Posts Tagged ‘Kingdom of God’

Letter to the Editor: Purpose Driven Movement – Is There Really Something to Be Concerned About?

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I don’t normally write others with questions, but seek answers through my own research. Your posting about Rick Warren and the Purpose-Driven Church, along with books offered on your website, have been most helpful.

On June 26-29, I attended a PD conference at Saddleback Church. The church staff and spouses attended a 3-day conference on “Hope Renewed.” I was there all 3 days taking notes and listening to what was said. The speaker each day was Rick Warren.

After those 3 days, I found myself questioning what I thought I knew about Rick Warren and the Purpose-Driven Church; even realizing all that I had previously read at your site and others. After all, he seemed to have a gift for simplifying things and holding everyone’s attention. Was I wrong to think differently and was he on target? I found myself wondering why I had questioned this fine man speaking before me.

But at the end of the third day during one of the worship music sessions, I realized how sad I felt for all the attendees and how all the messages thru music were only “positive” messages about God; not much if any about our sin and desperate need for Jesus.

For as humble as Rick Warren presents himself, I couldn’t help thinking that I was missing something that didn’t seem quite right, or I was wrong to question him and the PD movement at all; and somehow the articles on your website and others were all wrong. Was it a possibility that I was in the presence of a seducing spirit or a spirit that deceives and blinds even believers in Christ? As I have reflected over the last 2 weeks, I believe that is exactly what happened.

I writing to share with you what happened – trusting that my thinking and assumptions are not wrong. I appreciate your consistent work with sharing the truth of God’s Word and that of your authors. I have not found many places to get such help.

_____________________

LTRP Note: After observing and researching Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Movement for over 15 years, we find that the evidence gathered simply cannot be ignored. If you are reading this letter to the editor and finding yourself uncertain as to what the roots, foundation, and goals of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Movement are, please read some of the articles below. For books on this issue, read A Time of Departing, Faith Undone, Deceived on Purpose, A “Wonderful” Deception, and The Good Shepherd Calls. 

Some of the More important Articles About the Purpose Driven Movement

The Peace of God versus the P.E.A.C.E. of Man

The Kingdom of God and a Man of Peace

Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much

THE THREE LEGGED STOOL PLAN

Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan – The New Age/Eastern Meditation Doctors Behind the Saddleback Health

A Visit to Rick Warren’s Health Seminar – The Unfolding of a Global New Age Plan

The Story Behind Lighthouse Trails

The New Missiology – Doing Missions Without the Gospel

RICK WARREN RETAINS UNBIBLICAL POSITION IN NEW 2012 EDITION OF THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE

Rick Warren’s Popular Broad Way Christianity Misses the (Biblical) Mark

Looking to the Past to Unravel Confusion About Rick Warren, Islam, and Warren’s All-Inclusive “Second Reformation”

Purpose Driven Terrorism

Chrislam – The Blending Together of Islam & Christianity and Rick Warren’s Muslim Man of Peace 

The Father’s House and the Way There

Harry A. Ironside

Harry A. Ironside

By Harry A. Ironside

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:1-6)

In these verses, two outstanding truths are emphasized: first, that of the Father’s house, and second, our Lord’s personal return for His own. The Lord Jesus had been giving His last messages to His disciples. He had intimated that soon they would forsake Him and flee. He had told them He was going away, and for the present, they could not come where He was to go. And in verse thirty-six of chapter thirteen we read:

Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.

He was going, you see, to the Father’s house. He was going home to God by way of the Cross and resurrection, and Peter could not follow immediately. But the Lord says, “Thou shalt follow Me afterwards.” Peter did not understand that, and he said to Him, “Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake” (John 13:37).

“Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for My sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied Me thrice” (John 13:38).

And then He immediately adds, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” You see, the Lord Jesus is addressing these words, of course, to all His disciples, but directly to the disciple who was to deny Him in so short a time. And this is surely very comforting for our hearts. Peter was to fail the Lord—Jesus knew he would fail—but deep in Peter’s heart, there was a fervent love for the Lord Jesus. And when he said, “I will lay down my life for Thy sake,” he meant every word of it. But he did not realize how untrustworthy his own heart was. It was a case of the spirit being willing, but the flesh weak. And Jesus knew something of the fearful discouragement that would roll over the soul of Peter when he awoke to the realization of the fact that he had been so utterly faithless in the hour of his Master’s need.

In the very time that Jesus needed someone to stand up for Him and to say boldly, “Yes, I am one of His, and I can bear witness to the purity of His life and to the goodness of His ways”—at that time, Peter, frightened by the soldiers gathered about, denied any knowledge of his Savior. And, oh, the days and nights that would follow, as he would feel that surely he must be utterly cast off, surely the Lord could never put any trust in him again! But if he remembered these words, what a comfort they must have brought to his poor aching heart! For Jesus is practically saying, “I know all about it, Peter. I know how you are going to fail, but I want you to know this; in My Father’s house are many mansions, and you are going to share one of those mansions with Me some day. I am not going to permit you, Peter, to be utterly overcome. I am not going to permit you to go into complete apostasy. You will fall, but you will be lifted up again, and you will share with Me a place in the many mansions.”

When He says, “Let not your heart be troubled,” He does not mean, “Do not be exercised about your failure,” for He Himself sought to exercise the heart of Peter, and in a wonderful way restored him by the Sea of Galilee later on. But He means this, “Do not be cast down. Do not allow the enemy of your soul to make you feel there is no further hope, there is no opportunity for you.”

I wonder if I am speaking to someone who has failed, perhaps, as Peter failed. Under the stress of circumstances you, too, have denied your Lord, denied Him in acts if not in words, and the adversary of your soul is saying to you now, “It is all up with you; your case is hopeless. You knew Christ once, but you have failed so miserably, He would never own you again.” Oh, let me assure you His interest in you is just as deep as it ever was. If you have truly trusted Him as your Savior, the fact that you failed so grievously, and the fact that you mourn over it, only emphasizes the truth that you belong to Him. Still He says, “[Return], O backsliding children, [unto Me]; for I am married unto you” (Jeremiah 3:14)—not, “I am divorced from you.” And therefore He waits for you to come back and confess your failure and your sin, and He has promised complete restoration, for, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). And some day for you, too, there will be a place in the Father’s house.

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” You see, in the days gone by before Jesus came to them at all, the people of Israel did have faith in the one true and living God. Now they had never seen Him, and Jesus is saying to His disciples, “You have believed in God when you couldn’t see Him, now I am going away in a little while and you won’t be able to see Me, but I want you to trust Me just the same as when I was here. Just as you have believed in the unseen God through the years, I want you to put your faith in Me, the unseen Christ, after I have gone back to the Father.” Do we have that implicit trust and confidence in Him, realizing that He is deeply interested in every detail of our own lives? The Word says, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). There is absolutely nothing that concerns His people about which He Himself is not concerned. And therefore, He would have us put away all the stress and all the anxiety. He says, “Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.”

And then He adds, “In My Father’s house are many mansions.” “My Father’s house,” and by that of course He means Heaven, and He is speaking of a place, a place to which He was going, and a place into which some day He will take all His own. I often hear people say, “Heaven is a condition rather than a place.” Heaven is both a place and a condition. It is true we do not read a great deal about Heaven in the Bible. Somebody has said, “Heaven is the land of no more.” We have more in the Bible about what will not be in Heaven than about what will be there.

Remember in the book of Revelation, we read that there will be no more sin, there will be no more tears, there will be no more pain, there will be no more sorrow, there will be no more curse, there will be no more darkness, there will be no more distress of any kind in the Father’s house. The Father’s house is the place where Christ is, and that is the place to which the redeemed are going.

“If it were not so, I would have told you.” What does He mean by that? The Jews had had a belief in a heaven of bliss after death, and Jesus said, “If you had been wrong in that, I would have corrected you.” But because He didn’t correct it but rather affirmed it, we know that it is true, that there is a glorious home beyond the skies for the redeemed which we shall share with Him by-and-by.

He adds, “I go to prepare a place for you.” What does He mean by that? You see the mansions are different from what they were before He went back there. Before He went back to the Father’s house, the sin question had never been settled. Before He went back to the Father’s house, the veil had not been rent, the blood had not been sprinkled on the mercy-seat. So the saints of old went to Paradise on credit. They did not have the same blessed access into the immediate presence of God that the saints have now. We read in the Epistle to the Hebrews that we have now come to the spirits of just men made perfect. They were the spirits of just men of all the centuries before the Cross; God had redeemed them and taken them to Paradise, but they were not yet made perfect. They could not be until the precious blood of Jesus was shed on the Cross. Now having settled the sin question, He entered into the holiest with His own blood in antitypical fashion, sprinkled His own blood on the mercy-seat above, and now a place is prepared in the holiest for all of His own, and the spirits of just men of the past have been perfected, and we who believe now are perfected forever. So we are all suited to that place to which we are going. “I go to prepare a place for you.”

And then He said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” Now I know that a great many people think of this as a word in regard to death, and of course, when a believer dies, that believer goes to be with Christ. But we are never told in Scripture that in the hour of death Christ comes for His people. If we may draw an analogy from something our Lord said when He was here on earth, we gather that that is hardly true. We are told that a dear child of God was dying—he was a beggar, it is true. He was an outcast, lying at the rich man’s gate, but he was a real son of Abraham. He had faith in the God of all grace. And the beggar died, we are told, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. Angels carried the poor beggar—poor no longer—into Paradise. What I rather gather from that, is that the last ministry of angels, who are ever keeping watch over the people of God, will be to usher them into the presence of God. He is yonder in the Father’s house, and His angels usher His saints into His presence.

But He is speaking of something different here. Death is the believer going to be with Christ. That is what the Scripture tells us—”Absent from the body . . . present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8); “To depart, and be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). But a believer going home to be with Christ is spoken of as being unclothed, having laid his body aside. He is there in the presence of the Lord a glorified spirit, but he is there waiting for his redeemed body. When the Lord Jesus fulfills that which is spoken here in the fourteenth chapter of John, then believers will receive their glorified bodies and will be altogether like Him. This coming, referred to here, is developed for us more fully in the fourth chapter of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians. There we read in verse thirteen: “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep”—that is, saints whose bodies are sleeping in the graves but whose spirits are with Christ—“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). This is the coming our Savior refers to when He says: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself” (John 14:3). It is at that coming that the expectation of our completed redemption will be fulfilled. In Romans eight, the apostle Paul tells us in verse nineteen:

“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” Verses twenty-two and twenty-three: “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption—”What does he mean by that?—”to wit, the redemption of our body.”

Our spirits have already been redeemed, we have already received the salvation of our souls, but we are waiting for the complete salvation of the body, the redemption of the body at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope” (Romans 8:24). What hope is it then? The hope of the coming of our Lord. And to this He refers again in the third chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians, where we read in verse twenty: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

About the way there. Will everybody get to the Father’s house? I wish that they would. Richard Baxter used to pray, “Oh, God, for a full Heaven and an empty hell!” But alas, alas, many persist in rebellion against God and so that prayer can never be answered! There is only one way to the Father’s house. And what is that way? I have had people say to me so many times, “We are traveling different roads, but we will all get to Heaven at last.” No, no; I don’t find that in my Bible. My Bible says, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 16:25), and it warns me against taking the broad way that leads to destruction and tells me to take the narrow way that leads to life.

And so here Jesus says, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto Him—” Thomas was honest and he was never afraid just to blurt out all the truth. He said, “We don’t know what You are talking about. We have to confess we are ignorant, and we don’t know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said unto him—and, oh, dear friends, you get what He said, for it is for you as well as for Thomas—”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).

Oh, don’t talk about many ways. There is only one—Jesus is the only way. There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus. Have you come to Him? Are you trusting Him? If you are, you are on the way to the Father’s house, and now you can wait with equally glad expectation for the hour of His return, for He said, “If I go, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.” When will He come? We can’t tell that, but we are waiting for Him day by day.

I know not when the Lord will come
Or at what hour He may appear,
Whether at midnight or at morn,
Or at what season of the year.
I only know that He is near,
And that His voice I soon shall hear.
I only know that He is near,
And that His voice I soon shall hear.

Dr. Harry Ironside’s writings are in the public domain.

The Kingdom of God and a Man of Peace

By Roger Oakland

Most people with any common sense and compassion want to see a planet without poverty, disease, and illiteracy. I thank God for all the organizations working to help the suffering, the sick, and the poor. Jesus made it very clear that we are to care for and reach out to those in need. However, working to bring about utopia on earth through global and religious unity is futile. My saying this might make some people angry, and they may accuse me of being fatalistic. But nowhere in Scripture is the notion supported that there will be a kingdom without tears, pain, poverty, and suffering until Jesus Christ physically returns and establishes it Himself.

A question needs to be considered: Can those who don’t know the King establish the kingdom of God?

Rick Warren believes that God has shown him not only the boundaries (or lack of them) of this coming global kingdom, but also the strategy to bring it about. Before Warren came up with the plan, he says he asked Jesus to show him how to reach the world. He explains:

Then I said, “How did You do it? You wouldn’t have left us without a strategy.” And I found the answer in a passage in Matthew 10 and Luke 10 where Jesus sends His first followers out… He says, “When you go into a village, you find the man of peace.” Find the man of peace. There’s a man of peace in every village, in every government, in every business, in every church.1

Warren further inquired of Jesus to find out just who this man of peace is. Here is the answer he got:

And so I said, “What is the man of peace?” He said, “When you find the man of peace, if he’s open and he’s willing to work rp_nf9qq9-b88263123z.120141118201758000gb56d96s.10.jpgwith you, you bless him and you start your work there. If the guy’s not open to working with you, you dust the dust off your shoes and you go to the next villages, ’cause you can always find someone to work with.” The man of peace is open and influential….

The man of peace does not have to be a Christian believer. Could be Muslim. Could be Jewish. Because, when Jesus said, “Find the man of peace,” there were no Christians yet. Jesus hadn’t died on the cross. There was no resurrection. He’s just saying, go out and find somebody to work with.2

While Warren believes that a conversation with Jesus inspired his plan to establish the kingdom of God on earth, it would be important to check out the words of Jesus written in the Bible. Ironically, Jesus said much the opposite of what Warren is proposing. In view of the fact that Jesus had not died and resurrected yet, Warren suggests that Jesus sent out His disciples proclaiming peace because there was no other message yet to proclaim; but Jesus did send His disciples out with a Gospel of repentance in proclaiming, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7). This is the same Gospel of repentance John the Baptist proclaimed in preparing the way for the Gospel of justification by faith. Jesus did not say they were to look for a “man of peace” in every town. Rather, He said, “whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence” (Matthew 10:11).

Now Jesus did tell His disciples to use the greeting, “Peace be to this house” whenever entering a house, and if a “son of peace” is there, to remain in that house (Luke 10:5-7). However, it is important to realize that the criterion for staying in a house was not the greeting of peace itself but whether those in that house received their message:

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. (Matthew 10:14)

In fact, Jesus makes it very clear that the disciples were sent out to proclaim a message many would reject, saying, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). With all diligence, Jesus warns His disciples that they will be hated for preaching the Gospel. Yet Rick Warren has turned these two passages around, suggesting that Jesus sent out His disciples to proclaim peace because at that time they had no other message to proclaim.

Let me speak very boldly here: if we are going to link hands with those who believe in another gospel or no gospel at all for the sake of establishing an earthly, unified kingdom, we will not be building the kingdom of God. (from Faith Undone, chapter 9, “The Kingdom of God on Earth”)

Notes:
1. Interview by Charlie Rose with Rick Warren (August 17, 2006, ON FILE at Lighthouse Trails).
2. Ibid.

Slumbering Preachers—Sleeping Saints (And Some Thoughts About “End-Times Eddies”?)

By Jan Markell
Used with permission | www.olivetreeviews.org

A ministry supporter in Washington State sent me a flyer that was handed out in his church recently. It is more mocking. The flyer asks if folks have met “End-Times Eddie” in the church. It denigrates “Eddie” and suggests he is so focused on end-times that he has missed all the present opportunities and people in front of him.

“Eddie” is gloom and doom. Why isn’t he looking for Jesus to bring Heaven to earth right now?

earth globe over black

photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission.

Then the flyer suggests some questions for the church’s small groups. Here are a few samples:

  • What are your emotions when you encounter “End-Times Eddie”?
  • Is the end-time message one of hope or fear?
  • Jesus told us to pray for “your will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” What does Heaven on earth look like today?
  • Who in your life needs Heaven to come to earth right now?

Two things stand out to me:

1) Here is just one more church preaching, “Come, Lord Jesus, but not too soon.”

 2) They have embraced the false teaching promoted heavily by the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) that we can have Heaven on earth now. This is called Kingdom Now or Dominion Theology.

Show me just one square mile of this planet that can demonstrate a Garden of Eden-like Heaven on earth. You will find only chaos. And the church trying to perfect the world for the next one million years won’t fix it.

Those of us who have promoted the important message that the King is coming are painfully aware that young believers no longer uphold Bible prophecy as a key component of the faith. They would rather focus on social justice, the green agenda, and Christian Palestinianism.

When I was a teenager in my church, we had regular prophecy conferences and I never once heard that Israel was “occupying” her God-given country. I never would have heard the denigrating title of “End-Times Eddie.” I was never taught that we had to “save the planet” because I learned that it was hopelessly lost until Christ’s return. I was never given the delusional teaching that in time my church would be able to “save the planet” by seizing the Genesis mandate of dominion — which is about dominion over animals and not mankind.

Kingdom Now or Dominion Theology tries to humanize God and deify man. Sadly, the world will continue to deteriorate and spiral into chaos, forcing man to consider the hope of Heaven and abandon thoughts of a glorified earth. Only when Jesus Christ returns at the Second Coming will all things be made new!

Dominionist proponent Cindy Jacobs suggests that God showed her that the Lord’s Prayer is a prayer of intercession that will help bring into manifestation the original Genesis Mandate to fill, subdue, multiply and have dominion in the earth. Cindy, sin didn’t come into the world because we didn’t understand our mandate! 

As I wrote in a previous article exposing the theology of Dominionism, “The church is not in the business of taking anything away from Satan but the souls of men. The world is a sinking Titanic ripe for judgment, not Garden of Eden perfection. Jesus will take dominion of the cleansed earth. For men to speak of doing that before the judgment of this earth is spiritually arrogant.”

Yet “End-Times Eddie” is the one with unsound theology according to the Washington church, not those preaching this unsound theology that the church can perfect the world.

One of my conference attendees wrote me in 2014. He had been tagged an “End-Times Eddie.” He writes, “I no longer feel safe talking about the issues you deal with in your ministry. I am scorned and ridiculed by friends, family, and co-workers if I talk about the Lord’s imminent return or any headline that is prominent. To suggest that life as we know it may end soon is simply the ultimate in lunacy to all of these folks. I feel so alone.”

I so agree with Pastor David Barnhart, “For most Christians, the major strategy in dealing with the doctrine of Christ’s return is to ignore it. For others, the solution is to opt for some kind of socialist utopia here on earth and call it the ‘kingdom of God.'”

He continues,By His coming, Jesus will bring God’s promise of redemption into complete and total fulfillment. We’ll no longer just talk of streets of gold, we’ll walk on them. We will no longer simply talk about Jesus, we’ll talk with Him face to face and His own hand will gently wipe every tear from our eye. We’ll not only talk about seeing our loved ones who have gone on before, we’ll be together with them for eternity without ever again experiencing a single moment of separation.”

Barnhart says, “God’s prophetic clock is counting down to the appointed hour. If you don’t believe it, listen to the latest news reports or read the paper. Scriptures are replete with signs, prophecies and promises of Christ’s return. The signs are everywhere, yet the silence of the churches is deafening when it comes to proclaiming this vital truth of Scripture. Slumbering preachers and sleeping saints need to wake up to the reality that the King is coming and His coming may be sooner than any of us realize.

“In the meantime, millions are perishing without the knowledge of the gospel or the hope of His coming offers. How it must grieve the heart of God to look at a sleeping church in a hell-bound world.”1

Bible prophecy is given as a light shining in a dark place (2 Peter 1:19). Talking about it should not instill fear in the Christian; rather, it should provide confirmation that the “blessed hope” is ever nearer and the time ever shorter to snatch people from the fire.

There are many “End-Time Eddies” around. May their numbers increase. May our pulpits grow bolder and talk about things that really matter. Our message is hardly doom and gloom. It may be about the only good news left. The supposed ‘good news’ that we’re taking the planet back to the Garden of Eden isn’t the truth — it’s end-time delusion.

I’m honored to be among the “End-Times Eddie” crowd. I’ve got the best news there is.  This world isn’t it. God believed the topic of eschatology was so important that He devoted one book exclusively to it: Revelation. Almost 30% of the Bible is prophecy-focused.

This message, when coupled with warnings, encourages evangelism and repentance like no other.

To better understand the issues surrounding the theology of the New Apostolic Reformation, the Third Wave, Manifest Sons of God, Latter Rain, Kingdom Now/Dominionism, Fresh Fire, and much more, get this newest DVD from Caryl Matrisciana: Wide is the Gate: The Emerging New Christianity – Volume 3 here. It is two discs and 5 hours in length. She will be our radio guest June 27-28.

Used with permission | www.olivetreeviews.org

Related Articles:

The “Kingdom of God” in the Emerging Church: A Theology of Despair and Hopelessness

Hostile Sentiment Toward “End-Time” Believing Christians Increasing

COMPARISON: “New Spirituality” Leaders Reject and Ridicule the Second Coming of the Lord VERSUS Bible Prophecies Standing in Stark Contrast

 

Creation or the Creator – Who Will You Serve?

By Roger Oakland
(author of Faith Undone and Let There Be Light)

Saul of Tarsus was traveling on the Road to Damascus in order to persecute those who followed Jesus Christ and His Word. While his plan was to confront those who believed in Christ, he was shown firsthand the grace of God and was saved by Jesus Christ. This born-again conversion typifies what happens to everyone who comes into the family of God.

Paul’s spiritual eyes were opened; he came out of the kingdom of darkness and was ushered into the kingdom of light. He was delivered from Satan’s kingdom and ushered into God’s Kingdom—a Kingdom that lasts for eternity.

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. (Colossians 1:13)

The apostle Paul’s conversion experience was very dynamic and is recorded in the book of Acts, chapter 17. My own conversion was not as dynamic, but it is just as real. While not written in the Word of God, the Bible provides the explanation for why and how my life was influenced by the Holy Spirit. Since February 12, 1978, my life has never been the same.

The Scriptures teach that when light is shone into the darkness, there is always a resistance from those who would rather remain in the darkness than have light expose their sin (John 3:19). Even though the wages of sin is death, and God has warned mankind of this, men, women, and children are driven by the flesh and therefore not led by the Spirit. Those living in spiritual darkness will accept an evolutionary agenda that will play a major role in the formation of the one-world religion that will set up the Antichrist.

The formation of the religion of the coming Antichrist became a reality to me in the early 1980s. As with other areas of the ministry God has given me, the Word of God opened my understanding regarding this topic. First, the teaching I received from my mentors G.S. McLean and Lorne Pritchard gave me the foundation to understand what the Bible teaches about this coming one-world religion. Second, I could see, based on the study of biblical history, that the Bible reveals there is nothing new under the sun, and history repeats itself.

In the early ’80s, a trend, obvious to only a few, was happening wherein Babylonianism was being revived and called new. This supposed new religion for a modern world is only the reintroduction of the same old lies that blinded millions of people in the past as evidenced by history and archaeology. In other words, the practices of pagans of the past are being introduced into the present in the name of something new. This New Age is not new. The deception can be understood in light of the Bible and the lie that Satan told Eve in the Garden of Eden—“ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5).

Many people worldwide, influenced by Darwinian evolution, are being deceived because they believe that God does not exist. Now I can see that the indoctrination of evolution has had another role to play in the latter part of the 20th century up to the present. Because society in general has rejected the overwhelming evidence for creation, they are now willing to worship and serve the creation rather than the Creator.

This, of course, is clearly outlined in Romans, chapter one. The outline for the last-days religion accompanied by the last- days delusion that will produce the perilous times and last-days immorality and depravity is clear. In fact, it is already here.

One day a number of years ago, I asked one of the staff of a local Bible school, “Do you think it would be possible for me to teach a class to the students here exposing the New Age movement?” You could see by his reaction that he had no idea what I was talking about. When I explained what the New Age movement was about, he seemed flabbergasted.

“This is a Bible school,” he exclaimed. “We don’t want students knowing about such things!”

I finally came to the sad conclusion that no one seemed to care. The house was on fire, and they didn’t want to hear about it because they did not like the message or the messenger. After all, it was a message that did not appeal to the sensual appetites of carnal man but rather challenged and exposed the hidden things of darkness.

The Eastern religious belief that man is evolving towards godhood and that we are all connected to one another and to all of creation should be apparent. This heresy promoted today by well-known proponents of the emerging church were ideas that were planted from Eastern mysticism in the early ’80s as the propaganda being sold to the world, but not the church.

Now that we are in the 21st century, these same ideas are mainstream in the emerging church. The preparation that has occurred is like the frog in the lukewarm water illustration where the frog is cooked to death without knowing it as the water in the pot is gradually brought to a boil.

From the New Age warning, the ministry God gave me headed in another direction. As I traveled, I could see that the world was being deceived in two main ways—there is no personal God because of evolution, and everything is God because of evolution.

While these two monstrous deceptions would be enough of a challenge for anyone or any organization to stand up against, another great delusion met me wherever I traveled worldwide—a delusion severely impacting the church. Christians who had once believed the Bible were now looking beyond the Bible for new revelation and experience.

Standing up against this tide of a New Age, experience-based form of Christianity proved to be devastating to my family and me. Many friends, acquaintances, and even pastors who once supported the ministry thought I had gone too far. As a result, they chastised me, called me a heretic and divisive, and finally abandoned me. One even “marked” me (Romans 16:17). What’s more, few have understood that my intention has always and only been that we, as believers, walk in humility, contriteness, and repentance. Repentance is like the rudder of a ship that keeps correcting for errors in compass bearings, steering clear of crags and shoals. It is the way I want to live my life, and I would think that others would want to live their lives like that too. It is a small price to pay for all that Jesus had done for us.

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:20-21)

A Utopian Kingdom and Global Healing?

by Roger Oakland

 The emerging church talks a lot about the kingdom of God on earth, but in language and philosophy much different from the Bible. One emergent writer hopes the emerging church will handle the problems of this world in a manner that is “smarter” and “more effective” than those who have gone before. With “integrative means of participating in the healing of our world,” he believes:

 The Spirit of God that hovered over creation is still present in our world, inviting us to collaborate with our Maker in the fulfillment of God’s reign on earth.1

The same writer, Mark Scandrette, expresses his communal vision for a utopian world:

The kingdom of God is a generative people who believe that a more beautiful and sustainable way of life is possible.2

Doug Pagitt explains that the emerging church is looking for this perfect kingdom on earth that will:

… really be good news for the people of the world and not just the promise of a world to come. Many find good news in the call of Jesus to join the kingdom of God. And let me tell you “Kingdom of God” language is really big in the emerging church.3

When we think of the poor in Africa, or the homeless in America, or a child dying of AIDS, we want a world that has no suffering like this. But is the message of the kingdom of God that Jesus preached one that promises global healing and a world without pain and suffering? No, it isn’t. Not now anyway. In our human thinking, we can’t imagine that God would really want or allow all this suffering, so we decide that the goal for humanity should be unity, peace, no pain, or sorrow. And in an effort to accomplish this, the most important thing is forgotten. Jesus came to save lost sinners and give them utopia, so to speak, within their hearts. So, while we as Christians should do what we can to help the needy, our greatest responsibility is getting the Gospel to them.

Mark Scandrette goes so far as to say that the “interest in theologies of the kingdom of God is related” to a “sense of interconnection.”4 Leonard Sweet calls this interconnection the TOE theory (theories of everything), in which all creation is connected together through a spiritual force he calls New Light. Sweet states:

If the church is to dance, however, it must first get its flabby self back into shape. A good place to begin is the stretching exercise of touching its TOEs [which he also refers to as Grand Unified Theory]…. Then, and only then, will a New Light movement of “world-making” faith have helped to create the world that is to, and may yet, be. Then, and only then, will earthlings have uncovered the meaning of these words, some of the last words … Thomas Merton uttered: “We are already one. But we imagine that we are not.”5

The Kingdom Now theology and the emerging church’s utopian kingdom are all about what the natural, carnal man views as significant. Jesus came to give peace and rest to the suffering, to the poor and those in need. It’s a peace that passes all earthly understanding, and it’s a kingdom, as Jesus said, not of this world. In our earthly minds we cannot understand this, especially when we think about the often horrific suffering all around us.

If Rick Warren or Brian McLaren were to take their message of the kingdom of God here and now (and don’t think about that eternal home too much) to a poor man in a hut in Africa, what will it do for him? Supposing he can never leave that hut, how will their message help him? But with Jesus Christ’s message, that man can be born again and by faith, through God’s grace, have Jesus living inside him every day of his remaining life. Jesus promised that if anyone invited Him in, He would come in and sup with him (Revelation 3:20).

Jesus told His disciples the world would always have suffering and there would always be poor people. He didn’t say this to give allowance to ignore or avoid the poor and suffering. But He wanted His followers to know that this earth is not the final destination for those whose names are found in the Book of Life (those who belong to Christ). That is why in the Book of Revelation, the apostle John said:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea…. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:1,4)

The true kingdom of God makes no sense to the unbelieving, unsaved person. The very idea of it is foolishness to him. Thus, human schemes and theologies are created to fit his way of thinking. But the Bible says what is wisdom to man is foolishness to God:

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 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. (I Corinthians 1:18-21) (from chapter 9, Faith Undone)

Notes:

1. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, Mark Scandrette section, “Growing Pains,” p. 30.
2. Doug Pagitt, “Unraveling Emergent,” op. cit.
3. Ibid.
4. Mark Scandrette, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 27.
5. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, p. 13.

NEW PRINT BOOKLET TRACT: How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging Into Your Church

 How To Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging Into Your ChurchHow to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging Into Your Church, written by Roger Oakland, is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The booklet is 16 pages long and sells for $1.50 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. This booklet is specifically geared toward passing out to those who are involved with contemplative/emerging/seeker friendly churches.  Below is the content of the booklet. The book also contains a bonus section titled “Who are the ‘Change Agents’ of the Emerging Church, listing over 50 names to look out for when trying to make sure your church does not go emerging. To order copies of How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging Into Your Church, click here.

“How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging Into Your Church”

by Roger Oakland

The world is changing. So is the Christian evangelical church. There was a time—not that long ago—when the Bible was considered to be the Word of God by the majority of evangelical Christians. Now that we are well into the third millennium and the post-modern, post-Christian era, the term evangelical can mean almost anything. What has happened? Why is this happening and what is the future for mainstream Christianity?

For the past several years, I have been speaking around the world on current trends that are impacting Christianity. After these presentations, I am approached by Christians who come from many different church backgrounds. Many are expressing their concerns about what is happening in their churches, troubled by the new direction they see their church going. While they may not always be able to discern what is wrong, they know something is wrong and that it needs to be addressed.

Further, many have told me they have attempted to express their concerns with their pastors or church elders. In almost every case, they were told they had a choice to make—get with the new  program or get out of the church.

This move towards a reinvented Christianity (one designed to “reach people”) seems to be here for the long haul. It is not just a passing fad. I am often asked by concerned brothers and sisters in Christ to provide an explanation in order to help them understand what they have encountered. They want to know why these changes are underway and what to expect in the future. As well, they want to know what, if anything can be done, to stem this tide. It is for this reason I am writing this commentary—to provide biblical insight regarding the Emerging Church and where it is heading in the future.

The Gospel According to the Scriptures
Throughout church history, various trends have come and gone. While culture changes from place to place, biblical Christianity has always been based upon the central message of the Bible which is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the message never changes.

This gospel message is about who Jesus Christ is, and what He has done. A child can understand the gospel message. This message proclaims that life here on planet earth is finite and that life after death is eternal. The good news is that we can be saved from our sins if we will repent and simply ask for forgiveness and follow Him.

How we respond to the gospel message during the time we have on earth determines where we spend eternity—heaven or hell. Jesus, the Creator of the universe, provided a way and the only way we can spend eternity with Him. It is a matter of making a personal decision whether or not we will accept the plan He has provided.

God’s adversary does not want mankind to understand the simple message. His plan is to deceive the world. If he can blind people from the gospel or convince them that they believe the gospel when indeed they do not, his plan has been successful. Throughout the ages, countless billions have been duped, either rejecting the truth, or believing that they had believed the truth when instead they had been deceived.

The Gospel According to Postmodernism
Times change! However, the gospel must remain the same no matter what else changes. We are now living in the postmodern era. In a sincere attempt to reach the  postmodern generation with the gospel, it seems many Christians have become postmodern in their thinking.

Perhaps the term postmodern is new to you. Let’s examine what it means.
First, the modern era was characterized by a time of rational thinking based on factual observation. Many claim the modern era ended in the mid 1900s.

The postmodern mindset moves beyond the rational and the factual to the experiential and the mystical. In other words, in the past it was possible to know right from wrong and black from white. In the postmodern era all things are relative to the beholder. What may be right for you may be wrong for someone else. There is no such thing as absolute truth. The only thing that is absolute is that there is no absolute.

We now live in a time in history that is characterized as postmodern. Professors at universities teach students there is no right or wrong. All things are relative. The gospel message to the postmodern mindset is far too dogmatic and arrogant. They say it is necessary to find a more moderate gospel that can be accepted by the masses.

Many church leaders are now looking for ways to reach the postmodern generation. They believe they can find the appropriate methods to do so without changing the message. However, in their attempt to reach this postmodern generation, they have become postmodern themselves and have changed the message. As the gospel is fixed upon the Scriptures, the gospel cannot change, unless of course it becomes another gospel. I believe this is what is happening in the Emerging Church.

He Didn’t Come
Many have noticed that since the turn of the millennium, their churches have changed positions on Bible prophecy and the Second Coming of Jesus. Many have given up on the return of Jesus. From the ‘60s on there was an excitement about the imminent return of Jesus. The Jesus People were excited about Bible prophecy and could see signs that Jesus would descend from the heavens for His Bride at any moment.

The year 2000 was of particular importance. When Jesus didn’t show up, it seems many were apparently disappointed. “Perhaps Jesus has delayed His coming,” some have said. Others are even taking the position that He may not be coming at all, at least not in the manner we have been taught. They are now convinced that we need to be busy about “building His Kingdom” here on earth by “whatever human effort is required.”

The Gospel of the Kingdom
One of the main indicators that something has changed can be seen in the way the future is perceived. Rather than urgently proclaiming the gospel according to the Scriptures and believing the time to do so is short, the emphasis has now shifted. No longer are “signs of the times” significant. The battle cry is very different. A major emphasis among evangelicals is the idea that the world can be radically improved through social programs.

This concept, while on the surface may sound very good, has some serious biblical implications. According to the Scriptures, there will be no kingdom of God until the King arrives. All the human effort man can muster up will fall short of bringing utopia. In fact, according to the Scriptures, fallen man will lead us further down the road to a society of despair and lawlessness just like it was in the days of Noah.

Thus, this purpose-driven view of establishing global utopia may be a plan, but it is “driven” by humanistic reasoning and not led by the Holy Spirit. While it is of course good to do good unto others, all the goodness that we can do will not be good enough. Pastors and church leaders who get involved in such man-driven programs can usually be identified by certain characteristics:

Sound biblical doctrine is dangerous and divisive, and the experiential (i.e.,mystical) is given a greater role than doctrine.

Bible prophecy is no longer taught and is considered a waste of time.

Israel becomes less and less important and has no biblical significance.

Eventually the promises for Israel are applied to the church and not Israel (Replacement Theology).

Bible study is replaced by studying someone’s book and his methods.

Church health is evaluated on the quantity of people who attend.

The truth of God’s Word becomes less and less important.

God’s Word, especially concepts like hell, sin and repentance, is eventually downplayed so the unbeliever is not offended.

Spiritual Formation and Transformation
Much of what I have described provides the formula for a dumbing-down of Christianity that paves the way for an apostasy that will only intensify in the future. This trend away from the authority of God’s Word to the reinvented form of Christianity has overcome all evangelical denominations like an avalanche. Few Bible teachers saw this avalanche coming. Now that it is underway, few realize it has even happened.

However, there is another big piece to the puzzle that must be identified in order to understand what is emerging in the Emerging Church. While biblical Christianity has been dumbed-down and the light of God’s Word diminished, another avalanche of deception is underway that is equally devastating.

This is best described by the Word of God giving way to experiences that God’s Word forbids. The best way to understand this process is to recall what happened during the Dark Ages when the Bible became the “forbidden book.” Until the Reformers translated the Bible into the language of the common person, the people were in darkness. When the light of God’s Word became available, the gospel according to the Scriptures was once again understood.

This trend, which is underway today, shows us that history is in the process of repeating itself. As the Word of God becomes less and less important, the rise of mystical experiences is alarming and these experiences are being presented to convince the unsuspecting that Christianity is about feeling, touching, smelling and seeing God. The postmodern mindset is the perfect environment for the fostering of what is called “spiritual formation.” This teaching suggests there are various ways and means to get closer to God. Proponents of spiritual formation erroneously teach that anyone can practice these mystical rituals and find God within. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is not a prerequisite.

These teachings, while actually rooted in ancient wisdom (the occult), were presented to Christendom post-New Testament and not found in the Word of God. The spiritual formation movement is based upon experiences promoted by desert monks and Roman Catholic mystics – these mystics encouraged the use of rituals and practices, that if performed would bring the practitioner closer to God (or come into God’s presence). The premise was that if one went into the silence or sacred space, then the mind was emptied of distractions and the voice of God could be heard. In truth, these hypnotic, mantric style practices were leading these monks into altered states of consciousness. The methods they used are the same that Buddhists and the Hindus use as a means of encountering the spiritual realm. Such methods are dangerous, and are not sanctioned in the Bible—God gives no instruction for this. On the contrary, he warns severely against divination, which is practicing a ritual or method in order to obtain information from a spiritual source. While proponents of spiritual formation (like Richard Foster) say these methods show that the Holy Spirit is doing something new to refresh Christianity, I would suggest that what is happening is not new and is not the Holy Spirit.

The spiritual formation movement is being widely promoted at colleges and seminaries as the latest and the greatest way to become a spiritual leader in these days. These ideas are then being exported from seminaries to churches by graduates who have been primed to take Christianity to a new level of enlightenment.

As well, these contemplative practices are being promoted by emergent leaders such as Brian McLaren, Robert Webber, Dallas Willard and others. Publishers like NavPress, InterVarsity and Zondervan are flooding the market with books promoting contemplative practices based on Eastern mysticism. Pastors and church leaders read these books and then promote the ideas as if they were the scriptural answer to drawing close to God.

Signs the Emerging Church is Emerging
There are specific warning signs that are symptomatic that a church may be headed down the emergent/contemplative road. In some cases a pastor may not be aware that he is on this road nor understand where the road ends up.

Here are some of the warning signs:
Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.

The centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.

More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.

The teaching that Jesus Christ will rule and reign in a literal millennial period is considered unbiblical and heretical.

The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.

The teaching that the Book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past.

An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.

Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be re­invented in order to provide meaning for this generation.

The pastor may implement an idea called “ancient-future” or “vintage Christianity” claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.

While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.

These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.

There seems to be a strong emphasis on ecumenism indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.

Some evangelical Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the “church fathers” saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.

There will be a growing trend towards an ecumenical unity for the cause of world peace claiming the validity of other religions and that there are many ways to God.
Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave.

What does the Future Hold?
If the Emerging Church continues unfolding at the present pace, mainstream evangelical Christianity will be reinvented and the gospel of Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures will be considered too narrow and too restrictive. In other words, the narrow way to heaven that Jesus proclaimed will eventually be abandoned for a wider way that embraces pagan experiential practices. I call this reinvented, re-imagined form of Christianity that is unfolding—“Christian Babylonianism.”

This new form of Christianity will replace biblical faith with a faith that says man can establish the kingdom of God here on earth. The Word will continue to become secondary to a system of works driven by experiences.

An ecumenical pattern towards unity with Rome will become more apparent. Those who refuse to embrace this direction will be considered spiritual oddballs that need to be reprimanded.

Those who stand up for biblical faith will be considered the obstructions to the one world spirituality that is promoted as the answer for peace.

The best way to be prepared for what is coming is to gain an understanding of what is happening now. While there are not many who seem to discern the trend underway, there are some. Without the Bible and the Holy Spirit as our guide, the darkness that is coming would be overwhelming. However, the light of God’s Word penetrates the darkness and there are those who are being delivered from deception and see what is taking place.

I am convinced we are seeing apostasy underway, exactly as the Scriptures have forewarned. This means that this current trend is not likely to disappear. We must continue to proclaim the truth in the midst of deception with love. As Paul instructed Timothy:

 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will (2 Timothy 2: 24–26).

There are still pastors and churches who are dedicated to proclaiming the truth. Find out where they are and support them. If you are in a location where this does not seem to be possible, seek out materials that are available from solid Bible-based Christian ministries and hold Bible studies in your own home.

And keep looking up! Jesus is coming soon.

 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (II Timothy 4:1-5)

To order copies of How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging Into Your Church, click here.


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