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As you desire to grow in your faith, you need to be discerning about who you listen to. Whose books will you read for teaching and encouragement? Whose blogs and podcasts will you subscribe to? Whose Bible study material will you use in your small group? Whose preaching will you sit under?
Those questions really matter, because truth really matters.
John’s concern for the readers of 1 John 4:1-6 is that they would be careful of who influences them. When it comes to spiritual teaching, he says, we need to know what’s true and what’s false (1 John 4:6).
In this passage, John instructs us in four ways that we can grow in discernment.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit… for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
John’s first point is simple: don’t believe everything you hear. There are people in this world claiming to teach truth—to speak by the power of the Spirit of God—who are actually teaching lies. Actually, there are many.
Jesus said that this would happen, and he gave two particular warnings regarding false teachers:
Jesus warns in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Try to picture what Jesus is saying. A false teacher dresses the part. He says many of the right things and acts in the right ways. But, as he creeps into a position of influence, he comes to destroy people by leading them away from the truth.
Jesus also warns us in Matthew 24:11 that, “Many false prophets will arise and lead many people astray” (emphasis added). This should give you pause any time you’re tempted to think that the size of the following validates the goodness of a teacher.
It’s possible for someone to be famous, well-educated, a New York Times Bestseller, have that coveted blue check-mark next to their name on Twitter, and use that fame to lead people away from the truth, and away from Christ.
John says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). John gives us two questions to ask about every teacher who claims to speak God’s truth:
1 John 4:2 says, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses…Jesus Christ…is from God, and every spirit that that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”
Someone who won’t tell you about Jesus is not speaking the truth about God. Jesus is the only way to really know God. So, if you want to know the truth about God, then you need to know about Jesus. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6).
1 John 4:2 continues, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God” (emphasis added).
Central to John’s letter, central to Christianity is not only the teaching that Jesus came, but why he came. And John lays it out for us in 1 John 4:10: “God sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
A propitiation is a sacrifice that takes away wrath. Because of our sin, we deserve to face wrath—the just punishment of God. But in his grace, God sent his Son to suffer in our place at the cross, and take our wrath upon himself. In order for Jesus to take the sins of human beings upon himself, it was necessary for him to actually become a human. So he came “in the flesh.”
If we are going to grow in discernment, we need to steep ourselves in the Scriptures!
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When John says that true teachers confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, he means that they confess that Jesus Christ came to die and to bear the wrath we deserved—they proclaim the cross of Christ.
The cross has always been controversial. It’s the glaring declaration that you and I are sinners, making it undeniably clear that God takes sin seriously. And there are always people who will try and deny these truths.
But anyone who diminishes, denies, or despises the cross is ripping the heart out of our faith.
Put all teachers to the test. Do they speak about Jesus? Do they speak about Jesus’s saving work at the cross? If not, don’t believe what they say.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, John says, you are from God and you have already overcome false teachers. They hold no power over you. How is that possible?
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
In John 16:13, Jesus called the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of truth,” and said that “when he comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”
This is one of the things the Holy Spirit does in our lives. When we are in a position where we need to be discerning, and we need to put teaching to the test, God is at our side to guide and to help.
So a simple, but profoundly important way to grow in discernment is to ask the Spirit for help. God delights to answer that kind of prayer.
The Spirit of God will always help us discern the truth of God through the Word of God.
In the following verses John distinguishes the false teachers from himself and the other apostles: “They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us” (1 John 4:5-6).
He says that false prophets are from the world. But, he and the other apostles of Jesus are from God.
Like the prophets of the Old Testament, the apostles of the New Testament were uniquely empowered by God to speak God’s Word. So, when John says, “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us,” the application for us is to listen to the words of the apostles in our Bibles!
If we are going to grow in discernment, we need to steep ourselves in the Scriptures!
So, this is how you can grow in discernment: Realize there are false teachers, put all teachers to the test, ask God for help, and listen to the Word.
WAGNER’S LIE: “THE NAR…..HAS NO LEADER.”
The above quote from C. Peter Wagner was in an article he wrote titled ‘The New Apostolic Reformation Is Not a Cult‘. His attempt to distance himself as being the head of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) needs to be noted.
“The NAR is not an organization. No one can join or carry a card. It has no leader.
I have been called the “founder,” but this is not the case.“
This is a half truth, which means Wagner was lying. The truth is that he became the leader of the NAR because of what he observed developing over time through the New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) movement’s Charismatic Renewal Movement (CRM). He observed, and documented, the rise of this apostolic phenomena and even named it. His research and defense of Charismatic Apostles and Prophets eventually led him…
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4:24 / The seriousness of what they had to tell and their sense of dependence upon God were such that the whole group fell to prayer. The expression they raised their voices together has been taken to mean that they were all inspired to say exactly the same words, but that implies too mechanical a view of inspiration. They may all have prayed in turn (as others suggest), but in that case Luke has given us only the general thrust of their various prayers. Some have gone further, to suggest that he simply composed what he thought to be an appropriate prayer for the occasion, but that runs into the snag that it reflects a very different view to Luke’s own of the part played by Herod and Pilate in Jesus’ death. In the Gospel he shows Pilate, especially, to have been a reluctant participant, whereas here both he and Herod are cast in leading roles among those who brought it about (see also notes on v. 27). Perhaps the best explanation is that one person prayed and all assented, either by repeating the prayer phrase by phrase or by adding their Amen at the end. At all events, it was an occasion that showed them all to be “one in heart and mind” (v. 32; see disc. on 1:14).
The prayer itself may have been based on the prayer of Hezekiah (Isa. 37:16–20), and like that prayer, its dominant theme is God’s sovereignty. This is declared at the outset in their address to God (cf. Rev. 6:10 and the description of Christ in 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4). The Greek word despotēs denotes “absolute ownership and uncontrolled power,” especially that of a master over a slave. Compare Luke 2:29 where “your slave” (so the Greek) answers to it, as here “your slaves” (so again the Greek) in verse 29. It also expresses here, as often in the lxx (cf. Job. 5:8; Wisdom 6:7), the sovereignty of God in creation. The same word is used of the gods in classical Greek, but the creator of the heaven and the earth and the sea is no “despot” as they often were. His rule is absolute, but never exercised in the absence of wisdom and love. Nor is it restricted to the act of creation. He is the Sovereign no less in human affairs: “He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’ ” (Dan. 4:35).
24a. When they heard this, they raised their voices together to God.
As soon as the apostles are released, they rush to “their own people,” as Luke reports. Who are these people? We cannot say that they constitute the entire church in Jerusalem, for then we have to think in terms of at least five thousand men (v. 4). Perhaps Luke has in mind the original group that used to meet in the upper room after Jesus’ ascension (see 1:13–15).
Here we have the communion of the saints. Those who prayed for the release of the prisoners now receive a detailed report from the former prisoners themselves Peter and John relate to their friends the proceedings of the court trial and report the questions the chief priests and elders asked and the threats these rulers made. Furthermore, all the other apostles are interested in knowing the implications of the verdict Peter and John received.
Note that Luke mentions only the chief priests and the elders, who represent the Sanhedrin and the Sadducean party. We assume that these people had led the questioning during the trial. In Acts, this is the first time that Luke writes the plural expression chief priests, which includes the persons who belonged to the high priest’s family (see v. 6) and other representatives, including the captain of the temple guard.
Notice also that Luke mentions that the apostles gave a report concerning the questions and threats from the chief priests and elders but not about their own defense. The leaders of the Jerusalem church, therefore, are looking to the future and realize the dangers they are facing from the members of the Sanhedrin. Their only recourse is to flee to God in prayer.
From ev’ry stormy wind that blows,
From ev’ry swelling tide of woes,
There is a calm, a sure retreat;
’Tis found beneath the mercy-seat.
Together the leaders of the church pray to God, as they did after Jesus’ ascension (1:14). They find their strength and courage in intimate communion with God, for they realize that he rules in this world and will overrule the threats of the Sanhedrin.
24b. They said: “Lord, you have made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them.”
The prayer that Luke records is typically Jewish and is modeled after the petition Hezekiah uttered when the Assyrian army surrounded Jerusalem (Isa. 37:16–20). The leaders of the Jerusalem church now pray and address God as sovereign Lord (see Luke 2:29; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 4; Rev. 6:10). He is the sovereign ruler over everything he has made. He is the creator of the universe and master of all his servants (notice the term servant in the next verse [v. 25]).
When the apostles pray, they acknowledge God as creator of “the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them.” In fact, they quote from the Old Testament. Scriptures, which in numerous places record these words (Exod. 20:11; Neh. 9:6; Ps. 146:6; Isa. 37:16). They know the fundamental truth that God, who created heaven, earth, sea, and everything else, has the sovereign right to rule his creation. God rules in his creation; therefore, man’s will cannot stand up against the sovereign Lord for one moment.
4:24 Lord. The Gr. word is an uncommon NT title for God that means “absolute master” (Lk 2:29; 2Ti 2:21; 2Pe 2:1; Jude 4; Rev 6:10), which represented the disciples’ recognition of God’s sovereignty.
4:24 After praising God, the believers prayed, quoting Ps. 2:1–2 (Acts 4:25–26), which they treated as a messianic prophecy inspired by the Spirit speaking through David.
4:24 with one mind to God The Christians were unified not only in their prayer, but in their mindset, desires, and mission.
Master This way of addressing God is suitable in light of the recently failed challenges to Jesus’ lordship by the religious leaders.
one who made the heaven and the earth Because God reigns over all creation, He is the only one able to answer His people’s prayers and preserve them in the midst of danger. Compare Gen 1:1; 2 Kgs 19:15; Neh 9:6; Psa 146:6.
4:24 lifted their voices together to God. This activity was a natural result of the apostles’ training with Jesus and the habits they had formed (2:42).
Sovereign Lord. A term used to express the total creative power and control of the Lord over all His physical creation and over the affairs of humanity (cf. vv. 25, 26; Jer. 10:12).
 Williams, D. J. (2011). Acts (pp. 87–88). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 165–166). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ac 4:24). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2088). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ac 4:24). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1565). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in your words.
148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promise.
149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O LORD, according to your justice give me life.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:147–149). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
147–149 The psalmist’s intensity in prayer (“with all my heart,” v. 145; cf. v. 58) is matched by his intense loyalty to obedient living (“with all my heart,” vv. 34, 69). So intense is his longing for God’s salvation that he prays “for help” (v. 147; cf. 22:24; 28:2) “before” (qādam, GK 7709, “rise before”) dawn and “through” (qādam, v. 148, lit., “stay open before”) the watches of the night. Throughout the night he loves to “meditate” (śîaḥ, GK 8488; cf. vv. 15, 23, 27, 48, 99) on God’s “promises” (ʾimrâ). Having put his “hope” in God’s word, he waits for the Lord to come through (v. 147; cf. v. 81). The focus of his hope lies in the renewal of God’s “love” (ḥesed, v. 149), by which the Lord will justly (NIV, “according to your laws”) transform to “life” the present, adverse conditions.
119:147 Weigle writes, “This is a description of the devotional habits of a pious (man) who rises before dawn to begin his day with meditation and prayer.” Our motto should be, “No Bible, no breakfast.”
119:147 I rise before dawn. The poet’s first thought as he awakens is the Lord. His prayer is frequent as well as fervent.
119:149 according to your steadfast love … according to your justice. God’s love and devotion toward His people is not incompatible with His law.
119:145–149 So intense was his prayer that he confessed, I rise before the dawning of the morning. Before the light broke through the shadows of night, the psalmist was already prevailing upon God in prayer. My eyes are awake through the night watches: The Jews, like the Greeks and the Romans, divided the night into military watches instead of hours. Accompanying the prevailing prayer of the psalmist was a meditation in the Word of God. Prayer and reading the Word preceded the dawning of the day and continued unto the watches of the night. That is the secret of getting a hold on God.
 VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 885). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 746). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 849). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.
 Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (pp. 728–729). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
29 The only way this man (or any person) can “justify himself” is to limit the extent of the Law’s demand and consequently limit his own responsibility. This maneuver not only fails but also has an opposite effect. Jesus will change the man’s very words “who is my neighbor?” from a passive to an active sense (v. 36).
10:29. The leader tried to take the offense again and put Jesus on the defensive. One more trick question: Who is my neighbor? That is, how far does my love have to extend? Jewish legal interpretation sought to govern every situation and every relationship: Jew and Gentile; Jew and Roman; man and woman; free man and slave, priest and laity, clean and unclean, righteous and sinner. Every relationship was clearly defined, and the definitions determined how and when a person could participate in Jewish worship. The question was vital to Jewish identity.
Undoubtedly the questioner, proud man that he probably is (cf. Luke 18:9), is already chuckling within, thinking, “I have you where I want you now. You will never be able to answer this difficult question.” He is again trying to lure Jesus into committing a faux pas, a blunder. Simultaneously he is trying to absolve himself from any guilt: 29. But he, wishing to justify himself, said, And who is my neighbor?
On this point there was a wide variety of opinion among the Jews. There were those who perverted the command of Lev. 19:18 into meaning: “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” Jesus refutes this interpretation in Matt. 5:43–48. A widely accepted view seems to have been, “Love your neighbor, the Israelite.” The Pharisees, however, narrowed this down even more, namely, to “Love your neighbor, the Pharisee.” They reasoned, “But this rabble that does not know the law, accursed are they” (John 7:49). And the Qumran people were declaring that anyone who did not belong to their little group was “a son of darkness” and should be hated.
It is clear, therefore, that with the question, “And who is my neighbor?” the law-expert tried to quiet his own conscience and embarrass Jesus.
29 The link with the question of neighbor probably came with the parable to Luke, but the formulation here is likely to be largely a Lukan bridge from vv 25–28. The idiom represented here by δικαιῶσαι ἑαυτὸν, “to justify himself,” recurs at 16:15 (cf. 18:9, 14; 7:29) and is probably Lukan, as will be the use of πρός, “to,” after a verb of speaking. The lawyer wishes to appear in a good light, despite having lost the initiative to Jesus, and having been displaced from the position of challenger to that of the one being challenged. It is finally unclear whether the self-justification is thought to involve the justifying of his earlier question (“there is still a difficulty to be cleared up”—this is the common view), or whether we should see here a preparation for making a claim to having fulfilled what the law asks of him (Bailey, Peasant Eyes, 39; cf. Luke 18:9–12, 21). On the question of the scope of neighbor love, see at v 27. The question assumes a restricted scope for neighbor love (cf. Sir 12:1–4: “If you do good, know to whom you do it … and do not help the sinner”). “Neighbor” here is discussed further in Form/Structure/Setting above.
10:29 Instead of that, he sought to justify himself. Why should he? No one had accused him. There was a consciousness of fault and his heart rose up in pride to resist. He asked, “Who is my neighbor?” It was an evasive tactic on his part.
10:29 wishing to justify himself. This reveals the man’s self-righteous character. who is my neighbor? The prevailing opinion among scribes and Pharisees was that one’s neighbors were the righteous alone. According to them, the wicked—including rank sinners (such as tax collectors and prostitutes), Gentiles, and especially Samaritans—were to be hated because they were the enemies of God. They cited Ps 139:21, 22 to justify their position. As that passage suggests, hatred of evil is the natural corollary of loving righteousness. But the truly righteous person’s “hatred” for sinners is not a malevolent enmity. It is a righteous abhorrence of all that is base and corrupt—not a spiteful, personal loathing of individuals. Godly hatred is marked by a broken-hearted grieving over the condition of the sinner. And as Jesus taught here and elsewhere (6:27–36; Mt 5:44–48), it is also tempered by a genuine love. The Pharisees had elevated hostility toward the wicked to the status of a virtue, in effect nullifying the second Great Commandment. Jesus’ answer to this lawyer demolished the pharisaical excuse for hating one’s enemies.
10:29 Desiring to justify himself reveals the lawyer’s insincerity. who is my neighbor? An improper question, because the lawyer was trying to exclude responsibility for others by making some people “non-neighbors.” A more appropriate question would be, “How can I be a loving neighbor?”
10:29 wanting to justify himself The legal expert seeks to support his claim to be righteous (perhaps only in his own mind) and presses Jesus to define the term “neighbor.”
And who is my neighbor The legal expert’s question and his own answer in Luke 10:37 frame the parable of the Good Samaritan.
10:29 Luke makes it clear that the lawyer was trying to place himself in the position of satisfying the highest demands of the law. who is my neighbor: This question was an attempt to limit the demands of the law by suggesting that some people are neighbors while others are not. The lawyer was looking for minimal obedience while Jesus was looking for absolute obedience.
 Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 199). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Butler, T. C. (2000). Luke (Vol. 3, p. 172). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, pp. 592–593). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
 Nolland, J. (1998). Luke 9:21–18:34 (Vol. 35B, p. 592). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1410). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Lk 10:29). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1977). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Lk 10:29). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1273). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
This writer has been concerned for some time that the powers-that-be (i.e., the globalist Establishment that controls both US political parties, the media, and most US institutions and power centers) want to push America and the entire world into a major war (i.e., World War III). They see the erosion of their power and influence via Brexit, the Trump upset, and the coming financial collapse, and they believe that they can retain their power in the context of a major war and also advance their agenda for a one world government. Had their presidential choice of Hillary Clinton been elected, a major war (probably in 2017) was virtually guaranteed.
But it now seems that with the very strong neocon/Establishment influence inside the Trump administration the trajectory towards a major war with Russia, China, North Korea, Iran – or all of the above – is still drawing ominously closer. Instead of negotiations and rapprochement with Russia and China, the Trump administration is escalating its confrontational rhetoric and moving more troops, weapons, missiles, and warships close to Russian and Chinese territory, and into the Middle East. At this point, it appears that American foreign policy is hell-bent on challenging Russia and China to a duel – a duel that could ultimately be fought with nuclear weapons. Rhetoric and troop/weapon movements on all sides are escalating sharply at this writing. As the title to this issue says (quoting the old French Proverb), “The more it changes, the more it remains the same.”
In Summary: Iran just conducted another provocative missile test; more US troops are being sent to the Middle East; it was just announced that the US military will be sending B-1 and B-52 bombers to South Korea in response to North Korea firing four missiles into the seas near Japan; and China is absolutely livid that a US carrier group just sailed through contested waters in the South China Sea. American and NATO forces are moving into Poland and closer to the Russian border, while increasing their deployment of missiles. Russia (which is currently deploying new nuclear submarines and a new generation of sub-launched nuclear supersonic cruise missiles) is responding with more nuclear missile submarines off of the US East and West coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico. How do you spell “p-r-o-v-o-c-a-t-i-o-n” and “e-s-c-a-l-a-t-i-o-n”?
(Excerpt from McAlvany Intelligence Advisor, March 2017)