and the authors we represent are determined to continue in the work in which we have been called in spite of the fact that we are often falsely accused, unjustly discredited, and misjudged. Whether the Lord takes us home early or allows us to live long lives, it is our prayer that we will endure faithfully until the end. Perhaps, in time, people will stop listening to discernment ministries all together. If and when that day comes, we pray there will be enough pastors and churches who are speaking the truth and warning “night and day.” In the following passage by Paul, we can see that his heart was for the building up of the body of Christ, no matter the cost to him. May we all, as believers in Jesus Christ, whether “discernment ministry,” pastor, or neither, strive to have this same attitude:

 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.  Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12, emphasis added)

CONCLUSION

The following is a list of discernment ministries that Lighthouse Trails has come to know and look to over the past fifteen years; they are ones that meet the biblical criteria described above. Though these particular ministries may not agree with each other on every aspect, we have seen no greed, worldly ambition, jealousy, mean spiritedness, or dishonesty in these ministries. While they, like Lighthouse Trails, do not claim to be perfect or infallible, they always point readers back to the Word of God and uphold the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is there a need for discernment ministries in today’s church? We believe the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” And we believe the apostle Paul would agree.

Trusted Discernment Research Ministries

The Berean Call

Deception in the Church
Sandy Simpson

Forcing Change
Carl Teichrib

Guarding the Flock Ministries

Herescope Blog

Kjos Ministries
Berit Kjos

Learn to Discern Granny

Let Us Reason Ministries
Mike Oppenheimer

Lighthouse Trails Research Project

ReachOut Trust

Spiritual Research Network

Understand the Times,
Roger Oakland

THE CALLING OF THE CHURCH

By Harry Ironside

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1·3)

I. THE FOUNDING OF THE CHURCH

IN VIEW of the exhortation of our text above, we naturally raise the question, What is the vocation wherewith we are called? And that leads us to turn to various portions of the New Testament to consider what the Spirit of God has been pleased to reveal concerning that marvelous society to which every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has been joined by the Holy Spirit.

What is the church? How do we become members of the church? What are our responsibilities as belonging to the church? What is the destiny of the church of God?

I want to be very elementary and shall begin at the beginning by turning to the first place in the New Testament, where we read of the church—Matthew 16. Here, immediately after Peter’s remarkable confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” we read:

[A]nd Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven, and I say also unto thee that thou art Peter [thou art a piece of rock] and upon this rock [I take it this rock refers to the blessed truth that Christ is the Son of God] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:17-18)

Notice, “I will build My church.” Observe, our Lord Jesus Christ did not here speak of something that was in the process of building. He did not say, “I am building My church,” or “I have been building My church,” as though it had been in course of construction either throughout the centuries before Christ came into the world or during the time He was on earth as man, but He spoke of the building of the church as something still in the future.

The gates of hell [that is, the gates of the unseen world] shall not prevail against it.

I get great encouragement from that statement of my Lord, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church that Jesus builds. Sometimes people are very pessimistic regarding the future of the church. They see atheism and unbelief rolling in like a flood and the cults and isms appearing like mushrooms, and they are afraid that the true faith of the church of God will be overthrown by all these things, but we have the assurance of the Lord Jesus Christ that so long as the church of God shall remain in this scene, it will remain undefeated.

An army does not take the gates of the city out to war with it, and the church does not sit on a hill and the gates of hell surround her, but the church of God is a conquering spiritual army carrying on a battle against the powers of hell, and they shall not prevail against her. A right-thinking man does not shut his eyes to the signs of the times and will not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, but he knows that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world, and the church of Jesus Christ will not retire from the scene a defeated company.

Here Christ called it “My church” for the first time. He was not speaking of any separate company. He was not speaking of any particular sect or denomination. He was speaking of the aggregate of the redeemed in this time of grace and called them “My church.”

Now let us look further: there were saints of God in the world from the beginning, right down to the time Jesus uttered these words. In a sense, these saints constituted churches. Stephen spoke of the people in the wilderness as a church, an assembly, but we must distinguish between any such companies and that unique company that Christ called “My church.” This church of which He spoke could not come into being until He had died on the Cross, had been raised from the dead, was received up into glory, and sent the Spirit down into the earth, which He did at Pentecost.

Matthew 18 records the next place Christ spoke of the church, and this time it is about discipline in the church, and it would apply just as well to the congregation of Israel. He used the word “church” here in a narrower sense than He did in chapter 16. He spoke of trespass:

[I]f thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone-if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more . . . if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church. (Matthew 18:15, 17)

This is not very often done now. The command is to tell it to the called out company, not to the whole world. The church here is not the aggregate of all the redeemed but a local company in any given place. We are not able to tell it to the whole church of Jesus, but, meeting with a company of believers in a given place, which company of Christian people is an assembly of saints, we should go to them and bring the matter before them, and they will act on behalf of their glorified Lord.

There is not one other word regarding the church in Matthew.

II. THE CHURCH AS THE BODY OF CHRIST

The apostle Paul was the one chosen of God to unfold the teaching of the church as the body of Christ in the largest way. He was not the only one to whom this truth was revealed, but he received the largest revelation (see Ephesians 3:1-6). Paul did not write by consultation with other believers, not even with the original twelve, but he received his message as a direct revelation from Christ. The word rendered “mystery” here means, not something peculiarly difficult and mystical, but a sacred secret. The mystery Paul speaks of is something not found in the Old Testament, not proclaimed by the former prophets; it is something new. It was revealed to a body of holy apostles and prophets. In God’s due time, it was opened up to the other members of the apostolic band and those associated with, them. It is the special truth of what God is doing in this age, taking people from among the Jews and Gentiles and uniting them by the Spirit’s baptism into one body. Into what body? The body that had been formed on the Day of Pentecost.

There was no other body into which the Gentiles could be brought.

“That the Gentiles should be made fellow heirs.” Fellow heirs with whom? Those Jews who were already converted. They entered into partnership with the Jews. Paul said, “whereof I was made a minister [of this].” It was to tell the Gentiles who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ that they are no longer strangers and foreigners to the covenant promises of God but are made fellow citizens with the Jews of the household of God.

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:8)

I like the humility of Paul. What a lowly place this mighty man of God was willing to take!

The implication is clear: the Gospel had already been preached among the Jews and many had believed, and now in a special sense it was given to him to go out and proclaim it among the Gentiles that they might enter into the same testimony and have the same blessing.

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.(Ephesians 3:10)

This is unto angelic hosts, unfallen beings, who look on redeemed men and women and learn the riches of Christ.

Here are saints on earth, since the Cross and Pentecost—many Jews, others Gentiles, come to the same common ground, God meeting them all as sinners approaching Him through the redeeming blood of Christ, which are cleansed from every stain, given a new life and nature, and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit Himself, and then everyone is linked up by the Spirit with their risen, glorified Head in Heaven; and so intimate is that union that they are as close to Him as the members of my body are to each other.
The principalities and powers looking down on the world and seeing the work of God here, that is, grace picking up sinful Jews and Gentiles and making them one in Christ, are the angels who glorify God for the work He is doing, and they learn the wisdom of God. This is what God is doing now. This body relationship is spoken of in Ephesians 4:

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

There you have this corporate union with Christ. He is the Head, and every believer is occupying some place in that body.

I do not know what part of the body I am. The members of my physical body do not know what part they are. The consciousness is in the head; so with the spiritual body, the consciousness is in the Head up yonder, and He knows what each one is placed there for. My brethren, what a wonderful thing it is for each member to be in good working order! If one member of our body is not functioning right, the whole body suffers, and so Scripture says of Christ’s body, if one member suffers all the members suffer with it, and if one be honored, all the members rejoice together. If you are not going on with God and living for Him, if your life is not a godly life, you are like some member of the body out of order and failing to function. If you are living for God and walking with God, you may not be conscious of it, but you are a help and blessing to all the other members.

III. THE CHURCH AS A BUILDING

We are not only pictured in this wonderful epistle as members of the body of Christ, but in Ephesians 2, we are pictured as each one part of a building. Here we have our heavenly citizenship. Here is a new household:

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Believers constitute that spiritual house.

Notice how he used the word “fitly.” In chapter 4, “fitly joined together,” and in chapter 2, “fitly framed together.”

A master builder is very careful that every stone fits properly, that every board is properly fitted together; otherwise the beauty and perhaps the safety is marred. It is the work of the Spirit of God to fitly frame the building together. Peter speaks of us as lively stones come to the Living Stone and thus are builded together into an house of God.

IV. THE CHURCH AS THE BRIDE OF CHRIST

Ephesians 5:22-27, 30, 32:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish . . . For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones . . . This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Here, he has changed the figure. You do not sanctify and cleanse your body to present it to yourself; it is part of you. He has changed the figure from the body to the bride, and I dare say as he penned these words, he thought of Hosea when he was commanded by God to do something that was most repugnant, to illustrate God’s dealings with Israel, and typically the Lord’s dealing with the church. He had to go to the slave market to buy his wife, and the Spirit pointed her out. She was vile, filthy, contaminated, and a slave, but he took her and cleansed and clothed her, and presented her to himself, and yet she was not faithful to him, and he had to buy her back again. This is a picture of Israel. She is called the bride of God, and later on the wife. These are just symbols. Christ has to cleanse the church in order to present her to Himself a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle. It is a figure of a wife presented to her husband.

[W]e are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.

This reminds us that when Adam received Eve, he said, “she is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Paul is now quoting (in verse 31) from Genesis. Paul is here telling us that the mystery of marriage illustrates the relationship between Christ and the church.

We have seen the church then as a redeemed company, as the body of Christ, as a glorious building in which the Spirit of God dwells, and as the bride soon to be presented to the Lamb, Who died to redeem her. That in itself speaks of her destiny.

V. THE CALLING OF THE CHURCH

What, then, is the calling of the church of God?

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4- 7)

Sitting in heavenly places does not mean we are now sitting together “with” Christ Jesus.

Now we are sitting “in” Christ, not “with.” “With” Christ will be our happy portion by and by when Christ comes and takes us home, that in the ages to come He may show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Show means that He might exhibit. The church, then, called out of sin and darkness, redeemed to God with the precious Blood of Christ, and linked to the Head with the Spirit, will be one with Christ throughout all the ages to come, and so whatever experiences our Lord may be called upon to go through we shall go through with Him. We shall reign with Him and be with Him when He is all and in all. Our portion will be with Him through all eternity.

Let us, therefore, walk worthy of the calling wherewith we are called.

(You may read more by Harry Ironside at www.harryironside.com.)

RESURRECTION by Harry A. Ironside

 

emptytombBy Harry A. Ironside

He preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection . . . And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:18, 30-31)

Apart from the great fact of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead we would have no gospel to preach. By “resurrection,” we do not mean that our Lord’s spirit continued to live after His body died but that He was actually raised from the dead by the glory of the Father and came forth from the tomb in the very same body that had been impaled on Calvary’s cross. In that body, now glorified, He sits at God’s right hand, and in that same body, He is coming again as the Judge of both living and dead—the saved and lost. This is what is emphasized for us in the seventeenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

The entire passage, beginning with verse 16, is of tremendous interest, but I have no thought of attempting to explain it all, though I hope you will read it carefully at your leisure, if you are not thoroughly familiar with it, for it is undoubtedly one of the finest examples of a preacher’s eloquence that we have anywhere in the Bible.

Paul appears here at his best, from the human standpoint, but he also speaks as a divinely inspired servant of Christ. Of Apollos, we read elsewhere that he was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, and it is very evident from this sample sermon that Paul was a man of the same stamp; although on the other hand, he did not particularly cultivate what was simply rhetorical, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

But it was quite in keeping with his principle of being” made all things to all men,” that when he stood on Mars’ Hill, the very center of culture of the Greek world, he should meet those philosophers on their own ground.

PROUD, ATTIC PHILOSOPHERS
So far as culture was concerned, he was every whit their equal, combining a thorough acquaintance with their literature, history, and customs, with a deep knowledge of the Word of God to which they were strangers. Thus he gave them that day a new and arresting message such as they had never heard before, and possibly many were destined never to hear again.

Notice some of the circumstances. Paul was waiting in Athens for several of his fellow servants, who had returned to Thessalonica to find out how the newborn Christians there were getting along. As he wandered about the city, his spirit was deeply stirred, for he saw everywhere the evidences of idolatry. They worshipped everything in Athens; in fact an ancient philosopher once said, “In Athens it is easier to find a god than a man.” There were images on every street corner, over every doorway, in every courtyard, found in every store, and every dwelling house. Turn where you would, you were confronted by them.

SIGNS OF PAGAN DARKNESS
Paul, as he walked those streets, knew that the things the Gentiles sacrificed were sacrificed to demons and not to God; he knew he was probably the only man in that city who had a knowledge of the true and living God and of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; and yet for the time being he saw no opportunity to give his message in a public way.

A Jewish synagogue, however, attracted his attention, and entering it, he claimed his right as a recognized teacher to speak, and there he presented the Gospel, disputing with the adherents of Judaism, and with proselytes who were doubtless weary of the unsatisfactory character of idolatrous rites and ceremonies, and had sought out this place of instruction in the law of Moses.

In the market place also he addressed himself to individuals, and sometimes little groups would gather about him to whom he proclaimed the wondrous story of God’s grace in Christ Jesus to a lost world. Little by little he drew the attention of the people, who were always interested in that which seemed new and strange. So we need not be surprised that at last certain philosophers of the Epicureans and the Stoics became interested in him and his teaching.

THE EPICUREANS AND THE STOICS
These believed that man’s supreme good is found in trying to please himself, that there is no use denying one’s self; make the best of life by getting all the pleasure out of it you can, for you are going to be dead for a long time. We can hear the echo of this in the philosophy of so-called self-expression of our day.

The Stoics took the opposite view of life. They said: we are in the hands of a remorseless fate; we had nothing to say about coming into the world, and there is no telling what will happen when we leave it. Just grit your teeth, don’t show the white feather, make up your mind that “what cannot be cured must be endured.” Stoicism has come down through the ages as the synonym for patient endurance.

Some of these philosophers asked, “What will this babbler say?” To them he seemed to be setting forth new gods. New gods in Athens! They had searched the world to find all of them. They had shrines for the gods of Babylon, Phoenicia, Greece, Egypt, and Rome. They worshipped them all, and yet this man seemed to know something about some new ones, because Paul preached “Jesus and the resurrection.” They thought that Anastasis (resurrection) was yet another god! They had the god of peace, the god of victory, the god of justice, the god of love — all these different deified human attributes; and now they thought, “This man seems to have two new gods, one called Jesus and the other, Resurrection. We would like to hear more about them.” And they took him up to Mars’ Hill, or the Areopagus. This overlooked Athens, and was where the philosophers met for discussion. So they invited Paul to come up there and expound his new doctrines. Led by them, he wended his way to the meeting -place above, and at once began to proclaim the message that he had been yearning to give them for so long.

He took his text from an inscription he had seen on one of their altars, and said, as it were, “I see you are a very religious people. You seem to worship every god known to the Greeks and all other nations, and as I walked about I noticed an altar with an unusual inscription.”

“TO THE UNKNOWN GOD!”
It was evident that these Athenians feared lest they might be neglecting some god whose name had not been communicated to them, and so they set up the altar that had attracted Paul’s attention.

What a splendid text it made! And so Paul said, “Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” In other words, “I am here to tell you who the unknown God is.” How can anyone make known the unknown? God has made Himself known in the person of His blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was there, indeed, to present Jesus and the resurrection, and let me say that no man preaches the Gospel unless he does preach Jesus and the resurrection.

There is no Gospel for guilty sinners apart from Christ, for the Gospel is God’s message about His blessed Son. The Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed; it is good news to be believed. And that good news concerns the Lord Jesus Christ, Who came from the glory that He had with the Father from all eternity down to the sorrow and anguish of the cross of Calvary where He bared His breast that the sword of divine justice might be sheathed in His heart. He took our place and endured what we deserved. But that alone would not be the Gospel; there is something more needed.

Paul preached: JESUS, AND—And what? “And the resurrection.” Wherever the disciples went, they preached that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. The essence of their message was that He “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25).

So Paul preached Jesus and the resurrection, and we today proclaim the same, and we tell you in His Name, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

THE CREATOR AND THE CREATED
Notice how Paul prepared the ground for his message. First of all, they were reminded that the Creator must be greater than that which is created, and Paul directed their attention to the visible universe. It was very evident that the God Who made all things could not be confined in one of their temples. He says, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing he is Lord of Heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” He is not the God of one nation, but of all nations, and we are really one people, for He “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and bounds of their habitation.” He has put upon men the responsibility to know Him, for He is not far from any one of us.

There is no man anywhere who will dare say in the day of judgment, “I wanted to find God and could not,” for
“Closer is He than breathing, Nearer than hands and feet.” He is so close that if men will feel after Him, will stretch up empty hands towards Him, they will find His great strong hands reaching down to lay hold of them. God will never permit it to be said that any man honestly sought the way of life and failed to find it, that any man really wanted to be saved, and cried to God unheard.

This answers a question that troubles a good many people. I am often asked: WHAT ABOUT THE HEATHEN?
They have never heard the Gospel. What of them? Are they going to be damned because they have never heard? No matter where a heathen man may be today, if he wants to know God and honestly reaches out after Him, God will make Himself responsible to give that man light enough to be saved, for He is not far from any one of us. God has commanded men “that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him.”

This is the only place in the New Testament where we get the word “feel.” I have often urged people to trust the Lord Jesus and have told them how He died for them, bore their sins on the cross, and that if they will believe on Him, He has given His own Word that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And then they say, “Well, I do believe, but I don’t feel any different.” That has nothing to do with it. The word feel is not a Christian word at all. The only place it occurs in the New Testament is here where Paul is speaking of the heathen. But you have an open Bible; you do not need to feel after God. What you need to do is to believe the testimony that He has given, and then you will be saved. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). This is the word of the living GOD given through His servants of old.

“FEEL” AND “FEELING”
I said that the word feel is found only once in the New Testament, but the word feeling is found twice: once in Ephesians 4:19, where it speaks of certain Gentiles, and says, “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness”; and again in Hebrews 4:15, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” Apart from these three instances we do not find the words feeling or feel used in the New Testament. The moment you believe in the Lord Jesus, the moment you trust in Him you pass out of death into life, out of condemnation into justification before the throne of God.

In John 5:24, Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

THE FIVE DIVISIONS OF JOHN 5:24
1.”HE THAT HEARETH MY WORD.” Face this: be honest with your own heart. Have you heard the Word of the Son of GOD? Have you heard Him speaking to you through this blessed Book?

2.”AND BELIEVETH HIM THAT SENT ME.” Do you in your heart believe that GOD sent the Lord Jesus Christ to be the sinner’s Savior, to die for you on the cross, to rise from the dead for your justification?

3.”HATH EVERLASTING LIFE.” When do you get it? When you die? No, you get it now, from the moment you believe, from the moment you hear the Word of the Son of God, and receive and confess Him as the One whom the Father sent into the world to be the sinner’s Saviour. The trouble today is that people are stumbling over its very simplicity.

I heard of a man who wanted to be saved, and he was told to do penance for sin by putting hard dried peas in his shoes and walking on them so many hours a day. This poor man did this and limped around the streets, trying to make atonement. It would have done him just as much good if he had boiled the peas first.

But people are willing to do all kinds of hard things. They are like Naaman who, when the prophet commanded, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times,” said, “That is too easy a way.” But he had a wise old servant who suggest, “If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it?” Why, of course he would. “How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” If you had to give a great deal of money, say a great many prayers, make long pilgrimages, do vast numbers of charitable deeds in order to get life eternal, how many of you would be willing to do these things? How much more when He saith to thee, “Believe and live!”

4. “SHALL NOT COME INTO CONDEMNATION.” Think of it! Is that not good news? Not a word about purgatory, not a word about confession to a priest, not a word about sacramental observances, not a word about penance; but here and now, the moment you put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, your sins are gone and you will never come into judgment, but you have everlasting life. It is all for you. That is the gospel which Paul preached. And notice the next point:

5. “IS PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE.” It is a settled, complete salvation, giving a new standing before God to the believing sinner. Observe the threefold link with resurrection:

a. Resurrection and Repentance
But what if men do not accept it? Then there is the judgment. He says that God has been very gracious with the heathen: “The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” Repent means to change your mind completely, to have a new attitude. You had an idea that you could save yourself by your good works, but you change your mind and now admit that you cannot do a thing to save yourself, but that Christ must do it all. That is repentance— a change of attitude toward God. Instead of trying to do anything to save yourself, let the Lord Jesus do it all.

God “commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.” God is going to judge the world in righteousness, but your case can be settled out of court, and settled today, so that you need never think of coming into judgment. But if you reject Christ, some day you must give account before His judgment throne.

b. Resurrection and Assurance
“Whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” The resurrection of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ is the ground of our assurance that we shall live again in our resurrected bodies. He says, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” We are told that “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” This does not mean that all men will be saved, but that the bodies of all men will be raised from the dead. Thus God has given assurance to all men of a life after death in that He raised the body of Christ from the grave. In the second place, He has given assurance unto all men that the sin question is settled in the death of Christ, by raising His body from the dead.

Here is an innocent man who has gone to prison for the crime of another. He knew the other man was guilty, but he knew, too, that in order to prove his own innocence he would have to expose his friend; and so he hears the sentence of the judge, sending him to prison for one year. What must be the feeling of the other man outside? He says, “I have sent that man there; I deserved to go, but he is there in my place.” Perhaps he goes to see him and the man says, “I took your place voluntarily, and I am quite content; you let me endure it.” The other roams the streets and says, “I wonder how long he will be content to remain there; I wonder how long before he tells the whole story.” But by and by a year has passed, and walking down the street one day, he sees the one who went to prison for him. He rushes up and says, “What does this mean?”

“It means,” is the reply, “that you have nothing to fear now. The sentence has been endured.”

So our blessed Lord bore on the Tree the sentence for us, and now we who were once guilty sinners are free. ” Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more.” The resurrection is the proof that the sin question has been settled, that God is satisfied. “He hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”

c. Resurrection and Reckoning
In the third place, we have assurance in the resurrection of Jesus Christ that some day all men are going to give account to Him. This will be when He sits upon the great white throne. Think of giving account of your sins to Him after all He has done to save you from them!

Notice the threefold response from Paul’s message had that day. “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter . . . . Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed.” I wonder if there are not people manifesting these three different attitudes toward the message today!

THREE RESPONSES TO THE GOSPEL
Some mock, some ridicule, some say, “Oh, we cannot believe this message about Jesus and the resurrection; we cannot accept it. We do not see how He could die for sinners and rise again, and how men can be saved through believing on Him.” God pity you if you are turning this message down. Some day He will turn you down, for He says in His Word, “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh” (Proverbs 1:24- 26). God grant that you may not at last be exposed to such a doom. Do not turn it down, do not go away with a cold, careless sneer and say, “It is nothing to me.”

The second class said, “We will hear thee again of this matter.” They are the procrastinators. You may not be mocking; possibly you would not sneer at the Gospel message; you fully intend to be saved some day, but you are saying, “I will hear you again; I am not ready to close with Christ today. There is so much to occupy my heart and mind these days; some other time. Let me alone for the present. Sometime I will give attention to these things.”

Remember the old saying, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” There is a Spanish proverb which says, “The road of by and by leads to the town of never.” How many have taken that road, have said, “By and by, some other day,” and have gone on and on, until at last they have reached the other world, hopelessly lost, and that forever!

The third class, ” Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed.” What a blessed testimony! God has recorded the names of two of them, one man and one woman, Dionysius and Damaris, who accepted the message proclaimed that day.

Men have an idea that what sinners need is more culture, more refinement; but if polite culture could have saved the world, Greece would have been saved long ago. But Greece went all to pieces in spite of its culture. It was the gospel of the grace of God that saved the ancient world from ruin. And it is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that saves men today. I bring before you these two examples, Dionysius and Damaris, and I beg you to follow them as they followed Christ; believe the message, and go on rejoicing in Him, who was raised from the dead, never to die again. Hear what He says in Revelation 1:18—”I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.”

The article above will soon be a Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract.

A Warning: The Angel of Light and the “Wiles” of the Devil

By Ray Yungen

Who would want you to believe that God does not exist outside of yourself—that you don’t need to have faith in anything external. New Age writer/philosopher David Spangler reveals who in his book Reflections on the Christ when he writes:

Some being has to take these energies into his consciousness and substance and channel them as it were to those other beings who must receive them, in this case humanity. The being who chose to embody these energies and to be in essence the angel of man’s inner evolution is the being we know as Lucifer.1

He lays out the entire program behind the New Age movement in the following explanation:

He [Lucifer] comes to make us aware of our power within, to draw to ourselves experience. He comes to make us aware of the power of creative manifestation which we wield.

When you are working with the laws of manifestation you are in essence manifesting a Luciferic principle.2

Even if Spangler had not written these words, the link between Lucifer and the New Age movement would still be evident to Christians from reading II Corinthians 11:13-15:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (emphasis mine)

For this deception to be effective, he would have to come as an “angel of light.” To judge a belief system as being satanic, one should compare how close it comes to Satan’s own statements about himself. God is asking him, “How art thou fallen from heaven, 0 Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah. 14:12). Then He reminds Satan of his own words when he challenged God:

For thou [Satan] hast said in thine heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14, emphasis added)

Then later, when Satan deceived Eve in the Garden, he said:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:5, emphasis mine)

Without a doubt, the New Age movement fits that bill.
The “Wiles” of Satan
Ephesians 6:11 warns: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil”

The word wiles in this verse translates ingenious trap or snare. In order for a trap to be effective, proper bait is needed—something that is alluring, that looks and feels valid. For example, let’s take the case of Reiki. The average Reiki practitioner would think it outrageous and ridiculous that someone would even suggest that Reiki is linked to Satan. One Reiki practitioner offered this comment on the positive nature of Reiki:

During a Reiki treatment, you can expect to feel any number of sensations; warmth, coolness, tingling, deep relaxation, or at times you may not feel anything discernible. Sessions usually last one hour, and afterward you will feel calm and relaxed. You will sleep better and have a general sense of well-being.3

Does this sound like something that is satanic? Most people would not only say no but would feel that something of this nature probably would have to come from God.
In The Reiki Factor, Reiki master Barbara Ray says:

Reiki has reemerged as a transformative tool for energy balancing, for natural healing, for wholing, and for creating peace, joy, love, and, ultimately, for achieving higher consciousness and enlightenment.4

Enlightenment is the same as self-realization, especially in the context of a metaphysical practice. When a Christian hears someone claim to be God, he immediately should recognize the pronouncements of Satan, “Ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5) and “I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Hear this closely. He said, I will be like the most High (God) . . . I will be like God.

In view of this, the only logical conclusion is that the power behind Reiki is satanic. The key is not to think in terms of how the popular culture sees Satan, but rather how the inspired writers of the Bible portrayed Satan—a master deceiver and counterfeiter of the truth. He is one who comes as “an angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:14) to offer mankind godhood (you are divine and the master of your own destiny).

The sad thing about all this is that these experiences are so real and convincing. People experiencing the superconscious testify that deep meditative states are incomparably beautiful and rapturous. They experience intense light flooding them, and have a sense of omnipotent power and infinite wisdom. In this timeless state, they experience an ecstasy compared to nothing they have ever known before. They feel a sense of unity with all of life and are convinced of their own immortality. Such experiences keep them returning for more. One is not going to believe he or she is God if one doesn’t feel like God.

The late New Age leader Peter Caddy related an incident in which a group of Christians confronted him and tried, as he put it, to save my soul. He told them to come back and talk to him when they’ve had the same wonderful mystical experiences he has had. The point he was trying to make was that these naive Christians had no idea what the metaphysical life is all about and if they did, they would want what he had rather than trying to convert him to their way of thinking.
Feelings such as this are common in New Age circles and have hooked many over the past twenty years. They feel something this great has to be of God. A similar account is related in Acts 8:9-11:

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. (emphasis mine)

In the Greek, the word bewitched means to amaze or astound. Sorcery means using the power of familiar spirits. What this man was doing had to have appeared good, otherwise the people would not have felt that “this man is the great power of God.” The truth of the matter is, he wasn’t of God, it just appeared that way.
In light of all this, it is easy to see why the coming of the Christian Gospel to Ephesus, that bastion of the Ancient Wisdom, had such a dramatic effect:

And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. (Acts 19:18-19)

The word curious is translated from a Greek word meaning magical. The magical or metaphysical arts went out the door when the Gospel of Christ came in. The two were not only incompatible, but totally opposite as the following account reveals:

And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister. And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, 0 full of all subtilty and all mischief thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? (Acts 13:5-10, emphasis mine)

Endnotes:

1.  David Spangler, Reflections on the Christ (Findhorn Foundation, second edition, 1978), p. 36.
2.  Ibid., p. 41.
3. Jennifer Thebodeau, “What Happens During a Reiki Treatment?” (Mountain Sky Reiki, Osaka, Japan,http://www.mountainskyreiki.com/reikitreatments.htm, accessed 11/2011).
4. Barbara Ray, Ph.D., The Reiki Factor (Smithtown, NY: Exposition Press, Inc., 1983), p. 12.

A Word to Begin the New Year from a Native American Cree

By Nanci des Gerlaise
(author of Muddy Waters: an insider’s view of North American Native Spirituality)

According to some Native Spiritual practitioners that I know personally, including people from other religions, we worship the same God regardless of what name we use to call God. In 2011, an emergent church group held A Symposium on Progressive Christianity. Progressive Christianity is another way of saying non-biblical Christianity. From an interview that was part of the symposium, the following excerpt is quite revealing as to the mindset of the “progressives”:

How should progressive Christians relate to other kinds of Christians? To those of other faiths? And what is their theological basis for so doing? We should always be willing to join hands for the common good and understanding of God. I personally believe that it doesn’t matter the name you use to call God (how many names are attributed to God in our bible alone?)—even if your name for God is “Science,” as long as you’re on the same journey of grace, justice, and inclusion you are our brother/sister and we are honored to walk alongside of you. . . . If they’re following God by practicing love, justice, and inclusion, then we’re truly following the same God—even if we happen to be on different paths.1

Scripture mentions only two paths by which we will choose to walk in the Gospel of Matthew:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. (Matthew 7:13)

The name of God that we use does matter according to the following Scripture:

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)

In Native Spirituality, there is the Great Spirit, but no such mention is found in the Bible; the Holy Spirit is mentioned, but He is part of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and is NEVER called or referred to as the Great Spirit. In Native Spiritual teachings, their god, the Great Spirit, has neither a Father nor a Son. They do not preach redemption, salvation, sanctification, justification, repentance, etc. This confirms that the two are two different Spirits; one belongs to a Holy Trinity (Holy Spirit) and the other an unholy spirit (Great Spirit). The Great Spirit is severely lacking and devoid of holiness or of any true biblical doctrine but does have a doctrine of demons.

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

If you take a look at names of God from Scripture, you will not find the Great Spirit listed there; neither will you find ancestors, grandfathers, etc. listed either in Scripture because as Christians, we do not worship the same God as many people would suggest to us.

In the Book of Acts, there is an account of Paul when he preached at Mars Hill to a heathen people. He told them:

Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things. (Acts 17: 22-25)

Paul came to declare to these people who were worshiping an unknown god that God did have a name. He then told them about the Creator of the universe and about the one whom God “hath raised him from the dead [Jesus Christ].”

The greatest test by which we can gauge teaching of any sort is by obeying 1 John 4:1 to “try [test] the spirits.” God’s test for recognizing His Spirit is centered on the deity of Jesus, not tradition. We are admonished in 1 John 4:2-3 not to embrace man-made teaching; and 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 tells us to be separate from unbelievers.

A “false Jesus” is being lifted up in this apostate hour to usher in as many people into various false gospels propitiated by different spirits today such as: the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and the World Christian Gathering of Indigenous Peoples. Not to mention: the Indigenous People’s Movement, Word of Faith, Emergent Church, New Age/New Spirituality, and contemplative prayer (Spiritual Formation). In some way, shape, or form, elements of Native Spirituality are taught in most of the above movements, and its direction is heading toward a unified global religion that the Bible warns will happen in the last days before Christ returns. This is why the apostle Paul urgently cautioned Christians that “another Jesus,” a “different gospel,” and a “different spirit” would be sermonized and acknowledged by the undiscerning in the last days. A false ecumenical “Jesus” will arise and will fool a world that is looking for a Messiah for all faiths and persuasions. Even in all of this, the one true Messiah and Savior remains high and lifted up above all false gods and false Christs:

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. (Philippians 2:9-10)

Notes:

1.A Symposium on Progressive Christianity; A Patheos Symposium hosted by the Patheos Progressive Christian Portal, in partnership with the Wild Goose Festival (interview at http://www.progressivechristianalliance.org/Blog/articles/rev-jarrod-cochrans-interview-with-patheos.)

How Much Does the Gospel Weigh?

In last week’s article, “The Cost for Being Careless About Gospel,” we established how the Gospel is a standard  and the central theme of the entire Bible. We can think of it like a balancing scale, weighing truth against error. But how much does the Gospel weigh? That might sound like a foolish question, but let’s take a moment to see how a balancing scale works. Basically, it is an arm extending from both sides with a fulcrum in the middle. A standardized weight is then placed on one side, and subsequently everything placed on the other arm of the scale with be measured and valued by that standardized weight. A false scale, as Proverbs states, uses a deceptive weight purported to be a standardized weight when it really is not. Consequently, everything weighed on that scale for the next five, ten, or a thousand years will have an erroneous result. A false scale just keeps on lying because the standard is wrong.

If  we are going to use the Gospel as a standardized weight, knowing how much the Gospel weighs might be worth pondering. The prophet Zechariah gives us a clue:

And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. (Zechariah 11:12-13)

Again, what was forecast in the Old Testament, is fulfilled in the New, and in Matthew 26:15 we see that when Judas asked the chief priests what price they would give for delivering Jesus to them,  it says, “they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” This was the value the priests of that day placed on Jesus. But what follows is most significant. When Judas returns later to the chief priests and elders, he says:

I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.  (Matthew 27:4-7)

It was the chief priests of that day, not Judas, who placed the value of Jesus and measured out thirty pieces of silver.

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value. (Matthew 27:9)

But when Judas threw the money down on the temple floor, he realized that the money was worthless in comparison with the man he had betrayed. But even more so, it was a prophetic statement of God from centuries past that the value placed on Jesus would be as erroneous as it could possibly be.

The price of Jesus and what He did for us, weighed out, is immeasurable. When weighed against anything else, the Gospel always tips the scale. It is the standardized weight that no matter what you compare it with, the item you are weighing will come up lacking.

Over the centuries, man has come up with all sorts of ideas and philosophies that have only served to prove how priceless the Gospel really is. Jesus truly is the Son of God, and He truly paid our debt on the Cross. But today, more than ever, the Gospel is under attack, and we need to faithfully hold on to it and defend it as the standard that is true.

We are all too familiar with all the vain teachings that have been used to discredit the Gospel message over the last two thousand years. Paul warns to steer away from such teachings:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

To Timothy, whom he regarded as a son in the faith, Paul has a strong exhortation at the end of his first epistle:

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called. (1 Timothy 6:20)

Having strongly opposed the Gospel in the past, Paul knew what it is to be greatly deceived by one’s own reasonings and the thoughts of the culture. He was recognized as one of the greatest intellectuals of his time, yet one day on a road to Damascus he discovered that all of his profound learning did not measure up to God’s standard. Paul later used his intellectual abilities to become one of the strongest defenders of the faith in human history.

Today, there is a whole barrage of religious leaders who use their intellectual prowess to persuade Christians to abandon the fundamentals of the Christian faith for something more intellectually palatable to the postmodern mind. These leaders are holding up a new standard suggesting the standard of the Gospel is outdated and a new standardized weight needs to be placed on the balance. Many of these emerging progressive leaders make it sound like they have made a new discovery that no one has thought of before they came along. Using their philosophical reasonings, you will hear them question how a God of love could send His son to die a cruel death on a cross for the sins of others. They will further maintain that a God of love would never send anyone to Hell – a place that in their own minds does not exist.2 Human reason then and not the teachings of the Bible become the tests of truth. You have perhaps seen book reviews of Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins where we learn that the long-held truths of the Bible must now bend to intellectual fabrications of what God must be like. Yes, a new standard has replaced the standard of the Gospel by which truth and all of Christian doctrine can be weighed. But this is nothing new, as philosophers of the past have believed that the human intellect is a wellspring of innate knowledge and ultimately the only source and deciding factor of truth.

The “New” Science vs. the Gospel

In this postmodern era, some arrive at many of the same conclusions from a slightly different vantage point. They hold that the realm of science (a “new” quantum science they say) offers the wealth of knowledge we are looking for. Some, like Leonard Sweet, have suggested that if we look at the physical world at the sub-atomic level, we will actually find God. At first, it seems like a wonderful idea to think that we can prove to an unbelieving world the existence of God. A good idea, that is, until we realize that we are again talking about another Gospel – for to “discover” that God exists in all of creation at the sub-atomic level suggests a panentheistic view of God. Yet Romans 1 distinguishes the creature from Creator (verse 25). In fact, the panentheistic view contradicts and discredits the whole Genesis account. Paul clarifies that there are two realities – physical and spiritual – and they are not the same (1 Corinthians 15:35-50). From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible actually makes it very clear that God is separate from His creation. My question is, if God is spiritual rather than physical, when the scientists discover God at the sub-atomic level, what god will that actually  be?

Needless to say, what is being passed off as cutting-edge spirituality is what Paul warned about when he talked about “vain philosophies” and “science falsely so called.” The fact is, God has given mankind the ability to reason and to make empirical observations, but no amount of human reasoning and scientific experimentation, in and of themselves, will enable man to arrive at God outside of that which is revealed in the Bible.

For the Christian, the Gospel has been and always will be that standardized weight and the pivot from which we measure truth from error. Today, more than ever, the church is plagued by such a vast assortment of spiritualities and false teachings, some of which are so subtle, that even the most discerning are vulnerable to dangerous deception.

The sad truth is that most church going, self-proclaiming Christians today do not understand the times in which we live and would prefer that “negative” “trouble-making” organizations such as Lighthouse Trails would cease to exist. But as long as the Lord allows, and in spite of many adversaries, those of us who defend the faith and contend for His Word are often reminded of our Lord’s words of admonition to work “while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).

However, something needs to be said here: Although Lighthouse Trails exists as a source of information, this is not our highest calling. We believe God has called us to work “[f]or the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). For the “perfecting of the saints” to happen, Christians need to learn to think on their own. Too many ministries exist that create a following of dependents rather than discipling men and women of God who are strong in the faith. The Lord is our strength and in Him and His Word we have everything we need to live an overcoming life (2 Peter 1:3). Paul put it succinctly when he said this concerning our Lord:

In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. (Colossians 2:3-4)

Let us cling to the priceless treasure we have in Christ. None of us will ever have a perfect hold of all Christian doctrine – as Paul says we see as looking through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12), but if we hold fast to our Savior and Lord, and hide His Word in our hearts, we will have all we need to get us through.

How much does the Gospel weigh? More than the weight of all the sins of mankind put together. Christ’s death on the Cross bore that load, and nothing can takes its place.

Notes:

  1. Celebrating the Resurrection, But Denying the Atonement 

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