Category Archives: Biblical Lesson/Teaching

Deadly Doctrines: The Pattern and Protection

Paul warns Timothy that people “will turn away from listening to the truth.” The first step in destroying a church is a corporate rejection of the plain teaching of the Bible. First, one individual turns away, and then another, until most of the congregation begins to question what they once held to be true.

We have learned that the church of every age is plagued by false teachers and their deadly doctrine. We have met seven of those false teachers and seen the devastation they bring. We have identified five tests we can apply to any doctrine to determine whether it is false or true. But this leaves us with some important questions: How does a church come to reject sound doctrine? How do we guard ourselves against false teachers and their deadly doctrines? How do we protect ourselves, our families, and our churches from their seductive lies? Thankfully, God has given us clear guidance in his Word, showing us how churches descend into deadly doctrine and how we may protect ourselves against it.

The Pattern of Deadly Doctrine

Most biblical scholars agree that 2 Timothy is Paul’s final letter. He has nearly come to the end of his life, so he picks up his pen to write once more to his young friend. In his last words to Timothy, Paul makes sure to warn him about the danger of false teachers. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). In these verses he gazes into the future and describes a church being undermined and destroyed. This is not a prophecy of the death of a single congregation, but a general description of the death of a thousand. He outlines four steps that can progressively lead any congregation from health to death.

Step 1: Reject truth. Paul warns Timothy that people “will turn away from listening to the truth.” The first step in destroying a church is a corporate rejection of the plain teaching of the Bible. First, one individual turns away, and then another, until most of the congregation begins to question what they once held to be true. This may happen gradually, as distrust toward God’s revealed truth spreads. Or it may come swiftly, as love of the world chokes the fruitfulness of a congregation. Either way, what was once love of truth morphs into dislike and then disgust. What was once hatred of error becomes intrigue and then interest.

Step 2: Reject truth-tellers. As a church turns away from the truth, its members soon turn against truth-tellers. Paul tells Timothy that in that days to come, people “will not endure sound teaching.” Such people will no longer tolerate the teaching they once enjoyed. Because they have begun to question the truth, they will turn against those who boldly proclaim it. The very teachers who once drew and delighted them will begin to repulse them.

Step 3: Embrace false teachers. Once a church has rejected those who teach the truth, it will replace them with teachers who give them what they want to hear. “Having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” This church now desires novelty over truth, platitudes over exhortation. They want religion, and they even want the label “Christian,” so long as they can keep society’s respect and stay palatable to a godless world. So they invite false teachers to guide them into a deeper, fuller twisting of the truth.

Step 4: Embrace false doctrine. Once people have rejected truth and truth-tellers, and once they have found teachers who will lead them into twisting truth, they will “wander off into myths.” Now they will embrace full-out heresy. They will become so hardened in their sin that they will elevate error to the status of truth. In their rebellion, they will celebrate in the name of God the very things that God hates. Under the guidance of false teachers, they will fully embrace deadly doctrine. They will wander off, like sheep straying away from the watchful care of a good shepherd into a pack of wolves.

Paul outlines a tragic progression that begins with people growing weary and ashamed of truth. No longer willing to endure sound teaching, they get rid of the truth-tellers and accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. Inevitably, they turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. Countless churches have been destroyed by this deadly pattern.

The Protection Against Deadly Doctrine

Remember that Paul is writing to young pastor Timothy to instruct him in protecting his congregation. How can Timothy guard his church against succumbing to false teachers and deadly doctrine? Should he study the methods of the heretics so he can anticipate their every move? Should he study the doctrine of the heretics so he can refute it point by point? Paul offers a far simpler solution: preach. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

The solution to false teachers and deadly doctrine is not to obsess with falsehoods, but to pursue truth. The church that remains faithful to God is the church that remains faithful to the Word of God. Here is how Paul tells Timothy—and each of us—to protect the church against the pattern of deadly doctrine.

Preach the Word. The church that wishes to remain healthy must preach the word of God. Preaching is only as powerful as its faithfulness to the Bible. The most faithful way to preach the Word is to preach expositorily (or expositionally), to ensure the point of a text becomes the point of the sermon. This form of preaching constrains the pastor to God’s Word and ensures the congregation that every word is drawn faithfully from the Scriptures.

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The post Deadly Doctrines: The Pattern and Protection appeared first on The Aquila Report.

What Christians Need to Understand about Mercy

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What does it mean for Christians to be merciful? Jeremiah Johnson, a writer for Grace to You, has written a blog post titled “Blessed are the Merciful” on GTY.org. He starts out by quoting Martyn Lloyd Jones from his work, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount:

A Christian is something before he does something.

This reflects what Jesus says in His sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:2-11:

“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’
‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.’
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.’ 
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.’
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’
‘Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.’” (bold emphasis added)

These beatitudes reflect a heart attitude; righteousness comes from the heart and not works.  This doesn’t mean that good works don’t have a place in the Christian’s life because they do…but what motivates good works matters to Christ.

Johnson quotes John MacArthur from his book, The Only Way to Happiness:

“Living as a Christian means there is to be no veneer, no facade. Christianity is something that happens to us at the very center of our being, and from there it flows out to the activities of life. God has never been interested in only the blood of bulls and goats. He has never been interested in any superficial spiritual activity unless the heart is right. (see Amos 5:21-24) ”

The beatitude relating to mercy address an inward heart attitude, but it also relays how we are called to relate to others. So it follows that if God has granted us mercy, we will grant mercy to others. Johnson quotes MacArthur again in his definition of mercy:

“Mercy is seeing a man without food and giving him food. Mercy is seeing a person begging for love and giving him love. Mercy is seeing someone lonely and giving him company. Mercy is meeting the need, not just feeling it.”

So how can we show mercy to others, and how can we live it out every day?

Mercy shows up in our relationships: friendships, family, marriage, parenting, work, people we meet, etc.  Our natural tendency is to act in sinful, selfish ways; it is only with a transformed heart that we can truly be merciful toward someone else. Johnson references MacArthur’s direction for showing mercy through  pitying, prodding, praying, and preaching.

1. Mercy pities.

Today pitying has a negative tone associated with it, as no one wants to be pitied for fear they’ll lose their pride. However, there is a righteous pitying which Stephen displays in Acts 7:60:

“And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

2. Mercy prods.

Prodding also has a negative association in that people tend to find prodding by others to be annoying. This also has to do with pride and wanting to accomplish everything on our own. But merciful, gentle prodding done with the right motivation can aid in the confrontation of sin. Christians are called to prod with compassion and care, offering truth with grace and mercy.

3. Mercy prays.

It is merciful to pray for those who do not know God, and it is also merciful to pray with those who do not know God. As Christians we are called to pray for the lost, our neighbors, and the disobedient. MacArthur explains, “Our prayer is an act of mercy, for it releases God’s blessing.”

4. Mercy preaches.

How do you preach mercy to others? By sharing the gospel; for it is through the gospel that you first learned of mercy. MacArthur states, “I believe preaching the gospel is the most necessary and merciful thing you can do for the lost soul.

If we’re not pointing those we love, those we know, and those we just met to the gospel then “we’re withholding the greatest mercy imaginable,” writes Johnson.

Johnson brings us full circle to Matthew 5:7 by pointing out:

Getting back to the blessing of Matthew 5:7, what can we expect as the result of showing such mercy to others? Christ says the merciful “shall receive mercy.” That’s not, as some have tried to claim, a promise of reciprocal kindness, peace, and harmony between man. Christ isn’t guaranteeing us that people will treat us the way we treat them. Instead, He’s explaining that the merciful will receive mercy from God.”

Since we have received mercy from God, we are called to be merciful in all things and to all people. Because we have been forgiven, we are called to forgive all wrongs against us. As merciful Christians, we are called to show mercy just as Christ showed us mercy. This means mercy to those we love, mercy to those we disagree with, mercy to the refugees, orphans, widows, and the lost.

To read Jeremiah Johnson’s article in its entirety, please visit GTY.org.

Crosswalk Contributor Michael J. Kruger advises,

“In summary, we should be clear that both gospel proclamation and deeds of mercy should be part of the life of the church. We are not forced to choose. But we must also be careful to distinguish between them. Deeds of mercy are not the gospel.”

An act of mercy can be sharing the gospel with someone, but good deeds should never be substituted for the gospel. No matter how many good deeds we carry out, even with the right motivation, people still need to hear the gospel. Though we are called to extend mercy, our mercy cannot save someone…only God can, and God’s mercy must be shared through the words of the gospel.

Memory verse:
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” (Proverbs 27:5 ESV)

Related articles:
God is Merciful to the Grumblers
Vessels of Mercy: God, Grace, and Gollum
Never be Ashamed to Ask for Mercy

Related video:

BibleStudyTools.com: What does from biblestudytools on GodTube.

Image courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com

Publication date: January 30, 2017

Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.

Why we must oppose false teachers: They shut heaven’s door in people’s faces

In the sermon The Characteristics of False Spiritual Leaders, Part 1, John MacArthur said,

There have always been and there always will be in this world false spiritual leaders who pretend to represent God, but in fact do not represent God. The Old Testament talks about them, identifies them, and warns people to stay away from them. The New Testament does the same. In fact, Moses was in conflict with them in Egypt. Jeremiah was fighting with them in Judah. Ezekiel faced them and called them foolish prophets that followed their own spirit and have seen nothing. Our Lord warned of them as false Christ’s and false prophets who shall show great signs and wonders. The apostle Paul struggled against them as preachers of another gospel in Galatians Chapter 1, and purveyors of the doctrine of demons he called them in writing to Timothy.

Peter said they were false preachers who secretly bring in damnable heresies and they are like dogs who return to lick up their own vomit. John, the apostle, saw a coming anti-Christ and many anti-christs already present who denied Jesus as the true Christ. Jude saw them and called them deluded dreamers who defile the flesh. And Paul may have summed it up well when he said they are wolves whose desire is to enter in not sparing the flock. They’re always present and they’re always eager to counterfeit the work of God.

There is a story recorded by many a historical church father all the way through to twentieth century scholars like Henry Wace and Phillip Schaff, about the false teacher Cerinthus, a contemporary of the Apostle John. Here, Phillip Schaff tells it in his momentous book Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,

But Irenæus, in the first book of his work Against Heresies, gives some more abominable false doctrines of the same man, [Cerinthus] and in the third book relates a story which deserves to be recorded. He says, on the authority of Polycarp, that the apostle John once entered a bath to bathe; but, learning that Cerinthus was within, he sprang from the place and rushed out of the door, for he could not bear to remain under the same roof with him. And he advised those that were with him to do the same, saying, “Let us flee, lest the bath fall; for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.”

It’s a traditional story, not well documented, as Schaff notes,

This story is repeated by Eusebius, in Bk. IV. chap. 14. There is nothing impossible in it. The occurrence fits well the character of John as a “son of thunder,” and shows the same spirit exhibited by Polycarp in his encounter with Marcion … But the story is not very well authenticated, as Irenæus did not himself hear it from Polycarp, but only from others to whom Polycarp had told it.

Yet, two thousand years later, we still tell it. How different things are in our millennial times. Far from shouting that an enemy of God is present and all must flee lest they die under the tumbling stones of the house in which he enters, credible teachers and pastors partner with them! Rarely are false teachers excoriated from the pulpit by pastors, (or at all) thus transferring the same alarm and discernment to their sheep. Instead, if the false teachers are spoken of at any time, the subject is approached by such pastors and teachers as a deer mincing carefully up to the brook for a sip of water, delicately mentioning in general terms some vague notion that ‘False teaching is bad. Thank you for listening.’

Can you imagine the outcry if a teacher or pastor or blogger said, “Let us flee, lest the bath fall in while Beth Moore, the enemy of the truth, is there.”

Yet as MacArthur noted above, false teachers have always been a plague and a scourge upon the ministers and saints of the truth. They bring disrepute to the name of Jesus and worse, prevent people from entering the kingdom. In Matthew 23, we read of the devastating effects of their evil work. Jesus said bluntly reserving his worst woes and strident speech for the religious hypocrites,

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

This is an incredible statement.

False teachers shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.

Let that sink in.

For those people who decry discernment work and refuse to be discerning, speak of discerning things, or mark false teachers for the benefit of others, you are actually participating in helping to shut others out of the kingdom.

In the second sentence, we see that false teachers disallow people to go into the kingdom. This is the first woe repeated in different words. Jesus is stressing the result of false teachers’ work. In addition, he confirmed the false teachers (hypocrites’) ultimate destination.

Thirdly, false teachers make their students and followers twice as much a child of hell as they were. If you understand compounding interest, you understand that the student will grow up to be a false believer or a false teacher and then turn around and make their students twice the sons of hell they were, which will be…well, let’s look at this short definition of negatively compounding interest.

A $1000 investment which loses 50% of its value will need to work twice as hard (i.e. grow 100%) just to get back to it original value. An investment that loses 50% in the first year and 20% in the second year will have to grow 150 % in the third year to recoup its starting value.

And that is only losing half the value. Jesus said the next generation will be twice as bad, not just half as bad. Even if you don’t like numbers, you can see what the negative impact of succeeding generations of unaddressed false teachers will have on the overall health of the faith.

Later in his sermon The Characteristics of False Spiritual Leaders, Part 1,  John MacArthur said,

Now in looking at verses 1 to 12, I want to suggest to you that a good way to see this section is to see it as a description of the characteristic of a false spiritual leader. And there are five elements that false spiritual leaders lack and I believe the Lord gives them to us right here. They lack authority, they lack integrity, they lack sympathy, they lack spirituality, and they lack humility.

Go on and read of listen to the sermon, which is part of a series. There is a related series called Exposing False Spiritual Leaders, which is also good. Remember the key verse today, Matthew 23:13,

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in

It is serious, sisters. Serious. False teachers are not to be coddled, ignored, overlooked, tolerated, or treated non-judgmentally. They attack the sheep, prevent them from entering heaven, and make them children of hell twice as bad as they are.

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Further reading

Challies: 7 False teachers in the Church Today

The history of Christ’s church is inseparable from the history of Satan’s attempts to destroy her. While difficult challenges have arisen from outside the church, the most dangerous have always been from within. For from within arise the false teachers, the peddlers of error who masquerade as teachers of truth. False teachers take on many forms, custom-crafted to times, cultures, and contexts. Here are seven of them you will find carrying out their deceptive, destructive work in the church today.

Challies: The False Teachers: Arius

This morning I am setting out on a new series of articles that will scan the history of the church—from its earliest days all the way to the present time—and pause to examine some of Christianity’s most notorious false teachers. Along the way we will visit such figures as Pelagius, Servetus, Fosdick, and even a few you might find on television today. We will begin this morning with one of the very first, and certainly one of the most dangerous, false teachers: Arius.

S. Lewis Johnson: Basic Biblical Doctrine, sermon series, read and/or listen. The first sermon,
How Do We Know Spiritual Truth

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2 Corinthians and the Heart of Christian Life and Ministry

I have a confession to make: I did not always love Second Corinthians like I do now. A lot of it is about Paul defending himself and his ministry, and he even speaks about boasting in this if he must. That seemed a bit odd to me, and I did not always fully understand and appreciate what he was getting at in this epistle.

But for various reasons, in the past few decades 2 Corinthians has rocketed to my number one New Testament book. I am not sure if we are to so elevate one NT book over another, but its themes about strength in weakness and glory in suffering are so very vitally important today – certainly in the West.

Many of our churches preach a triumphant gospel, one that often exalts power, one that exalts self, and one that exalts success. We find this especially in the health and wealth gospels, and in the name it and claim it theologies, both of which basically look down upon suffering and weakness.

paul 2Thus 2 Corinthians is THE book of the hour for so much of Western Christianity. In it Paul takes on the “super apostles” and those who exalt all sorts of things (fame, power, signs and wonders, speaking ability, status, reputation, etc). Paul boasts instead of his weakness, his afflictions, his hardships and his suffering.

These are the real marks of the true minister of the gospel he insists. And I could simply quote large slabs of the epistle to make this point. But let the reader check out these key passages: 2 Cor. 4:7-12; 6:3-10; 11:23-30; and 12:9-10.

But let me here simply run with a number of quotes on the book’s main theme and its importance. Right now there is a big gap in my bookshelves because I have pulled my twenty-plus commentaries of the book down to quote from. Here are some of their thoughts:

With evident distaste for speaking about himself, Paul reminds the Corinthians that, as they well knew, in contrast to the pretended apostleship of these false teachers his apostleship was one of continuous suffering and self-abnegation, and that it was precisely in his own manifest weakness, which left no room for self-glorification, that the power and grace of God had been magnified (11:21-12:12). (Philip E. Hughes)

The central theological theme of 2 Corinthians is the relationship suffering and the power of the Spirit in Paul’s apostolic experience. Paul’s point concerning this theme is as simple as it is profound. Rather than calling his sufficiency into question, Paul’s suffering is the revelatory vehicle through which the knowledge of God manifest in the cross of Christ and in the power of the Spirit is being disclosed. (Scott Hafemann)

The central theme of 2 Corinthians is divine power in weakness. It is a theme that the church in the West has tended to shrug off as appropriate only for Christians living under oppressive political regimes. Health, wealth and prosperity is a message often presented in the media and preached from the pulpit in the West. Not so with Paul. He defines the role of the gospel preacher in terms of the trials and hardships through which God’s power is seen and appropriated. It is the same for the church…. Every chapter echoes this theme. (Linda Belleville)

Paul’s theme throughout this letter is the strange royal comfort that comes through the suffering and death, and the new resurrection-life, of Israel’s Messiah, Jesus, the Lord of the world. This is the letter above all where he explains the meaning of the cross in terms of personal suffering – his own, and that of all the Messiah’s people. (Tom Wright)

The motif that keeps emerging throughout this epistle is that weakness is the source of strength and that suffering is the vehicle for God’s power and glory….
The gospel does not ride on health and wealth but on weakness. The ministry of the Spirit is not one of splash and flash but of meekness and weakness….
Affliction was the key to Paul’s effectiveness in ministry, and affliction is the key to effective ministry today. How countercultural this is. It even runs counter to so much “Christian” thinking that regards affliction as evidence of personal sin or efficient faith, and sleekness and ease as palpable evidence of divine blessing. (R. Kent Hughes)

In and through this weakness, God manifested his power, so that Paul can also write, ‘but he lives by reason of the power of God’ (13:4). The fundamental paradox of weakness and power then is rooted in Christ’s death, which has been made possible by the incarnation. Embracing this paradox in his life, Paul boasts in his own weaknesses (11:30; 12:9), aware that Christ’s ‘power is made perfect in weakness’ (12:9). This is not to say that power is weakness. Rather, in a manner that can be understood only in light of the paradox of the cross, power comes to its perfection in and through weakness. Because the Corinthians did not grasp this paradox, they could not appreciate Paul’s apostolic ministry among them and the new covenant community that he established in their midst. (Frank Matera)

It is, however, in human weakness that the pattern of the Gospel is most clearly shown: ‘My grace is enough for you; for power comes to perfection in weakness. Therefore will I most gladly boast rather in my weaknesses, in order that Christ’s power may rest upon me’ (xii. 9). And Paul constantly bears in his body the death of Jesus— not as an end in itself but as the only way to a manifestation of his life (iv. 10). Human weakness is thus not a thing that may or must be tolerated; Paul boasts about it, as the surest proof of his being a Christian, and a representative of the Christ crucified who is the Lord, not in spite of his having been crucified, nor as a reward for having been crucified, but because being ‘Christ crucified’, ‘the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Gal. ii. 20), is what God means by being the Lord. (C. K. Barrett)

Paul’s argument throughout the letter is that “only in cruciform sufferings like his” can the Lord “perform his powerful work, introducing glory into an age of darkness, salvation into a world of despair, a new age with the old life and power to more and more people.” Those who cannot see the glory in the cross of Christ because they are captured by the wisdom of this world will hardly see it in his suffering apostle. If they do see it, however, they will see how exceedingly glorious Paul’s ministry is. This letter is not just a personal defense; it is a restatement of the basic doctrine of the cross which Paul preached to them (1 Cor 2:2). (David Garland)

To confess that the present world is a “vale of tears,” as Paul effectively does, is not to say that there is nothing in it but suffering and sorrow. It is, however, to open one’s eyes to the sorrow and suffering that are present in the world. It is to see beyond the temporary security of the earthly goods to the suffering that in one measure or another must come to each who belongs to Christ. Indeed, according to the apostle, comfort and salvation come only through trial and suffering. True happiness comes only to those who know sorrow. Paul seeks to bring the Corinthians back to this realism. (Mark Seifrid)

Now if all this sounds very foreign to what is heard in most Western pulpits today, that is because it is so seldom preached. Hardly anyone is talking about suffering and hardship and weakness as indications of the genuine Christian life and work. Instead, we mainly hear about having your best life now, and getting everything you want to be happy and successful.

Why do I suspect that if Paul tried to get a few speaking gigs in most churches today he would never make it through the door? He would be told his message is far too negative and would simply turn people off. After all, we need to be seeker sensitive and tell people what they want to hear. That is how we grow churches (and get even more moolah in the offering plate).

The theology of suffering, of the crucified life, and of strength coming through weakness is about as alien as you can get in far too many churches today. Yet is was the very heart and soul of the message of the Apostle Paul, not just in 2 Corinthians, but in all his epistles.

To emphasise the cross and death to self is Christianity 101. There is no crown without the cross. There is no glory without suffering. There is no resurrection without death. As C. S. Lewis reminded us in one of his essays, “Nothing that has not died will be resurrected.”

In that brief remark Lewis nails the very heart of the Christian life. It is clearly not a popular message today, but it is a thoroughly biblical one. And it is the message which the Apostle Paul saw as absolutely central to everything about his life and ministry. We should take the same view.

[1544 words]

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Weekly Watchman for 02/17/2017

Fake News and Christian Discernment
Charles Spurgeon once rightly said, “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.” Today, Pastor Randy White joins us to discuss discernment, fake news, and having the correct biblical perspective on our times and how to prepare for the challenging days our nation and church face.

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The Most Important Nation in History
God has brought the nation of Israel back to center stage for the final years of this world before the Lord returns in judgment. Of all the policy decisions President Trump is faced with, none may be more important than how he works with and supports Israel. Joining us to discuss the critical relationship between the U.S. and Israel is Jan Markell of Olive Tree Views.

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Lies, Hypocrisy and Cover-ups from the Left
There can be little doubt that the secular media in our nation on the whole is committed to the Socialist progressive movement, and the days of unbiased reporting of news is a thing of the past. Today we discuss the death of media objectivity; has the final nail been hammered in its coffin?

This morning, Mike and Dave discuss a report on how “climate change” data has been manipulated to advance radical environmentalism, and take a look at the hypocrisy of Senate Democrats in the handling of President Trump’s cabinet nominations. We will also look at the increasing pressure progressives are putting on American businesses to get in line with their agenda.

Plus, is media objectivity dead? Sadly, truth and facts are no longer priorities when political ideology reigns supreme.

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A Lost Generation?
Certainly this generation faces enormous challenges as public education and media have succeeded at indoctrinating many of them into a secular humanist world view. And this generation of younger people will one day lead our nation and our churches; some already are! So how can we help them turn (back) to God instead of away from Him? Religion and Culture expert, Dr. Alex McFarland joins us today to discuss this and other concerns.

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The World Will Hate You, But…
Jesus warned His disciples in John 15 that because the world hated Him, it would also hate all those who believe in and follow Him as well. The times in which we live certainly bear out the truth of Jesus’ warning. But if we are not speaking God’s truth and living out the Bible, people may not know we are Christians.

Led by atheists, LBGTQ activists, a corrupt humanist court system, and a corrupt media, our nation is seeing a steady diet of lawsuits against the free speech of Christian individuals and organizations. Religious freedoms are being redefined.

This morning we cover some recent stories involving the godless push to eradicate biblical Christian morality in America, and we analyze some of the evidence of growing hatred and discrimination against Christians. Our special guest today is Brad Dacus, president of The Pacific Justice Institute.

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Technology, the Church, World Events & Prophecy
It’s vital for true believers to have a solid, biblical Christian worldview and do our best to see people and events with an eternal perspective. Though we were not given a spirit of fear, it’s easy to become anxious or overwhelmed if we focus on this world rather than the Word.

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What Is the Relationship Between Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility?

The relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility is not instantly obvious, and at first glance it seems paradoxical. But Scripture offers us considerable insight into how these twin truths harmonize within the plan of redemption.

The first step in understanding the compatibility between God’s sovereignty and human will is to recognize that they are not mutually exclusive, and Scripture makes this absolutely clear. In God’s design, human responsibility is clearly not eliminated by God’s sovereign control over His creation. That’s true even though evil was included in His grand design for the universe even before the beginning of time, and He uses His creatures’ sin for purposes that are always (and only) good. Indeed, in His infinite wisdom, He is able to use all things for good (Rom. 8:28).

Consider the Lord’s opening statement in Isaiah 10:5: “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger.” At first glance, this makes no sense. If Assyria is functioning as an instrument of God’s judgment, why is He pronouncing condemnation on the Assyrians? “Woe” is an onomatopoeic word (meaning the word sounds like what it means; in this case, a cry of agony) that warns of calamity or massive judgment to come. But how can a people come under divine denunciation and judgment while at the same time functioning as a rod of God’s anger? The rest of the verse says, “the staff in whose hand is My indignation.” Assyria, this pagan, godless, idolatrous nation, is the instrument of divine judgment against God’s own rebellious people.

In fact, the next verse says, “I send it against a godless nation [Judah, the southern part of the kingdom] and commission it against the people of My fury” (v. 6). The Jews are thus designated as the people of God’s fury. God holds Israel fully responsible for their disbelief; fully responsible for their idolatry; fully responsible for their rebellion and their rejection of Him, His Word, and His worship. So He commissions the Assyrians to come against them. Notice verse 6: “To capture booty, and to seize plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets.” That’s strong, decisive language.

Now here you have a divine decree in action. God grabs Assyria by the nape of its national neck and assigns it to be the instrument of His fury against the godless people of Judah who have rejected and rebelled against Him. And then He says in verse 7, “Yet it [Assyria] does not so intend, nor does it plan so in its heart.” Assyria is the instrument of God’s judgment—and the Assyrians themselves are clueless about it. It was never Assyria’s purpose, motive, or intention to serve God. They had no interest in the God of Scripture—they didn’t even believe in Him. Rather, Assyria planned in its own heart to cut off many nations. This was just another opportunity for the Assyrian power to knock off another neighboring nation, as they’d already done to Calno, Carchemish, Hamath, Arpad, Samaria, and Damascus (v. 9). Verses 10 and 11 depict Assyria’s confidence in its ability to conquer Judah: “As my hand has reached to the kingdom of the idols, whose graven images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images just as I have done to Samaria and her idols?” All Assyria knows is that it has destroyed other nations who, in its judgment, had greater protection and greater gods than the God of the Bible. The Assyrians simply intended to do to Judah what they had done to the rest of the nations. They thought they were acting in complete independence. They had no idea that God was using them as agents to deliver His judgment.

But does being instruments of divine wrath somehow exonerate them from responsibility for the evil inherent in their military policies? If this irresistible divine decree brings them to Israel, what culpability do they have for their actions? And yet Scripture is clear that they will be held accountable. Verse 12 says that when God has finished using Assyria as an instrument of His fury, “So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will say, ‘I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.’” The Lord has already decreed that once He is done using Assyria, He will punish it for its sins. The very act that the Assyrians carried out under divine decree was an act of evil—so evil that God will turn on them and bring destruction on them. In God’s eyes, they bear full culpability for every part of their evil slaughter and destruction, even though they are fulfilling His divine decree.

Not only did God pronounce judgment on Assyria for its wicked deeds but also for the motives behind the deeds. “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness. For he has said, ‘By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this’” (vv. 12–13). God will punish the Assyrians for their motives and for their failure to recognize His glory by taking credit for what they had done. They thought they had done it by the power of their hands and the wisdom of their own design. Isaiah records the king of Assyria’s arrogant boasts:

By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this,
For I have understanding;
And I removed the boundaries of the peoples
And plundered their treasures,
And like a mighty man I brought down their inhabitants,
And my hand reached to the riches of the peoples like
a nest,
And as one gathers abandoned eggs, I gathered all the earth;
And there was not one that flapped its wing or opened its beak or chirped. (vv. 13–14)

That rebellious pride is what invites divine wrath. The Assyrians’ motives and arrogance put them in the path of God’s judgment. Isaiah vividly depicts the ignorance and foolishness of their haughty attitude.

Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it?
Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it?
That would be like a club wielding those who lift it,
Or like a rod lifting him who is not wood. (v. 15)

God is the One who wielded Assyria like an ax to chop down Judah and Jerusalem, and yet He righteously holds the ax responsible (vv. 15–18).

Here’s the point: although God controls by divine decree and sovereign power everything that goes on in the world according to His own purposes, that does not remove one iota of culpability from those who do evil. Evildoers do evil not because they are forced to, but by their own evil intent. So God will judge them for both the act and the motive, as well as for their failure to give Him glory and to worship Him.

And Isaiah never makes an attempt to resolve or explain away what many would regard as a judicial paradox. Scripture gives no indication that God’s wrath against Assyria was anything but just, reasonable, and appropriate. The Bible is simply not concerned with reconciling divine judgment with any human assumptions about justice or fairness. Scripture simply explains what God did, and we are to understand that it was just and fair because He did it.

We see the same tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility in bold relief in Acts 2. During Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, he said, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (vv. 22–23).

Christ died under God’s authority, in His timing, and according to His plan. And yet Israel was guilty—both for their collective hand in His death and for their failure to believe in Him as Messiah.

But the guilt of Christ’s murder was not isolated to Israel alone. In Acts 4:27, there’s another indictment: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel.” The point is clear: Christ’s death was a corporate act of sinful humanity aligned together against God. All are guilty.

But the prayer of verse 27 continues in verse 28, saying that all these guilty souls conspired together “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” Isaiah 53:10 agrees, identifying the Lord as the One responsible for the Son’s death: “The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief.” That by no means exonerates the ones who carried out Christ’s execution. The perpetrators’ intentions were entirely rebellious and murderous, and for them, it was an act of pure evil.

Bearing that in mind, Christ’s death is, therefore, the greatest fulfillment of the truth embodied in Joseph’s insightful words to his brothers in Genesis 50:20: “As for you, you meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good.” The fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan in the death of Christ in no way mitigates the guilt of His murderers. While the Lord ordained and orchestrated every event to bring about His desired ends, the wicked human hands that accomplished the work are no less guilty for the sinful role they played.

We see those seemingly contrasting truths of divine sovereignty and human responsibility repeatedly, in every part of God’s Word. But Scripture never attempts to ease the apparent tension. There’s no inspired explanation that spells out their complex relationship. Therefore, we need to be careful in attempting to conform God’s divine decrees to our own feeble sense of fairness. We need to remember that it’s not our job to hold God to whatever standards our meager minds might suggest. He Himself is the standard of true righteousness, and He never acts in a way that would contradict His righteousness or justice.

This excerpt is taken from None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible by John MacArthur.

Source: What Is the Relationship Between Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility?

When Assurance of Salvation is Fleeting

Dear struggling Christian, if our gaze is always within, assurance will remain fleeting. No doubt, we need to examine our lives and test the fruit, but true assurance, lasting assurance, secure assurance comes from looking to Christ and our union with Him. We want to see evidence of Christ’s grace in our lives, but we realize these evidences not by seeking after them, but by gaining a greater grasp on Christ. How do we gain this greater grasp of the King of Glory? How do we look to Him more? God has granted His means of grace to the struggling Christian for this very purpose.

In a world filled with sin, the flesh, and the devil, assurance of salvation is the soft feather bed on which the Christian rests. Assurance proves to be one of the greatest benefits of the Christian faith and the rightful inheritance of the child of God. In its enjoyment are found peace, hope, and joy unsurpassed in this fallen world.

The Scriptures clearly articulate that a child of God may and should possess a true sense of peace and confidence regarding personal salvation. Faith is trusting in Christ as Savior, so the seeds of assurance inherently lie within faith itself. Though the gift of assurance regularly accompanies saving faith, many Christians find it elusive or even nonexistent in their own experience. As John Calvin said, “We cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt, or any assurance that is not assailed by some anxiety. . . . Believers are in perpetual conflict with their own unbelief” (Institutes, 3.2.18). Every Christian knows this experience. Yet, this lack of assurance leads some Christians to assume they are counted among the lost. Such an error devastates—breeding inner turmoil and even despair.

The Westminster Confession of Faith helpfully addresses the underlying error when it states “infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be a partaker of it” (18:3). The Westminster divines rightly understood that one may possess saving faith yet not possess the assurance that often accompanies that faith. In fact, the Westminster Assembly chose to address saving faith and assurance in separate chapters of the confession (WCF 14 and 18, respectively), because it recognized that the doctrines are not so inextricably linked that if one possesses saving faith he must also enjoy assurance. The Scriptures and Christian experience bear witness to the stark reality that saving faith and assurance of salvation do not always coexist in the believer.

I believe; help my unbelief!” said the father of the demon-possessed child (Mark 9:24). Few men have uttered more honest words, and few honest words have benefited more men. Here is the cry of a man with faith who also recognizes that his faith remains weak, stumbling, and frail. Faith is present, but it remains mixed with doubt. Yet, Christ clearly recognizes this father’s faith. An ounce of saving faith is a faith that saves. Our Lord boldly proclaimed: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26).

Dear Christian, it is not the degree, quality, or abundance of our faith that saves. Rather, it is the object of our faith that saves. Faith does not look to itself. It looks to another. And in Christ, the object of our faith, salvation lies (John 14:5). Therefore, it is also in Christ that our assurance lies. This father understood the necessary thing. As Calvin stated, “He who, struggling with his own weakness, presses toward faith in his moments of anxiety is already in large part victorious” (Institutes, 3.2.18).

In those moments when assurance escapes us, let us look to Christ in faith. Assurance is nurtured as we grow in our understanding of grace, especially in our union with Christ as it relates to our justification and adoption. How do we grow in this grace? The Westminster Confession proves helpful once again. It proclaims that one may “without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means attain thereunto. And therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure” (WCF 18:3). The confession rightly points us to Christ by the very means He has given to His people for their growth, including growth in assurance. Those means are the Word, sacraments, and prayer (WCF 14.1).

Before we turn our attention to these means of grace, I want to note a pastoral issue that often emerges in this realm. Over the course of my pastoral ministry, I have found that many struggle with assurance because they direct their eyes within rather than without. Make no mistake, introspection serves its purpose in the Christian life. We are to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). This is necessary and good. Yet, I find that many Christians suffer from overzealous introspection. Like a medieval inquisitor, we lay our souls upon the rack and inflict torture with constant accusatory questions: Do I bear enough of the fruit of the Spirit? Is my faith solid enough? Have I confessed and repented sufficiently? Have I tricked myself into thinking I am a believer? And all the while, we forget to look to our Savior in faith. The Great Shepherd’s promise, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), seems too foreign to too many of His sheep.

Dear struggling Christian, if our gaze is always within, assurance will remain fleeting. No doubt, we need to examine our lives and test the fruit, but true assurance, lasting assurance, secure assurance comes from looking to Christ and our union with Him. We want to see evidence of Christ’s grace in our lives, but we realize these evidences not by seeking after them, but by gaining a greater grasp on Christ. How do we gain this greater grasp of the King of Glory? How do we look to Him more? God has granted His means of grace to the struggling Christian for this very purpose.

Into this dark world God has sent the light of His Word. This Word, which is living and active (Heb. 4:12), works in the hearts and minds of His people. We hear the true, gracious voice of our Heavenly Father. As we sit under the preached Word, read it in our prayer closets, meditate upon it on our beds (Ps. 63:6), and talk of it on the way (Deut. 6:7), the Spirit attends to the Word, and it does not return void (Isa. 55:11). The truth of Christ occupies our minds, the promises of Christ comfort our souls, the beauty of Christ stirs our affections, and the commands of Christ move our spirits. As we attend to this means of grace, He encourages and affirms assurance within us. Too often, the voice of our adversary sounds loud in our ears: “You are no child of God. Would God allow a wretched sinner like you into His family?” Our flesh joins in as a ready accomplice and the struggle can be great. However, such indictments cannot stand in the light of God’s Word. His Word pierces such darkness and resounds louder than any accusations that our adversaries can hurl at the children of God.

The Lord not only gave us His written Word, but also His visible Word. The Lord, as an act of magnanimous grace, condescends to give us something we can see, touch, and taste. He knows that we, as corporeal beings, naturally gravitate toward the visible. So, He blesses His children with outward signs—the sacraments—that confirm to our senses what the ear has heard and the eye has read. Dear struggling Christian, partake of the Lord’s Table and be reminded that not only did Christ die for sinners, but Christ died for you. Not only did Christ shed His blood for sinners, but He shed it for you. Not only can sinners be united to Christ, but He is united to you. As real as the cup you hold is Christ’s love for you. As surely as you taste the bread and wine do you taste Christ’s peace. As the bread and cup sustain your body physically, so Christ’s grace sustains you spiritually. All the promises of Christ are not only true, but they are truly yours. Baptism serves the Christian in the same way. As surely as the water flowed over your head are you washed in the blood of the Lamb. As surely as you entered the waters of baptism are you united with Christ in His life, death, and resurrection (Rom. 6). The sacraments not only signify this truth to the struggling Christian but also seal it upon their soul.

Finally, the Lord blesses His people with the gift of prayer. What a relief this means of grace provides for the limping Christian. He grants to us the privilege and solace of crying out to Him, a cry granted only to His children. And our pleadings do not fall on deaf ears (Ps. 18:6). They ascend into the very throne room of God. We speak into His ear and may do so with boldness (Heb.4:16). James says, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). Let the Christian struggling with assurance cry out with the psalmist, “How long O Lord?” (Ps. 13:1). The desperate cries of God’s sons and daughters to their heavenly Father never fall on deaf ears. He loves to give good gifts to His children (Matt. 7:11). Let us cry out with the father of the tormented child, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Dear sinner, the Jesus who recognized the faith of the father is the same Jesus who sits enthroned above, hears our prayers, and says to His Father: “These are mine, the price has been paid, the law has been fulfilled, the blood has been shed. My righteousness belongs to them. Mercy has been purchased. Forgiveness is theirs.” If you have even the least bit of saving faith in Christ, all the blessings of salvation belong to you—including assurance. You may, as the Westminster Confession says, wait “long” for it, and it may only come through many struggles, but it is yours. Seek after it. And if we would hope to enjoy this grace more and more, let us seek Christ more and more by the means He has given. As God’s children, assurance is our rightful inheritance.

© Tabletalk magazine. Used with permission.

The post When Assurance of Salvation is Fleeting appeared first on The Aquila Report.

The problem with evil is, its beauty

In part 2 of a series on how to spot evil, Elizabeth Prata of The End Times deals with narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths of society. She explains how to spot people, including professing Christians, who exhibit antisocial behavior — and her depiction of these people is chilling. Evil “does come in a beautiful package,” says Prata.  She warns us not to be, “lulled by Hollywood’s depiction of it and don’t be fooled if you unfortunately meet up with this kind of beautiful and deadly evil.”

What does the Bible tell us about evil? “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). So now listen to Elizabeth describe what’s under the light so that you won’t be fooled by appearances.  She writes:

In part 1, I began with a reminder that evil exists. This reminder is necessary nowadays due to the increasing penchant of people to deny the fundamentals of the faith.

I also established that though we are all evil pre-salvation, there are degrees of evil within people that are more deadly than others. Not everyone is as bad as they could be, but some people are. These essays are about how not to be deluded if you unfortunately encounter one of these more evil people.

I ended the previous essay by showing that two of the most beautiful living organisms in the world are also beautiful, the very deadly water hemlock plant, and the deadly but beautiful cone snail. Oftentimes it is the most beautiful that is the most deadly.

View article →

False Teachers and Deadly Doctrines

Blogger, author and book reviewer Tim Challies has a new series: Deadly Doctrines. In his first installment he defines what doctrine is and has a helpful table.  He reminds us that, “The Christian’s responsibility is clear: We are to learn God’s truth by searching God’s Word. We must carefully evaluate every teaching according to God’s unfailing standard. What passes the test is sound doctrine, and what fails the test is false doctrine.”

Challies lays out eight terrible consequences of false doctrine.  Discover what those consequences are. He writes:

The heaven tourism fad, there was the best-selling novel that reframed the doctrine of the Trinity. Meanwhile, the largest church in America is led by a man whose platitudes are indistinguishable from fortune cookies. But it’s not just authors and church leaders who are swerving away from the truth. Theologians and laypersons alike are abandoning traditional understandings of manhood and womanhood, of marriage and sexuality. Never has it been more important for Christians to commit themselves to rejecting false doctrine and pursuing sound doctrine, to ensure they are following teachers of truth, not peddlers of error.

In a new series of articles, we will consider false doctrine, sound doctrine, and how to train ourselves to distinguish between them. We will see how God calls us to respond to false and sound doctrine, as well as false and sound teachers. In this opening article, we will briefly define the term “doctrine,” examine the two different kinds of doctrine, and then suggest eight terrible consequences of false doctrine.

View article →

The Five Tests of False Doctrine

T.D. Jakes says that God eternally exists in three manifestations, not three persons. Greg Boyd says God knows some aspects of the future, but that other future events are outside of his knowledge. Creflo Dollar says because we are created in the image of God, we are little gods. Mormonism says God revealed new scripture to Joseph Smith that supersedes the Bible. Roman Catholicism says we are justified by faith, but not by faith alone. This world is a murky madness of true and false. For every doctrine we know to be true, there seems to be a hundred pretenders.

No wonder, then, that John tells us to “test the spirits” and Paul says, “test everything” (1 John 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:21). It is our sacred responsibility to examine every doctrine to determine if it is true or false. But how can we distinguish sound doctrine from false? How can we distinguish teachers of truth from teachers of error? In our opening article, I said that putting a doctrine to the test is the best way to determine if it is true or false. As we test the doctrine, we learn our responsibility toward it: We either hold to it or we reject it. I am returning to those tests today to explain them in greater detail. They provide a grid that is useful for testing any doctrine.

Read more: The Five Tests of False Doctrine

The Hard Truth About Mike Bickle and IHOP

PROGRAM SEGMENTS:

Examining the Theology and ADMITTED False Manifestations of the Spirit of Mike Bickle and IHOP with Amy Spreeman and Steven Kozar

For further research/articles mentioned on this broadcast:

The Mike Bickle and IHOP Cornucopia of False Teaching, Bridal Weirdness and 24/7 Confusion (includes the videos featured on the show)

What to make of the Francis Chan/IHOP union

Francis Chan’s not afraid of the big bad wolf, says, “I still love Mike Bickle! 

Signs and Wonders” Training Camp for Kids

Is IHOP a cult? Katie’s intern’s story 

NAR Prophets claim the three streams will be one

Ronnie Floyd and IHOP Now Bringing Catholic Track

IHOP-KC’s Mike Bickle on “fake” and genuine Holy Spirit manifestations

Mike Bickle’s open vision about America (VIDEO)

Southern Baptist Convention president to speak at IHOP-KC’s “Onething” gathering?

The Six Hallmarks of a NAR Church

The Bill Johnson Cornucopia of False Teaching, Bible-Teaching and General Absurdity

The Christianity 101 Series on Fighting for the Faith

The Hyper-Charismatic House of Cards: Let It Fall and Be Free

 

Amy Spreeman writes for the Berean Examiner and the blog Berean Research 

Steven Kozar writes for the Messed Up Church and is the “Master Curator” of The Museum of Idolatry

Source: The Hard Truth About Mike Bickle and IHOP

There’s A Wolf In the House: 18 Signs of Apostasy

There is a danger that has come into the sheepfold; apostates have come in and they probably have always been here. However, with the prevalence of social media, their influence has spread and it is more important than ever before to recognize the marks of an apostate, a person who at one time knew and maybe even taught the truths of the Bible but walked away or a person who consistently teaches false doctrines to the Church. Jude, the Lord’s youngest human brother, points out several signs of an apostate and I want to draw your attention to them.

(This may be a different post than what you are used to from Pulpit & Pen but I write from a primarily pastoral approach so I hope it will be helpful to you.)

Book of Jude (HCSB),

Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James:
To those who are the called, loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ.

May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For some men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.

Right away we begin to see the characteristics of the Apostates that Jude warns about…

1.) Apostates are ungodly (v. 4)

When the New Testament writers say that a person is ungodly, it does not simply mean that the person does not know God, it also means that he does not have a character that is consistent with the revealed Person and Nature of God.

2.) They are morally perverted (v. 4)

In the NIV, promiscuity is translated as “license to commit immorality.” Among other things, these apostates teach that there is no need to struggle to overcome sin. The Greek word rendered as contend, or contend earnestly (NKV, NASB) is agonizomai from which we derive the word agonize. Because our sinful nature will not easily be transformed into Christlikeness, it can seem agonizing, at times to give up that sin in order to be more like Christ.

Many, many apostates teach instead that God will give you all the things you want: health, wealth, possessions, influence, etc and all you have to do is “sow the best offering that you can” without any call to true repentance or humility. Examples of such teachers include but are not limited to Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Jesse Duplantis, Rod Parsley, Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, Mark Chironna and scads of others. One has even gone so far as to say that anyone who tells you to deny yourself is from Satan. These ignore the command of Jesus to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).

In truth, you do not even have to teach grace as a license to sin however you please to turn grace into license, all you have to do is refuse to teach the truth of God’s grace, that it saves you from sin and its power not simply that it saves you from hell. And just in case you were going to object and say that such things are not perverted, the definition of perverse is something that is contrary to the generally accepted standard or practice. Since the Bible is our standard, anything contradicting the Bible or anything taught in the pulpit that does not match Scripture is, by definition, perverted.

3.) Apostates Deny Christ (v. 4)

Ultimately, this leads to a denial of Christ; the Jesus taught and embraced by the apostates simply is not the Jesus of the Bible.

Apostates: Past and Present

Now I want to remind you, though you know all these things: The Lord first saved a people out of Egypt and later destroyed those who did not believe; and He has kept, with eternal chains in darkness for the judgment of the great day, the angels who did not keep their own position but deserted their proper dwelling. In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them committed sexual immorality and practiced perversions, just as angels did, and serve as an example by undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Nevertheless, these dreamers likewise defile their flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme glorious ones.

4.) They defile the flesh (v.7& 8)

As we are seeing today, apostates defile the flesh in ungodly and unbiblical ways. Some of my evangelical brethren will immediately point to homosexuality but what about other sins: drunkenness, gluttony (I think I have only heard one sermon on gluttony in 25 years), fornication, domestic violence (yes the Bible actually addresses this topic which I have never in my life heard addressed in the pulpit).

Defiling the flesh refers primarily to sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18) which is a sin against one’s own body, but this is not exclusive. Remember that Jude’s oldest half-brother, the Lord Jesus Himself, even went so far as to equate contemplating the sin with the actual sin itself (Matthew 5:27-28). When is the last time you heard a sermon about sexual lust (lust of the flesh), greed (lust of the eyes), or counteracting the boastful pride of life by being poor in spirit?

5.)Apostates are Rebellious (v. 8)

By not teaching what the Bible actually says, these apostates live in and encourage rebellion in others. A pastor once told me that 1% out of submission is equal to being 100% in rebellion against God. To deny a doctrine, the reality of hell for example (Rob Bell) and to teach that denial to others is absolute rebellion against God. To refuse to yield to the Authority of Scripture is to refuse to yield to the Author. They go hand in hand; authority entails submission.

6.) Apostates Revile holy angels (v. 8)

This is a mark against Pentecostals if I ever saw one. Growing up Pentecostal, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen pastors “bind” satan or command him to do this or that; both of which are patently absurd. If Michael, the highest angel (archangel means chief angel) dares not to speak against the devil, what in the world possesses a “Christian” to do so? There is no biblical justification to think you can command an angel to do anything. Even fallen angels serve at the pleasure of God Almighty and Him alone. They advance His agenda and they fulfill His sovereign decrees and so, not matter how much your favorite teacher might tell you otherwise, you cannot command them to do anything and it is ridiculous to think the opposite.

7.) Essentially, Apostates are ignorant (v. 8)

The behavior we have discussed so far demonstrates and absolute willful ignorance of both the Things of God and of His Person. To know Him as He is demands that one is to submit to Him. Look to Revelation chapter one and see the reaction of John when he saw just a picture of the Resurrected Christ and you will see what kind of response a true knowledge of God the Son results in.

Yet Michael the archangel, when he was disputing with the Devil in a debate about Moses’ body, did not dare bring an abusive condemnation against him but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these people blaspheme anything they don’t understand. What they know by instinct like unreasoning animals—they destroy themselves with these things.

8.) Apostates are continually having vain ideas (vs. 8-10)

Continuing with the idea of ignorance, apostates have vain/foolish ideas. Word of Faith teachers, for example, tell you that you can name and claim your promise from Scripture and activate a response from God based on your faith. This is hubris and is no different than the idea of “binding satan.” I have heard them justify this nonsense by saying all the promises of God are yea and amen. That is only half the truth and is therefore not the truth. All of God’s promises are yea and amen but only in so far as to the person(s) they apply to. I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you is a very true promise but it only applies to the Nation of Israel for that is whom God made the promise to.

It is utter vanity and foolishness to presume anything upon Him Who sits upon the Throne. Do not allow yourself to mistake God’s patience for tolerance. Every person living will have their appointed time before the Throne; the Righteous will see the Bema (the Judgment Seat for rewards) and the wicked and apostates will see the Great White Throne as Heaven’s court dispenses eternal justice.

9.) Apostasy leads to self-destruction (v. 10)

What is the natural end result of apostasy? Self-destruction. God does not have to directly do anything to these, all He has to do is say to them, “thy will be done” and step aside. How many ministries have been damaged and even destroyed by ministers who thought they could get away with this or that? I would list names but that is impractical.

I can say from personal experience, getting your own way can be deadly, to your soul as well as your body. After all, there is a way which seemeth right unto a man and the end thereof is destruction. (Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25)

11 Woe to them! For they have traveled in the way of Cain, have abandoned themselves to the error of Balaam for profit, and have perished in Korah’s rebellion.

The Apostates’ Doom

12 These are the ones who are like dangerous reefs[e] at your love feasts. They feast with you, nurturing only themselves without fear. They are waterless clouds carried along by winds; trees in late autumn—fruitless, twice dead, pulled out by the roots; 13 wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shameful deeds; wandering stars for whom the blackness of darkness is reserved forever! 14 And Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied about them: Look! The Lord comes[f] with thousands of His holy ones 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict them[g] of all their ungodly acts that they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things ungodly sinners have said against Him. 16 These people are discontented grumblers, walking according to their desires; their mouths utter arrogant words, flattering people for their own advantage.

Apostates are…

10.) Grumblers (v. 16)
11.) Fault finders (v. 16)
12.) Self-seeking (v. 16)
13.) Arrogant speakers (v. 16)
14.) Flatterers (v. 16)

I will deal with all of these together: they are person centric and reflect the oldest sin in the book, pride. Pride is that sin which caused Lucifer to lose his place in heaven and it will do you the same favor. Pride looks at another, finds his/her deficiency and then exalts self because you don’t have that particular deficiency. It causes one to puff up and think of oneself more than he/she really is. Pride, the oldest known sin, is the truest and surest mark of the apostate. No matter what other signs you see, the Christian that demonstrates pride is on treacherous ground and in real danger of going where one does not want to be, apostasy.

17 But you, dear friends, remember what was predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 they told you, “In the end time there will be scoffers walking according to their own ungodly desires.”

15.) In a sense, apostates are mockers (v. 18)

2 Peter 3:4, They will say where is the promise of His coming. I would add to that, they will say things like no serious Christian believes in Hell or, no loving, tolerant Christian rejects gays, or they will dismiss the creation account as a myth/a metaphor.

Mark it out, every single apostate has some passage or doctrine that he does not like and by dismissing it, they make a mockery of God…for now.

19 These people create divisions and are unbelievers, not having the Spirit.

16.) Cause division (v. 19)
17.) Worldly-minded
18.) Without the Spirit(v. 19)

Apostates cause division in the church because they are worldly minded and they are worldly minded because they do not have the Holy Spirit and they do not have the Holy Spirit because they are worldly minded.

It’s a vicious cycle once you walk away from the truth of Scripture and only the Holy Spirit can bring you back.

Exhortation and Benediction

20 But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. 22 Have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. 24 Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.

Beloved, you may be reading this and say that you have seen some of these signs in your own life. That is both good and bad news. It is bad in that a propensity toward apostasy may exist but it is good in that the Holy Spirit is doing His work of convicting sin. What should you do if you see signs of apostasy in your life or if you are following a False Teacher? Repent right away. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you, agree with Him immediately and confess that sin. He will restore to communion with Him and you can continue to grow in grace.

Until next time, ahava v’shalom (love and peace)

[Guest Post by Matt Sherro of Exploring the Truth]

Source: There’s A Wolf In the House: 18 Signs of Apostasy