Posts Tagged ‘the Word of God’
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 Church, written by Roger Oakland, is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tracts. 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.
By Larry DeBruyn
Guarding His Flock Ministries and Herescope
Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Fresh Revelations, and an “Open” Canon
“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.” Paul, 2 Timothy 4:4, Emphasis Added.
Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952), the first president of Dallas Theological Seminary, once reportedly said that all heresy is either the Bible plus, or the Bible minus. The work of radical higher criticism, as it has affected, even determined, the liberal view of the Christian faith since the late 1800s, has seen to it that there’s a lot of Bible-minus ideology amongst professing Christians now-a-days, even among so-called evangelicals. Now however, voices are emerging which advocate a Bible-plus view of Holy Scripture. One such voice has stated:
While I do believe that the Holy Bible is Divinely inspired and written by men, I do not necessarily hold to the idea that only the 66 books we now have in our (Protestant) bibles are the sole Divinely inspired books of antiquity.  (BR, Chapter 1, 1, Emphasis added) 
Why does Rob Skiba, the author who wrote this statement above, not limit inspiration of ancient books to only to the sixty-six of the Protestant canon? It appears that he and others like Tom Horn, Joseph Lumpkin, and Chuck Missler, need other books of antiquity and mythologies to integrate paranormal activity with the end-times scenario that they are seeking to create, a scenario Skiba calls, “The Genesis Six Experiment.” (BR, Chapter 2, 1-2) Click here to continue reading.
by Roger Oakland
Understand the Times
There is a pattern we find throughout the Word of God. God always warns before He brings judgment on sinful man. God is merciful and never reacts quickly without giving sinners a chance to repent. While He hates sin, He has often allowed men to carry on even if they do not respond. However there are always consequences of sin. The Bible states that the wages of sin is death. Often sin is exposed publically, and others are reminded to get right with God.
As we read through the Bible, we see how God has always raised up men and women to warn the people of coming judgments. The first time this occurred in history was before the great flood of Noah. Very few listened to Noah. God used Noah to warn, and then the judgment came. For the majority who refused to listen, they were wiped out in a global catastrophe.
Of all the prophets, Jeremiah is the one who seemed to have the toughest job. Virtually no one would listen to him as he was trying to warn the leaders of Israel about the judgment they were going to face. They had turned away from God and were following their forefathers who had turned to the gods. God used Jeremiah to warn the people and then judged the children of Israel by sending them into exile where they were forced to live in a society that was totally pagan.
If history repeats itself as the Bible states, then it would be reasonable to predict the same pattern would be repeated today. People who profess to be followers of God end up following men who follow the devil who then become Satan’s pawns. As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun.
A brief overview of what we call the “new” evangelical movement provides a good example of what is happening today. According to Bible prophecy, the Last Days will see the implementation of a global One World Religion that prepares the way for the antichrist. This would mean that we will see all religions coming together for the cause of peace. Not only will the religions of the world join up in an ecumenical unity, but so will the majority of those who call themselves Christian.
We have been watching this trend happen for over two decades. Without knowing it “Protestant evangelicals” have been seduced so that they are neither Protestant nor evangelical. Many churches and denominations have been led astray by the pied pipers of the Purpose Driven emerging church movement, which clearly embraces a false hope centered on a P.E.A.C.E. Plan that is supposed to unite all religions of the world to do good. This plan is fueled by the belief that we can get closer to God through various contemplative eastern practices like Yoga and contemplative prayer. Christ is mentioned in name, but the “Jesus” and the “gospel” is not the Jesus Christ and the gospel that is supported by the Scriptures. Click here to continue reading.
By David Dombrowski
Editor at Lighthouse Trails
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and the trees of the field shall clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12)
Over the last ten years since Lighthouse Trails began, we have been contacted by many who love the Lord and were struggling with great challenges: Some were ostracized by their churches, which had gone Purpose Driven, contemplative, or emerging; some had division in their families; some had financial concerns; and others were worried about health issues – whether their own or that of loved ones. Beyond all of this, many have expressed a sense of uncertainty or foreboding of what the future will bring:
The Bible indicates that in the last days perilous times shall come. And for those of you who have read our review article of The Harbinger, you may remember that our conclusion is that by all indications America is racing toward judgment. Researching for and writing that article quickened to me the realization that something serious or catastrophic could easily come to our country, and we are unprepared. Whether it be nuclear attack, economic collapse, or natural disasters, America appears to be getting only closer to that day.
I know that for the average American (including the American Christian) the idea that mighty America could stumble and fall simply does not register. After all, how could a loving God bring calamity on a nation that has stood so tall for so long? But in considering this, we can see that it is not God who has rejected us but our nation that has continually rejected Him. A case in point is a pastor in a small Oregon town who shared with me how occasionally his church would be permitted to hold an assembly at the local public high school, but one day the mayor approached him and said, “If you even mention God at the assembly, I will have you out of here so fast . . .” But what is a pastor supposed to talk about if he cannot talk about God? Yet, what is even more grievous than our lost freedom is that so many churches have become apostate as they welcome immorality, mystical practices, and false doctrines while often viewing the atonement as outdated and dogmatic.
When judgment comes upon America, it will not be because of a hateful God entertaining Himself with calamity but rather because we, as a nation, have brought judgment upon ourselves. While this nation has a heritage of many who, through great personal sacrifice and a love for God, invited God into the affairs of our nation (and our nation has known prosperity and peace on all our borders) we forget that these blessings all came from God. Now that we have pushed God aside and booted Him out of the country, we have also booted out the blessings and protection we have long known.
None of us really knows what our nation will become if judgment befalls us, but frankly, I feel much more ominous about how corrupt and lawless it will become if God does not judge us. While the call to repentance has been going out for decades now, things have clearly only gotten worse. And while churches are beginning to muster up for national “repentance” and “revival,” God has already moved on to the next step. It is a true saying that those who have sown to the wind will only reap the whirlwind.
Unfortunately, there is much apathy when it comes to warnings of judgment or cataclysmic events. While many prosperity prophets tickle the ears of those who want a soft feel-good gospel, others, in contrast, give warnings of such horrendous proportions (even offering specific dates) of events that could annihilate vast portions of the planet; the net result is that many are being conditioned into indifference.
When perilous events will come, be it judgment or persecution, will we as Christians be ready for it? Such changes can come very rapidly and seemingly overnight; ask Anita Dittman or Diet Eman (Lighthouse Trails’ two Holocaust-survivor authors) if this is not true. They know; they saw it firsthand. Jesus said that men’s hearts would fail from fear of seeing the events happening around them (Luke 21:26). In Luke 21 and Matthew 24, Jesus gives a basic outline of the peril that will precede His return; He did not give specific calendar dates of what will happen, but He did teach us (as do the apostles and prophets) how we can be ready to face the future.
I’m sure we have all seen the ill effects that fear and worry can have on a person’s life, both spiritually and physically. Fear and worry, over an extended period of time, stagnates one spiritually, cripples one emotionally, and breaks one down physically. The enemy (Satan) uses fear whenever possible to thwart the progress of Christians and to promote his agenda. Whole societies have been controlled through fear. When we consider what happened in Nazi Germany, it’s true that great numbers were mesmerized by a charismatic leader with a demonic anointing, but overall he was able to rule the country through fear. Today, we already see the reemergence of fear and intimidation both in our politics and in many churches where fundamental Christianity is marginalized, if not villainized, while immorality and corruption is given special sanctions and promotion.
How can a Christian believer stand under this kind of pressure we see today? Fear is already at work eroding the values we have long held sacred. In many churches, just the pressure to remain popular or contemporary is enough to introduce Yoga and mind-altering meditation (formerly called an occultic practice but today repackaged as “contemplative prayer”) into our churches.
Will the Christians who are still holding back from this landslide of compromised Christianity eventually cower and be absorbed into the system? Will we, like Judas, proceed to give Jesus a kiss while undermining everything He taught? Or, will we like Peter deny that we even know Him? The fact is Jesus is being betrayed and denied on a massive scale today by proclaiming Christians through their embracing of contemplative spirituality and the emerging church, which has an underlying message of rejecting the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. It’s the worst kind of betrayal.
Fear is not something you can merely put the brakes on – like pressing a pedal in your car. Peter, who so adamantly insisted to Jesus that he would never deny Him even unto death did so three times in the course of one night. How then does one stem the tide of fear (and worry) in his own life?
Over a period of three years, Jesus taught His disciples how to live without being overcome by fear and worry. On one occasion, He told them:
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30)
Jesus said all of this after having just said, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment. . . . Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” (Matthew 6:25, 27).
Now let me explain what I believe Jesus meant and did not mean by these passages. First of all, in saying what He did about taking no thought for our lives, I do not think Jesus was advocating for personal neglect or for unpreparedness. On a personal note, Deborah and I have always been advocates for preparedness. Let me give an example. Back in 1999, we helped organize the Y2K task force in our hometown. During that year, we helped many families in our community learn how to be prepared for disaster (not just Y2K). Then, when nothing significant happened on New Year’s Day, some mocked what we had done. I heard one well-known Christian leader say, after the fact, on his radio program that he had known all along that nothing was going to happen, and that those who had prepared were a bunch of idiots. As I listened to him speak, I wondered why during the year prior, when technical experts and those considered computer savvy were giving out warnings about computer crashes, that this leader with a public forum had not raised a voice to counter the efforts at preparedness. Be it as it may, our involvement with Y2K was not really about a catastrophe happening on a specific calendar date, but for us it was a wake-up call in realizing that our society has become so dependent on the local supermarket and our power grid that most would have scarcely enough food, water, and fuel to last only a few days even in a small-scale crisis. A case in point happened about a year ago in the town I was in when some teenagers were seen playing around the city-water site. The authorities then became concerned that the water could have been tampered with and instructed the townspeople not to drink, cook, or bathe in that water until it was tested. Needless to say, the bottled water in the grocery stores disappeared from the shelves by that afternoon. And this was not even a big scare, and the water proved to be safe.
Jesus’ words about the lilies of the field were a much-needed exhortation to trust God in all aspects of our lives. At the same time, however, Jesus was talking to an agrarian people who knew and practiced preparedness as they utilized their skills in growing and properly storing food for the winter. If this were not true, Solomon would not have praised the ordinary ant in saying, “consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). Personally, I think it is an embarrassment to our federal government that they would go so far as to vilify people who harvest and store their food for the winter as “hoarders” when this has been common practice in the world practically from the beginning of man until now.
If you have followed our ministry for any length of time then you know that we have never yet talked about preparedness. Yet in by-gone days, it used to be a very normal task for people to cut firewood, tend the livestock, and plant or harvest the fields; so while it is not my intention to get into a lengthy discussion on the practical matters of life, let me say in passing that it would not hurt to consider the situations in which we live. While many of us may be locked into situations or locations that make change nearly impossible, it doesn’t hurt, if you have the opportunity, to consider what would be best for you and your family in the future. Especially if you live in a highly populated city, it does not take much imagination to think of the crime and looting that could ensue after a serious power failure or disaster.
Now, having said all this, let’s return to the words of Jesus when He said that we should take no thought for our lives. The fact is, we are only as safe as the Lord enables us to be. Hence, regardless of our situation in life, our only real option for safety is to place our lives and our futures in the hands of the Lord. While it would be wise to make whatever practical measures we can for the future, none of us are immune from disaster, loss, or theft. To be truly prepared to face the future means above all to be spiritually prepared – and that means having a right relationship with the Lord.
Now is the time for Christians to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). In other words, like the athlete set out to run a race, we need to strip off any excess baggage that would hinder us from giving the Lord our very best. God’s overwhelming desire for us is that we walk with Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30).
I would like to finish with some thoughts about what it means to walk in God’s peace.
First of all, let me say that just as the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16), it is also the avenue to peace with God: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
All of us who have entered into union with God through believing the Gospel – namely that Jesus purchased our salvation fully through His death on the Cross – have God’s peace available to us. Today, it seems that many proclaiming Christians do not really have a sense of God’s peace (which I believe is why so many are turning to contemplative prayer and other mystical practices), and I am fully persuaded it is because they have become removed from the simplicity of the Gospel. The modern-day church leadership has left today’s Christian with a sense of insufficiency of the Gospel and has instead presented an array of substitutes to include such things as relaxation exercises, breath prayers, lectio divina, yoga, and contemplative prayer all with an empty promise of delivering peace and God’s presence when in fact the Gospel is all sufficient for that purpose. Through the Gospel, Jesus opened the door of salvation, promising to live (abide) in us: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you (Colossians 1:27) and “hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:24).
As we live by faith, we will enjoy the benefits of God’s peace. And as I mentioned earlier, when Jesus pointed out that we should take no thought for our lives, He indicated that our lives should be free of fear and worry. God wants us to strive for this goal and attain it as well. Jesus then ended His statements with the clause, “O ye of little faith” (Matthew 6:30). In other words, our freedom from fear and worry are only available to us as we allow our faith and trust in the Lord to grow. A perfect example of this is where Jesus, while walking on the water, welcomed Peter to come out and meet Him. Peter, whose life was a mixture of self-confidence and faith, was OK as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, but as he turned his eyes to the wind and the waves, that confidence soon left him. It was the same self-confidence that led him to tell Jesus that he would never deny Him only to be dashed later, causing him to weep bitterly. But it was a good thing for Peter that his self-confidence was so utterly dashed because he was later able to become a great hero of the faith as he found he had abundant and sufficient grace through Christ (even to the point where he was able to go to his death for the sake of Christ) as he put his confidence in Jesus alone. In this one illustration of meeting Jesus on the water, we find the secret of faith that enabled Peter to walk in an abiding peace. Isaiah was inspired by this same kind of faith when he penned the words:
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. (Isaiah 26:3-4)
In closing, if we can make ready for the future in practical ways, it would be good to do so. But, above all, we must not neglect spiritual preparedness. We will all need spiritual strength (that only God can give) to face the future. That means drawing strength from God by reading His Word. Then, it means applying that Word to our lives. My prayer is that the words of Scripture, like that from Isaiah 26 above, will be a reality for you and I; but this can only happen as we forsake the phony comforts of this life and trust the Lord to be our strength. Yes, walking through this life can be heartbreaking and terrifying at times, but as we keep our mind stayed on Him, trusting Him, we can walk forward in His peace.
The Bible says that those who trust the Lord shall not be disappointed (Psalm 34:22). As we watch the world falling apart, there really is no other option than to trust the Lord; thus, may our resolve be to trust Him as fully as we can, even though things will not always go the way we want or hope for; but we can be comforted and assured in knowing that for those who “love God” and are “called according to His purpose,” “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28). God has His best intentions in mind for us, and He will not be prevented from accomplishing it. One thing that can give us a sense of stability and peace of mind is knowing that even though God allows evil to happen in the world, when we are “sealed” in Christ, He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5: 1-2
By Berit Kjos
Reason for Persecution: The Cross separates us from the world
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you… If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you… because they do not know Him who sent Me.”
“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues [today it might be from churches]; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.”
“And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.”
Reasons for Persecution: Compromising leaders
“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
Following Jesus: Sharing in His suffering and promises
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues….But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven….” For more, click here.
By Roger Oakland
While I am sometimes accused of being a “Catholic-basher,” this is not my desire, nor my intention. I have a number of Roman Catholic acquaintances, and I care for them very much. I also have a number of Evangelical and Protestant acquaintances, and I care about them equally as well. However, in both cases, if a true understanding of the Gospel according to the Scriptures is not present in their lives, then their views will not be biblical—it won’t matter what they call themselves. For the record, my desire is to follow Jesus Christ and His Word and no man, no matter who he is. Likewise, I desire my acquaintances to do the same. It is love, not hate, that motivates me to share the Gospel with them, for there is only one Gospel that truly saves.
Here is the view I promote. Saving faith hinges entirely on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not on an affiliation with a church body. To be born again is to die to the old life of living for self and sin and to be reborn of the Spirit of God when one acknowledges his inability to save himself but rather trusts in Christ alone and His death on the Cross to purchase our salvation.
Many Catholics do not realize that official Catholic teaching does not recognize the biblical Gospel of salvation by grace alone but adds to it the appendage of our merit and participation in the sacraments. By the same token, many Protestants do not realize the biblical faith that martyrs (the disciples, the reformers, etc.) lived and died for. Our hope of an eternal home in Heaven rests in Christ and Christ alone and is offered to all, who in child-like faith, receive Him.
I am not certain when I first realized that the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the Jesuits, were the root force behind the coming one-world religion. If I were pressed to come up with an original time, it would be difficult. Coming to this realization was more of a process for me. The Bible foretells the coming of the Harlot. G.S. McLean always instilled in me that the harlot was apostate Christianity. This I still believe is the proper definition.
Through writing New Wine and the Babylonian Vine, I could see that the final one-world religion will be a mix of all religions for the cause of peace. This will include a revival of ancient Babylonianism that will be rooted in the worship of creation, based on Darwinian evolution that is rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism. . . .
[I]t became increasingly apparent to me the role that the Roman Catholic “Mary” and the Roman Catholic “Jesus” will play in the final delusion to prepare the world for the Antichrist. . . . .
It was about 2000, the year before Bryce [my son] died, that I came across Pope John Paul’s agenda to promote the “New Evangelization.” This is an organized agenda to point the “faithful” and the “separated brethren” to realize that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. This program, coupled with so-called apparitions from a woman claiming to be “Mary” the mother of Jesus, seems to be the impetus behind the coming one-world religion for peace that would be headquartered in Rome. . . .
I had already come to the conclusion that there is a Jesuit plan to bring the separated brethren back to the “Mother of all Churches” in other ways, particularly their “dove” (signs and wonders) plan.
Following my miraculous come-back to ministry after Bryce died, I not only finished New Wine and the Babylonian Vine but started writing the outline and then the book Another Jesus: The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization to continue the warning during 2004. While I was writing this book, Mel Gibson suddenly became a Calvary Chapel-proclaimed saint with his Passion of the Christ. Chuck Smith viewed a portion of the film before it was released and endorsed the film. The Calvary Chapel movement jumped on the bandwagon. As would be expected, they followed “Pastor Chuck’s” leading. There were few voices against the movie. Understand The Times was one of those voices who dared speak up.
While I don’t intend to name the pastors who called me to task over my position on The Passion, let me say there were many who wanted me to keep silent. Support for the ministry of UTT dwindled. There are pastors who even part ways to this day over my stand. Mel Gibson’s Hollywood film with the Eucharistic Jesus and the evangelism that it contained became a sacred cow for Calvary Chapel. If someone spoke against it, he came under zealous attack, as if speaking against Mel Gibson’s movie was speaking against Jesus Christ Himself.
Nevertheless, the book was completed. Jim Tetlow helped me by writing an appendix, which explains that a wafer is a wafer and not literally Jesus’ flesh under the “appearance of bread” and that the Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation is not scriptural.
The book also warns about the coming lying signs and wonders that will occur associated with false appearances of the Eucharistic Jesus that are already underway. Coupled together with further lying signs and wonders, there will be appearances of an apparitional woman claiming to be “Mary” the mother of Jesus. We predicted that lying signs and wonders would impress Muslims because they have a special love for Mary—there is an entire chapter on Mary in the Koran. Most people don’t realize that.
In June of 2005, Paul Smith recommended that Another Jesus: The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization be given out to the Calvary pastors at the annual senior pastors conference at Murrieta. As UTT did with New Wine and the Babylonian Vine, the books were donated through Calvary Distribution and handed out. In the back of the book is a commentary called “Passion Evangelism” that exposes Mel Gibson’s plan to win the world to the Eucharistic Christ.
By many accounts, the conference was deemed to be a watershed. A panel discussion one afternoon about Calvary basics ended up in a free-for-all. Greg Laurie led the way with Bob Coy in stand-up comedy. Things got serious when Greg Laurie chastised pastors for not participating in Harvest Crusades just because of his desire to be linked with Purpose Driven globalist pastor, Rick Warren. The only pastor who seemed to be in favor of studying the Bible instead of someone’s book was Mike Macintosh.
Many pastors left the meeting with a heavy heart. Mine was so heavy I decided to pack up my book table one afternoon and stay at my hotel. Later that evening while at the hotel, my cell phone started to ring. The messages were all the same sentiment: “You cannot believe what just happened!” one pastor from South Carolina cried out.
“This is heresy!” said another in an excited voice.
“What has happened to Calvary? Have we been seduced by the Jesuits?” asked another who called me. All this commotion was because Calvary Chapel pastor Jon Corson, who was to perform the communion service at the end of the meeting, turned it into a Eucharistic-style service.
After the conference, I wrote a letter from my heart to Chuck Smith. I expressed my deep love for him and for Calvary Chapel but also told him of my strong concerns. Here is some of what I said in that letter:
It is with a heavy heart that I must communicate to you that over the past several years, because of many firsthand encounters and experiences in various places with numerous Calvary Chapel pastors, that I have observed a change in the Calvary Chapel movement that deeply concerns me. Perhaps some of my concerns have filtered back to you through others. Until writing this letter, I have not formally contacted you with these concerns. I regret now that I have waited so long. After leaving the Pastors Conference in Murrieta this past week, I laid awake several nights contemplating what I should do or say. This letter is the result.
I explained to Chuck that while I knew there were Calvary Chapel churches that were staying true to God’s Word, there were many that were being influenced by another gospel. I gave him six points where serious error could be found. I want to list them here because every Christian denomination is being affected in these areas to one degree or another:
Ecumenical and unbiblical teachings are being endorsed for the cause of unity and church growth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is being disguised to make it less offensive and more acceptable.
Churches that once taught the Bible faithfully verse by verse preparing the flock for the imminent return of Jesus Christ, now are looking for ways to make their services more seeker-friendly and are less concerned about the prophetic signs we are living in the last days.
Pastors and churches that once believed church growth was dependent on feeding the sheep and equipping the saved to share the Gospel, now promote humanistic means to draw in the masses based on a consumer style of evangelism focused on “finding out what people want” to “get them in the door.”
Churches once led by pastors committed to biblical truth, now are employing experts who use worldly principles borrowed from secular corporations with material goals for success. Rather than following Jesus and His Word, pastors and church leaders are looking to successful men and their methods so they can become part of a movement that is based on principles foreign to the Scriptures.
When church leaders promoting strategies to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth by humanistic methods are challenged by concerned believers warning about the dangers, the leaders label these believers as divisive. Contending for the faith is no longer considered biblical. A person taking a position for biblical truth is now accused of being critical of what others believe.
Bible-believing pastors who once taught the Bible are now looking for ways to attract people to their congregations by providing extra-biblical experiences [e.g. contemplative] and an atmosphere that includes candles, icons, incense, and the introduction of Roman Catholic sacraments. When concerned observers suggest this appears to be leading to a partnership with Roman Catholicism, they are considered to be negative opponents of the “new thing” God is doing to reach our generation.
I told Chuck that it was apparent to some that we are at another crossroads in church history, a fork in the road. I asked him if pastors were going to stand up and make their voices known if they have concerns about the direction current trends are leading. I reminded him, “While some say, don’t be negative—just be known for what you believe, not what you are against—the Old Testament prophets were outspoken when followers of God strayed away from the truths of God and never allowed the sheep to feel comfortable in their sin.”
Before coming to the 2005 Murrieta Conference, I had spoken at another conference in Tempe, Arizona called “Upon This Rock.” The theme of the conference was examining the claims of the Roman Catholic faith to see if they are biblically sound, and what role they play in the establishment of apostasy and the one-world religion that the Bible calls the Harlot.
This was the first time I had spoken publicly on “The Emerging Church.” By now, it had become apparent to me that the emerging church, an attempt to reach the postmodern generation by the present-day church, was another deceptive “road to Rome.”
During this conference in Phoenix, I gave actual examples of how Calvary Chapel was being drawn into the darkness from what once had been a position of light. While there were a few voices that were warning about this, they were in the wilderness and felt very much alone. They were also considered to be the crackpots, the ones causing division—and the ones who needed to be “marked” and disfellowshiped.
By now, I had enough ministry under my belt to know when the writing is on the wall. The writing in this case was very clear. I had stepped over the line. Consistent with my nature and my calling, I was not able to sit down and keep silent. My resistance was met with nasty e-mails, phone messages, and innuendos coming from people and places that I will refrain from mentioning.
For me, this was like adding fuel to a burning fire. It seemed the Lord was impressing upon me to start putting together an outline for a book. By the fall, I received an invitation to speak at a well-known conference in Dallas, Texas where I was asked to share the evidence that Bible-believing Christianity was under attack by apostates masquerading as brothers and sisters in Christ.
The outline for that presentation would become the outline for a book that I would call Faith Undone: the emerging church—a new reformation or an end time deception. . . . I completed the book, and in August of 2007, a small grassroots publishing house called Lighthouse Trails Publishing released the book.
Immediately, a firestorm was created. A copy of the book had been given to Chuck Smith; he in turn read several pages of the book from the pulpit on a Wednesday night study, but did not mention the source. Whether or not he was trying to protect me from the “wolves” in Calvary Chapel, I suppose I will never know. One of my friends, who is a pastor in Minnesota, heard Chuck’s message and announced on the Calvary pastors’ private web forum that Faith Undone should be read and discussed because Chuck Smith had quoted from it. This caused quite a stir on that forum. Of course, those for the emerging church were not for me. One responded that he had read the footnotes of Faith Undone, and that was all he needed to know that Roger Oakland was a heretic. . . .
Over the next few months, it became apparent that my days at “Big Calvary” were numbered. And why not? I had written several letters to Chuck Smith and Paul Smith (whom I had become close friends with). Paul told me that whenever he delivered some of these letters, Chuck would either say “Roger is too negative,” or he would just roll his eyes. I wondered if this was because of pressure he was receiving from members of his own family involved with the Peter Drucker agenda to influence Calvary Chapel. Whatever the case, apparently Chuck did not want to intervene and take sides. . . .
My efforts to counter the counter reformation by Rome led me to discover that my own fellowship of churches was not only being influenced by the very thing I was trying to expose and warn against, but some within the movement were working to discredit and harm me and the ministry of Understand The Times because I was trying to expose the error. This is an example of how Satan can lead astray Christian organizations once used by God without those in charge seeming to be aware. If they were aware, surely they would have done something about it. . . .
Satan certainly is clever in his tactics. He hates the light.
(Excerpt from Let There Be Light by Roger Oakland, from chapter 20)
By Hussein Hajji Wario
Yahoo! Contributor Network
(courtesy True Discernment blog)
A controversy is brewing over three reputable Christian organizations, which are based in North America, whose efforts have ousted the words “Father” and “Son” from new Bibles. Wycliffe Bible Translators, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Frontiers are under fire for “producing Bibles that remove “Father,” “Son” and “Son of God” because these terms are offensive to Muslims.”
Concerned Christian missionaries, Bible translators, pastors, and national church leaders have come together with a public petition to stop these organizations. They claim a public petition is their last recourse because meetings with these organizations’ leaders, staff resignations over this issue and criticism and appeals from native national Christians concerned about the translations “have failed to persuade these agencies to retain “Father” and “Son” in the text of all their translations.”
Biblical Missiology, a ministry of Boulder, Colorado-based Horizon International, is sponsoring the petition.
The main issues of this controversy surround new Arabic and Turkish translations. Click here to continue reading.