Friday, 31 October 2014

False teachers - Part 1

Should a Christian judge false teachers?

Should a Christian judge false teachers, call them out and condemn false doctrine? Should I even be stepping on your toes asking this? The answer to both is absolutely yes! The abuse of Matthew 7 to claim you can never judge is usually used by those who want to remove the pressure from themselves when convicted of sin. It would also mean the Apostle Paul was wrong to confront the Galatians and the Apostle Peter and it would also mean Jesus was a hypocrite and a sinner as He called out the Pharisees most vocally and would introduce a contradiction into His word. Clearly such an idea is blasphemous in the extreme. In truth we as Christ's Ambassadors must confront and condemn sin. To not do so would then be like saying the One we represent accepts those actions. Proverbs 17:15 says.

Whoso is justifying the wicked, And condemning the righteous, Even both of these are an abomination to Jehovah. (YLT)

The Hebrew word for abomination here is very strong indeed and means 'exceedingly disgusting and hateful'. In fact it is the very same word used in Leviticus 18:22 to describe a man who lies with another man and the penalty for that under the Mosaic Law was death. This is why the Apostle Paul firstly said:

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them (Romans 16:17 NASB).  And then to the church at Ephesus he wrote,

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11, NASB).

We cannot by any means be passive and keep silent. The very Greek word for expose (elegchō) means reproof, correction or discipline.

Then Paul escalated this in 2 Timothy 4:14 while the Apostle John did in 3 John 1:9–10 by actually naming people. Did this contradict the other passages on love? Not if you have a biblical definition of love.  A love that does not openly expose and oppose sin for the good of the sinner is not biblical love. Love not only “does not act unbecomingly” but it “does not rejoice in unrighteousness”. (1 Corinthians 13:5–6 NASB) This is an essential part of our Ambassador role in daily evange-living.

The early church knew how to do this. We know many heresies by the names of their proponents such as the Montanism heresy names after Montanus, Apollinarism names after Apollinaris and a very interesting one called Arianism. Like the others this was named after its proponent Arius whose heresy is virtually identical to that of the Jehovah's (False) Witnesses who deny the deity of Jesus Christ and claim He had a beginning.

Joyce Meyer

One good way of spotting false teachers is by their view of salvation and who God is. Such is the case with Joyce Meyer. Widely known author of many books, she is in fact a heretic who has said: “He could have helped himself up until the point where he said I commend my spirit into your hands, at that point he couldn’t do nothing [sic] for himself anymore. He had become sin, he was no longer the Son of God.” Clearly this is utter blasphemy.

Jesus has always been the Son of God as He has always been God. The Hebrew word Echad, used in Deuteronomy 6:4 to describe God denotes plurality but not the exact nature of it. How then could one God be separated from Himself in such a way? If this wasn’t bad enough she also says. "I am not poor. I am not miserable and I am not a sinner. That is a lie from the pit of hell. That is what I were [sic] and if I still was then Jesus died in vain. I'm going to tell you something folks. I didn't stop sinning until I finally got it through my thick head I wasn't a sinner anymore. And the religious world thinks that's heresy and they want to hang you for it. But the Bible says that I am righteous and I can't be righteous and be a sinner at the same time."

Now this is just willful deception. Even a new Christian, hungry for the Word of God will have read “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 2:28 KJV). We, as filthy, wicked sinners deserving death, are clothed in the righteousness of God. Isaiah, 700 years before Christ knew better when he said: “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10 NIV). and again in Philippians 3:9 Paul said “......not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.

Lastly, Joyce Meyer believes there are things that even the Bible can’t explain. What is this? Revelation. She states in an ironically elusive tape What Happened From the Cross to the Throne?: “The Bible can't even find any way to explain this. Not really. That's why you've got to get it by revelation. There are no words to explain what I'm telling you. I've got to just trust God that He's putting it into your spirit like He put it into mine.” In the first place, her title is a replica of other people’s work as well as the theme. Second, and far more seriously, her statement all but says God and His Word is insufficient and she is completing it by revelation. At the very least she is equating herself with the Apostles and quite possibly far worse.

She is also highly prideful, stopping every 5 minutes for applause if she doesn't get it,  she is likely to say something like, “I’m preaching better than you’re acting.” This smacks of manipulation, pride, and an inflated view of herself. She would have to if she claims she is not a sinner, nor poor and wretched.

Finally, as is typical with such people, Meyer and her ministry refuse to tell how much the ministry pays Meyer, her husband, her children and her children's spouses of which most, if not all of whom, work for her. "I don't make any more than I'm worth,"  says Meyer. How much is she worth? Since 1999, the ministry has spent at least $4 million on five homes for Meyer, she has her own airplane and multiple vehicles. While riches are not evil in themselves, she has gained her wealth by deceiving millions of people into believing she is a shepherd when in fact she is nothing more than a ravenous wolf, sent by Satan to blind people.

Joel Osteen

Another highly popular false teacher is Joel Osteen. Famous senior Pastor of Lakewood Church in Texas with over 5 million likes on Facebook and a weekly attendance of 43,000 as of 2013. Why is he so popular? In his first book Your Best Life Now he says, “If you develop an image of success, health, abundance, joy, peace, happiness; nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you.”

Worse yet, the essence of his message bares a striking resemblance to that of Satan himself. Osteen says, “I believe one of the main ways that we grow in favor is by declaring. It's not enough to just read it. It's not enough to just believe it. You've got to speak it out. Your words have creative power. One of the primary ways we release our faith is through our words. There is a divine connection between you declaring God's favor and seeing God's favor manifested in your life.”

What did Lucifer say before the fall? I will do this and I will do that. Osteen tells you to declare success, declare abundance as if God is just waiting to shower us with whatever we want because we say it, regardless of what we do. Osteen continues with his falsehood by openly refusing to admit a non-Christian will not go to heaven. He said to a popular TV presenter when asked, “You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know.”

The incredulous presenter tried again, asking if Osteen believed non-Christians were wrong, only to be told:
“Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.”

This displays total unbelief in the Word of God which clearly has Jesus saying:

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6 NASB).

Belief in God is not enough. Sincerity is not enough. Millions upon millions of people are very sincere in what they believe and yet are lost, hell-bound, and without hope because they do not believe the Gospel. Osteen, in the same interview stated, “I don't have it in my heart to condemn people. I'm there to encourage them.” Clearly he is not preaching the message of Christ. Jesus Himself said:
Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed….(John 3:18 NIV).

1 John gives the test as well as James. One who claims to be a Christian must display the fruits of it. Faith without (being evidenced by) works is dead.  Joel Osteen knows 100% he is a liar and he is deceiving people. How can I be so sure of this? What gives me the right to make such a dogmatic statement?

Osteen states after his interview, “Jesus declared in John 14; I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. I believe that Jesus Christ alone is the only way to salvation. However, it wasn't until I had the opportunity to review the transcript of the interview that I realize I had not clearly stated that having a personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to heaven.” Now this sounds good and one may think he learned. This, however, went on his blog in 2005 and in March 2014 and a sermon was entitled ‘Be Comfortable With Who You Are’.

So if he believes Jesus is the only way to salvation how come Osteen has a message with such a title? How come the same old rhetoric was preached by a woman who sounded like she was simply trying to massage the egos and the prideful, sinful natures of the 42,000 blind sheep lapping up her words? No, his ‘repentance’ was nothing of the sort and he is still the accursed (Galatians 1:8) false prophet he’s always been.

Sadly they are not on their own. Many other popular preachers belong to the Word Faith Movement. In essence The Word Faith movement is a mix of Christianity, Christian Science, and New Age thought. At it’s root, it promotes a theological system that deifies man, diminishes God, and virtually puts Him in subjection to man. And of course, as we have seen, it distorts the Gospel. Or as Paul so aptly put it in Galatians 1: Another gospel:

Not that there is [or could be] any other [genuine Gospel], but there are [obviously] some who are troubling and disturbing and bewildering you with a different kind of teaching which they offer as a gospel] and want to pervert and distort the Gospel of Christ (the Messiah) [into something which it absolutely is not]. (v7 AMP)

There are other false teachers pretending to be shepherds and we will cover those in Part 2

Saturday, 25 October 2014

ISIS and Islam - A Christian Response

We've all seen and heard the stories of the relentless march of ISIS across Iraq and Syria. We've all heard various opinions from news networks, friends, family, social networks, and more. What I'd like to discuss is two-fold. First, what the Koran really teaches and second, the Biblical response to that.

Does Islam teach terrorism and is ISIS being obedient to the Koran?

The short answer is yes - to both.

The well-known website says the following:

The Koran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule.  Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding.  Muslims who do not join the fight are called 'hypocrites' and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter.
“Unlike nearly all of the Old Testament verses of violence, the verses of violence in the Quran are mostly open-ended, meaning that they are not restrained by the historical context of the surrounding text.  They are part of the eternal, unchanging word of Allah, and just as relevant or subjective as anything else in the Quran.
“The context of violent passages is more ambiguous than might be expected of a perfect book from a loving God, however this can work both ways.  Most of today's Muslims exercise a personal choice to interpret their holy book's call to arms according to their own moral preconceptions about justifiable violence.  Apologists cater to their preferences with tenuous arguments that gloss over historical fact and generally do not stand up to scrutiny.  Still, it is important to note that the problem is not bad people, but bad ideology.
“Unfortunately, there are very few verses of tolerance and peace to abrogate or even balance out the many that call for nonbelievers to be fought and subdued until they either accept humiliation, convert to Islam, or are killed.  Muhammad's own martial legacy - and that of his companions - along with the remarkable stress on violence found in the Quran have produced a trail of blood and tears across world history.”

Let’s take a closer look. The quote above mentions abrogation, which is an important doctrine within Islam. I'll let the Quran speak for itself here:

When we cancel a message, or throw it into oblivion, we replace it with one better or one similar. Do you not know that God has power over all things?” (Qur. 2:106)

Not only this but the Quran was not written chronologically. Scholars generally say the verses written later (chronologically)abrogate the earlier ones. Abu al-A‘la bin al-Shikhkhir, considered by Islamic theologians to be a reliable says:

"The Messenger of God abrogated some of his commands by others, just as the Qur'an abrogates some part of it with the other."

Muhammad accepted that God would invalidate previous revelation, often making ordinances stricter.

Chapter 9 is considered the last, or the one of the last, chapters written, and in it is the well known 'verse of the sword’ which abrogates 124 verses that called for tolerance, compassion, and peace.

So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.” (Qur. 9:5)

So we see here that violence is a command. The final command. But there are many other verses dotted around the Quran including the very clear command to sacrifice life.

Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.” (4:74)

This is also the basis for today’s modern day suicide bombers. And the basis for ISIS beheading is found in Chapter 8, verse 12:

I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

What then should the Christian response be to this? ISIS has slaughtered thousands of people, committed terrible, wicked acts on women and children, driven thousands from their homes, and much more. Muslims should be exterminated and wiped off the face of the earth. Right? Wrong!

I cannot comprehend how any Christian can express such a shocking level of hate. This is advocating waging out our own 'jihad' against them. As if two wrongs make a right. That is nowhere but in the book of foolishness. What is the second greatest commandment? “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Or more literally love the people you're around.

Why? Because every single one of us has the very same sinful nature capable of unimaginable evil. If even our righteousness is called filthy rags, how much worse is our sin? Not to mention we should love because God first loved us and we are commanded to imitate Him and grow in Christlikeness. And what did He do? He died for us.
  Many Muslims can't even understand the Quran. Why? Because the Quran was written in Arabic which is believed to be the only correct language, or at least the best language for the Quran as that was the original. So all they do is learn to pronounce the language but they cannot understand it. It would be like learning to pronounce but not understand Chinese. How can you hate a people that are so deceived and so blind they follow a book that they don't even know the contents of? Some will learn Arabic, study it and the Quran and even those people won't always accept the Auran is violent. Like many people who claim to be Christians and who don't live it, many Muslims are the same.

The response of the Christian believer is two-fold. Fulfill the Great Commission as obedient Christians and remember that God is our Father - our Abba. He will take care of us no matter what.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Dangers of Man-Centered Leadership

Here are some thoughts that we have been discussing on the subject of man-centered, versus God-centered organizations. This is something we are wanting to apply to ourselves as a family...we have observed in ourselves as parents some of these tendencies to be man-centered. Usually there is a slow, and almost imperceptible slide toward being man-centered. The change can be gradual.
  • A man-centered group has an obvious human leader, who is lifted up--- while a God-centered group says, "Whoever is great among you is servant of all". 

  • A man centered organization exists to promote itself and loyalty to its leader--while a God centered one exists for the good of all, and to promote Christ. 

  • In a man-centered group everyone channels love in one direction...up toward the human leader. It is a one-way street. In a God centered group there is no lowest, nor highest individual, but "Let everyone please his neighbor for the good of edification". 

  • Along with leadership in a man-centered group, there is a hierarchy among members. Favorites of the leader get special privileges, and can even get away with sin. Those out of his favor are punished. In a God centered group, the rule is love, and the enemy is sin, no matter in whose life that sin is discovered. 

  • Independent thinking is a threat in a man-centered group. But in a God centered one, pleasing the Lord Jesus is the only thing that matters. People are encouraged to be Bereans and hold the leaders accountable. 

  • For a man-centered group, enjoyment in life is squelched. Happiness is only sought for a few privileged ones. But in a God centered group, joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and everyone is out to encourage one another and build each other up. 
  • *Criticism reigns in a man centered organization or family...and arbitrary standards which fit the leaders' preferences are the rule of measure. But in a God centered group, the sound of laughter, and happy singing creates an uplifting atmosphere. 
  • People are fearful of having a differing opinion in a man centered group. Anyone persisting in holding their own opinion is ostracized. But in a God centered group, peace reigns, even when opinions differ. 

  • In a man centered setting, the organization and the leader are defended at all costs. People outside the group are considered lost if they disagree. In a God-centered view, the goal, even in differences, is always restoration of fellowship. The response to attack is long suffering and gentleness. 

  • If we are man-centered, goodness is a mask we wear. If we are God-centered, goodness comes from our dependence on the Holy Spirit, and is the fruit of His work in our lives. 

  • For man-centered thinking, faith rests in the strength of our associations; in the organization and its leader. People feel secure in that, and shaken whenever those are challenged. But if we are God centered, faith is not dependent upon any organization or human leader, but looks directly to Christ, knowing that man is prone to error. 

  • The leadership in a man centered setting is not accountable to anyone outside of a few "yes men", but if Christ is our Head, the leadership does not point to themselves nor insist upon their own will, but instead they point to Christ and seek His will. 
  • The leaders are proud and never admit to being wrong in a man centered group; but in a God-centered group (or home) the leaders are humble and lead by example and servanthood. 

  • There is a different standard which is lower for leaders or parents, and those in their favor where man is exalted. The standard is higher for followers, and highest for troublemakers and dissidents. Instead of high standards being a voluntary privilege, they become a punishment! In a God-centered environment, leaders set the highest standards for themselves, require of themselves more self-control, harder work, more discipline/greater effort. They are merciful to others.

We were challenged by these things; as we set a Christlike example? Are we leading our children properly? We have seen this in churches, schools, and families, and want to challenge ourselves in this area, wherever we find ourselves above another...that we not be self-serving, in the Name of Christ!

The preceding article was written by Mrs Tressa Lancaster and is being posted at her request. This godly mother of no less than 10 kids is an example to many people, believers and unbelievers alike

Monday, 13 October 2014

Halloween: Celebrating Satan


Where Did Halloween Come From?
What is Halloween really all about?
Have you ever asked yourself, "Who in the world ever thought of the idea of walking around in weird costumes, trick or treating, and/or putting a carved-out pumpkin in your window?"

You will agree with me that Halloween is really one of the strangest days of the year, is it not? Perhaps you wonder how the celebration of such a day ever got started. In this pamphlet I would like to answer this question for you!

Where and when did Halloween customs originate?

The many customs we have today in relation to Halloween have their origins in the religious practices of the Romans and the Druids, therefore dating back many centuries. The Romans worshiped various gods and on October 31, a special feast was held in honor of Pomona, goddess of the fruit trees. Later, the Druids, an ancient order of Celtic priests in Britain, made this feast an even more extensive celebration by also honoring Samhain, lord of the dead. This was normally done on November 1 and it was therefore decided to conveniently honor both Pomona and Samhain on October 31 and November 1.

These Druids believed that on the night before November 1 (October 31) Samhain called together wicked souls or spirits which had been condemned to live in the bodies of animals during the year which had just transpired. Since they were afraid of these spirits, they chose October 31 as a day to sacrifice to their gods, hoping they would protect them. They really believed that on this day they were surrounded by strange spirits, ghosts, witches, fairies, and elves, who came out to hurt them. In addition to this, they also believed that cats were holy animals, as they considered them to represent people who lived formerly, and as punishment for evil deeds were reincarnated as a cat. All this explains why witches, ghosts, and cats are a part of Halloween today.

The custom of trick-or-treating and the use of "jack-o'-lanterns" comes from Ireland. Hundreds of years ago, Irish farmers went from house to house, begging for food, in the name of their ancient gods, to be used at the village Halloween celebration. They would promise good luck to those who gave them good, and made threats to those who refused to give. They simply told the people, "You treat me, or else I will trick you!"

The apparently harmless lightened pumpkin face or "jack-o'-lantern" actually is an old Irish symbol of damned soul. A man named Jack was supposed to be able unable to enter heaven due to his miserliness, and unable to enter hell because he had played practice jokes on the devil. As a result, he was condemned to wander over the earth with his lantern until judgment day (i.e., the end of the world). The Irish were so afraid that they would receive an identical plight, that they began to hollow out pumpkins and place lighted candles inside to scare away evil spirits from their home.

When did the modern Halloween celebration begin?

 During the Middle Ages (about 600 years ago), the Roman Catholic Church at that time, decided to make the change-over from pagan religion to Christianity a bit easier, and therefore allowed the new converts to maintain some of their pagan feasts. It was agreed, however, that from now on they would be celebrated as "Christian" feasts. So instead of praying to their heathen gods, they would now pray to, and remember the deaths of saints. For this reason the church decided to call November 1 the "Day of All Saints," and the mass to be celebrated on that day "Alhallowmass." In consequence of this, the evening prior to this day was named, "All Hallowed Evening" which subsequently was abbreviated as "Halloween." In spite of this effort to make October 31 a "holy evening," all the old customs continued to be practiced, and made this evening anything BUT a holy evening!

Halloween today.

You would have to agree with me that also today Halloween is most definitely not a holy evening!! This annual event is far from the harmless, innocent tradition it is promoted to be. Many dread this "holy" evening as they think what could happen to them, their property, and/or their children! Consistent with its historical roots, this evening is characterized by fear, and frequently arouses dormant fears in many. The fear generated by this event is symbolic of the fear which plagues so many in our modern, morally bankrupt world. It is a gripping fear for an unknown and very threatening future, a fear caused by a gnawing inner emptiness.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Christian Hate

I am a conservative Christian, sick and tired of legalism

If the title didn't make you sit up, then my opening statement will have. Why on earth would I title a blog post Christian Hate? Because I think it's a major problem that needs to be addressed. Let me start by stating that opposition to something does not equal hate. To give an example, if such a thing made sense, then a parent would have to hate their kids every time they did something like smack a sibling. So why does common sense go out the window when dealing with biblical disagreements? It's commonly stated that God is love and this is true. But love wants the very best for people and it would not be loving to allow someone you love to get away with things that will hurt them. How can one be loving in a hateful manner? 'I love you and you're doing something wrong so I hate you'. The very idea is laughable that such a thing is even possible. But what Christians nowadays tend to do is just as laughable. They don't accept that they hate but feel perfectly justified in acting like they do in their dealings with sinning believers and nonbelievers.
   Now, I know some will start to get worried here, but hold on and let me explain.  Am I for one moment suggesting any believer should turn a blind eye towards another believer living in sin? God forbid (Or more literally perish the thought)! Don't even entertain such an idea, as this would not be loving either.
  The major problem is what I stated earlier, and that is the fact people who honestly, genuinely think something is okay have been repeatedly attacked and not approached in love, for the good of the sinning believer, and now they equate opposition with hate. Now, while it is true that a person living in sin will make any excuse under the sun for their actions, we also need to take responsibility for our own methods in tackling sin.
  Just because something is true, doesn't mean we need to say it or say it in a harsh way. For example, anyone who has studied knows the Islamic prophet Muhammad was a pervert with a child for a wife who was 30 years younger than him. Should we beat a Muslim about the head with that? Of course not! That would in no way bring them under conviction of sin, but rather anger and probably horrify them. In the same way, a person who chooses to live an unnatural lifestyle in an unbiblical relationship with the same gender does not need to be beat around the head with terms like filth, abomination, disgusting, etc. Why? It will only anger and hurt them beyond what is needed for conviction. Is that behavior okay? Certainly not. But before you can have any relationship (I use this in the loosest of terms), one must behave in a manner that the sinner is open to communication.
  The infamous Westboro Baptist Church is a classic example of how not to win people. They parade around waving signs that are utterly false. 'God hates fags'. Is that so? Well, then how come He sent His Son to die for them? How come Jesus said, 'For God so loved the world'? That must by default mean 'fags' as they are in the world.
  What about the other 'outcasts' of the world? What about the long-haired youngster listening to some unearthly noise wearing pants that hang halfway down him and more tattoos and piercings than we'd like to count? Did God die for them as well? Are they not precious in His sight? Are we accepting their behaviour? Perish the thought! Or as one pastor put it, 'Don't even let that enter into your mind!' What we are doing is building a relationship with them in order to win them.
  Why am I writing this? Firstly because I know I've been guilty of the same bulldozer tactics and second, being quite active on social networks I can see the damage bad methodology has caused. We need to take note of the phrase, 'Speak the truth in love', and balance pure truth and pure love far better. Why? Because our Example Jesus Christ, did so and commanded us to do so as well.