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Interview: “Former Homeless Man: San Francisco’s Approach to Homelessness Will Lead to More People Living on the Street”

LTRJ Note: The following is posted for informational and research purposes.

But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries,* and for the great abundance of thine enchantments. (Isaiah 47:9)

Tom Wolf – former homeless drug addict (photo taken from a 2-second clip of video)

From The Epoch Times

California is experiencing a homeless crisis exacerbated by a drug epidemic.

. . . Tom Wolf, a former homeless drug addict, who was arrested six times before getting sober. . . . is a recovery advocate.

He talks about the rampant drug dealing among the homeless encampments and how to help the people living on the street break free from addiction and go back to normal life. Click here to watch this interview with Tom Wolf.

Related Information:

Drugs, Meditation, & “A Fully Developed Spirituality”

Are We Becoming a Drug Culture? (Interview with McMahon and Teichrib)

“The Cross and the Marijuana Leaf”

*In the book of Revelation, the word sorceries comes from the Greek word, pharmakeia relating to witchcraft and the use of drugs. Let us remember to pray for those who are homeless because of drug and alcohol addiction, that they may realize their need for help and, most of all, for the Lord, who is merciful and ready to answer the prayers of the humble and contrite.

Update: “Menlo Church Investigation Finds No Direct Evidence or Disclosures of Sexual Abuse”

LTRP Note: The following is posted for informational and research purposes and is a follow up of two related articles we posted in 2020 (12). Lighthouse Trails has been concerned about John Ortberg’s contemplative/emergent propensities for many years. In this case, our concerns extend to the protection of children in the church. Lighthouse Trails has been a voice and an advocate for children since our inception in 2002. We encourage all church leaders and workers to read Wolves Among Lambs (by Pastor Stacey Shifflet) and Seducers Among Our Children (by Sergeant Patrick Crough) (both available through Lighthouse Trails) to help better equip churches in protecting children.

“Menlo Church Investigation Finds No Direct Evidence or Disclosures of Sexual Abuse”

John Ortberg

Bob Smietana | Religion News Service (provided by Christian Headlines)

A third-party investigation at one of Northern California’s most prominent megachurches that consumed its congregation and former pastor’s fractious family ended this week with a report that found no evidence the pastor’s adult child had acted on his confessed attraction to minors.

“After interviewing 104 witnesses and reviewing or analyzing more than 500,000 documents, Zero Abuse Project did not find any disclosure or other direct evidence the volunteer in question sexually abused a child,” said the report by the firm hired by Menlo Church near San Francisco to study its handling of the confession.

In 2018, one of Pastor John Ortberg’s offspring, referred to only as “Individual A” in the report but identified in earlier news reports as Johnny Ortberg, confessed to having long been sexually attracted to children.

John Ortberg, a bestselling author who played a role in exposing misconduct by former Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels, did not report the confession to church staff or other leaders. Nor did he remove Individual A from volunteering with children at the church or insist the volunteer stop coaching a youth sports team. Click here to continue reading.

“Pope to Focolare-Linked Bishops: Help Realize God’s ‘Dream’ of Harmony in World”
LTRP Note: The following is posted for informational and research purposes. If you are not familiar with the term “God’s Dream,” please read Warren B. Smith’s “GOD’S DREAM”—Satan’s Ultimate Scheme. In that booklet/article, you will see how that concept is being used by some of today’s top Christian leaders.

I am not fully forgiven until I allow God to write his new dream for my life on the blackboard of my mind, and I dare to believe. . . . God has a great plan to redeem society. He needs me and wants to use me. – Robert Schuller

Faith is choosing and believing God’s dream for your life. Nothing starts happening in your life until you start dreaming. – Rick Warren

God’s dream for your life is much bigger than your own. – Joel Osteen

“Pope to Focolare-Linked Bishops: Help Realize God’s ‘Dream’ of Harmony in World”

By Robin Gomes
Vatican News

Pope Francis on Saturday encouraged bishops who are friends of the Focolare Movement to help realize God’s “dream” of reconciling and harmonizing everything and everyone in Christ, being “always open, never exclusive”. 

“This is also the ‘dream’ of fraternity, to which I dedicated the Encyclical, Fratelli tutti,” the Pope told some 15 bishop friends of the Focolare Movement.

Some 170 Bishops from 44 countries of the world, belonging to 70 Churches and ecclesial communities, gathered at the Focolare International Mariapolis Center in Castel Gandolfo,  just outside Rome, for a meeting September 24-25, on the theme, “Dare to be one. The courage of unity in a divided world.” Click here to continue reading.

Interview: “Former Homeless Man: San Francisco’s Approach to Homelessness Will Lead to More People Living on the Street”
Update: “Menlo Church Investigation Finds No Direct Evidence or Disclosures of Sexual Abuse”
“Pope to Focolare-Linked Bishops: Help Realize God’s ‘Dream’ of Harmony in World”
“2021 Parliament of the World’s Religions” Continues Spreading Interfaith Message
Astroworld Tragedy and a Generation Under a Demonic Spell
Letter to the Editor: Confused About the Recent Covid Numbers
Another Shack Betrayal: A Cat Named Judas
Letter to the Editor: Concerns About the Lectio 365 App (aka: Pete Greig and Lectio Divina)
New Booklet: Calvinism, Catholicism, or Blessed Assurance—Which One Will It Be?
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“2021 Parliament of the World’s Religions” Continues Spreading Interfaith Message

LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails author Carl Teichrib has attended a number of the Parliaments of the World Religions and has documented in his book Game of Gods and other writings what takes place at these events. As Lighthouse Trails has reported, the 2015 Parliament took place in Salt Lake City where both Carl and LT author Ray Yungen attended. They both found it remarkable how much hostility toward Christians and biblical Christianity was present at the Parliament. See the related links below for some of that documentation.

1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions

By Carl Teichrib

Saturday was the first day of the 2021 Parliament of the World’s Religions, a global gathering of faith leaders from a multitude of religions, along with political and social influences – all working within an interfaith context to bring “Heaven on Earth” and “save humanity.”

Yes, I’ve heard this with my own ears as I’ve attended Parliaments in the past. In the history of the Parliament, this year’s event is number 8. The first took place in 1893, and approximately 4,000 people attended. This historical event became a key turning point for our modern era of internationalism, bridging East and West, and acting as a catalyst for the idea that we could secure global peace and harmony (and the Twentieth Century turned out to be exactly the opposite).

The second Parliament happened 100 years later in 1993, and it influenced the development of the current interfaith movement – it introduced to the world to a “New Global Ethic,” and it legitimized and endorsed the neo-Pagan movement. About 8,000 people attended.

In 1999, the third gathering happened in Cape Town with 7,000 participating, then in 2004 in Barcelona (9,000 attended) in conjunction with UNESCO, and the sixth event took place in Melbourne with 7,000 attendees.

For myself, I attended the 2015 Parliament in Salt Lake City (10,000 participants) and then again, in 2018, at Toronto (8,500 people).

Now, the 8th Parliament is taking place virtually. How many are participating? At this point I don’t know, but approximately 500 breakout sessions and events are scheduled, so it’s not small! I’ll be documenting in the Facebook comments what workshops and events I’m attending. Each numbered comment from me will offer a chronological snapshot of what’s happening.

Finally, if you have a copy of my book Game of Gods, take the time to read chapter 12 – titled “Spiritual Politics” – as it documents the interfaith movement as a spiritual/political manifestation of internationalism. It will open your eyes to the depth and scope of this movement.

The picture above is from the 1893 Parliament in Chicago.

Related Articles:

Eye Witness Account at Parliament of the World’s Religions 2015 Reveals Growing Animosity Toward Biblical Christians

“Anger, Vitriol and Venom” From the Parliament of the World’s Religions

“Spiritual Perestroika in America” by Carl Teichrib

Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment


Astroworld Tragedy and a Generation Under a Demonic Spell
2-second clip of a YouTube video; used in accordance with the U.S. Fair Use Act. (

By Gregory Reid

Occultism and Satanism are on the rise among youth. TikTok is showing new trends where youth are showing others how to call on their “other personalities” to help them develop multiple personalities. Naturally, they will be calling on demons without knowing it. It’s just the next step up from when schools were teaching kids to find their “imaginary friend” and talk to them. We are already seeing some real dangerous manifestations of these things when the “multiple personality” or “other” begins taking over. I’ve also seen videos of the next insane iteration of the gender blending pronouns like “ze” and “zer,” as two spiritually marred and confused kids told others they refer to themselves by their
“demons.” Only a few years ago, this would have been considered psychotic thinking. But we continue to see the results of our nation disconnecting from God. We’re not caught by surprise because Paul laid it out very clearly in Romans 1. We must not give in to the lies but, as believers, actively resist the evil. I’m grateful there is a growing movement among parents (who are finally waking up to what we’ve been warning about for decades) who are realizing that many schools and school boards and a lot of curriculum are seeking to indoctrinate and socially alter our children—and they are determined to put a stop to it. It’s not about politics. It is about resisting evil and protecting our
kids, and not just ours but others. I soberly remember what was spoken at a national educators conference in 1988 by a keynote speaker: “Our job as educators is to sweep out the last vestiges of Judeo-Christian thought from our schools.” God bless every teacher who is simply there to teach, especially those of the household of faith. They need our prayers.

The recent tragic deaths of several lives at the Astroworld “concert” was heartbreaking and alarming. We already know how many music stars are caught up in the occult, and some, like JZ, Beyonce, and Little Naz claim allegiance to the “illuminati” or Satanism in some form. I had never heard of the rap artist Travis Scott. And yet he and the other bands drew nearly 50,000 people, mostly youth and even children brought by their parents. That’s a shocking amount of
youth. And to hear what? Just a casual look at Scott’s lyrics reveals the typical filthy, violent antichrist content so many in the rap world (and other rock genres) are putting out. When you hear how over-the-top perverted and extremely x-rated the lyrics are, you realize that we’ve got a whole generation that is being drawn into that world by seduction, mesmerization, and a giving in to the demonic appeal of the music.

Watching videos from some of the youth who attended and who witnessed the horrible events of the concert in which people were crushed and trampled to death, they were using words like “It was like being in hell” and “it was like a satanic ritual.” (These were not Christian kids saying this!)

So what was it really? It is too early to know everything, but consider this: They entered the venue through a gate that was the mouth of a huge demonic skull. The concert was filled with occult, masonic, and satanic imagery. The name of the concert? “See you on the other side.”

While people were being crushed to death (and Travis may or may not have known something was happening), he said to his crew, “Y’all know what y’all came here to do – let’s go.” and then, “I’m gonna make this *** ground shake!” (Uses the Lord’s Name in vain.) And then a minute later, “Let’s rage!” That rage cost the lives of several people. After, he sent his prayers to the families and paid for their funeral expenses. Such a dichotomy: Or is it just part of what they do?
A lot of these “artists” come from Christian backgrounds and have been deluded into thinking they can sing about totally evil and ungodly things and still talk like Christians. Beyonce can do Gospel as easily as do songs that glorify Satan. It may be that they are just completely deceived. Or it may be just a manifestation of true Luciferianism: To be able to worship Lucifer and still function within Christian circles is considered a great accomplishment in their world.

That leads me to Kanye West. I remember after he became famous, wealthy, and powerful, he began talking about trying to get out of the Illuminati and how he was being threatened. He was terrified. He had several meltdowns during this time. Most people don’t remember this. Then he came out as a believer, began doing worship concerts, and released a Christian album. Was it real, or just a Luciferian turn of the coin? I don’t know, but I give him the benefit of the doubt.

But at his “worship concert” last week, everyone was dressed in white (which is both Luciferian and Druid but may just have been symbolizing purity.) Justin Bieber and the notorious Marilyn Manson were there, and they appeared to be in a prayer circle with Kanye. I heard Justin’s prayer. It seemed real. He is, unfortunately, one messed-up kid being led by a messed-up Hillsong pastor. Manson? He’s a miserable person, the last High Priest ordained by Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey. His concerts were totally blasphemous. But promoting Satan hasn’t helped him much, and he is now embroiled in several scandals, including serious legal charges.

Having said all that—wouldn’t it be wonderful if he got saved? Yes, it is possible ALL of it is a Luciferian ruse, but what if they are just messed up people, and God is trying to call them to Himself? I am praying for that and reserving judgment until we see where it is all going.

I heard kids that attended Astroworld saying that they saw the fire and smoke and were choking and thought it was like being in hell. And in fact, it was a taste of that last skull gate they will be led into without Christ that will lead to that horrible and eternal pit! The challenge is that this generation is under a demonic spell, and we need to cry out to God on their behalf that God will release them from this demonic spell and bring them to Jesus. Youth ministry and youth pastors need to abandon the babysitting model and start to shake the gates of hell. They need to boldly teach the Word and preach the Gospel. We need to pray for strategy and boldness to reach those kids while we still can!

Letter to the Editor: Confused About the Recent Covid Numbers
Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I am a long-time Lighthouse Trails reader. I have been confused lately since I hear different things from different sources about the latest surge in COVID cases locally, nationally, and globally.  I am wondering if you or your readers are feeling the same way. Everywhere I look there are frightening statistics and horrifying visuals presenting the guilty culprits causing all the problems as the “unvaccinated,” and encouraging these non-conformists to comply quickly so that we can all “get back to normal.”  I decided to research it for myself and started by calling my local hospital.  I wanted as honest a response as possible, so I presented myself in the least threatening way I knew how. A combination of Columbo (remember him?) and a polite, but perplexed grandmother.  “I’m confused,” I began, after being transferred from the operator to the COVID nurse hotline. “I am wondering if you can help me. Would you please explain to me the definition used when a patient is admitted to the hospital to distinguish between a vaccinated and an unvaccinated person?”

Her answer was direct. “We define unvaccinated as someone who has had no COVID vaccines at all, one of the approved two-dose COVID vaccines or if it is still within 14 days of the second dose.” When I asked her what she thought of that, she thoughtfully and honestly replied, “Well . . . I think it could skew the numbers.” I appreciated her candor, thanked her and wished her a lovely day.  

I came to the conclusion that definitions matter and that constantly presenting those intimidating statistics, graphs, and visuals without clearly defining the term “unvaccinated” can be deceptive and manipulative.  I think it is using fear to guilt those who are not vaccinated (not necessarily “unvaccinated” by their  definition) into doubting their gut feelings, prayerful convictions, or common sense. I believe it is a tactic to get us to stop questioning and using our own reasoning – just conform.

I also wanted to let you know how much I appreciate Lighthouse Trails and the incredible volume of research you have accumulated over the years!! I have been a faithful reader since 2003!! Your website is the first place I go for biblical answers for myself and to share with friends and family when I hear about a new author or concept. Your research is incredibly helpful since there really is nothing new under the sun. It is fascinating to dig out the roots of many of the “new” concepts and find that most have their beginnings with Satan right in the Garden of Eden:”Yea, hath God said?…” or “Ye shall be as gods . . .” 

Thank you so much again,


(photo from; used with permission)

Another Shack Betrayal: A Cat Named Judas
By Warren B. Smith

The name Judas has been described as the most hated name in all the world. Except for Shack author William Paul Young and maybe a few exceptional others, hardly anybody ever names anyone or anything Judas. It is one of those forbidden names like Jezebel or Lucifer that people would never dream of naming their child, their dog—or their cat. The very name denotes a sense of treachery and betrayal. After all, Judas was the one who openly betrayed Jesus and paved the way for His crucifixion. So what was William Paul Young thinking? Why does The Shack’s most endearing character—Missy—have a cat named Judas?1 And it seems especially odd to have a cat with that name in a family where the mother’s faith is described as “deep”2 and Missy is asking sincere questions about Jesus’ death.3

Heresy and Betrayal

Young contends that The Shack is much more than a fictional novel. He describes The Shack as “theology wrapped in story.” He writes:

Please don’t misunderstand me; The Shack is theology. But it is theology wrapped in story, the Word becoming flesh and living inside the blood and bones of common human experience.4

This is said in spite of the fact that Young’s Shack characters and Shack “theology” frequently mock God and God’s Word with their cryptic humor and clever interplay. To be perfectly blunt, the name Judas fits right in with much of what William Paul Young is teaching. Like Judas, Young betrays Jesus Christ and biblical Christianity with his heretical Shack theology—a Shack theology where there is, among other things, no Devil and no Christ. Neither of them can be found anywhere in the whole Shack story. The Devil is never mentioned because Young would have us believe that evil and darkness “do not have any actual existence.”5 And The Shack’s “Jesus” is never identified as Christ. In fact, the name of Christ is nowhere to be found in the whole Shack story.6

One well-known pastor gave an impassioned sermon about thirteen heresies he found in The Shack.7 One heresy he did not mention is perhaps the most egregious of all—the panentheistic proposition that God is “in” all things. Incredibly, William Paul Young puts this foundational doctrine of the New Age/New Spirituality/New World Religion right in the mouth of The Shack’s “Jesus.” Young’s “Jesus” states—“God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.”8 But this is a false teaching. God is not “in” all things.9 For Young to put these heretical words in the mouth of The Shack’s “Jesus” is an absolute betrayal of the true Jesus Christ.

A Wonderful and Horrible Betrayal

Thus, as Young plays fast and loose with biblical Christianity, should we be surprised that he plays fast and loose with a name like Judas—a name that perfectly describes his role in today’s wayward church. What Young describes as “theology wrapped in story” is really biblical betrayal wrapped in a cunningly devised fable (2 Peter 1:16). The Shack is everything that the true Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for when he said to “be not deceived” (Luke 21:8). And that warning would seem to include authors like William Paul Young who think nothing at all about putting heretical New Age doctrines in Jesus’ mouth and naming a little girl’s cat Judas.

The Shack may seem “wonderful” to countless Shack readers, but in reality it is a betrayal of biblical Christianity and of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah—The Shack may seem “wonderful,” but it is actually “horrible,” and yet the people “love to have it so.”

A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? (Jeremiah 5:30-31)

To read other articles from The Shack series by Warren B. Smith, click here.


  1. William P. Young, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity (Los Angeles, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 231.
  2. Ibid., p. 11.
  3. Ibid., p. 31.
  4. C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited: There is More Going On Here Than You Ever Dared to Dream (New York: Faith Words), p. xi.
  5. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 136.
  6. Warren B. Smith, “The Christless Shack” (article posted at
  7. Michael Youssef, The Shack Uncovered: 13 Heresies Explained (PDF: (Leading the Way Ministries, 2017).
  8. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p.112.
  9. Warren B. Smith, Be Still and Know That You are Not God: God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2015). This is a free online booklet that traces the history of the false teaching that God is “in” everything. It also offers a scriptural refutation of this heretical doctrine.

(photo from; used with permission; design by Lighthouse Trails)




Letter to the Editor: Concerns About the Lectio 365 App (aka: Pete Greig and Lectio Divina)
Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Are you familiar with the Lectio 365 app? It is being promoted at my church and the small amount of research I’ve done has me concerned. Thank you so much for your boldness in standing up for God’s Truth. C.D.

Our comments:

This group is connected with Pete Greig (Red Moon Rising) whom we warned about several years ago. Greig is a founding “team” member of Lectio 365 and has proven himself to be a long-time strong emergent contemplative proponent. A perusal of the Lectio 365 website reveals just as many concerns as back when we first warned about Greig.  Plus, the site is promoting Greig’s book, showing that the propensity has not changed (for the good) over the years. In fact, it has only gotten worse, which is what happens with contemplative prayer. Here you can see that they are promoting Black Lives Matter: Thus it would stand to reason that they are promoting Critical Race Theory as well. And, of course, the Lectio 365 app is inspired by the practice of Lectio Divina. Sadly, many young people are attracted to groups like this. Below is the content of our article on Lectio Divina. See also the links below that for documentation.

“LECTIO DIVINA-What it is, What it is not, and Should Christians Practice it?”

LECTIO DIVINA—There’s a lot of talk about it today; umpteen books are published and more are on the way about lectio divina; and an increasing number of evangelical/Protestant figures are writing about it, endorsing it, and teaching it. Some people think lectio divina simply means to read a passage of Scripture slowly (or “praying the Scriptures”) then ponder or think on that Scripture. That can be a part of it. But if you ask mystics or contemplatives what it really entails (And who would know better than they?), they will tell you that lectio divina (pronounced lex-ee-o di-veen-a) always includes taking a passage of Scripture (or other writings), reading it slowly, and repeating it as you work your way down to where you have just a word or small phrase from the passage that you are “meditating” on (repeating over and over). Basically, you are coming up with a mantra-like word or phrase that has been extracted from a passage of Scripture, which, according to contemplatives, if repeated for several minutes, will help you get rid of thoughts and distractions, so then, they say, you can hear the voice of God and feel His presence (going into the silence).

There are said to be four steps in lectio divina. These four steps are:

Reading (lectio)—Slowly begin reading a biblical passage as if it were a long awaited love letter addressed to you. Approach it reverentially and expectantly, in a way that savors each word and phrase. Read the passage until you hear a word or phrase that touches you, resonates, attracts, or even disturbs you.

Reflecting (meditatio)—Ponder this word or phrase for a few minutes. Let it sink in slowly and deeply until you are resting in it. Listen for what the word or phrase is saying to you at this moment in your life, what it may be offering to you, what it may be demanding of you.

Expressing (oratio)—If you are a praying person, when you are ready, openly and honestly express to God the prayers that arise spontaneously within you from your experience of this word or phrase. These may be prayers of thanksgiving, petition, intercession, lament, or praise. If prayer is not part of your journey you could write down the thoughts that have come your way.

Resting (contemplatio)—Allow yourself to simply rest silently for a time in the stillness of your heart remaining open to the quiet fullness of God’s love and peace. This is like the silence of communion between the mother holding her sleeping infant child or between lovers whose communication with each other passes beyond words.1

Catholic priest and contemplative mysticism pioneer Thomas Keating explains what lectio divina is not in an article he has written titled “The Classical Monastic Practice of Lectio Divina.” He explains that lectio divina is not traditional Bible study, not reading the Scriptures for understanding and edification, and not praying the Scriptures (though praying the Scriptures can be a form of lectio divina when a word or phrase is taken from the Scriptures to focus on for the purpose of going into “God’s presence”).2 Keating says that lectio divina is an introduction into the more intense practices—contemplative prayer and centering prayer.

While some people think lectio divina is just reading Scripture slowly (and what’s wrong with that), it is the focusing on and repeating a word or small phrase to facilitate going into the “silence” that is the real danger. There is certainly nothing wrong with reading Scripture carefully and thoughtfully. Thoughtfully, we say. In eastern-style meditation (and in contemplative prayer) thoughts are the enemy. Eastern-style mystic Anthony De Mello describes this problem with thoughts in his book Sadhana: A Way to God:

To silence the mind is an extremely difficult task. How hard it is to keep the mind from thinking, thinking, thinking, forever thinking, forever producing thoughts in a never ending stream. Our Hindu masters in India have a saying: one thorn is removed by another. By this they mean that you will be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all the other thoughts that crowd into your mind. One thought, one image, one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten on.3

Spiritual director Jan Johnson in her book, When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer also believes that thoughts get in the way, and the mind must be stilled:

Contemplative prayer, in its simplest form, is a prayer in which you still your thoughts and emotions and focus on God Himself. This puts you in a better state to be aware of God’s presence, and it makes you better able to hear God’s voice, correcting, guiding, and directing you.4

Mark Yaconelli, author of Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus, has this to say about lectio divina. Keep in mind that Yaconelli’s materials are used in evangelical/Protestant settings (e.g., colleges, seminaries, youth groups):

In order to practice lectio divina, select a time and place that is peaceful and in which you may be alert and prayer fully attentive. Dispose yourself for prayer in whatever way is natural for you. This may be a spoken prayer to God to open you more fully to the Spirit, a gentle relaxation process that focuses on breathing, singing or chanting, or simply a few minutes of silence to empty yourself of thoughts, images, and emotions.5

Research analyst Ray Yungen explains this silence that contemplative mystics seek:

When [Richard] Foster speaks of the silence, he does not mean external silence. In his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Foster recommends the practice of breath prayer6—picking a single word or short phrase and repeating it in conjunction with the breath. This is classic contemplative mysticism. . . . In Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, [Foster] ties in a quote by one mystic who advised, “You must bind the mind with one thought”7 . . . I once related Foster’s breath prayer method to a former New Age devotee who is now a Christian. She affirmed this connection when she remarked with astonishment, “That’s what I did when I was into ashtanga yoga!”8

With lectio divina, the word or phrase one repeats eventually can lose its meaning, and this repetitive sound can start to put the practitioner into an altered mind state. Yungen tells us that:

Keeping the mind riveted on only one thought is unnatural and adverse to true reflection and prayer. Simple logic tells us the repeating of words has no rational value. For instance, if someone called you on the phone and just said your name or one phrase over and over, would that be something you found edifying? Of course not; you would hang up on him or her. Why would God feel otherwise? And if God’s presence is lacking, what is this presence that appears as light during meditation and infuses a counterfeit sense of divinity within?9

Yungen exhorts believers that: “the goal of prayer should not be to bind the mind with a word or phrase in order to induce a mystical trance but rather to use the mind to glory in the grace of God. This was the apostle Paul’s counsel to the various churches: ‘Study to shew thyself approved’ (2 Tim. 2:15) and ‘we pray always’ (2 Thessalonians 1:11) as in talking to God with both heart and mind.”10

In order to help those you care about stay clear of contemplative spirituality and spiritual deception, it is important for you to understand how lectio divina plays a significant role in leading people toward full blown meditative practices. And we propose that this “presence” that is reached during the “silent” altered states of consciousness from saying a word or phrase over and over (or focusing on the breath or an object) is not God’s presence. God has instructed us in the Bible not to perform “special kinds of process[es]” or “formula[s],”11 as Thomas Keating calls lectio divina, to induce mystical experiences (see Deuteronomy 18:9-11); thus, we believe ample warning about lectio divina is warranted.

In conclusion, lectio divina is a bridge to eastern-style meditation. If indeed, this is true, then it will lead Christians away from the message of the Cross and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and thus Christians should not practice lectio divina. Do you know where practices such as lectio divina took Thomas Keating in his spirituality? When you read the statement by him below, you can see the answer to this:

We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible.

Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices, especially where they have been initiated by reliable teachers and have a solidly developed Christian faith to find inner form and meaning to the resulting experiences.12

1. Taken from:
2. Thomas Keating, “The Classical Monastic Practice of Lectio Divina”  (
3. Anthony de Mello, Sadhana: A Way to God (St. Louis, the Institute of Jesuit Resources, 1978), p. 28.
4. Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999), p. 16.
5. Mark Yaconelli,
6. Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1992), p. 122.
7. Ibid., p. 124.
8. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2006), p. 75.
9. Ibid., p. 76.
10. Ibid., p. 75.
11. Keating, “The Classical Monastic Practice of Lectio Divina,” op. cit.
12. M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, Thomas E. Clarke, Finding Grace at the Center (Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Pub., 1978), pp. 5-6.
To order copies of LECTIO DIVINA-What it is, What it is not, and Should Christians Practice it?, click here.

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New Booklet: Calvinism, Catholicism, or Blessed Assurance—Which One Will It Be?

Calvinism, Catholicism, or Blessed Assurance—Which One Will It Be? by David Dombrowski is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are available. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of this new booklet. To order copies of Calvinism, Catholicism, or Blessed Assurance—Which One Will It Be? click here.

Calvinism, Catholicism, or Blessed Assurance—Which One Will It Be?

By David Dombrowski

When I was a boy, about eight years old, a stranger in a Safeway grocery store parking lot gave my mother a plaque he had cast of plaster of paris that bore the words, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6). Mom had a special devotion to the Lord because as a child of about twelve years of age, after losing both her parents to mushroom poisoning, she knelt alone in a small chapel in Poland and invited Jesus into her heart. This was not something she was told to do but rather something she longed to do that she might have the life-long companionship of God in a world that had enclosed her with loneliness. There was something unique about her relationship with God in that it was somewhat spontaneous and very personal, though she had been raised in the Catholic Church where being Catholic meant going to Mass and receiving Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Her strong belief in Jesus being the Son of God giving His life on the Cross for the sins of the world always burned in her heart as she knew Him as her personal Savior—sadly, something most Catholics miss due to the Catholic Church’s misrepresentation of the Gospel. And, like most Catholics, I too missed the meaning of the true Gospel (a gift entirely from God that offers redemption fully and salvation freely to all who put their trust in Christ).

My mother hung that plaque on our wall, and it became a witness to me that God was available and desired to have a personal relationship with me. At the age of 22, while serving in the U.S. Army in Germany, I too invited Jesus into my heart knowing He had died for all my sins and was inviting me into a new life with Him.1

Some years after my mother had received Christ in Poland as a young girl, she received word from her uncle in Portland, Oregon that he very much wanted her to live with him until she could establish herself on her own. He made all the arrangements for her to cross the Atlantic to New York harbor and from there to go by train to Portland, Oregon (where she would later meet my father). Shortly after her excursion from Poland, Hitler’s troops invaded the country; chances are great that she may have never survived the war if she had stayed because the area in Poland where she grew up was closely bordering Germany. But God knew, and He provided the way of escape.

Ironically, fifty years after my mother received the Lord, I was in Germany and likewise invited Jesus into my heart and within that year, having completed my service in the military, returned home to Portland, Oregon.

While in Germany, I too encountered some life-threatening challenges, but God delivered me from these dangers. Looking back, I can see His handiwork in my life. I can only affirm that God is love and God is faithful. As Jeremiah declared during a most turbulent time in Jewish history:

It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They [His mercies] are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

The True Nature or a Distorted View of God

One thing I have learned in my walk with the Lord is that it is crucial that we attribute to God His very nature because we, as believers, take on the shape of our depiction of God. John Calvin depicted God as a monster, and he himself became a monster. Read the bio of his theology, life, and ministry, and you will see this is true.2 It is both fortunate and conversely unfortunate that our view of God has a way of shaping us. There is a danger to the hardening of the heart that can occur if we entertain our minds with depictions of God that are not real. The resulting damage to the soul can be extreme as the Psalmist declares:

With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks. (Psalm 18:25-27)

God will bring down high looks, but He will bless those who bless Him, who esteem Him, and who attribute to Him His true nature. And to view God as an unloving hard-hearted deity or the author of sin (as John Calvin did) is nothing short of blasphemy.

A Powerful Yet Dangerous System

Calvinism is perhaps the most powerful force sweeping through the church today as it has been revived as never before—now promoted in most Bible colleges and seminaries. We often hear from proponents of Calvinism that the reason they embrace Calvinism is because it is the one thing that offers a full assurance of salvation, but the only true assurance of salvation is in knowing that God is faithful to His Word.

Even though the word “predestination” is not used in the Bible to directly signify salvation (I will explain this later), John Calvin used it to formulate a gospel of complete assurance. His idea was that God has already decided who will go to Heaven and who will go to Hell, and there is nothing anyone (including yourself) can do about it. This, in one sense, is very comforting if you can know that you are among the “elect.” But the problem is that, while this may seem very comforting to the novice, Calvinist scholars understand, as did John Calvin himself, that this “belief” system actually offers no true assurance at all because it is impossible to know if you are among the elect. The only thing you can be sure of with this system is that if you are “predestined for Hell,” you are sure to go there because that is God’s “pleasure,” and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

It is interesting to note here that the Hegelian Formula (a branch of philosophy) states that when a thesis (an idea) is combined with an anti-thesis (a counter idea), the resulting synthesis achieves a higher level of truth; but with Christianity, when truth is mixed with error or light with darkness, the resulting grey matter is very dangerous as Harry Ironside pointed out:

Error is like leaven of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.3

I fear for the church of today; and I think that perhaps at the present moment Calvinism may be the greatest danger because, just as Ironside describes, it looks very innocent. In fact, over the years Calvinism has been building momentum as its leaders have grasped the Olympic torch of academia and “biblical” scholarship and run with it. Consequently, many who are looking for a deeper and biblical walk with the Lord are embracing it, which Bible colleges and seminaries are welcoming with open arms. Indeed, many of today’s biblical scholars are Calvinists who like to quote John Calvin’s axiom sola scriptura to maintain that truth is found only in the Scriptures.

However, the sad truth about John Calvin is that while he was correct in asserting that spiritual truths need to be derived solely from Scripture, his life and ministry (theology) largely contradicted the Bible. In life, he started his own inquisition in Geneva where he was directly or indirectly involved with the tortuous deaths of dozens of people, whose crimes were to disagree with his convoluted teachings. Among those whom he most hated were the Anabaptists who disagreed with his practice of infant baptism. His theology was excised largely, not from Scripture but from the writings of Augustine (a Greek philosopher turned Christian). While Augustine did much to reshape biblical Christianity into what became the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church and the foundations of Medieval thought, John Calvin hopped the train of the Reformation and embedded in it the doctrines of his tainted thinking.

Before I go any further, please allow me to offer my observations on philosophy, having been a student of philosophy myself. Oftentimes, philosophers will frown at Christianity as lacking logic. In the case of Augustine having formerly been a Greek philosopher, he thought he could use his skills of logic to reformulate Christianity into its various doctrines expressed in a logical and orderly manner. But the problem is not that Christianity is illogical but that we typically lack the insight to tackle spiritual matters using earthly logic. Even Paul, whom I consider to be the greatest theologian of all time, spoke of his own understanding when he said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Paul found great wisdom and insight in Christianity though he had formerly persecuted the church. When he encountered the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill,4 they were much entertained by his thinking, but they could never wrap their minds around the simplicity of the Gospel. That is why Paul could say,

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:18-30)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

The real problem the philosophers of Paul’s time had was not that they were too smart for Paul but that the one and true God who created everything was, in their case “THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom . . . ye ignorantly worship” (Acts 17:23); and most of them were too proud to really hear Paul. Pride has a way of stopping the ears of the proud while the humble have ears to hear: “Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed” (Acts 17:34). The folly of the proud was that they trusted in their own wisdom, making their skills at reason and dialogue their own god and final authority.

As far as we can know, Calvin most likely never came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He, too, fell under the spell of exalting his own reasoning above the truth of the Gospel while looking to the writings of Augustine to confirm his errant thought to be true. Although he considered himself to be a humble man, his ruthless and demonic way of treating Christians who disagreed with his thinking reflects a whole other side to John Calvin that Calvinists would want to dismiss, but this is also at the peril of countless people who look to Calvinism to secure their own salvation. Consider, for example, some words Calvin addressed to God in his will shortly before he died in 1564:

I testify also and profess that I humbly seek from God, that He may so will me to be washed and purified by the great Redeemer’s blood, shed for the sins of the human race, that it may be permitted me to stand before His tribunal under the covert of the Redeemer Himself.5 (italics in original; underline added)

Though he here refers to himself as “humbly” seeking God for his own salvation, the words “that He may so will me” betray the contradictory and fatalistic nature of Calvin’s belief and conduct. While he acknowledges the efficacy of Jesus’ death on the Cross for the sins of mankind, he refuses to recognize its availability to all as revealed in all of Scripture, particularly the Gospels.

Consider, for example, how Jesus, in speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, referred to the salvation He was offering as water freely given—as “a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). The Jewish religious leaders of the day frowned upon the Samaritans, and the path to Heaven they offered was paved with many obstacles and burdens too heavy to carry. Sadly, and as Paul warned would happen, the apostate “Christian” church soon followed after them, placing heavy yokes upon believers and distorting the truth of the Gospel. It wasn’t that long before the Roman Catholic Church began to form, claiming that Peter had been their first pope and absorbing much of the teachings and doctrines, not from the Bible, but from so-called “church fathers” and mystics who received much of their inspiration from mind-altering techniques borrowed from the east.6

This abandonment of the Scriptures led, as we should expect, not to revival but to a period in Western history known by terms such as “the middle ages,” “the medieval period,” or “the dark ages.” This was also a period of history when the Scriptures were withheld from the people and only spoon-fed by the clergy, who were deemed the only ones able to properly interpret the Bible. This period was marked by crusades conducted with sword and spear and inquisitions conducted under papal authority by fire and unbelievable tortures. The demons laughed as they witnessed the fruit of their labors. Long forgotten were Scriptures like 1 John 4:8 that says, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

Ironically, Calvin, who claimed to be a reformer, followed suit and became what was known as “the Protestant Pope” with a reputation spanning continental Europe, though his treatment of humanity was brutal.

Words nearly fail me to express my heart-felt sense of dismay and urgency at the tremendous loss to the true Gospel reaching the hearts of God’s people.

As a Christian, there are two things that concern me most greatly. The first, as it should be, is for the Gospel to reach the unsaved as it really is, unpolluted by human “wisdom” and innovations. The second is for Christians to recognize how much of what we call “the church” has diverged from the truth and simplicity of the Gospel.

I don’t question that there are a good number of Catholics (like my mother) and Calvinists (who are growing exponentially in number) who are truly saved, but they are saved only because they have put their trust in Jesus who shed His blood at Calvary to redeem us and cleanse us from all sin. But I fear for those who have never actually put their faith in Christ for His free gift of salvation—simple and uncomplicated—but have exchanged it for burdensome religion founded on earthly logic and philosophical reasoning. As a former Catholic, I know all too well that the Catholic version of the Gospel is not founded on the one-time sacrifice of Christ at Calvary (as described in chapters 9 and 10 in Hebrews) and received by faith alone but on the works-based sacraments, in particular the sacrament of the Eucharist where Christ is re-sacrificed daily at the altar as a “non-bloody sacrifice.” This sacrament offers a way to earn the free gift of salvation. All of this is contradictory to the Scriptures and to true logic.

Likewise, Calvinism requires that the Scriptures be altered to create its own version of the Gospel. In a nutshell, Calvinism is actually the philosophic religion of fatalism. Its chief precept is that God has unalterably predetermined who will go to Heaven or Hell. Its formulation is philosophic logic that goes like this:

Premise: God is sovereign, and everything He does is for His pleasure. If God is sovereign, then everything that happens in the universe and all of creation is His will. If everything is His will, then:

  • God is the author of all good.
  • God is the author of all evil.
  • God is the author of sin.
  • God delights in sending people to Heaven.
  • God also delights in sending many more to Hell.

If all the above is true, then man can have no free will.

The reasoning, as one can see, goes on and on, which could lead us to one final conclusion: If God can only be sovereign when everything is His will, then He has given everyone absolutely no free will. He makes people sin and then punishes them in an eternal Hell for sinning—and this is all for God’s pleasure. Sadly, this is what the more seasoned Calvinists are teaching. In doing so, they are describing God to be a monster, yet I don’t know of any Calvinist who would admit to this. But, this is what they do, continually and all the time. God is insulted, even blasphemed, yet they do not seem to know they are doing it. That is delusion. It is what happens to Calvinists who have allowed human logic to overrule a heart-felt appreciation they should have for who God really is—a God of love.

Though it is claimed to be so, there is no actual eternal security in Calvinism. Just as with philosophical fatalism, Calvinistic fatalism works in the same way in that we are all doomed/chosen to what God has already ordained for us, and there is nothing we can do to change that.

The problem with Calvin’s “God” is that “He” is totally unbiblical and incomparable to the God of the Bible. According to the Bible, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5); He has never and will never sin; therefore, He cannot be the author of sin or evil. “God is love” (1 John 4:8); therefore, there is no wickedness with God. Calvin was a wicked man, having lived the life of a despot, but his wickedness was his own doing and only reflected the character of the god of his own imagination. When Calvinist teacher, A.W. Pink says that no one can resist the will of God,7 this would even mean that someone like Hitler was not able to resist God’s will and that he (Hitler) was only doing what God wanted him to do. How could God be called just and righteous for not only causing men to do evil but then condemning them for doing what they could not even control?

Calvin’s God Too Small

There is another difference between Calvin’s god and the God of the Bible: Calvin’s god is too small. His god could only be sovereign if man had no free will. The only way Calvin’s god could be sovereign would be if man were a puppet on a string with God pulling the strings. The God of the Bible is much greater and more powerful that this. He can be sovereign, even though He has given man free will, while God’s light penetrates the darkness of our world; and He is brilliant enough to work all things together for good. While the God of the Bible is big enough to be sovereign even while man has free will, Calvin’s god lacks the ability, greatness, and intelligence to do this. The more one studies Calvinism, the more apparent it becomes that to make the Calvinist scenario work, extensive alteration of not only the Scriptures but of God Himself must take place.

The Foundation

The foundation of one’s faith is always what’s most important, just as the foundation of a building is most critical. What is the foundation of the Christian faith? It is Jesus Himself as presented in the Gospel. The Gospel tells us that when we place our faith and trust in Christ, who paid the penalty for the sins of the whole world, God forgives us, cleanses us, and we are born again as the Holy Spirit now indwells us. This salvation is freely given because Jesus paid the price of our redemption in full, way back at Calvary. The words “New Testament” is a legal term that really means “New Covenant” whereby God inscribes His righteous nature on the tablet of our hearts in place of the tablets of stone Moses gave—which exposed the sinfulness of man’s heart but lacked the power to transform us to a godly nature.
Having been raised as a Catholic, I can see now that the foundation of my faith as a Catholic was not in trusting in the one-time sacrifice of Christ at Calvary but in the continual re-sacrificing of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist (communion) and my participation in it. There was never an altar call for me to come to receive Christ by faith and be born again because I was taught that I was already a Christian by virtue of having been baptized as a baby. Not until I was 22 did I recognize that I was lost and needed to receive Christ as my Savior. I should add, however, that while the Roman Catholic Church still adheres to salvation through participation in the sacraments with the Eucharist being the focal point of the Mass, Catholicism is gradually being transformed through mysticism and aligning itself with New Age practices and beliefs. Roman Catholicism has never claimed that one can be assured of one’s salvation. Being works based, it sees such assurance as being presumptuous and prideful. The inroads of mysticism into the church perhaps is filling that void of assurance in that New Age mysticism is pantheistic (or panentheistic) in believing that we are one with and a part of God and therefore in no need of a savior.

In the case of Calvinism, John Calvin’s foundation for the faith was his doctrine of predestination which, like the sacrament of the Eucharist, looks innocent but ends up placing a barrier between us and our ability to receive the Gospel. While the doctrine of predestination purports to offer assurance of salvation, in reality, it places doubts in the minds and hearts of people. The problem is that it is an unworthy substitute for the truth of the Gospel.

It should be noted that the word for predestination only appears four times in the Bible—in Romans 8:29 and 30 as predestinate and in Ephesians 1:5 and 11 as predestinated; and in none of these instances is it referring to the experience of salvation. In fact, Romans 8:30 draws a distinction between predestination and salvation by using separate terms: “Moreover whom he did predestinate . . . them he also justified” (emphasis added). The meaning of the word “predestination” is actually found in the word itself: God has prepared a destination for the believer—for us to be like Christ (“to be conformed to the image of his Son . . .”—Romans 8:29) and to “obtain an inheritance” (Ephesians 1:11). Paul goes on to say in Ephesians, “after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession . . .” (Ephesians 1:13-14; emphasis added). Here Paul is using legal language to say that God has prepared a place for those who put their trust in Christ! And Jesus did say, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

There is much comfort that can be derived from a proper understanding of predestination, while Calvin’s understanding of the term plays havoc on the minds of seasoned Calvinists. Consider, for example, this confession from the late R.C. Sproul (d. 2017):

A while back I had one of those moments . . . suddenly the question hit me: ‘R.C., what if you are not one of the redeemed? What if your destiny is not heaven after all, but hell?’ Let me tell you, that I was flooded in my body with a chill that went from my head to the bottom of my spine. I was terrified.8

Sadly, R.C. Sproul was only being honest in that, having been one of the foremost Calvinist scholars of our time, he had a proper understanding of what Calvinism actually teaches. To the novice, Calvinism appears to be offering eternal security, but to the seasoned theologian, there is every reason to fear when Calvin’s god delights in sending most people to Hell; and “believing” the Gospel is seen as ineffectual to this vast number of people already doomed to Hell.

Is There Assurance of Our Salvation?

It is frightening to see how so many people who profess to be Christians are falling into the delusions that are encompassing our world today. A while back, I was questioning, what is to keep me from becoming part of a world-wide delusion? After all, Jesus Himself warned that in the last days massive delusion will sweep the Earth.

The fact is, we do need to guard our hearts, and no one is assured of getting everything right. But at the same time, we have a haven of safety in the Lord. I think the secret is to come to God as a child—that is in child-like faith and simple humility. Though the Bible warns of a massive world-wide delusion in the last days, the Bible also is filled with warnings and exhortations, both in the Old and New Testaments, to steer clear of the massive deceptions of the day. All these promptings from Scripture indicate that God does not will this deception in our lives and offers His protection to all who take refuge in Him. The Bible says, “But He giveth more grace, Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6).

We can, therefore, flee the deceit of the world if we flee to God. It is important to know there is one thing God magnifies even above His own name as the psalmist describes, “I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and praise Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name” (Psalm 138:2).Why would God do this? Well, for God to be high above all that exists and to be fully worthy of all esteem, He must be completely faithful to all His Word and all His promises. Properly understood, this means that if you read John 3:16 and believe it, you have complete assurance in your salvation because God is completely faithful to His Word.

The Spirit of Antichrist

The history of Christianity has been marred by errant teachings. Paul predicted this would happen when he said:

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. (Acts 20:29-30)

The apostle John adds further illumination on the subject describing how the spirit of antichrist present in his day would be infused in human history before the coming of the Antichrist:

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (1 John 2:18)

Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:3)

It is valuable to know and to recognize that the spirit of antichrist has been working over the centuries. Too often, we don’t see the spirit of antichrist working because we expect to see something sensational, but the antichrist spirit is not always expressed as vehement rage and anger over Jesus Christ. The Greek prefix ante can indicate hatred and opposition, but it can also signify a substitute; and this is where the enemy can sneak in through the back door. Antichrist can be a person or a teaching that is in place of or a substitute for Christ—a false imitation Christ. Ultimately, Satan’s scheme is to take as many people to Hell as he can, so his target has always been to corrupt the Gospel and discredit Jesus Christ for who He is and His redeeming sacrifice at Calvary. This is why we have witnessed so much distortion of the simple Gospel that Jesus really does save, and He does it very well, especially in that Jesus sealed the new covenant with His own blood two thousand years ago as an irrevocable covenant. The Old Covenant required daily and yearly sacrifices pointing to the one-time perfect and complete sacrifice to come later. All this proves that our salvation is very secure when we place our hope and trust in Christ.

Blessed Assurance

My mother, who passed away on July 4th, 1996, was a great witness and strength to me in the years I knew her after my return from the Army as a born-again Christian. As a young believer, it took me several years to sort out the problems with Catholicism, and I was thus not able to share much with her on its doctrinal problems before she began to develop Alzheimer’s disease. But we would talk, and she agreed that salvation is something we can only secure in an abiding relationship with Christ; she believed Jesus’ words that one must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God, and even as her Alzheimer’s progressed, she remembered doing that when she invited Jesus into her heart in Poland at a young age.

During the last years of her life, she was the most powerful witness to me of God’s saving grace. Her mind was affected, but her spirit remained strong. She reached a point where she could not tell me my name nor even that I was her son. But she knew I was special to her, and she never wavered in her faith.

As the youngest in the family, I took the role of taking Mom to church. However, as I came to a greater understanding of the serious errors of Roman Catholicism, I felt increasingly more uncomfortable about taking her to a Roman Catholic church which I had come to realize was an apostate church. Having friends and family members who were Catholic, I knew if I took her to a “non-Catholic church,” they would see it as manipulating her in her weakened mental faculties. But having found a good Gospel-preaching church, I carefully explained to my mother my plan, and twice she told me she would rather go to the new church than the Catholic church. I must confess I was a bit nervous on that day when she sat, for the first time, in a Gospel-centered church. As the worship songs began, I wondered if she would be OK with it or want to leave. Then as the singing progressed, and some people were raising their hands in worship, I took a peek from the corner of my eye to see how she was doing; I then saw that her eyes were bright as she bore a smile on her face—and her hands were lifted up too!

In her final days, I truly witnessed the grace of God in her life. Having lost so much of her cognitive skills, she was totally dependent on the Lord for His saving power. Spiritually speaking, there was practically nothing she could do other than be dependent on the Lord. Yet, at the same time, she was happy and unafraid as if the Lord had taken full responsibility for the safety of her soul—and, indeed, that is exactly what He did.

Seeing what the Lord was doing in her life created for me a sharp contrast to a lot of what I was witnessing happening in the church. Christian authors were pumping out new books providing newly discovered anecdotes on how to live a successful Christian life—everywhere there was a new formula for success. My mother, who could participate in none of these “secrets,” was secure in the love of God. I’m not saying that everything written during this time was theologically wrong, but what I am saying is that, over the years, much of the church has lost its first love, and instead of being grounded in the simplicity of the Gospel and our Savior’s love, it has been looking to the latest formula or gimmick.

In all his writings from the Gospel of John to his epistles to the Book of Revelation, the apostle John expresses the assurance we have in Christ. He, like Paul and the other apostles, saw the power of the Gospel to eternally save those who put their faith in Christ. If this were not so, then John could not have penned words with such resolve as this:

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:9-13; emphasis added)

God’s testimony is much stronger than that of mere men. What’s more, God has taken His own testimony and made it into a testament, a legally binding contract, sealed in His own blood, and upheld by His holy Word that He magnifies above His own name. Unfortunately, over the last two thousand years, there have been too many wolves in sheep’s clothing who have tried to defuse the power of the Gospel by saying it is insufficient or needs help (as with Catholicism in its daily “unbloody sacrifice” of the Eucharist) or superseded (as with Calvinism in its own philosophical version of fatalism). But for those who reach out to God, He is always there, for Christ has forever settled the destiny of those who place their trust in Him.

God’s grace is readily available to the humble heart as I saw in my mother’s life. I witnessed not only God’s saving power in her life but also His keeping power. May we realize that power and that blessed assurance today, for it is the power of the Gospel.

Blessed Assurance,
Jesus is mine
Oh what a foretaste,
Of glory divine.

To order copies of Calvinism, Catholicism, or Blessed Assurance—Which One Will It Be? click here.


  1. My Journey Out of Catholicism is David’s testimonial booklet. You may read it online at:
  2. Bob Kirkland, Calvinism: None Dare Call It Heresy (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2018).
  3. Harry Ironside, Should Christians Expose Error? (
  4. Read Mike Oppenheimer’s booklet, Understanding Paul’s Appeal at Mars Hill (
  5. Norman F. Douty, The Death of Christ (Irving, TX: Williams & Watrous Pub. Co., Revised and Enlarged Edition, 1978), p. 176, citing John Calvin from F. F. Bruce’s “Answers and Questions,” Question 1331, in The Harvester (Exeter) January 1966.
  6. Ray Yungen, “The Desert Fathers—Borrowing From the East” (
  7. A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (This theme that no one can resist God’s will is throughout Pink’s book.)
  8. R.C. Sproul, “Assurance of salvation” (Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries, Inc., 1989), p.20; cited from Dave Hunt’s book, What Love is This? (Bend, OR: The Berean Call, 2013, 4th edition), from chapter 29, endnote #25.

To order copies of Calvinism, Catholicism, or Blessed Assurance—Which One Will It Be? click here.

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