False converts

We have many false converts sitting in our churches week after week. They are the tares among the wheat that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 13 (see yesterday’s blog).

How can you tell if a person is a true convert or a false convert? Look at the fruit in their lives – or the lack of it. If a person is truly born again and thus has had an encounter with the living God there will be change. Can’t be helped.

The Bible states that Jesus is the “same yesterday, today, and forever” and that God does not change. So, in this new relationship a person has with the Lord someone will be changing and it is us. Some changes may be immediate and dramatic – some slow and progressive. Be change is inevitable.

If you don’t see change / fruit then it is valid to ask if that person truly is born again.

But what are we specifically looking for? Well, 1 John talks about what it means to be born again and the signs of fruit that we can expect if a person is truly saved and walking in a relationship with the Lord.

I have grouped the many comments into 6 signs. I will list them … and maybe in the next few days I will unpack them. There is a book in the works on just this topic.

1> Obedience to His commands – 1 John 2:3, 1 John 3:24 and 1 John 5:2
This would include everything from assemblying as believers on Sunday, Bible reading and prayer, tithing and includes obeying the Great Commission (soul winning) and the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 28 and Matthew 23).

2> By the words we speak and the life we live – our neighbiurs and friends, people at work and play, should be able to notice a difference in us. Our life-style should confess that Jesus is Lord of our lives. 1 John 2:23 and 1 John 4:15

3> We should be confessing sin when it is found in our lives and practicing righteousness in our daily walk. 1 John 1:6-7, 1 John 1:8-10, 1 John 2:29, 1 John 3:6, 9, 1 John 5:18.

4> We will have a visible and practical love for other believers. 1 John 3:14, 1 John 4:12, 1 John 3:16-18, 1 John 4:19-21 just to mention a few.

5> Believes that Jesus is the Christ. 1 John 5:1, 1 John 3:23-25.

6> Overcomes the world by faith. 1 John 5:4, 1 John 2:15

That is why John writes in 1 John 5:13 “I’ve written this to those who believe in the Son of God so that they will know that they have eternal life.”

The Born Again Church has many who attend who hold to a born again religion but have not had a life-changing encounter with the living God and thus are false converts.

Godly Sorrow and Repentance

We have many false converts in the Church today. People who have said a Sinner’s Prayer or had a warm fuzzy during a service and so think that they are now Born Again and on their way to Heaven.

Jesus, in His first sermon, states: “Repent and believe, for the Kingdom…” (Mark 1:15) Here’s the key to salvation – repentance and trust. The Bible states that without repentance there is no salvation. So, a warm fuzzy feeling or repeating certin words after someone will not save a person’s soul from Hell.

A person needs to recognize that they have broken the Moral Law of a holy God (Romans 3:23). They have broken one or more of the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20). That sin is the transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4) and that this sin separates a person from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Then they need to come to know deep in their heart that the punishment for that sin is death (Romans 6:23).That’s the bad news. But, God loves us so must that He sent His Son Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin – death on the cross. His death and the shedding of His blood paid the price or penalty for our sin. The book of Hebrews states that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).

Then, as we come to realize what our sin has done and what it has cost God to redeem or purchase us back to Himself – with godly sorrow we will repent of our sins (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). We will change the way we think which results in a change of life-style. This is what “to repent” means. We ask the Lord to forgive us all of our sins and to come into our life and take over control so that we are “under new management” and really ‘under new ownership’. This brings about true conversion.

As I travel about from church to church preaching and ministering I see so many people who think they are okay with God. They have been taught that they are okay with God. Their have their “fire insurance” in hand. But, there is no fruit in their lives. They have not changed the way they think, talk, or act. They are the same ten years after their “salvation prayer” as they were before they ever said it. They apparently are not “rooted and grounded in [God’s] love” as Paul wrote we should be when truly converted. So, I am led to think – “no fruit – no root”.

1 John is a wonderful letter that outlines 6 major changes in a person’s life by which we can determine if they are truly saved or not. Six fruits we should be able to see and touch in a person’s life if they truly have had an encounter with the living God. It does one good to read through the 5 chapters of 1 John and examine your salvation. In fact, 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us we should do just that. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

Tomorrow I will list the 6 signs of being Born Again and comment on them a bit.

Can you believe it?

Yesterday I had a coffee with a couple who attend a church here in the city where I live. Not the Church where I teach, another one. They have just returned from Peru where they taught and ministered and loved people up – truly representing the Kingdom and the King in a glorious fashion. Of course, they do that here in their local church as well.

What a coffee. We talked about the Lord, dreamed together about the future, looked in awe at the present where the Lord is allowing us to help Him in so many neat ways – and, of course, talked about all the Lord had done to rescue us from the pit of Hell and establish us upon a Rock – Jesus Christ. Two and a half hours later – we parted company only because it was supper time and we needed to get back to our respective families. We were not short of things to share and stories to tell. We could have continued to talk, share, and glorify the Lord for many more hours. Being a Christian is great. Ministering for the Lord THE BEST.

Dale and Delaine have a great ministry. They teach on a number of topics and are working on publishing a number of ministry manuals. Dale is a tremendous leader in the area of recovery from addictions. I had the wonderful experience of speaking at his recovery group a few months ago. Their ministry is called Lifestream Ministries Int’l and they can be reached at lifestreammin@sasktel.net. They are working on a ministry web page.

Then today, I met with a young man who has sat under my training and teaching for 6 or 7 years in my discipleship school (Global Discipleship Training Schools International) and is currently being mentored by me. He has recently become a member of our teaching team here at the Church I attend. We meet weekly to go over the material he is learning in the mentoring process. And, we look at the sermon he is currently working on. Wonderful to watch him grow and develop as a believer, a leader, a teacher, a five-fold minister, and someone the Lord is beginning to use mightily. An honour and a tremendous privilege to have played just a small part in his training and development. Our hour plus together a week always goes too fast. I look forward to Heaven where time will no longer be an issue or a factor to be considered and Darryl and I can chat for hours and hours at a time.

What a Kingdom we are in. What wonderful believers – true servants of the Lord. What a wonderful calling I am honoured to fulfill for the Lord Jesus. Yes, there are long hours, much driving, many nights away from home, a mess of unaccomplished paperwork all around me in my office, and numerous frustrations and some stress. But, I would not trade places with anyone as I know that I am in the center of God’s will for my life, I am in step with His plan for my life, and the results of what I do are life-changing – for me and for others that I have to extreme honour of ministering to or ministering with. No one could ask for more.

Determined or Narrow-minded?

Paul writes a facinating comment in his letter to the Philippians. As a Master Builder (apostle) he writes of himself: “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death…” (Amplified Bible)

To some, I am sure, Paul would appear to be very narrow-minded. To me it is apparent that he was single-focused. He knew what he was called to do and the role he was to play in the early Church. He dropped everything else that was just excess baggage; he removed anything that was contrary to God’s will; he released the good so he could focus on the best. Jesus said that anyone who placed his hand to the plow and then looked back was not fit for service in the Kingdom. (Luke 9:62) He placed his hand to the plow and did not look back. Ever!

But his focus was not specifically the ministry or the calling that he had received supernaturally from the Lord on the road to Damacus. That would, in most cases, be our focus. However, Paul writes and says that his focus – his determined purpose – was to intimately know the Lord whom he followed, served, and worshipped. That should be the true and only focus of all who follow the Lord.

Long ago I learned a truth – so long ago that I don’t remember if the Lord showed it to me directly or if I read it somewhere. It is based on Mark 3:13-14. It states that He called the 12 to Him who were to be called apostles and then “they were to be with Him that He might send them out to preach…” They were to BE first and then DO afterwards. They were to develop an intimate relationship with the Lord first – and then, out of that intimacy – they were to go out and minister in His power. The truth I learned early on was that “ALL MINISTRY ARISES OUT OF RELATIONSHIP”.

So, my determined purpose, single-focused approach in my Christian walk is the become intimate with the Lord – intimately acquainted – so that I know His Word, His voice (“My sheep hear My voice”), His will, His plans and purposes, His still, small voice… Then, from this relationship I can go out under His direction and minister according to His will.

This is not just for those called to one of the five-fold ministry positions (Ephesians 4:11). It is a calling on all believers. When a believer acknowledges their sin, repents with godly sorrow, recognizes and trusts in the fact that Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for that sin, and receives forgiveness so is born again – they are given a gift. Romans 6:23 states that “the gift of God is eternal life”. John 17:3 defines this gift that we receive: “This is eternal life, that they may truly know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent.” The gift is an intimate relationship with God the Father and with Jesus.

The word “know” in the Greek is the word for intimatcy or intercourse. So, we can have an intimate and close relationship with God (it’s a gift but you have to unwrap it) just as a husband and wife have a gift of intimacy in the marriage bed.

So, the first calling on all Christians is to to become intimate with the Lord. To ‘be with Him’. Then, as we hear His voice and know His will we can go forth and be faithful workers in His Kingdom doing His will as He leads us.

Then, on Judgment Day, we will hear: “Well done good and faithful servant”. We will not hear: “away from you you perverse and evil generation, I never knew you…”

Listen to the full three verses…
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

NOTE: “I never KNEW you” refering to an intimate relationship and the gift of eternal life.

Paul was not narrow-minded; he was simply single-focused and had a determined purpose. Not to build a ministry or the Church but to know Him who died for us while we were yet sinners.

That should be our focus and ‘determined purpose’ as well.

It’s about time don’t you think…

I think the Church today needs real disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ (true converts) who are willing to go anywhere and do anything the Holy Spirit tells them.

I think we need to take seriously the words of the Lord. He tells us we are to go into all the world and make disciples – assumes we are one ourselves – and teach these new disciples to “obey everything I have commanded you”. Well, we better know what it is He has commanded us to be and to do – and we need to be in the process of “becoming” and in the position of obediently following His commands (doing) otherwise it is ‘do as I say and not do as I do’.

It is time for the believers in North America to find out what they truly are suppose to believe as Christians and disciples of the Lord.

It is time to stand up for those beliefs and be willing to challenge our society with the truths of the Christian gospel. It is time for disciples to become bold (in the Holy Spirit) and to stop being intimidated by those in the world who speak with confidence and often with boldness and, in reality, speak nonsense and non-truth deceiving many about the spiritual world, the coming judgment, and life after death.

It is time for God’s people to be bolder than those who worship and serve either self, the world or the devil (or all three).

It is time to stand tall believers as true disciples of the Lord.

It is time to tell others of the night and day difference Jesus has made in your life. The Bible states: “You are the ones chosen by God…God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you.” (1 Peter 2:9 The Message Version)

It is time to remove anything and everything that prevents us from fulfilling the Great Commission – which may mean giving up the good for the best. The best? Simply doing what the Lord has told us to do. Like Him we must “be about our Father’s business of seeking and saving the lost.” (Luke 19:10).

It is time!

So this guy phones me and …

Just about supper time last night and this guy phones me. I knew who he was as he is in a class I teach on evangelism in another city. After the normal polite necessities he tells me he has just been visiting my web page for the first time and reading the first prophetic article on the Church in North America that I wrote 5 months ago when we launched this site. I thought, that’s good – someone actually reads what I have invested my time in writing.

He states that he agreed with everything I wrote and then, near the end, came upon the phrase “so the Lord would say” and then a paragraph that sounded like I was speaking for God. I was. It’s called prophecy. He admitted that this was not within his paradigm and wondered if I could help him understand.

This is neat – I mean this just floats my boat. I love it when a believer is so hungry for God that he is willing to take time to ask questions and think outside his normal parameters. I was taken a bit by surprize because this type of believer is rare and I had not met one in a long time.

The conversation wove in and out covering a number of topics – prophets, apostles, misuse of ‘thus says the Lord’, abuses in the Church, concern about what is being taught in the Name of the Lord. We touched on a lot of great topics in a short – too short – 15 minutes. He said he was being very cautious as he wanted to be sure it was scriptural – actually in the Bible.

I was thrilled. I mean – a thinking Christian who wants to question what he is being taught and check things out to both his set of basic Christian beliefs and biblical standards. As well, he is open to new things as long as they are biblical and don’t contradict the basic tenants of the faith. Exciting.

I assured him that he had the obligation and responsibility to check everything I was saying to the Bible and to test everything he hears to the Word of God which is, afterall, our only authority and the inspired Word of God.

I wonder if this is the joy that Paul felt when he found a group of people who listened intently to his teachings – revolutionary by any standard – and then went home and checked it out comparing it to the scriptures. He mentions the Bereans and holds them up as an example of what one should do when listenings to teachings and teachers of the Word. The Bible states in Acts 17:11 “…they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

A preacher / teacher’s dream come true. Someone seriously searching for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Someone hungry for more of God and all of God. Someone willing and eager to learn. Someone who asks questions and checks out the answers.

I’m having supper with Kevin and his wife Mary on Wednesday to chat further. An apostle’s greatest joy – a hungry and teachable disciple of the Lord Jesus.

The Church of Oprah

I am a listening to XM Radio due to the poor quality of regular broadcast stations in my area and the long hours spent in the car driving. On the dedicated XM station where Oprah and Friends occupy 24 hours a day on the airwaves there is now a church service. It is broadcast from The Church of Oprah.

Starting the 1st of this year Oprah has been spreading a false gospel and a false Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4) and thus false hope. I have listened to a few broadcasts over the last few months simply out of curosity as to what is attracting hundreds of thousands of listeners daily.

A friend of mine sent me an e-amil recently about his take on the show. In his observations he includes a few of the lessons and objectives of the overall 365 lesson course…

For example, Lesson #29 asks you to go through your day affirming that “God is in everything I see.” Lesson #61 tells each person to repeat the affirmation “I am the light of the world.” Lesson #70 teaches the student to say and believe “My salvation comes from me.” By the end of the year, “Oprah & Friends” listeners will have completed all of the lessons laid out in the Course in Miracles Workbook. Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual mindset—a New Age worldview that includes the belief that there is no sin, no evil, no devil, and that God is “in” everyone and everything. A Course in Miracles teaches its students to rethink everything they believe about God and life. The Course Workbook bluntly states: “This is a course in mind training” and is dedicated to “thought reversal.”

Now, the concern I would have is that many who state openly that they are born again Christians are listening intently to her daily broadcasts and are believing everything that she is endorsing. They are buying in to the New Age teachings which include the following:

* There is no sin. . .
* A slain Christ has no meaning.
* The journey to the cross should be the last useless journey.
* Do not make the pathetic error of clinging to the old rugged cross.
* The Name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol… It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray.
* God is in everything I see.
* The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.
* The oneness of the Creator and the creation is your wholeness, your sanity and your limitless power.
* The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation.

We could say that these Christians simply lack discernment.

However, maybe what is lacking is the teaching of sound doctrine from the pulpits of churches in Canada and the United States of America. Maybe these so-called Christians simply attend church to have their needs met by others or to receive a weekly warm fuzzy leaving thinking that everything is alright with them and God. So, maybe the problem is not in what Oprah and her new church is teaching – but in what the local churches in North America are not teachings. Maybe we have tickled ears for far too long and it is now time to return to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Apostolic doctrines held precious by the saints over the centuries. Maybe it is time for the Church to stand up and be the Church once again. That will take changing what we focus on (buildings, budgets, and bodies) and will take guts because our message is one of declaring the sinfulness of man, the coming judgment and the need for recognizing our personal sin, repenting with godly sorrow, and humbly accepting the Lord’s forgiveness. No self-help, feel-good gospel here. No ‘just say a sinner’s prayer and everything will be alright’.

It is time for the Church to be the Church and like a ‘voice in the media wilderness’ cry out “repent, repent, repent”.

For more on this growing and very popular teaching as propogated by the Church of Oprah – go to: http://youtube.com/watch?v=JW4LLwkgmqA

Then, come back and leave a comment….

If it looks like a duck

An apostle is a strange duck. They think differently than the average believer. They function differently than prophets. They lack the patience of the pastors. They certainly teach as well as five-fold teachers and often it is hard to distinguish between an apostle and an evangelist as apostles love to talk to others about Jesus and the need to be saved from judgment and Hell.

An apostle is a strange duck. Apostles look past outward appearances (buildings, bodies and budgets) and look to foundational issues such as character, honesty, integrity, and purity. They look past the outward veneer and peer into the hearts of people (especially leadership) and see such issues as offences, bitterness, unforgiveness, and resentment that need to be dealt with. They are deeply concerned about the lack of fruit in the lives of Christians and whether Christians are really rooted and grounded in love.

An apostle is a strange duck. They are concerned with the doctrines of the Christian faith. What it is we are to believe – the basic beliefs of the faith “once deliverd to the saints (Jude 1:3). Heresies and apostacy are deep, daily concerns for them. They weep over the Bible illiteracy of today’s Church. They spot and confront false teachers and prophets and bring incorrect teachings into the light, exposing them for what they are. They often appear to be really picky and somewhat negative.

An apostle is a strange duck. They examine the DNA of local churches. They need to know the historic roots of a local assembly – who birthed the church, when and why? Then they want to know why the DNA has changed since the foundations were poured and who it was that brought the change – either good or bad. They are interested in the roots and the foundations – because they can see what God wants to do in and through the local church and yet it is not happening. So, they want to know why the church is stuck where it is at and what is preventing the sheep from being healthy. Because if the sheep are healthy the church will grow – healthy sheep begat more sheep.

An apostle is a strange duck. They tend to tear down so that they can then build up. They see that what currently exists will not be able to hold what the Holy Spirit is about to do. So, they are used by God to tear down what is (even when it is still good and has been built according to God’s plans for the past)so they can build what needs to be. They go right under the ground dealing with foundational issues – pushing out walls, tearing out cement, erecting new and bigger foundations. Afterall, you can’t build a skyscraper on a chicken coop foundation. So the foundation must change.

Yup! Apostles are strange ducks. However, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck – accept it, you probably have an apostle in your midst attempting to do what the Lord has begun to call them to do – as Jesus reestablishes this office and ministry in His Church.

Apostle’s blog

A warm welcome to my newest adventure – a daily blog. I’ll am using this space to comment or blog on varying subjects – everything from items in the news to current events in the Christian world – all from the point of view of a functioning apostle in the Church today.

You are invited to ‘jump in’ and leave a comment about the content being talked about. However, your comment will not appear on the blog right away. We have a delayed posting system so that we can read your content to be sure that it is appropriate and honours the Lord Jesus whom we serve. This delay is usually no more than an hour or so. Thanks for understanding.