Posts Tagged ‘the church’
By Cedric Fisher
I’m not going to write a review or detailed critique of William P. Young’s book or movie both titled The Shack. The reason is because there are already a number of good reviews available. You can access plenty of information on Lighthouse Trails Research. What I will do is present a warning.
First, I want to point out that there are some heresies and deceptions that one should not need a review to recognize and reject. The televangelist selling God’s favor, which increases with the size of the donation, is one. Another one is a preacher smoking pot or getting drunk on video while claiming that it is the way to get closer to God. One more is the preacher that declares that God has entrusted only him with new revelation essential to understanding the Bible. Likewise, does anyone really need to inform a true Christian about what is wrong with The Shack?
Now for the warning. God’s word declares that the end times will be very dangerous for Christians. There will be many spiritually wicked individuals masquerading as servants of God. They will present heresies and other lies for the purpose of deceiving God’s people. However, some professing Christians declare that it is impossible for Christians to be deceived and apostatize. If that is true, then who is Satan deceiving and who is apostatizing? The lost are already deceived and cannot apostatize from faith that they do not have.
Obviously, the deception has to be very clever. If it were disguised as an orange, it would appear exactly as a genuine orange. Therefore, we can expect lies disguised exactly as truth. However, if people accept enough false oranges loaded with a mind-numbing drug, it stands to reason that false oranges will no longer be needed. Then whatever is being disguised by the falseness will be offered without pretense. Click here to continue reading.
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.)
Both Old Testament and New Testament writers warned ravenous wolves sneaking into flocks led by false shepherds and cleverly harming the unprotected sheep. This is a fact of life throughout history. Perhaps Jude, the half-brother of Jesus said it best:
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. 
These “certain men” Jude was writing about were wolves who had an agenda to fleece and devour the flock. Obviously, this was happening in the church that had been planted shortly following the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. Very little time had passed before they had “crept in.”
But nothing is new under the sun. Paul predicted this would happen as stated in the book of Acts:
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 
The apostasy in the book of Jude was certainly a fulfillment of Paul’s prediction. However, delving back into an earlier time, it is apparent that the forefathers of Paul and Jude were plagued by similar deceptive plans to dupe those who were called sheep. It would take pages and pages to exhaust the references found in the books of the major and minor prophets in the Bible with regard to those who were neglecting, abusing, and leading innocent sheep to the slaughter. As one example, we look to a plea of Jeremiah found in the 23rd chapter. He proclaimed:
Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.  To read this entire article and for endnotes, click here.
Dear Lighthouse Trails Staff/Editors:
Thank you for your sound, accurate and helpful articles that expose the true nature of contemplative prayer. I appreciate your respectful and thorough responses of the questions submitted by various writers/inquirers. I believe the idea still holds true today that a child in a classroom raising her/his hand to ask a question represents a dozen other children sitting quietly who desire to have that same question answered. You similarly have helped many by answering the one.
I deeply appreciate your web site and the readings and videos offered. Over the years I have become more concerned with the spiritual state of the church. Reared in a conservative Bible believing church and presently a pastor’s wife and seminary graduate, I am troubled by the lack of biblical preaching from the pulpits let alone the spiritual condition of most congregations. It is truly frightening!
I wanted to comment on one specific thought you expressed in an article titled, “The Desert Fathers-Borrowing From the East.” Beginning with the third paragraph from the bottom:
The account of Cain and Abel is a classic biblical example of spiritual infidelity. Both of Adam’s sons wanted to please God, but Cain decided he would experiment with his own method of being devout. Cain must have reasoned to himself: “Perhaps God would like fruit or grain better than a dead animal. It’s not as gross. It’s less smelly. Hey, I think I will try it!”
I would agree with this statement, but further add that Cain chose the works of his hands (the grain offering) over the blood sacrifice (the burn offering) – Leviticus1 and 2. He knew what he was doing, he was doing it his way. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). After Adam and Eve sinned they covered themselves with fig leaves – God killed the animal and covered them with skins. Again, we see man trying to cover over his sins with the works of his hands and God reminding man that His way is the only one. There must be a blood sacrifice! (Even Satan requires blood sacrifices from his followers, the pagan nations surrounding Israel were indeed just this, worshipping/sacrificing to Satan. And today it is no different.)
In the New Testament – Romans chapter 3 (Burnt offering – Leviticus 1), Romans chapter 5 (peace offering-Leviticus chapter 3) and Romans chapter 12 (grain offering – Leviticus 2). I cannot take credit for this. It is presented in my husband’s sermons/teachings and from the years he has dedicated to studying God’s word and seeking God’s face, that have given me a more complete view of the Scriptures. Recently he preached from Leviticus at New Covenant PCA where he is serving as an interim pastor.
Thank you again for your diligence, gentle and yet firm stance for truth, God’s Word. I believe the church has entered into a new season, one that many are ignorant of. The tactics the devil used from the beginning of time have not changed. “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” (Gal.1:6-7) May we continue to faithfully listen and obey God’s Word, for it is God breathed, while persevering to the end!
For His Kingdom,
by Paul Proctor
(used with permission)
In an article for Christianity Today titled, “A More Social Gospel,” C.L. Lopez writes about a new evangelical emphasis emerging on college campuses:
There has been a definitive shift in how campus ministries think about connecting with students,” said Kara Powell, executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary. “More and more campus leaders are realizing that the gospel is both personal evangelism and justice.
The gospel is “justice”?
If there is any “justice” to the gospel, it is that the Lord Jesus Christ took our “justice” on the cross to satisfy the debt we incurred in our rebellion against God. But that’s not what “social justice” or the “social gospel” is about.
Scott Bessenecker, associate director of missions for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, said students within the organization’s 850 groups on 562 campuses have focused more on social causes in recent years.
As Mr. Bessenecker points out, their “focus” is “more on social causes” which, frankly, is not the gospel Christians are called to proclaim. Still, he added:
[We] want to engage students with a Jesus who walks among the marginalized,” Bessenecker said. “InterVarsity is trying to help students embrace and engage the social dimensions of the gospel in a way that will inspire individuals to say, ‘I want to follow this Jesus.’
How many Jesus’ does Mr. Bessenecker think there are?
First of all, when one talks about the “marginalized” in general, they are usually referring to those outside the mainstream of society. But then, one could make the case that all minorities feel “marginalized” at some point along life’s way, from African Americans to fundamentalist Christians to homosexual activists to witches.
In fact, I would dare say that most individuals have, at one time or another, felt to some degree, “marginalized.” So, in this context, statements like Jesus “walks among the marginalized” might have a universal appeal and even sound compassionately Christian, but in reality, may not be at all biblical or even relevant with respect to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. And that is my concern here.
Moreover, it has been my experience that whenever someone refers to “a Jesus,” they’re probably not talking about the Jesus of the Bible, but instead, a less scriptural and more worldly personality that appeals to “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” – a “Jesus” more useful in advancing earthly agendas than those of heaven.
“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” – 2nd Corinthians 11:4
The social gospel and its increasingly popular “social justice” campaign is not an acceptable substitute for preaching repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Its promoters all too often set aside the vertical, spiritual and eternal issues of sin, rebellion, obedience, holiness and reverence toward God in order to redirect the focus toward more horizontal, physical and temporal values. In the end, the flesh is, for a time, fed and comforted, but the souls of sinners are left abandoned to biblical ignorance because disobedient do-gooders have spiritually sidetracked the Church and its mission.
And then there was this in the CT piece:
Josh Spavin, an intern with the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Campus Crusade for Christ chapter, said traditional evangelistic outreach still works, but times have changed with this generation.
It “still works, but times have changed?” Sounds like dialectic doubletalk to me – designed to carefully steer the undiscerning in a new worldly direction without alarming or offending anyone.
The article went on to say:
Students tend to not just take it unless they experience it or see it in someone else’s life,” Spavin said. “It is still the same gospel and it is still the love of Christ that is being shared – it is just a different tactic.
“For by tactics are ye saved?” Is that what the Apostle Paul taught in Ephesians?
The “love of Christ” is obedience to His Word, not doing what is right in our own eyes to “connect” with people and win their favor so they might hopefully hear the truth someday. If we put our relationships with each other over and above our relationship with Jesus Christ and withhold the whole counsel of God so as not to offend, not only are we breaking the two greatest commandments given, we are yielding to the flesh and prince of this world.
I would say the greatest failure of the Church today is its unwillingness to say and do the unpopular thing. Too many Christians busy themselves these days trying to come up with new ways of being admired and desired by the world rather than simply being obedient to the Lord they claim to love.
With a self-sustaining focus on acquiring evermore results and relationships (i.e., “church growth”) by way of pragmatism and consensus, none of which is biblical, today’s Christians are, by and large, being persuaded and trained week after week to embrace surveys, marketing principles, public relations programs and people skills as their new commandments with dialectically-trained consultants and facilitators posing as prophets and preachers – people pleasers who know how to work the crowd and steer the herd while selectively applying the scriptures as needed to maintain a biblical appearance of righteousness and religiosity.
We’re essentially giving people what they want at church these days in hopes they will reciprocate with more participation and support. How is this “tactic” any different from those used on Wall Street and in Washington D.C.?
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.– 1st Corinthians 1:18
As the religion of the Canaanites tested Israel’s fidelity to Jehovah, so the emerging New Age Religion of our culture—which merges the realities of earth and heaven (As above, so below) and blends the spirituality of what’s out there with what’s down here—tests the faith of today’s Christian in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Part 2 of Do the Dead Communicate with the Living?
By Larry DeBruyn
Death is a regular visitor in an irregular world. In our culture with its cultic fixation upon youth, health, beauty, brains and brawn, Christians, of all people, should be prepared to cope with death. To help others deal with the loss of a loved one who is a believer, Pastor Steve and Sarah Berger have written Have Heart: bridging the gulf between heaven and earth. Using the Bible and their “sanctified imagination,” the authors inform readers how they are dealing with the death of their beloved son, Josiah. In a public forum, at what they perceive to be the risk of ridicule, they state their case that those in Heaven are aware of and can actually be present with loved ones on earth.
In both the culture at large and amongst growing numbers of evangelical Christians, interest in the “connectivity” between this life and the next, between earth and heaven, is on the rise. Both children and adults report visiting Heaven. A few even claim they’ve been to Hell and back. Others report “conversations” with Jesus. But, the highway between earth and heaven appears to be run both ways. Deceased persons are now also reportedly appearing to earthly family, friends and acquaintances. One CNN writer calls these postmortem visits “crisis apparitions.” Numbers of publications claiming to connect this life with the next can be noted, books bearing titles such as The Spirit Whisperer: Chronicles of a Medium, After Life: Answers from the Other Side, One Last Time: a Psychic Medium Speaks to Those We Have Loved and Lost, and Crossing Over: the Stories behind the Stories.
Sometimes, living persons initiate ritual contact with deceased loved ones through mediums and séances. On other occasions, as the CNN writer reports, apparitions just “happen.” It is claimed that these ethereal appearances—whether in or out of a body, no one knows—support that after death, there’s “life and love.” While such experiences are increasingly contemporary, they are not new. For centuries apparitions of Mary, as well Jesus and others, have been reported throughout the world. Click here to continue reading this book review, see footnote material, and also to read the introduction and part 1.
Open Letter To Evangelical and Protestant Pastors Worldwide – Now is the Day to Turn Back to God’s Word
May 31, 2011
From: Roger Oakland, Understand The Times
The following letter is to all Bible-believing pastors throughout the world who have been or are being influenced by current trends that are attacking the Word of God through the postmodern humanistic mystical belief system. I have witnessed this deception firsthand on a worldwide basis but am most familiar with what has been happening in the two fellowships I have been part of for the past thirty years – one in Canada and one based in southern California.
It is with a heavy heart I write this open letter to those who consider themselves evangelical or Protestant pastors. While my desire is to do this respectfully and with the love of the Lord, I am compelled with a strong sense of responsibility to write this warning.
The fact is we are living in a time in history where there is great spiritual apostasy (a falling away), and sadly, many pastors don’t even realize it is happening. Others realize it but don’t know what to do about it, while still others see it but promote it anyway. The purpose of this letter is to shine light on the darkness that has crept into so many churches today.
For many years, I have documented my concerns about this apostasy and presented the evidence to the body of Christ. An article I wrote a few years ago called “Ichabod” described the departing of God’s Spirit from many churches. That article was later followed by the commentary “Is Your Denomination a Sinking Titanic?.” I believe we are witnessing the sinking of the Titanic at the present time. While most are still dancing around in the ballroom, a few have chosen to get off the boat. How many get off in time is the question that remains to be answered.
While I recognize that I am “marked” by some as someone who has caused division within the church, please understand I do not fear any man. I look to Jesus Christ and am committed to tell the truth whatever the cost. I know I have enemies among the “brethren” who insist that I remain silent. I have also been falsely accused and slandered by gossip as a means of discrediting me.
The Bible teaches that we should never fear man or follow man’s ways. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). We should fear God and His Word alone. Based upon what God revealed to Ezekiel (Chapter 3: 17-20), there is a biblical principal that cannot be overlooked. When God reveals deception and darkness, a watchman must speak out and tell the truth regardless of the circumstances and the consequences.
What I find very alarming is that many pastors who gave warnings in the past about End Times deception seem to have now ceased and become silent. Taking the place of the warnings are teachings or promotion on everything from church-growth, seeker-friendly, contemplative spirituality, Purpose Driven, postmodern/emerging spirituality to even a Catholic/Jesuit agenda.
These various teachings are not biblical Christianity, and for many pastors who once taught the Bible faithfully, these seductive teachings have pulled these pastors in a direction that negates so much of what they once stood for. It is not uncommon now to hear these pastors espousing those such as Mark Driscoll, Rob Bell, Richard Foster, and Rick Warren, all of whom de-emphasize Bible prophecy of the last days and emphasize the “Kingdom of God on earth” now.
Some pastors recognize that their own denominations or fellowships have turned or are turning away from the teachings of the Bible, yet so many have remained active participants of these denominations. As the years go by, these pastors do not speak up – they are silent. Is this silence an indication that they have bought into a sensual, carnal, three-legged stool plan that links hands with those such as Rick Warren and Tony Blair and is on the road to Rome for a One World Religion? I fear that for many that is the case. What may have begun as “looking the other way” has become outright rebellion in many cases. This is the way deception often happens.
We are living in the time of strong delusion that Paul wrote about (2 Thessalonians 2:11). If you are a Bible-believing pastor, shouldn’t you be helping to lead the way in warning about deception, not promoting the apostate agenda in any fashion?
Ecumenism within the church has been allowed to develop for years.
When a pastor does not warn his flock about ecumenical apostasy, it sends the message that exposing apostasy is just not that important. When a church, organization, or denomination starts down the Road to Rome, there is very little chance of turning back – the pull is just too great. Nowhere in the Bible is it acceptable to join hands with those who promote another Jesus and another gospel like that of the Roman Catholic Church.
This is why John warned: come out of her (the harlot) and be set free (Revelation 18:4).
Some Personal Ministry History:
In June 1981, Chuck Smith, the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, invited me to fly down from my farm in Saskatchewan, Canada to speak at Costa Mesa at a four-night conference called “The Bible: Key to Understanding Science, History and the Future.” Seven years later, in the fall of 1988, Chuck Smith asked me to join the staff at Costa Mesa. My family moved to Orange County, California from Saskatchewan, Canada.
My position at Costa Mesa involved being an outreach from CCCM as an apologist in the area of creation and evolution. I also showed the association of the New Age Movement and its relationship to Bible Prophecy.
In 1991, after being on staff for three years, Understand The Times was founded as an independent ministry, separate from CCCM. However, UTT was still closely associated with CCCM and was given missionary support. The UTT association with Calvary Chapel pastors and missionaries encompassed the world for about twenty years.
During a fifteen year time period, UTT had an office on church property at CCCM from time to time. Understand The Times had a five-minute radio program that aired on KWAVE and CSN for over ten years. I also had close relationships with members of the Smith family including Chuck’s brother Paul and his son Jeff.
While many of my experiences and associations with those in Calvary Chapel had been good over the years, I observed many serious problems in the Calvary Chapel movement, especially in the last five years. Many Calvary Chapel pastors I know have admitted they also see these same warning signs, but most have not felt they could speak out.
The reason I am writing this letter as an open letter to all pastors is because I believe that many of the problems I witnessed while part of the Calvary Chapel movement are the same problems that many other Christian organizations and denominations are experiencing today. And many of these kinds of problems lead to deception and apostasy.
Common Problems in the Churches:
Today many evangelical and Protestant pastors are operating on the principal or idea that if their churches are small, there is something wrong with them. The “doctrine of big” has replaced the doctrine of being faithful to the Word of God. Along with this doctrine of big comes the subtle attitude that any “offensiveness” must be removed from the church. Thus, a watered-down gospel takes effect; and thus, people in the churches are not hearing the true Gospel. Crosses are removed, Bibles are left at home, hymns are stopped, and talk about the blood of Jesus and His atonement for our sin ceases.
As Bible-believing Christians, we should be able to discern that there is a flaw in this doctrine of big. As churches get bigger, more funds are required to accommodate bigger budgets. The bigger the budget the bigger the offering is needed to meet the budget, and big donors become more and more important. Now you have a situation where the pastor preaches carefully so as not to create controversy. Controversy can cause powerful donors to leave. Pastors who once feared God now become man-fearing where doctrine is determined by men and their motives, and not by God’s Spirit and His Word.
Over the past two decades, I believe the Lord led me to author or co-author six books warning about the ecumenical one world religion movement and how it is impacting Evangelical Protestant Christianity. These were: (1) New Wine or Old Deception (2) When New Wine Makes a Man Divine (3) New Wine and the Babylonian Vine (4) How Marian Apparitions Plan to Unite the World’s Religions (5) Another Jesus: The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization (6) Faith Undone: The Emerging Church – a New Reformation or an End Time Deception. God has put in my heart all these years a passion to warn of impending spiritual danger.
On March 6, 2011, I attended the Peace in a Globalized Society Forum that was held at Saddleback. Rick Warren and Tony Blair both explained what they are doing to set up a one-world religious program for peace. Yet even though it has become most apparent to many discerning Christians what is taking place with Rick Warren and his “new” reformation, very few pastors are publically denouncing the Purpose Driven Peace Plan. In fact, prominent pastors like John Piper are embracing Rick Warren and his teachings.
The Jesuit Connection
As I have written in some of my books, Ignatius Loyola was the founder of the Order of the Jesuits in the Catholic Church. The Jesuit goal is to turn the inerrant Word of God into the word of man while at the same time promoting the word of the pope as the word of God. In addition, the Jesuit ambition is to bring the “lost brethren” back to the “Mother” church (read Another Jesus). This is no minor thing. I have been to the city of Rome. I have seen the multitudes worship and adore a man (the Pope) who carries a wafer and a vial of juice that is supposed to be Jesus. Martyrs in earlier centuries were murdered for rejecting the papacy and the Eucharist. And yet today, I am horrified to watch once Bible-believing pastors turn their hearts and their congregations toward Rome, often through a Jesuit influence. Instances of this are occurring more every day.
Now that Rick Warren and Tony Blair (who converted to Catholicism) have announced they will be working together to set up a One World Religion as they did on March 6, 2011 in southern California, how will Christian pastors respond to this? Or will they at all? History shows, most probably won’t.
What is known as fact is this: the emerging/postmodern, Purpose Driven ecumenical, contemplative mindset in the Evangelical or Protestant Christian church has not gone away. And it is not popular to speak against this growing apostasy. It is a lot easier to go down stream than upstream. The Bible foretells we are in the Last Days. What do you as Christian pastors want to be: dead salmon washed out to sea or true fishers of men?
Check out the Bible! There will be a One World Religion. Do you want to be part of the problem, or do you want to be standing up for truth? The latter is not easy and carries with it a high price.
A Wake Up Call to Pastors
Teaching and preaching the Word of God is a high calling. You should always be true to your calling and remain true to the Word. And yet, many know that something is seriously wrong, but they say nothing.
Saying nothing can be as detrimental as outrightly supporting the lie. It is time to wake up! We are in the last days, and many sheep are being deceived, and pastors have a huge role in that deception taking place. When the sheep have the wool pulled over their eyes, they cannot see. This is not acceptable. What about the wolves who are among the flock? Good shepherds should never allow that to happen.
While there still remain faithful Christian pastors who look to Jesus Christ as their Good Shepherd and still believe in the inerrant Word of God, the fact that so many pastors have moved away from the basics of biblical Christianity toward a man-made apostate church will result in much of the flock drifting with them.
And may I say this to any believer who now realizes his or her own pastor is compromising the Word of God and embracing apostate teachings: If you have done what you can to warn and exhort your pastor(s) to turn back to the truth, and if your warnings and exhortations are rejected, perhaps it is time to get out of that church. Paul addressed this when he said: “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject” Titus 3:10.
Deception has crept in, unnoticed to many, and even at times been purposely covered up. Jude warned this was happening in his day (Jude 4). The same is true in the perilous days in which we live (2 Timothy 3: 1-5).
As of last fall, I am no longer affiliated with the Calvary Chapel movement, although I am still friends with and associate with some of the pastors, ones who have sought to remain faithful to the Lord and His Word.
As do many leaders in the body of Christ, Calvary Chapel pastors who have veered need to get right, and they need to do it quickly. According to the Word, our redemption draweth nigh, and He could return for those who are ready at any moment.
If you are a pastor who has succumbed to the present-day spiritual apostasy, get back to the Word of God, and preach it, and teach it! If your congregation shrinks, so what! Better to have a few who are solid and can go out and be fruitful for the Lord than have a mega church full of participants of a social gospel that is being prepared for the coming One World Religion.
While the large-scale move toward apostasy has been taking place for some time, and postmodern/emerging, Purpose-Driven ideas are widely accepted, there still may be time if pastors will repent and return to the purity of the Gospel and God’s Word.
Many pastors reading this open letter who belong to an organization or denomination may feel fearful about leaving the security of such a “covering.” Perhaps you have never been out from under that umbrella. But at some point, you are going to have to ask yourself the question, Am I really “counting all things but loss” in order to gain Christ (Philippians 3:8)? Am I taking up my cross and following Him, no matter the cost (Matthew 16:24)? I have heard stories now of pastors (both in the Calvary Chapel movement and in other groups and denominations) who finally did make that decision to separate themselves from any apostate associations. If you are one of those, continue on with the ministry God has given you and follow Jesus Christ alone. You can never go wrong by being obedient to Jesus and His Word.
The Lord Jesus Christ is coming soon. May we be found ready and waiting.
Sincerely in Christ,
Understand The Times
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion. . . . Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD. Isaiah 52:8, 11
But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Matthew 15:13-14