Recently a star tennis player was shown in a tennis match. The judge that determines if the player has stepped out of bounds made a call that the tennis player disagreed with. Rather than appealing to the main judge of the match, the tennis player began to verbally berate and call out obscenities at the line judge. Because the tennis player did not feel the match was going the way that she wanted, she lashed out. The consequence was that she was dismissed from the tennis match and disqualified from any remaining games in the tournament as well as being charged a large financial fine.
Sinister Sites – Astana, Khazakhstan
Astana is the first capital being built in the 21st century and it perfectly represents where the world is headed. It is truly one man’s vision: Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan (yes Borat’s country, I know). Backed by billions of petrodollars, the city is being built from scratch in a remote and deserted area of the Asian steppes. The result is astonishing: a futuristic occult capital, embracing the New World Order while celebrating the most ancient religion known to man: Sun Worship. The city is still a huge construction site, but the buildings that are already completed already sum up Nazarbayev’s occult vision.
Yup! That’s what is on the cover of a book I was given several weeks ago to read by a fellow pastor. The book is called “Destined to Reign” by Joseph Prince. Gee, I thought I was destined to serve – the living God and those who do not yet know Him – loving them so that they can come to know His love through me. Did I get it all wrong?
And have you ever met a successful person – no matter what their definition of success may happen to be – who would tell you that it took absolutely no effort to become successful? That’s what the dust jacket of the book promises – “The secret to effortless success…” Wow! Wish I had thought of it first then I could have build a large church, had a large television and radio ministry and be famous around the world and in demand as a speaker.
Wait, it gets worse – much worse. The author declares with great spiritual authority that the Ten Commandments are not for today. That under the covenant of grace we are no longer needing to keep the Ten Commandments or the moral law of God because that is the letter of the law and the law simply brings death. But under grace we can live free of the law and that we don’t have to do anything because God has done it all already and will work it all out in our lives for us. He argues very well for his point stringing scriptures together and making them back up what he is saying. His big point being that the law kills and the Spirit gives life.
Of course, he does not deal with a huge number of related issues – the definition of sin which is based upon the Ten Commandments, the fact that Christians still sin, or the fact that although we are a new creature in Christ that Paul (who the author quotes from liberally) still talks about the need for us to put effort into this thing called the Christian faith – that we need to put off (another place “put to death”) anger, sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness” (Colossians 3:5) and that we need to consciously choose to walk in the Spirit and not satisfy the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16) and on and on.
The book goes on and on in the same vein, chapter after chapter. It is the teaching of “extreme grace” that many have preached before and that has destroyed many churches in the past. I have watched this “gospel,” that people are told is biblical, bring just the opposite to what is promised – bondage and not freedom – into the life of those who believe it. I have seen it destroy marriages and ruin ministries. It is not God. It is not a valid understanding of scripture. It is a “doctrine of man” at the best and, at the worse, a “doctrine of demons“. It is man-centered and makes us feel good and takes all basic responsibilities and obligations away from the believer leaving him or her to live in “freedom”. And, of course, Jesus came to preach truth and the truth will set you free. It is all so smooth. But then the Devil often is subtle and smooth.
This is not a new teaching. It is called Antinomianism and is an ancient heresy. Solomon did say that “there is nothing new under the sun”. But, what is new is how widespread and well presented this teaching is due to the internet, the ease with which books are printed and purchased, and the lack of discernment among believers – even pastors – today.
Wikipedia states: Antinomianism (from the Greek ἀντί, “against” + νόμος, “law”), or lawlessness (in the Greek Bible: ἀνομία,, “unlawful”), in theology, is the idea that members of a particular religious group are under no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality, and that salvation is by predestination only. Antinomianism is the polar opposite of legalism, the notion that obedience to a code of religious law earns salvation.
Ah! It hit the nail on the head – LAWLESSNESS. Truly there is nothing new under the sun.
The book is smooth and convincing. The message is subtle and well presented. The author is well known, in high demand and very successful. The publisher is a Word-Faith Movement publisher with a well established reputation. The Church where these messages are preached is large, fast-growing and already a considerable size (17,000+). But heresy is heresy and people – even naive believers – will look for teachers to “tickle their ears” and this one certainly does that well.
Very deceptive and demonic. Something for all Christians to avoid.
If you have read this far:
The book: Destined to Reign
The author: Joseph Prince
The Church: New Creation Church in Singapore
The Publisher: Harrison House in Tulsa, Ok.
The heresy: Antinomianism
The solution: Become discerning by learning to rightly divide the truth and be a good workman of the Word.
33 years ago yesterday (November 8th) … in a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada at a small service with few in attendance run by a little known travelling evangelist and minister of the healing power of God my life was totally changed forever.
The preacher stood and declared the Word of the Lord from a small letter (so small that it only has one chapter) at the back of your Bible – 3 John, verse 2 … “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers”.
That night he spoke about God’s healing power and the fact that Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood for the “healing of our infirmities and sicknesses” (1 Peter 2:24). I did not believe a word of what he said. I was not a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I was a priest in a mainline denomination with a Master’s degree in theology … and I knew better than everyone else. I knew that what he had just spoken was not true today – if it had ever been true. Afterall, I had spent three years in seminary being trained as a priest and I had been taught that the Bible was a book of myths. So, Jesus is not God and He is not alive today and He did not die for my healing or for anything else for that matter and everyone goes to Heaven because there is no Devil and absolutely no Hell because God is a loving God – if there really is a God and we are not sure about that either.
But that night, in spite of my unbelief, God sovereignly moved and healed my body of back pain that had kept me from walking like a normal human being for many years. A tremendous heat flowed through my back and down my spine and totally healed me of something that had been a literal pain for many years. And, since that day that pain has been gone and I have been totally free of something that plagued me for many years limiting my abilities to do a number of things. And I didn’t believe in healing or in a living Jesus.
The next night – I went back to the second service that this same man was holding in that town. He spoke from the same letter in the Bible – the same verse – and spoke this time about the need for spiritual health and the prospering of your soul. He spoke on the basic gospel of Jesus Christ that I was a sinner and destined for Hell because my sins were separating me from God. He said that Jesus is God in human flesh and that He died on the Cross of Calvary and shed His blood for the forgiveness of my sins and rose from the dead to be forever alive and Lord and Savior offering God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness to all who would come unto Him. That I needed to acknowledge and confess my sins to Him (with godly sorrow and repentance), ask for and receive my forgiveness, and invite Him to enter into my life as Lord, Master, Owner… I did just that.
This was the first time in my life – after going to church all my life and even graduating from a seminary – that I had heard the gospel in a way that it made sense to me. Maybe it was the first time my heart was ready to hear and receive it. I don’t know. I’m not blaming anyone. I just know that 33 years ago tonight I heard the gospel and understood it for the first time and accepted it for what it was – good news! That night I accepted what the Lord had accomplished for me on the Cross of Calvary and asked Him to fogive me and become my Lord and Savior and was truly converted and born again. I had – 33 years ago tonight – an encounter with the living God. I saw, I heard, and I touched and was touched by the living Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3) and it toally changed my life forever.
Today is my birthday!
This Friday I will board a plane for Calgary where I will board another plane for Germany where I will board another plane to Almaty-Alma in Kazakhstan. I will arrive at 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning in time to unpack, sleep a bit and then get ready to minister in the first of 40 services that will be held during a little over two weeks that I will be there (I return on December 1).
I will be working with a team of three others – a pastor from Saskatoon who is now released to minister as an apostle and two young Ukrainian men … apostles-in-training who I have begun to mentor and who will, hopefully, eventually head up my apostolic ministry to their nation. I am working my way out of a job.
There is, of course, much to do to continue to get ready. Twenty days worth of clean clothes to get ready and pack, teachings and resource materials to sort and pack, money exchanged, things written ahead of time for publication while away, radio shows written and recorded for the twice-weekly broadcast of The Point, as well as spiritually preparing my heart and mind for this cross-cultural mission experience.
This is a step of faith for me personally. The first time in this nation, the first time with this specific team all working together as apostles, the first time teaching some of the topics they have asked us to research, write and teach … as well as a stretch relationally for an extreme introvert – me! So, I would appreciate your prayers.
Your prayers do make a difference. A major difference. And God’s power and presence in all ministry is released through the prayers of His people. So, thank you for praying daily over the next three weeks.
John Maxwell, a long-time mentor of mine through his books and tapes (now CDs and DVDs) once said: “A believe is not some that you possess – it is something that possesses you.” I have always believed that. The Christian faith is not something that I hold on to and thus wear like I do a sweater in winter. The Christian faith is something that grabbed hold of me and I have given my life to what I know to be truth.
This leads me to what I want to write about today. Young people – and even some older believers. Well, a lot of Christians in North America of all ages.
If you were to ask them why the Bible is true and thus solid ground for building your life upon – they would tell you “because they believe it”. So, they are saying that it is true because they believe it.
Now, stay with me. There is a serious flaw in this reasoning. If the Bible is true because I believe it then tomorrow I may wake up and decide to believe something else – say the Muslim faith. Then, because I believe these new teachings – then this makes them true and the truth I believed previously is now no longer truth to me.
I’m not just playing with words … this is what many Christians are doing today. They see the Bible as true because they have chosen to believe it. Instead – the proper way to view this issue and the right way is to say: “I believe it because it is true.”
We first establish what the truth really is and then make a decision to buy into it – let it possess us. We must establish what the truth is first and then understand that truth and “buy into it” letting it possess us and change every area of our personal lives.
Something is not true because we believe it. If we say it is true because I believe it then it is truth that we possess and view as truth for a season with the option that if something better comes along that sounds more credible or promises to deliver faster or makes less demands on us then we can switch to this “new truth” very easily because we possess it and thus can toss it out any time we want.
Instead we first need to determine what truth is and who has or who is truth and then let that truth possess us and form our life around these truths – truths that are fixed and permanent and will not change with the society, the culture, or what group we happen to hang around with at the present time.
I believe this is why God has re-established apostles and prophets and now teams of apostles and prophets working together. They will help others in the five-fold ministry to re-establish the truth and teach it to the younger generation so that they can then be possessed by the truth of Scripture and move out to see the Kingdom of God expand to every corner of the world. I believe that the apostles and prophets will also help to repair the foundations that already exist under the older generations who have heard so many teachings and sat through so many sermons that have not imparted basic truths and who “know the truth” and it has not yet set them free because it is something that they possess like a treasure but it has yet to possess them.
This will take time and a great deal of effort and work. But it is the calling and the heart of every apostle that I know and relate to. We are foundational ministers and we are here to pour fresh cenment and build foundations under the younger generation who are seeking a personal encounter with the living God and we are here to examine and then repair the cracks in the foundations upon which the older generation of believers have built their house.
We have our work cut out for us.
I believe the Church is not adequately reaching the youth of today … recent statistics as a result of surveys taken seem to tell us that this observation is true.
85% of our youth who grew up in Christian homes and attended public schools do not embrace a biblical worldview.
Those attending Christian schools scored a slight bit higher. However, only 6% of those attending Christian schools embraced a Biblical Theism Worldview.
This means we have clearly lost our youth to a godless culture.
This is not to say, however, that our young people are rebelling against God. In fact, today’s generation is very spiritually inclined. They possess an impressive set of priorities…
65% want a close relationship with God
49% want to make a difference in the world
79% consider having close personal friends a high priority for their future.
Today’s youth seems to be just as interested in God and just as passionate about spiritual things as any generation. However, they certainly believe different things than the basics of the Christian faith…
63% don’t believe Jesus is the Son of the one true God
58% believe all faiths teach equally valid truths
51% don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead
65% don’t believe Satan is a real entity
68% don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity
In other words, our kids are departing from the faith of their fathers and mothers.They are strongly believing things that are directly contrary to Biblical faith and the Word of God. Much of what they believe about Christianity, truth, reality, and the church apparently comes from a distorted view they have gleaned from the world around them – their peers, their schools, their music, the media.
I like what Josh McDowell states: “It’s not that they haven’t embraced a version of Christianity; it’s simply that the version they believe in is not built on the true foundation of what biblical Christianity is all about …studies show that the majority of our young people want a close relationship with God and perhaps are more inclined toward spiritual things than the previous generation. And yet their beliefs and lifestyles are inconsistent with what you and I would consider to be true Christianity.”
Statistics go on to show that the lifestyle of born again Christians is almost identical to the non-believers and thus we are not being transformed and changed by what we believe and confess as our faith and values.
So what has gone wrong that the Christianity being adopted by the youth (and many adults) makes so little difference in their lives?
Well, for many, Christianity is simply a set of beliefs or facts that they assume are correct and that are given mental assent. They have not entered the heart as core issues to be thought through and applied to one’s actual life. They have been INFORMATIONAL and not TRANSFORMATIONAL. We, the Church, have taught information for the sake of information because we live in a rational society – We must make sense out of everything (God does not always, in our minds, make sense) … everything must be logical (God does always appear logical) … we need to understand something before we believe it (and God is beyond our comprehension simply because He is God).
So, we have settled for a safe but powerless set of mental beliefs that have not impacted our lives or changed the way we think and thus changed the way we live (“…as a person thinks in their heart so they become…” Proverbs). And, our children have seen this inconsistency and either adopted the same form of the Christian faith or rejected it outright and gone looking for other belief structures that, in their minds, are more credible.
And the solution is: To stop holding to an outward form of religion but denying its power to bring life-change as Paul the apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ once commented. It will take a quality decision to go past INFORMATION and move into a season (that never ends) of TRANFORMATIONAL faith. It is time to allow what we believe to effect the way we think, speak, act, live as well as our values and attitudes.
And the solution is: For leaders to become more serious about life-change and aim for nothing less than an encounter with the living God every time they stand behind the pulpit and teach from God’s Word. Impart life and not just information. Speak on life-change and transformation and the night-and-day difference that Jesus is suppose to make in a person’s life.
And the solution is: For all those who call themselves born again to take seriously the Word of God and live in such a way that those around us will know that we are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. To love, accept and forgive. To go out of our way to help others. To build relationships with those who live in our neighborhood and with whom we work as well as those we interact with at community and kids events.
And the solution is: To simply use the authority (and resulting power) that the Lord has given to believers and as we go into all the world living life daily tell others Who we believe in and why we believe it. And herein is the issue … most believers today are not sure what we, as born again Christians believe and they certainly can’t defend it well.
But this can change IF we want it to – and quickly actually. We just have to want to – and then make the time and invest the time in learning the basic foundational truths of the Christian faith and become true Bible-believing believers who share their faith with others and do it well … “earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints…” (Jude 3).
So, do we really take the time to know our neighbors? Do we really slow down long enough to spend time talking – and more importantly listening to them? Do we INVEST time in building relationships as we see them day after day on our way in and out of the house to go wherever it is that we are going?
Now, I know that time is short and we are always in a hurry to go somewhere and do something. However, as believers we should INVEST in what is important and where our neighbors and those we work with will spend eternity is important – to them and, it should be, important to us as well. We should care enough about where they will spend all of eternity that we make the time – take the time – and INVEST in them a little of our precious time (which is always in short supply) building a relationship that will eventually allow us to INVITE them.
We may be able to simply INVEST time in talking over the fence with them and find that we can then INVITE them to consider the claims of Jesus Christ as we take advantage of the open doors God provides and share the gospel of salvation with them. We may simply reach the point as we INVEST some time and emotion – as well as prayer – in the relationship that we will INVITE them to come to church on a Sunday with us or to a special event that is taking place in the area and here they will hear the gospel.
But this much I know – that God has placed us in the neighborhood where each one of us live as ambassadors for the Kingdom and it is our mandate to reach those He has placed around us in our neighborhood and work place. So, we need to INVEST time in praying for the lost that we come into contact with as well as INVEST time in talking with them and building the relational trust to the point that we can then recognize the opportunities to speak of spiritual things and INVITE them to then consider the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ whom we worship and serve.
It really is fairly simple – INVEST and INVITE.
I am working on a teaching about believers who receive “leadings from the Lord”. You know these people – they often say “God said…” Now, I believe that God speaks today and wants to guide and direct our steps in every aspect of life. However, I also believe that many who make decisions based on “God said…” often end up in trouble and hurt other people in the process.
When you think you have heard God here is what you should do…
1> Check and see if your leading from the Lord is consistent with His Word, the Bible.
If it is not contrary to Scripture – then look at the second criterion…
2> God’s leadings are usually consistent with the person He has made you to be
Okay on that one… then
3> God’s leadings usually involve servanthood – so who or where is God calling you to serve? If your leading is really from God it will mean you will end up serving someone somewhere. This might even involve some personal pain and sacrifice. As well, it will require you to step out in faith and work hard.
If you have jumped these three hurdles and are still in the running then …
Note #1: If a leading requires you to make a major, life-changing decision in a very short period of time, question it.
Note #2: If a leading requires you to go deeply in debt or place someone else in a position of awkwardness, compromise or danger, question it.
Note #3: If a leading requires you to shatter family relationships or important friendships, question it.
Note#4: If a leading creates unrest in the spirit of mature Christian friends or counselors as you share it with them, question it.
I like what Bill Hybels states in his book “Too Busy Not To Pray”…
“I’m not saying you should automatically reject such leadings unless they also go against Scripture, but reconsider them and treat them very carefully. Leadings from God can open the door to a fantastically fulfilling Christian adventure, but counterfeit leadings can cause unbelieveable amounts of confusion, hardship, pain and trauma.”
I like what Steven Furtick (Pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C.) said: “I really think that if you’re not passionate about lost people before you start a church, you’re not going to go in some phone booth and come out as Super Evangelist with a big E on your chest.”
And, I don’t think that becoming a pastor or leader in a ministry or church immediately gives you a passion to seek and save the lost. I believe that this passion to tell others about the night and day difference Jesus has made and is making in your life (1 Peter 2:9 The Message Version) comes when we are truly saved. We have made a commitment to the Lordship of Jesus and we yield our will to His will and His will is that all people be saved.
What is a passion for Him becomes a passion for us when we are born again. And, believe, me, Jesus is passionate about the lost.
I also believe that if the pastor or the leader of a church is not passionate about winning the lost then his or her people will not be either. As the leader goes so go the people.
And therein lies the problem – most pastors that I know were not passionate about winning the lost before they were ordained, commissioned, or called. And, they are not passionate about the lost since being made the pastor of a local church. At least they don’t appear to be if we look at what they invest their time in and how they interact (or don’t) with those around them in their every day life.
And so the people are also lacking this passion for reaching out to and talking to the lost about Jesus Christ. As the leader goes so goes the people. The sheep follow the shepherd.
The solution: Well it is not to run into the nearest phone booth and rip your clothes off hoping to reveal a blue skin-tight shirt showing bulging muscles and having a big “E” right in the center. Doesn’t happen – for more reasons than phone booths are generally a thing of the past as they are now just the phone and a small table to lean on – the booth itself is missing. Not to mention that almost every human being alive has a cell phone and so phone booths of any shape or size are like mailboxes – an endangered species.
The solution: Well, I happen to believe pastors and leaders need to get away with the Lord for a few days and deal with some really basic issues in their relationship with Him whom they say they love and whom they certainly work for and worship. I hesitate on the declaration of their love because the Bible says that Jesus commented: “If you love Me, you will obey Me” and then went on later to say “Go into all the world…” We know it as The Great Commission.
So, if we are not obeying then it is hard to say we are truly in love with Him and passionate about His cause. Our actions often speak much louder than our words – even when we are yelling as we defend ourselves and our lack of action.
Time for a closer look at our hearts my fellow believers and at our use of time and money. These will tell us how actively involved we are and we already know how active we should be. The difference between what is and what should be would form good content for a two or three day fall / winter retreat.