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The next major event on God’s prophetic calendar is the Rapture of church-age believers.
The word “rapture” does not appear in the Bible, but it describes the catching away of the church-age saints at the end of the age.
There are two major passages that describe the Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13 -- 5:11 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.
The Greek word translated “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is used in Acts 8:39 of the Spirit of God snatching away Philip after the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 -- 5:11
1. The Rapture is an event in which the dead in Christ will be raised (1 Th. 4:14-16) and the living New Testament saints will be changed and glorified (1 Th. 4:17).
2. The dead in Christ are presently with Him in heaven (1 Th. 4:14). The dead in Christ do not “sleep in the grave” as some false teachers claim.
3. The Rapture is the believer’s hope and comfort (1 Th. 4:13, 18). This is what we are waiting for. We are not looking for the antichrist and the Great Tribulation. If the Rapture did not occur until the end of the Great Tribulation, it could not produce hope and comfort for the Christian.
4. The Rapture occurs before the Day of the Lord’s wrath (1 Th. 5:1-10).
a. The “Day of the Lord” is the time of Tribulation when God will judge the world for its sin and idolatry. In that “day,” God will be exalted and rebellious men will be humbled. See Isaiah 2:10-21.
b. Note the change in pronouns in this passage. In verse 3 the pronoun “they” is used, because the Day of the Lord will come upon the unsaved world. But in verses 4-5 the pronoun “ye” is used, referring to believers. That day will not overtake us.
c. The Rapture will occur as a thief in the night (1 Th. 5:2), but this is not how the Lord’s return in glory will occur. It will come with unmistakeable signs in the heavens and will be seen by all (Mat. 24:27-31). The Rapture pertains to the church, whereas Christ’s Second Coming pertains to Israel and the world.
d. The believer is to be watching for the Lord’s return at all times (1 Th. 5:6). We do not know when it will happen. It is imminent.
“A certain well-meaning man and his son were traveling towards a market town, with an ass which they had to sell. The road was bad, and the old man therefore rode, but the son went afoot. The first passenger they met asked the father if he was not ashamed to ride by himself and suffer the poor lad to wade along through the mire; this induced him to take up his son behind him. He had not traveled far when he met others, who said they were two unmerciful lubbers to get both on the back of that poor ass, in such a deep road. Upon this the old man gets off and let his son ride alone. The next they met called the lad a graceless, rascally young jackanapes to ride in that manner through the dirt while his aged father trudged along on foot; and they said the old man was a fool for suffering it. He then bid his son come down and walk with him, and they traveled on leading the ass by the halter; till they met another company, who called them a couple of senseless blockheads for going both on foot in such a dirty way when they had an empty ass with them, which they might ride upon. The old man could bear no longer. My son, he said, it grieves me much that we cannot please all these people. Let us throw the ass over the next bridge, and be no farther troubled with him” (H.W. Brands, The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin, pp. 116, 117).
There are lessons here for preachers, of course.
First, it is as impossible to preach without being criticized as it is to publish a newspaper, and when some of your preaching is done via the Internet your critics are multiplied.
Second, we should listen to critics who base their exhortation upon the clear teaching of God’s Word and who correct clear errors, as this adds up to godly reproof rather than cheap criticism (Proverbs 10:17; 12:1; 13:18; 15:10, 31-32).
Third, we are not under obligation to heed every man’s opinion on every subject. Preaching is not a democratic process. Preachers don’t have to submit their preaching to a vote by the people. The hearers are to test it, but they are not to test it by their opinions and feelings and experiences; they are to test it by God’s Word, period (Acts 17:11). The sole concern is whether or not the preaching is scriptural. Beyond that the preacher is instructed by God to preach in season and out of season, whether the preaching is accepted or rejected, appreciated or hated, allowed or disallowed, legal or illegal.
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine...” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
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Jesus is the Evangelist of evangelists, yet He denounced false teachers publicly as hypocrites, blind guides, children of hell, fools and blind, serpents, and vipers. Paul called them vain babblers, vessels unto dishonor, enemies of the cross of Christ, accursed, false apostles. Peter called them presumptuous, selfwilled, as natural brute beasts, beguiling unstable souls, cursed children, wells without water. John called them deceivers. Jude called them filthy dreamers, clouds without water, twice dead, raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame, wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever, murmurers. By not plainly condemning false teachers, the Grahams are brazenly, presumptuously disobeying the Bible and demonstrating that they are not true Bible preachers. When measured by the standard of popular “evangelicalism” the Grahams are greatly acclaimed, but when measured by the infallible and unchangeable Word of God, they are found to be enemies of the very cross that they profess to love, because it is impossible to preach the truth and hold hands with the enemies of the truth without destroying the truth. “And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem. And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD” (2 Ch. 19:1-2). Jehoshaphat’s compromise with Ahab was not a small thing. It resulted in the spiritual corruption of Israel at the hands of Jehoshaphat’s son and grandson Jehoram and Ahaziah, who brought idolatry into Judea through their relationship with Ahab’s family, the bridge to which was foolishly built by Jehoshaphat, the pragmatist. (For more on this see Billy Graham's Sad Disobedience, a free eBook available from www.wayoflife.org.)
REPLY TO A DEMOCRAT (Friday Church News Notes, November 23, 2012, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143) - Last week I received the following note. The capitalization was in the original. “I am sorry, but I HAVE HAD ENOUGH! I am a 66 year old retired Steel Worker. I have been a Christian since I was 15. I have followed your website for the last 3 years. My Grandparents, parents, & all my family have been and are DEMOCRATS! WE VOTE THE WAY WE WANT! AND WE ARE SICK OF THOSE WHO CONDEMN US FOR VOTING THE WAY WE DO!! THERE ARE MILLIONS OF CHRISTIANS WHO ARE DEMOCRATS! YOU MENTION ONLY TWO ISSUES, BOTH OF WHICH WOULD NOT CHANGE EVEN UNDER REPUBLICAN RULE! AS OF NOW I AM DROPPING YOU AND NO LONGER WISH TO RECEIVE ANY EMAILS FROM YOU. GOOD RIDDANCE.” REPLY FROM BROTHER CLOUD: You have every right to test my preaching by God’s Word, but your carnal anger is not righteous. It is also terribly misguided. When did I ever say that the Republicans are good? I have condemned both the Democrats and the Republicans. America has never been a righteous nation, and it is more wicked today than ever. That is what I preach. But that is no excuse to vote for a political party that has the murder of unborn babies and the “marriage” of homosexuals as an official part of its platform, a party that has brazenly shaken its silly fist in God’s face. You are dead wrong, friend, and you will give account to God. If I were you, I would be preparing myself to stand before Almighty God instead of criticizing a preacher who preaches God’s righteous Word in an unrighteous age, criticizing him on the basis of your own thinking. If you have been saved for 51 years, it certainly doesn’t show in your e-mail. I say little about politics, but when I do I base my comments on God’s Word. If you can show me where I preach something contrary to God’s Word, do it. Otherwise, you need to repent of your attitude and your ways. “Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not" (Prov. 29:24).
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The following is excerpted from the new edition of Understanding Bible Prophecy, one of the courses of the Advanced Bible Studies Series published by Way of Life Literature. One of the new sections of the course is “Bible Prophecies Being Fulfilled Today,” and the following study is from that section. The new edition of Understanding Bible Prophecy (September 2012) is completely rewritten and significantly enlarged.
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
The first temple was built by Solomon and the second temple was built by Zerubbabel and Joshua (Ezra 2-5) and later enlarged by Herod the Great.
A visitor is reminded of the Temple on every hand in Israel today. It is even on their coins. The 1/10 shekel features a menorah. The 1/2 shekel has a 7th-century lyre of the type that was used in the Temple. The menorah is also the symbol of the Israeli Knesset or Parliament. There is a large one right outside the Knesset’s main gates and another one in a little garden at the entrance from the main road.
Since the 1980s, the idea of building the Third Temple has gained rapidly in popularity among the Jewish citizens of Israel. In 1986, David Shipler wrote in his book Arab and Jew, “During my five years in Jerusalem [1979-84], the idea of building a Third Temple in place of Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock evolved from a wild notion held by a very few fringe militants into a goal embraced and legitimized by parts of the established right wing.” By 2003, a poll by the Jerusalem Post found that 80% of Jews in Israel want to see the Temple rebuilt.
Since 1994, the Women in Green movement has organized a march around the Temple Mount in recognition of Risha B’Av, the day of mourning over the destruction of the Jewish temple. The march begins with the reading of the book of Lamentations in front of the American Consulate and then proceeds to circle the walls of the Old City. Thousands joined in the march in July 2012. Nadia Matar, the leader of Women in Green, told Arutz Sheva TV, “We walk around the Old City to say that Jerusalem is ours. The Temple Mount is ours. Like a bride going around the groom we go around the Temple Mount, showing our loyalty and our love to Jerusalem. ... Altogether we are saying the land of Israel is ours, Jerusalem is ours, and we pray for the day that Tisha B’Av will turn from a fast day into a day of holiday when we can all dance to the Temple Mount.”
In March 2010 posters calling for the building of the Third Temple appeared on buses plying eastern Jerusalem routes. The posters, sponsored by Our Land of Israel, featured a depiction of the Temple occupying the place of the Dome of the Rock mosque and a Hebrew phrase that translates, “May the Bais Hamikdosh [Jerusalem temple] be rebuilt speedily and within our days.” A leader of Our Land of Israel, Baruch Marzel, said, “We’re representing the truth, in front of everyone, and saying out loud what every Jew believes. That the Third Temple needs to be built immediately on the Temple Mount and that the mosque should not be there” (Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2010). Predictably, the posters caused a storm of protest from Muslims and were removed after a couple of days.
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Wycliffe Bible Translators was founded in 1942. It focused on the actual translation work while the Summer Institute of Linguistics focused on linguistics and training. Later JAARS was established to focus on the technical, logistical, and transportation side of the work.
In 1948, the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS) was established to provide support to the translation work through aviation, telecommunications, computers, construction, and shipping.
Today there are 5,000 people involved with Wycliffe, SIL, and JAARS. By 2004 Wycliffe had produced 611 Bibles or portions thereof and more than 1,000 translation projects were ongoing.
WYCLIFFE’S RADICAL AND UNSCRIPTURAL ECUMENISM - Wycliffe’s doctrinal statement is very weak, composed of the following five simple statements: “The divine inspiration and consequent authority of the whole canonical Scripture; the doctrine of the trinity; the fall of man, his consequent moral depravity and his need for regeneration; the atonement through the substitutionary death of Christ; the doctrine of justification by faith; the resurrection of the body, both of the just and the unjust; the eternal life of the saved and the eternal punishment of the lost.” This type of doctrinal statement is designed to allow the broadest possible unity by not defining even the most cardinal doctrines with any specificity. Consider, for example, the statement on inspiration. Theological modernists and Roman Catholics would agree that the Bible is divinely inspired and authoritative, as they define “inspired” and “authoritative” in their own perverted way; and since the canon is not specified, there is plenty of room for Rome’s expanded one. Consider another example, “the doctrine of justification by faith.” Again, this is so vague that even a Roman Catholic could sign on. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that salvation is by faith and even by grace, but not by grace through faith ALONE.
Founder Cameron Townsend established Wycliffe on a doctrinally compromised, ecumenical foundation. In light of Wycliffe Bible Translators’ commendable goal and the sacrifice made by its missionaries to bring the Word of God to those who sit in darkness, it is sad to have to document the great doctrinal compromise of this organization. Yet we are commanded to “prove all things” (1 Thess. 5), to compare all teaching with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11), and to beware of every wind of false doctrine (Eph. 4:14), so we cannot ignore this matter. Unlike its namesake, John Wycliffe, who stood boldly against Roman Catholic heresies and was subsequently persecuted by Catholic authorities, Wycliffe Bible Translators has been ecumenical and pro-Roman Catholic from its inception. The Lord Jesus commanded that we beware of false prophets and the apostles warned us to mark and avoid those who preach false doctrine (Rom. 16:17) and those who hold false gospels, false christs, and false spirits (2 Cor. 11). Instead of obeying these solemn commands, Wycliffe Bible Translators has yoked together with heretics and apostates. Following are a few examples:
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EMERGING PASTOR AGREES WITH INDEPENDENT BAPTIST LEADERS (Friday Church News Notes, November 16, 2012, www.wayoflife.org email@example.com, 866-295-4143) - Emerging pastor Mark Batterson, who has spoken in conferences with Paul Young of The Shack (which depicts God as a female), agrees with many independent Baptist leaders who are against “quibbling” and criticism on the basis of the “non-essentials.” In a 2011 blog entitled Batterson says: “... few things bother me more than sideways energy in the kingdom of God. We end up infighting and forget who our very real enemy is. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we stopped throwing stones at each other. ... If something is heretical, that’s one thing. But we quibble over far too many things. ... I’m all for holding the fort of orthodoxy, but that strikes me as misidentifying the enemy. ... I’ve always subscribed to something Rupertus Meldenius said: ‘In the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.’ Obviously, it’s hard to know where to draw the line between essential and non-essentials. But let’s not major in minors” (Mark Batterson, “Straining Gnats: Swallowing Camels,” June 27, 2011). This statement reminds me of IFB leader Charles Keen’s book Thinking Outside the Box, in which he says, “I finally realized that not all truth is of equal value. ... Let’s decide who the enemies of the cross are and divide from them. Then let’s decide who the friends of grace are and tolerate them.” Batterson’s statement reminds me of Kevin Bauder, president of Central Baptist Seminary in Minnesota, who praises “conservative evangelicals” and promotes the “non-essential” philosophy (In the Nick of Time, Bauder’s blog, March 2010). Batterson’s statement reminds me of Calvary Baptist Seminary of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, which says, “We should grant each other the freedom to hold differing viewpoints and to refrain from caustic letter-writing campaigns to or about those with whom one might differ. ... in our zeal to earnestly contend for the faith, fundamentalism became more concerned about minor issues and less concerned about what the Bible clearly presents as the majors” (alumni mailing, Aug. 25, 2010). Calvary Baptist Seminary identifies “minor issues” as such things as which English translation to use, dress standards, musical styles, election, and baptism. We are told that such things should not determine fellowship. Batterson’s statement also reminds me of Clayton Reed, who co-authored Church Still Works with Paul Chappell. In his blog entitled “Ecclesiastical Separation,” Reed says, “... we ought to join every willing, warm-hearted Christian in advancing our Lord’s kingdom while it is day.” He says we should not separate over “non-fundamentals” and refers to John R. Rice’s principle that we should work with those who disagree with us on baptism, tongues, prophecy, election, and association with the Southern Baptist Convention. Those who hold the “in essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty” doctrine cannot show us where this principle was taught by Christ or Paul or any of the apostles. They cannot show from the clear teaching of Scripture how to identify a “non-essential” doctrine, nor can they show how a list of “non-essentials” can keep from growing larger with each generation as it has everywhere this principle has been accepted. At first only things like “music” or “dress” or “Bible versions” are considered “non-essentials,” but after awhile the list includes things like a woman’s call to preach and the interpretation of prophecy and the definition of God’s sovereignty in election and ecumenical evangelism and definitions of the atonement. And the list keeps growing. The biblical way is to reject the “essentials/non-essentials” philosophy and to respect the whole counsel of the New Testament faith (Jude 3). This does not mean that we consider all doctrine of equal importance. There are damnable heresies (2 Peter 2:1-2), which only the unregenerate hold, and lesser heresies, which even born again believers hold (1 Cor. 11:19). But every clearly-taught teaching of the Word of God should be honored and none despised. And we should be willing to defend whatever doctrine happens to be under attack at any given time.
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Pastor Fuller writes: “If I recall correctly, it was at our 2003 New England Leadership Conference that Dr. David Parker sang How Deep the Father’s Love for Us to a capacity crowd of New England fundamentalists. A chorus of hearty ‘amens’ followed this theologically robust text and appropriate tune by Stuart Townend. That was 2003. This is 2012. You see, 2003 was a somewhat blissful time when the ‘association’ or ‘source’ question of the original style of modern hymns wasn’t being necessarily fingerprinted. That benevolent spirit of heartily affirming the truths of these modern hymns has all but evaporated, unfortunately. Frankly, as a believer I feel a little ‘robbed’ that the spiritual gift I received in hearing that hymn back in 2003 has now been flagged as a potential stumbling block to other believers. Beyond the ‘offense’ objection, I have discovered that there seems to be a political element to this issue. In attending conferences and fellowships, I have noticed the ‘source and association’ issue of modern hymnody is raised with rapidity and frequency. If not stated explicitly, the attitudinal implications of some of the discussions are that there is little room at the table for a difference of opinion. A pastor’s ‘true-blue’ separatism might be questioned if he discerningly embraces these modern hymns. There is a definitive suspicion that is detected from others about your teetering on the ‘slippery slope’ if you view the source and association elements as mostly irrelevant, illogical or extra-biblical” (“Of Modern Hymnody at Trinity, Feb. 13, 2012).
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Fuller went on to defend the Getty/Townend “contemporary hymn movement” as being (allegedly) different in character than the Contemporary Christian Music field.
In this he is dead wrong. As we have documented in The Directory of Christian Worship Musicians, Stuart Townend is an out-and-out Christian rocker, a radical charismatic, and a rabid ecumenist who associates with Rome and promotes the Alpha program and is therefore building the one-world church. By their intimate and non-critical association with Townend, the Gettys have demonstrated that they are one in spirit.
The people who are writing the “contemporary hymns” are not separated from the wider field of CCM. They are ALL holding hands. They are ALL the same rebellious spirit. NONE of them are friends of a fundamentalist position. ALL of them are avowed enemies of biblical separation. ALL of them have an ecumenical, charismatic mystical agenda. This is not mere opinion. We have studied these things “from the horse’s mouth” for nearly 40 years and have carefully documented our warnings.
To not consider “the source” of the contemporary music is unscriptural foolishness. God’s Word forbids us to associate with end-time apostasy. We are to touch not the unclean thing. To be careful about associations is the very heart and soul of biblical separatism.
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
The use of CCM is definitely a “slippery slope” toward compromise and error, and those who are playing with it are playing with fire.
This warning has nothing to do with “politics.” I can’t speak for others, but I know that my motive in warning against the slippery slope of CCM is a passion for the truth that I found in Christ.
The Catholic apologetic ministries use the “church fathers” to prove that Rome’s doctrines go back to the earliest centuries. In the book Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, David Currie continually uses the church fathers to support his position. He says, “The other group of authors whom Evangelicals should read ... is the early Fathers of the Church” (p. 4).
The contemplative prayer movement is built on this same weak foundation. The late Robert Webber, a Wheaton College professor who was one of the chief proponents of this back to the “church fathers” movement, said:
“The early Fathers can bring us back to what is common and help us get behind our various traditions ... Here is where our unity lies. ... evangelicals need to go beyond talk about the unity of the church to experience it through an attitude of acceptance of the whole church and an entrance into dialogue with the Orthodox, Catholic, and other Protestant bodies” (Ancient-Future Faith, 1999, p. 89).
The fact is that the “early Fathers” were mostly heretics!
This term refers to various church leaders of the first few centuries after the apostles whose writings have been preserved.
The only genuine “church fathers” are the apostles and prophets their writings that were given by divine inspiration and recorded in the Holy Scripture. They gave us the “faith ONCE delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The faith they delivered is able to make us “perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We don’t need anything beyond the Bible. The teaching of the “church fathers” does not contain one jot or tittle of divine revelation.
The term “church fathers” is a misnomer that was derived from the Catholic Church’s false doctrine of hierarchical church polity. These men were not “fathers” of the church in any scriptural sense and did not have any divine authority. They were merely church leaders from various places who have left a record of their faith in writing. But the Roman Catholic Church exalted men to authority beyond the bounds designated by Scripture, making them “fathers” over the churches located within entire regions and over the churches of the whole world.
The “church fathers” are grouped into four divisions: Apostolic Fathers (second century), Ante-Nicene Fathers (second and third centuries), Nicene Fathers (fourth century), and Post-Nicene Fathers (fifth century). Nicene refers to the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 that dealt with the issue of Arianism and affirmed the doctrine of Christ’s deity. Thus, the Ante-Nicene Fathers are so named because they lived in the century before this council, and the Post-Nicene, because they lived in the century following the council.
All of the “church fathers” were infected with some false doctrine, and most of them were seriously infected. Even the so-called Apostolic Fathers of the second century were teaching the false gospel that baptism, celibacy, and martyrdom provided forgiveness of sin (Howard Vos, Exploring Church History, p. 12). And of the later “fathers”--Clement, Origen, Cyril, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, Theodore, and John Chrysostom--the same historian admits: “In their lives and teachings we find the seed plot of almost all that arose later. In germ form appear the dogmas of purgatory, transubstantiation, priestly mediation, baptismal regeneration, and the whole sacramental system” (Vos, p. 25).
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There are issues that I did not raise in the Encyclopedia, though, and I have decided to publish my reply to a letter from a Bible college student in which he asked me five questions in relation to church matters. I have extended and edited the original reply so that it more thoroughly and clearly explains my position, as I have had more time to consider the issue and have come to what I believe to be a better understanding from Scripture.
Concerning my position on the church, I can say that I don’t exactly fit in anywhere.
I have good friends that are Landmark Baptists; and though I appreciate their emphasis on the New Testament assembly and a pure church and many other things, I don’t go along with successionism and the definition of alien baptism or the idea that baptism is the door to the church. I believe, rather, that baptism is a requirement for church membership, and there is a significant difference between the two positions.
I also have good friends who are proponents of the standard “universal church” idea and the standard Scofield dispensational view that the church started at Pentecost, but I don’t go all of the way with that, either.
During the early part of our missionary work in South Asia, I determined to research the issue of the church for myself. We arrived on the mission field in 1979 and a year or so later I came to the conclusion that I did not understand the church and missionary work sufficiently. I had been challenged in various ways with the Protestant position, the Scofield position, the Pentecostal position, as well as strong Baptist positions, including the Brider position.
To research the issue I did not collect a bunch of books on the subject by various men. I shut myself up, rather, to the one Book that really counts: The Bible, my sole authority for faith and practice. I set out to determine exactly what the New Testament has to say about the “church.” What did the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles want me to believe on this issue? First I used Strong’s Concordance and carefully examined every reference to the English word “church” and to the Greek word “ecclesia.” I spent much time studying the book of Acts and the church epistles. I examined the Pastoral Epistles almost word for word and read them dozens of times. I wrote down everything I learned about the church, and that study formed the basis for a course that I first taught in Asia in our church planting work in the 1980s That material eventually became an entry in the Way of Life Encyclopedia of the Bible & Christianity and more recently appeared in an updated version as one of our Advanced Bible Studies Series courses entitled “The New Testament Church.”
“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6).
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:11-12).
The result of the recent U.S. election was not surprising to the Bible believer who knows the frightful spiritual condition of America, and we should not respond as unbelievers and heretics and nominal Christians respond to these confusing, frustrating times. Many are in despair, frantically trying to find a safe heaven for their wealth.
But we are not Christians in name only; we are born again by God’s Spirit and we walk in the light of God’s infallible Word. We know the times, or at least we should. We understand the underlying spiritual fundamentals of society. We are pilgrims. Our citizenship is in heaven, and we are exhorted to set our affection on things above, not on things on earth (Col. 3:1-4; Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11).
The Bible shines brilliant light upon our situation in this present world, and gives us clear instructions about how to live and act in the face of the challenges of these times.
Let me say at the outset that I understand that politics and government are important, that politics and government affect our daily lives. I am not saying that we should have nothing to do with politics and that we should have no interest in what is happening at the political level.
I am simply arguing in this report that politics is not the answer to the moral, social, and economic ills our nations are facing, and we need to focus our attention on the real fundamental issues, and on God’s will, and on the things that can bring real change, and on things that have eternal value.
THE LIGHT OF JEREMIAH 23:15
“Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.”
The root problem in America is the same as that in Israel of old. God told Jeremiah that it was the prophets of Israel who had spread profaneness and filthiness throughout the land (Jer. 23:15). The fundamental issue was the apostate, compromising condition of the prophets. This is true in America (and Canada, etc.). The battle for the nation is won or lost in the churches and the Christian homes, not in the realm of politics and social warfare. The root problem with America’s deep moral sickness is the apostasy in the churches. America does not have the fear of God because the churches are not preaching the fear of God, and that is because the pastors are compromisers and apostates who fear the people more than they fear God and who care more about their individual bottom line than about the truth.
OPERATION DOVE’S WINGS BRINGING REMAINING JEWS FROM ETHIOPIA (Friday Church News Notes, November 9, 2012, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143) - Operation Dove’s Wings, which began last week and is expected to end in October 2013, has the objective of bringing Ethiopia’s remaining Jews to Israel. It is the conclusion of a 30-year “Aliyah” (ascent) campaign to return north African Jews to the Holy Land 2,500 years after they fled the Babylonian armies that destroyed Jerusalem. (The word “aliyah” is from the same root as veya’al, the last word in 2 Chronicles 36:23, which is the last verse in the Hebrew Bible and is translated “let him go up” in the King James Bible.) In that day many Jews fled to Egypt, as described by the prophet Jeremiah, and from there they eventually migrated to Ethiopia and other parts of Africa. In 1977, the Israeli government determined that the Law of Return applied to tens of thousands of Ethiopians known as Beta Israel (Community of Israel), and the US government assisted in early airlifts beginning in 1979. The flights have continued off and on ever since. In May 1991, 14,325 Ethiopian Jews were transported to Israel in a space of 36 hours with 30 Israel planes flying non-stop round trips. One El Al Boeing 747 carried 1,122 passengers in a single flight, with two babies being born on the plane. Descendants of Beta Israel (called Falash Mura) who converted to “Christianity” are required to convert to Orthodox Judaism in order to obtain Israeli citizenship. For two millenniums orthodox Jews prayed thrice daily for the return to their land, and they have expected that the return would be associated with the coming of the Messiah, willfully ignorant that the Messiah has already came and suffered and rose from the dead according to their own Scripture. They are still looking for a messiah to build the Third Temple, but he will be a false messiah, a deceiver, who will facilitate the building of the Third Temple only to desecrate it.
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The silence of biblical contemplation refers simply to a quiet place in which the soul can effectively seek the Lord. In Scripture it is called seeking the Lord (Psalm 105:3; Isaiah 55:6), waiting on the Lord (Psalm 69:6), meditating on the Lord (Psalm 104:34), meditating on God’s Word (Psalm 1:2). In these times, when most of us use computers and smart phones and our waking hours are filled to the brim with distracting busyness, it is important to have daily periods of silence for spiritual devotion. During these times we don’t sit with an empty mind and DO NOTHING; rather we open the Bible and read and meditate on it and we pray IN WORDS to God the Father through Jesus Christ the one Mediator by the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit.
It has been popularized by contemplative gurus such as Richard Foster and Dallas Willard and is promoted by many evangelical leaders today, including Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Max Lucado, Ed Young, Sr., Gary Thomas, Philip Yancy, Lee Strobel, and Charles Stanley. (See "Evangelicals Turning to Roman Catholic Contemplative Spirituality" at the Way of Life web site.)
Harry Plantinga, director of Christian Classics Ethereal Library, describes contemplative prayer as follows: “As I was growing up, my church experience seemed somewhat heady to me--concerned more about correct belief than about actually loving God. Whether or not that was a correct perception, I wanted more. I wanted not just to know about God, I wanted to know God ... Christian mysticism addresses that longing of the heart. ... Webster defines mysticism as ‘the doctrine that it is possible to achieve communion with God through contemplation and love WITHOUT THE MEDIUM OF HUMAN REASON.’ That definition captures what I have in mind by the term” (CCEL Times, April 1, 2008).
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McLaren grew up in a fundamentalist Plymouth Brethren home. His grandfather was a old-fashioned Brethren missionary who believed in a pre-Tribulational Rapture. In an interview in 2009, McLaren told me that he holds his forefathers in high regard, but the fact is that he has completely rejected his grandfather’s Christianity and is doing everything he can to tear down the faith of anyone today who holds to that type of Christianity.
If McLaren’s missionary grandfather was right about his belief in such things as a verbally-inspired Bible, the necessity of the blood atonement of Christ for salvation, and the imminency of the return of Christ and a literal fulfillment of prophecy, then Brian McLaren is an apostate and a heretic. McLaren doesn’t like black and white type Christianity, but his grandfather did, and his grandfather was right.
A REVIEW OF “A NEW KIND OF CHRISTIAN”
McLaren’s book “A New Kind of Christian: a Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey” won a Christianity Today Award of Merit in 2002 and has found a wide and approving audience in “evangelical” circles.
“A New Kind of Christian” presents theological liberalism in the guise of a wiser, kinder, gentler type of Christianity called “Postmodern.” The semi-fictional account is about an evangelical pastor who has a crisis of faith and submits himself to the guidance of a liberal Episcopalian who is a graduate of Princeton Divinity School and a former Presbyterian pastor. This Postmodern guide, who is named “Dr. Neil Oliver,” is called “Neo” by his friends. Neo resigned the pastorate because he was too liberal for his denomination and is teaching high school when we meet him in McLaren’s book.
The book recounts the evangelical pastor’s journey from a position of faith in the Bible as the absolute standard for truth, a position in which doctrine is either right or wrong, scriptural or unscriptural, to a pliable position in which “faith is more about a way of life than a system of belief, where being authentically good is more important than being doctrinally right” (from the back cover of “A New Kind of Christian”).
Gary E. Gilly hit the nail on the head in his review of “A New Kind of Christian” by observing: “More specifically, McLaren rejects absolute truth, authority, theology, objectivity, certainty and clarity. He embraces relativism, inclusivism, deconstructionism, stories (to replace truth), creative interpretation of Scripture, neo-orthodoxy, and tolerance.”
As the evangelical pastor in “A New Kind of Christian” begins his sad journey into theological liberalism (which he wants to call “postmodern”) he describes himself in these words:
“I feel like a fundamentalist who’s losing his grip--whose fundamentals are cracking and fraying and falling apart and slipping through my fingers. It’s like I thought I was building my house on rock, but it turned out to be ice, and now global warming his hit, and the ice is melting and everything is crumbling” (p. 22).
When he first begins talking with “Neo,” the evangelical pastor admits that he is afraid that Neo’s ideas are corrupting him and turning him into a heretic (p. 26), but he quenches the fear and proceeds down the path of error.
Instead of opening his Bible and seeking the face of God alone and finding out what God has to say in His Word and re-orienting himself to the eternal Word of God, instead of confiding in a man of God who believes the Bible, this evangelical pastor turns, in his hour of doubt, to a clever unbeliever and is led into the deepest error.
This is exactly what is happening to men and women throughout the evangelical world, because they have been brainwashed to think that separation from false doctrine is mean-spirited and that a “positive, non-judgmental” approach to Christianity is preferable. As a consequence, evangelicalism, over the past 50 years, has been infiltrated with every sort of heresy.
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A few years ago I asked preachers on my mailing list to write and let me know if they are edified by my ministry. More than 200 replied in a matter of days and most were overwhelmingly positive. Yet three or four said that they appreciated the material, but they wished it was more “balanced.”
1. Balance means preaching the whole counsel of God.
Paul reminded the elders at Ephesus that he had declared to them “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). This is the job of every preacher, but particularly of a pastor or a church planter. Every part of the Bible, every doctrine, is important. No preacher has the liberty to say “I will preach some doctrines, but the rest I am not responsible for,” or “I will just preach the gospel,” or “I will just focus on this particular topic” (the family, creation science, Bible versions, separation, contemplative mysticism, etc.).
Ever since God called me to preach, I have always been convinced of the importance of preaching and contending for the whole counsel of God. For our church planting ministry in South Asia I developed a Bible school curriculum to train preachers. We train them in the whole counsel of God. In 1993, I completed the Way of Life Encyclopedia of the Bible & Christianity, which deals with every doctrine and nearly every word of the Bible. The book Things Hard to Be Understood, which we published in 1997, also seeks to deal with everything in the Word of God, including the most difficult parts. Our One Year Discipleship Course is the most thorough one in print, to my knowledge.
If balance means preaching the whole counsel of God, I am balanced.
Careful readers will note that even via the Fundamental Baptist Information Service we deal with a very wide variety of doctrines and issues. The current event items are not selected haphazardly. We do not emulate the Religious News Service in attempting to cover every major current event in “Christendom” or in the ecumenical or denominational worlds. One of our chief goals is to select events that illustrate doctrinal truths which are being attacked. We do not merely report on events and personalities and books and speeches. We analyze these with the Word of God and sound doctrine. We deal with the gospel, justification, the church, sanctification, prophecy, Christian living, biblical inspiration and preservation, and countless other aspects of biblical truth. We focus on the things that we feel are at the forefront of the devil’s attack upon the truth and upon New Testament churches today.
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THE GANG JESUS (Friday Church News Notes, November 2, 2012, www.wayoflife.org, email@example.com, 866-295-4143) - We have warned repeatedly that the average Christian in the West worships a false christ and that the very dangerous world of contemporary worship music represents all of these abominable idols. Those who are playing with contemporary worship are building bridges to this world. There is the non-judgmental christ of The Shack, the Roman Catholic wafer christ, the Mormon christ who is the spirit brother of Satan, the Jehovah’s Witness christ who is Michael the Archangel, the natural-born christ of theological modernism, the liberation theology christ who is a communist freedom fighter and social justice hero, the contemplative christ who is encountered via such things as centering prayer and repetition prayer. The most popular of all, it seems, is the rock & roll party christ. Rapper Jayceon “Game” Taylor venerates this christ in his new album Jesus Piece, the cover of which features “Jesus” portrayed as a gang member, complete with a gaudy gold chain and a tattoo on his face, surrounded by marijuana leaves. Taylor isn’t a CCM artist. He is a secular rapper, but his philosophy is no different than that of many of the “Christian” rockers and rappers. Taylor is inventing a “Jesus” in his own likeness. He says, “Last year in August I got baptized [at City of Refuge Church in Gardena, California] and so I’ve been going to church, but I still been kinda doing me out here [in the rapper world]. I still love the strip club and I still smoke and drink. I’m faithful to my family, so I wanted to make an album where you could love God and be of God, but still get it poppin’ in your life” (“Jesus Portrayed as Gang Member,” Christian Post, Oct. 24, 2012). Taylor says his new album is intended to encourage those who “love God but are still street and wanna remain themselves.” Hey, Taylor, this is the essence of the emerging church! They might want to temper your zeal for strippers a bit, but you have the basic idea. The Bible presents an entirely different scenario. It says that the true Christian is “a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Scriptural baptism is a picture of dying with Christ to the old sin life and being raised to an entirely new life of holiness.
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“Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. ... We aren’t sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn. ... Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements” (“Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question,” Jan. 23, 2006).
In December 2006, McLaren spoke at the Open Door Community Church in Sherwood, Arkansas. The church’s web site says:
“The leadership at Open Door Community Churches are excited to see gay and non-gay Christians worshiping together as one. We believe that gay and non-gay Christians can and should come to the table of the Lord together, side by side, without labels. We believe that as these two historically separate communities join together at the cross of Jesus Christ a healing and a new understanding of oneness in Christ occurs in both groups. We are part of a growing revival of grace-filled Christians transcending either the terms ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal.’ Above all things, we are a GRACE CHURCH! We are a family embracing the full spectrum of race, age, gender, family status, sexual orientation, economic status and denominational background.”
In September 2012, McLaren’s son Trevor “married” Owen Ryan in a civil ceremony led by Brian at Woodend Sanctuary of the Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase, Maryland (“Weddings/Celebrations,” New York Times, Sept. 23, 2012).
Tony Jones, National Coordinator of the Emerging Village, says:
“I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (as least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state” (Jones, “How I Went from There to Here: Same Sex Marriage Blogalogue,” Nov. 18, 2008, ).
On January 18, 2009, Jones wrote: “Adele Sakler, whom I’ve known for a few years, has started yet another ‘hyphenated’ group within the emergent network-of-networks. She’s calling it ‘Qeermergent,’ and, as you might guess, it’s focused on GLBTQ issues.”
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