Feature Article – Dave Hunt

 

Revival or Apostasy?

 

Knowing that we are in the last of the last days, with an imminent Rapture a very real hope, our thoughts often (and indeed should) turn to the signs that Christ said would herald the nearness of His return. The signs that are most widely cited include “wars and rumours of wars…[when] nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…and…famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes…these are the beginning of sorrows” (Mt 24:6-8). 

Unquestionably, these specific “sorrows” have been both prominent and accelerating since Israel again became a nation in 1948. Since that time, the intensity and frequency of these signs have increased like the birth pangs of a woman approaching her time of delivery, exactly as Christ foretold. However, the first sign that Christ gave has been largely overlooked and His solemn warning neglected:

 

And Jesus answered and said…Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many….And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many….For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Mt 24:4,5,11,24) [Emphasis added.]

 

Concern for this prophesied deception has marked this ministry. Let us take a closer look at the religious deception that Christ foretold. He issued a warning: “Take heed [beware] that no man deceive you.” Its seriousness is emphasized by being thrice stated. Its nature is specified: false Christs, false prophets, and false signs and wonders. His repetition four times of the word “many” indicates a worldwide deception of multitudes.

 

Paul issued a similar warning: “Let no man deceive you by any means….” He explains that the spiritual deception to which Christ referred will infect the professing church. That is evident from his words “falling away,” or apostasy:

 

For that day [of the Lord] shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin [Antichrist] be revealed, the son of perdition.” (2 Thes 2:3)

 

Although a true Christian cannot fall away, a false Christian can. Fall away from what? From the faith in Christ that he or she has outwardly professed without inward reality. Those few apostates who announce themselves as atheists or convert to Buddhism or Hinduism are not the concern of Christ and Paul in this verse. They are warning of a turning from the truth within the professing church. Other scriptures confirm this, as we shall see.

 

Paul warns us not to be deceived into thinking that the apostasy won’t come. It must. Such a warning can mean only that in the last days many will reject the biblical teaching that apostasy is inevitable. The false prophets to whom Christ refers will use their signs and wonders to support their false teaching that revival, not apostasy, is underway. Paul therefore warns us not to be deceived with talk about revival: the apostasy must come, or Christ will not return!

 

False signs and wonders will be an integral part of the apostasy. The departure from the truth will be spearheaded by apparent miracle workers, and the delusion will be made possible by a prevailing emphasis upon experience over doctrine: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Tm 4:3). Christ declares,

 

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Mt 7:22-23)

 

These apostates of whom Christ speaks do not lose their salvation; they were never saved (“I never knew you”). Yet they are high-profile Christian leaders apparently performing signs and wonders in the name of Christ. Tragically, they seem to think that their ability to prophesy and to perform wonders proves that they belong to Him. The signs and wonders are so impressive that doctrine no longer matters – exactly what we see today!

 

Surely these of whom Christ speaks in Matthew 7 must be the same “false Christs and false prophets” to whom He refers in Matthew 24. Moreover, the signs and wonders they are able to perform are apparently so impressive that without discernment by the Holy Spirit even the very elect would be deceived by them. Obviously, something more than mere trickery is involved. These miracle workers are backed by the power of Satan, whom they unwittingly serve in the name of the Lord.

 

The Bible clearly predicts a last-days signs and wonders movement – but it will be of Satan, and thus a delusion that will deceive many. After a solemn warning that in the last days “perilous times [not revival!] shall come,” Paul makes this remarkable statement:

 

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these [apostates] also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. (2 Tm 3:8)

 

Jannes and Jambres were the magicians in Pharaoh’s court who, through the power of Satan, duplicated (up to a point) the miracles that God did through Moses and Aaron. Paul thus declares that the last-days opposition to the truth will not come so much from outside the church but from those within who are reprobate concerning the faith: depraved men who corrupt the truth. And they do so by performing apparent miracles in Christ’s name some of which (when more than mere trickery) are actually of Satan. In that way, they deceive and lead many astray – not out of the church but into false doctrine and thus a false hope within the church. Satan has no more effective tactic to damn souls!

 

Such [deception] involving the whole gamut of today’s revival scene must be seriously faced! Videos of the services show people crawling on the floor, howling like wolves, barking like dogs, roaring like lions, going through bodily contortions impossible without the aid of some spiritual power, unable to speak or even remember their names when they try to give a testimony – and worse. Many of those being baptized seem to lose consciousness or shake so violently that they must be carried out of the baptismal tank or they would drown. Others flail about so wildly as to require several men to handle them. That such things could now be widely accepted as evidence of the Holy Spirit can only testify to the depths of the delusion!

 

Jude exhorts us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Contend against whom? Surely not primarily against godless enemies outside the church. The warning concerns those within: “For there are certain men crept in unawares” (v. 4). Crept in can only mean inside the church.

 

Paul confirms Jude in addressing the Ephesian elders: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). The spiritual deception of which Christ warned would be rampant within the church.

 

In further confirmation, Christ warned His disciples that “the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (Jn 16:2) – a most remarkable prophecy. He can’t be referring to the slaughter of Christians by the Caesars or by Mao or Stalin or Hitler, for they did not believe they were thereby serving God. Yes, when the Jews of Jesus’ day killed the early Christians, they thought they were serving God; so did the Roman Catholics when they slaughtered the true Christians before and after the Reformation; and so it was when Muslims killed Christians. But none of this was the complete fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy.

 

“Whosoever” is the key. Neither the Pharisees, the popes, nor the Muslims were alone in killing Christians. Others pursued them to the death at the same time. But Christ is saying that a time is coming when whosoever (in other words, everyone) who kills Christians will think he is serving God thereby. That can only mean that a world religion to which everyone must belong is coming, a religion that will seek to exterminate true Christians in the name of God. John saw the same scene in the future:

 

And it was given unto him [Antichrist] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them….And I beheld another beast…he exerciseth all the power of the first beast…and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast….And he had power to…cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (Rv 13:7-15)

 

To summarize, the scriptural warnings foretell the very delusion we find in our day: 1) a false signs and wonders movement led by many false prophets; 2) many being deceived through these seeming miracles; 3) the rejection of the biblical teaching concerning apostasy, and the insistence that we are in the midst of, or at least building up to, the “greatest revival in the history of the church.” The promise of revival will be part of the last-days deception, Paul warns, so beware! Instead, in the days preceding the Rapture there will be a great apostasy, a falling away from the faith. Don’t be part of it!

 

That we must earnestly contend for the faith against those who have crept into the church implies that the battle is not so much one of faith against unbelief, but rather of true faith against false faith. And that, too, is precisely what we see today. Articles in leading medical journals cite studies showing that those who have any “religious faith” are more likely to recover from illness. Christianity Today ran a major article naïvely promoting these studies as though they were supportive of the truth.1 Thus God has been reduced to a placebo that can come in any shape, size, or color.

 

Multitudes of Christians imagine that faith is believing that what they are praying for will happen and that if they truly believe, they will have whatever they ask. Obviously, if things happen because one believes they will, then one doesnʼt need God. This is mind power, not the faith in God that Christ taught (Mk 11:22)….

 

An Afterword from T. A. McMahon

 

In the eighteen years since Dave wrote the above article, the apostasy has intensified in ways that are mind numbing. I write this from the perspective of one who worked with Dave for more than three decades and learned from him how to discern trends that are taking hold in the church, drawing both professing and even true Christians away from the Word of God. I remember that just three years following our book The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days (1985) we were astonished by how much worse things had become, spiritually, during that short time. But that was then. 

Today seems like light years (or “dark years”) away. At that time, the New Age was dawning. Today we have “Christian” yoga practiced in church sanctuaries. Back then, evangelical leaders were dialoguing with Roman Catholic leaders; today Lent, Ash Wednesday, and the sacred Catholic ritual of the Stations of the Cross have become popular among “Protestants.” In those days, Christian youth were mostly being entertained in their fellowships; now they are being led into emergent contemplative and social gospel ideas. Then, the cults were making headway; today cultic teachings abound throughout Christendom. Then, “Christian” psychology was infecting the church; now, that pseudo-science has contaminated “biblical” counseling. Bible studies (where the Bible was actually studied) and prayer meetings were then rare; currently, books by popular Christian authors have displaced Scripture completely, and prayer has turned into “Lord, give me…” sessions. Back then, faith was being turned into a “force”; today, rare is the Christian who can tell you what biblical faith even is. False prophets used to be found primarily on “Christian” TV; now they proliferate on bestseller lists and head up prosperous “non-profit” organizations. We used to see TV preachers encouraging greed; currently, they sell survival food that they promote through fear-mongering techniques.

 

We are in those days characterized by Scripture as ones in which the church “will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Tm 4:3). Discernment has all but disappeared. The only antidote lies in the Word – diligence in studying it, reading it, and obeying it by the Spirit.

 

 

The topic on everyone’s lips and mind today is revival. Christian TV and radio and best-selling books persuasively argue that we are in the midst of the greatest revival of Christianity in the history of the world….It comes as a shock to many to learn that the word “revival” does not appear even once in the entire King James Bible. The hope of revival, which excites so many today, is not even a biblical concept. Ask yourself a few questions: Is Christ not indwelling us? Is He not in our midst each time we meet? Are we not to be filled with the Holy Spirit at all times? Is not the Word of God sufficient? Why, then, run after signs and wonders as though unusual manifestations prove that God is at work while neglecting what God has already given us? In the meantime, undertake a study to see what the Bible says. Check every source (including TBC) against Scripture! Be a Berean.  TBC

 

First published in October 1997 

 

EndNotes

  1. Christianity Today (Jan. 6, 1997), 20-30.

 

 

Bibiographic details:

 

This is an excerpt from

http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/dangerouspractices.html

Potentially Harmful and Dangerous Spiritual Practices

Compiled from numerous sources by Chris Lawson

Contemplative Spirituality / Spiritual Formation (Please read note below)

  • “Ancient Prayer” Practices
  • Awareness of Being
  • Being in the Present Moment
  • Beyond Words
  • Breath Prayers
  • Contemplative
  • Centering
  • Centering prayer
  • Dark night of the soul
  • Divine Center
  • Divine Mystery
  • Enneagrams
  • Ignation Contemplation
  • Inner light
  • Jesus Candles
  • Labyrinths
  • Lectio Divina
  • Mantras
  • Mantra prayers
  • “Palms Up, Palms Down”
  • Practicing the Presence
  • Prayer of the Heart
  • Prayer Stations
  • Sacred Space
  • Slow Prayer
  • Spiritual Direction
  • Spiritual Disciplines
  • Spiritual Formation
  • Taize
  • The Jesus Prayer
  • Thin Place
  • The Silence
  • Yoga

SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY PRACTICES:

The contemplative spirituality catch phrases and practices referred to above are used by Eastern occultists, religious mystics, and many “well-intentioned” Christians.   Almost the enitre list of these practices has been gleaned from Eastern mysticism and the occult – and they have been brought into Christian settings.  Due to the massive explosion of experience driven Christianity and the endorsements of many well known personalities, these practices are now thought by many to actually be “Christian”.

It must be clearly noted however that “Christian mystics” gleaned these practices from Eastern religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism.  (See The Desert Fathers, Fr. Bede Griffiths, Fr. Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton, etc.)  As such, they are “Christianized” forms of non-Christian practices.  Even biblical prayer has been convoluted and re-defined as “centering prayer”, the “Jesus prayer”, “slow prayer”, “mantra prayer”, “meditation” (unbiblcal forms), etc.

We make special note of this here because oftentimes the “results” that people experience from these Eastern practices are contrary to biblical theology and balanced Christian practice.  With this in view, it is no wonder that a number of so-called Christian leaders in our age have adopted a pantheistic, occult worldview – in place of a biblical, Christian worldview.  The proof of this can be found in their books and sermons.  The tragic end result of this is that many undiscerning church-goers (and quite a number of true Christians) are now being subjected to and influenced by an unbiblical Christianity.  This new Christianized form of Eastern spirituality is an amalgamation of Eastern occult practices mixed with theologically corrupted biblical terminology.  In theory it has major problems and in practice it can very quickly lead to spiritual delusion.

Another very serious problem that can arise through the use of a number of these practices is direct, overt contact with the spirit world apart from God.  The technique or practice of “Centering prayer” as contemplatives call it, has a very strong potential to introduce well-intentioned people to occult practices such as Clairvoyance, Clairaudience and Clairsentience, etc.  The Bible calls this divination, a form of the occult condemned by God Himself (Deuteronomy 18).  Click here to see many references of the biblical condemnation of divination in any form).

It is very simple to do the research and find out just where these practices originate from and how they have crept into the church.  Sadly, many refuse to look at the facts!

Finish HERE

Originally posted on My Word Like Fire:

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is weak on doctrine and lacking in wisdom, judgment, and discernment.

For some in this movement, that is an understatement: The Grand Poohbah of the NAR, C. Peter Wagner, holds to open theism. This is the belief that God might not have absolute foreknowledge of all things. [1] Apparently there are a few in the apostolic movement who “hold to the doctrine of Oneness,” and Wagner is okay with these (heretics) who reject Trinitarian understanding. [2]

From Bethel Redding leader Bill Johnson’s acceptance of kenosis to IHOP-KC’s Mike Bickle’s promotion of contemplative prayer, the New Apostolic Reformation leaders have brought much error into the church.

This brings us to NAR “prophet” Chuck Pierce, who ceremonially gave a mantle to Glenn Beck, a Mormon.

According to Holly Pivec, “So when Pierce presented a mantle to Beck, people in the audience–who regard Pierce as a prophet–understood that…

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FOUR BLOOD MOONS OR
FOUR RED FLAGS OVER AMERICA

By Pastor John Muncy

This is the single most deadly prophetic heresy in many years. It is based on something real, and on biblical Jewish feast days. But this teaching now promoted by John Hagee is profoundly heretical and violates the very words of Jesus Christ.

Just so you know my opinion from the start; I will spill the beans and say that I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the rapture WILL NOT occur on April 15, 2014, if you disagree with me, we can talk about it on Wednesday, April 16th. (Yes, there are some who are taking this blood moon theory way out of proportion, even though most who are teaching on this don’t believe that. However, some believe that the Great Tribulation could be started on one of the blood moons.)

 

I’m convinced that the first of the four blood moons will be like every other day, with no big significant change in our world. And again later in October, when the second one occurs, and then when the other two blood moons show up 2015, I’m convinced that they will not usher in the coming of Christ, nor will that be the beginning date for the Great Tribulation. Of course, not everyone who believes the blood moon theory believes that either, but there are a large number of people expecting “major” events to arrive on those dates. The blood moon dates are as follows:

April 15, 2014
October 8, 2014
April 4, 2015
September 28, 2015

Let’s go back to how this teaching got started…

Finish Article HERE

Originally posted on My Word Like Fire:

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17)

Jonathan Welton is one of the contributors (along with Bill and Beni Johnson) to The Physics of Heaven, a book which seemingly serves as a roadmap to Christian entanglement with the New Age and Quantum mysticism.

While writing a booklet concerning The Physics of Heaven, I was fascinated to learn Jonathan Welton states, “I have found throughout Scripture at least 75 examples of things that the New Age has counterfeited, such as having a spirit guide, trances, meditation, auras, power objects, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and more. These actually belong to the church, but they have been stolen and cleverly repackaged.” [1]

Incredibly, Welton believes, “We need…

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Originally posted on Following Jesus Christ:

 What Does the Scripture Mean: “Greater Works than these shall he do….?”  

 John 14:12

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; andgreater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.  John 14:12 (KJV)

Jesus Christ says, In Matthew 18:8-9, that if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away, for it is better to live this life maimed than to have two hands and two feet and to be cast into “everlasting fire.” If that wasn’t clear enough, Jesus goes on to state that even if one of our eyes is causing us to sin, it is better to pluck it out and throw it away than to have two eyes for this life, but to be cast into the fires of…

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Originally posted on My Word Like Fire:

I have just finished reading GOD’S SUPER-APOSTLES, by R. Douglas Geivett and Holly Pivec. The book is important enough that I am reading it again before I write a review. The authors’ other book, A NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION: A Biblical Response to a World Wide Movement, is even more in depth.

The Body of Christ has been greatly affected by the New Apostolic Reformation and its advocates, even when this term is not recognized. Mike Bickle of International House of Prayer, Bill Johnson of Bethel Redding, Chuck Pierce, Cindy Jacobs, C. Peter Wagner, and many others in the NAR sphere have influenced the Body of Christ.

Geivett and Pivec have written a balanced book. They write without anger and without rancor. They give a fair portrayal of NAR teachings and practices, which they examine in light of the Scriptures.

Toward the end of the book one paragraph in particular…

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Part 6: The Physics of Heaven
A Serial Book Review & Theological Interaction

Read Part 1: “The Physics of Heaven”
Read Part 2: “The Power of the Zero-Point Field”
Read Sidebar: “Jesus’ Lesser Works”
Read Part 3: “Extracting the Precious From the Worthless”
Read Part 4: “Vibrating in Harmony With God”
Read Part 5: BILL JOHNSON: Squandering Our Spiritual Inheritance

Unsagacious: having or showing no acute mental discernment and no keen practical sense; not shrewd; not wise.

 

Review of Chapter 5 authored by Jonathan Welton,
“Authentic vs. Counterfeit”
[1]

“I have found throughout Scripture at least 75 examples
of things that the New Age has counterfeited,
such as having a spirit guide, trances, meditation, auras,
power objects, clairvoyance, clairaudience,
and more.
These actually belong to the church,
but they have been stolen and cleverly repackaged.”
—Jonathan Welton, The Physics of Heaven, p. 49, emphasis added

Thesis
Ironically, this chapter, “Authentic vs. Counterfeit” by Jonathan Welton,[2] proposes that Christians should pursue separating the true from the false in New Age Religion, and reclaim the truths that religion stole from the church. The chapter’s “most important point” is,

If there is a counterfeit, there is an authentic that we need to find and reclaim. Every time we see a masquerade, we need too look closely to properly discern what is being counterfeited, because a counterfeit is evidence that an authentic exists. (TPOH, 42)

“Resistors” and “Fearers”
To advance his bold thesis, Welton needs to discredit conservative Christian critics who question the legitimacy of such a reclamation project and therefore states, “The way that God moves in power looks a lot like the New Age, and this has scared many Christians away from the operating gifts of the Holy Spirit.”(TPOH, 45) So he breaks down the way religious people view the supernatural into 3 Groups—

  1. Those who operate in the supernatural realm authentically (i.e., the signs and wonders crowd of the New Apostolic Reformation);
  2. Those who operate in the supernatural realm fraudulently (i.e., New Agers, Buddhists, Hindus and Occultists); and
  3. Those who view the supernatural realm skeptically.

Welton perceives Group 3 to be comprised of “fellow Christians who believe false doctrines regarding the operation of supernatural power.”(TPOH, 48) In contrast to the charismatic crowd that embraces the supernatural under the “the lordship of Jesus Christ,” Group 3 is comprised of those who fear supernatural phenomena, and presumably do not live under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Welton bio on TheElijahList, 4/27/12


The New Normal
Welton compares these “resistors” to the Pharisees who after they observed the miracles Jesus worked by the Spirit, blasphemed the Holy Spirit by ascribing Jesus’ miraculous power to have been Satan’s (Luke 11:14-15). (Note: Unlike the Sadducees, the Pharisees were not anti-supernatural.)[3] To Welton, the new Christian normal involves free operation in the supernatural realm, performing signs and wonders at will. Yet upon their seeing miracles performed by manifest sons of God, Welton states that, “There will always be those who resist the Holy Spirit,” and “what may surprise you (as you become normal) is that the strongest resistance does not come from the sinner but from the fellow saint.”(TPOH, 49) Therefore, “Being a normal Christian” Welton informs, “is not for the faint of heart.”(TPOH, 49) So we turn to give attention to some of the spiritual activities which will comprise the new normal, activities which it is surmised, originally belonged to the church but were stolen by the New Age Movement. Welton writes:

“I have found throughout Scripture at least 75 examples of things that the New Age has counterfeited, such as having a spirit guide, trances, meditation, auras, power objects, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and more. These actually belong to the church, but they have been stolen and cleverly repackaged.” [Emphasis added, TPOH, 49]

We turn now to deal with the “things” Welton claims belonged to the church but were stolen, repackaged and used to promote New Age spirituality.

 

Continue HERE 

Favorite Scriptures #4 – God chose the weak and the foolish things of the world to shame the strong and the wise. ( 1 Corinthians 1:17 – 2:5)

The Way of the World…And the Way of God

 From Following  Jesus Christ.

http://followingjesuschrist3.com/2014/10/17/favorite-scripture-4-god-chose-the-weak-and-the-foolish-to-shame-the-strong-and-the-wise-1-corinthians-117-25/

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” 1 Corinthians 1: 27-29

No scripture quite annihilates the patterns of this world – and sadly modern Christianity – as powerfully and as comprehensively as 1 Corinthians 1:17 – 2:5. In that passage, which I will quote in full below, Paul expounds, in clear and incisive language, on how exactly God chose and chooses to influence this world. It is a direct indictment of every earthly institution – including the modern church. He does not use the rich, the eloquent, the beautiful and the powerful. Instead, God chooses the weak and the foolish and the broken. He chooses empty things and lonely things, and things that are not to nullify the things that are so that no one…may boast before him.

17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel– not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. 26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 

Chapter 2

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

 The world, including, in very large part, our churches and Christian organizations, send us the message that we are to admire and follow the lead of successful businessmen, “Christian” politicians, the talented, the athletic, the wealthy and the beautiful. We are taught, in word and by example, to uphold those with obvious temporal gifts, and leaders are chosen accordingly. Why do we do this when it is contrary to everything we see in the scriptures? The Apostle John tells us “flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit to spirit.” (John 3:6). Yet time and time again, we as believers choose the temporal, the flesh, over the spiritual, when it comes to those we follow and admire.

Jesus was born to teenage parents…in a barn. He spent most of his life performing manual labor as a carpenter. Isaiah 53 makes it clear that he was not physically attractive so that people would not be drawn to his outward appearance – but to his spirit. During his time of ministry Jesus said that, even foxes and birds have holes and dens in which to live, yet He had no place to rest his head. The Living God did not even have a place to call home in while on this earth. The Apostle Paul, among others, followed this example and traveled the known world on foot and by cargo ship, seeking, not to gain wealth or temporal power but only to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that perhaps, some might be saved…for Paul was looking to an eternal kingdom, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to the city of the living God. (Hebrews 12:22).

Jesus chose his disciples from among the uneducated and the despised. He chose fishermen and a tax collector to become the preeminent leaders in the kingdom of God. He chose men who were nothing in this world, to sit in judgment over the twelve tribes of Israel at the end of the age. Why didn’t Jesus choose successful merchants, political leaders – or even priests and military officers to be his disciples? Because such men were already full – full of pretense, and power, wealth and the admiration of men – just like the wealthy and the powerful today.

Jesus makes it abundantly clear that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven…very difficult. Why? Because their reputations and hopes are built on worldly achievements that have earned them, temporarily, financial security, the respect of men, and earthly power. Flesh truly does give birth to more flesh, and absent great brokenness and great humility, wealth and power are very difficult fates to escape.

In my experience I have rarely, if ever, seen a successful businessman or an influential person in the temporal sense, truly become a disciple of Christ – counting everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, for whose sake Paul gladly lost all things. (Philippians 3:7-14) I have seen such men engage in church meetings and Bible studies, building friendships and gaining knowledge – and even tipping a little of the pride and wealth out of their full cup. But typically it seems that the purpose of this activity is to have better relationships with family, learn new principles of leadership and gain new friends – and even business partners – rather to than to learn what it means to fall face down in humility and repentance before the consuming fire who is the Living God.

Even in our churches, it is the beautiful and the hip who take center stage leading worship and often preaching. The deacon and elder boards are filled with successful businessmen who contribute financially to the church and thus, have more control than any man deserves…not because of their character in Jesus Christ, but because of money and standing in the community. The eloquent and the clever speak and teach…yet Paul came in weakness and fear and with much trembling so that his message and his teaching would not rest on his wisdom…but on God’s power. Unfortunately, the western church may have gained much of the world by embracing its culture and methods…but it has also perhaps, forfeited its soul. May we not do the same.

 

Find Article HERE

Kim:

Another great article…….please read.

Originally posted on Following Jesus Christ:

                                     FALSE PROPHETS AND TEACHERS

“God is light. In him there is no darkness at all.” (1John 1:5b)

“See to it, then, that the light within you isn’t darkness.”(Luke 11:35)

“A wicked and adulterous generation seeks a sign. “ (Matthew 12:39)

“…I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119:128b)

 “…Do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)     

“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

“We demolish…every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God….” (2 Cor. 10:5a)

In Acts 20:29-35, Paul warns believers that, after he departs, ravenous wolves will come among them, not sparing the flock. Even from amongst the brethren,  evil men will…

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