Category Archives: Postmodern Church/Apostasy

The Perils of Religious Romanticism

What is Romanticism? In a nutshell, Romanticism was born in the late 1700’s and is described as an artistic and intellectual movement characterized by a heightened interest in the beauty of nature, imagination, and intense emotional expression. According to Bruce W. Davidson, professor at Hokusei Gakuen University, Romanticism has made a comeback and is having a huge influence on our postmodern culture. Not surprisingly, Romanticism has also reared its ugly head in the visible Church. “Religious Romanticism can take people very far from sensible living, even into dangerous territory,” warns Davidson. The dangerous territory he speaks of is emotionalism. “Among Christians, that trend has taken the form of a rebellion against a focus on theology and an emphasis on religious experience.”

Sound familiar?

You can read Bruce Davidson’s piece over at American Thinker:

On January 2, about fifty thousand young adults gathered in Atlanta to participate in the Passion 2017 conference.  People outside evangelicalism might imagine something named “Passion” to be an event for romantic novelists or their fans, but it was actually a kind of religious pep rally.  The title typifies a significant religious shift of recent years, one turning away from doctrine and toward emotion – a kind of religious Romanticism.  Nowadays, numerous Christian books, conferences, and even churches bear the word “passion” in their titles.  In past eras, church people congregated to debate doctrinal and moral issues; now they hold events to celebrate their emotions.

The original Romantic movement of the early nineteenth century was basically a reaction against Enlightenment rationalism, with its elevation of science and cold rationality above everything else.  In opposition, the Romantics celebrated sensation, feeling, and aesthetics.  Adopting a therapeutic view of human existence, the Romantics often also held society to blame for mankind’s problems, not inborn sinful inclinations – the latter according with the historic view of Christianity.  Their optimistic view of human nature has undergirded much of the political agitation and clamor of subsequent times for radical change.

View article →

‘What’s Next – Temple Prostitutes?’

Lighthouse Trails has a piece that deals with some of the garbage that is being promoted by “Christian” leaders such as Tony Campolo, Ann Voskamp and Dr. Daniel Amen. Ever heard of Tantric sex?  Well you’re about to — no details are given. This is one of those blog posts we dislike publishing; however, in order for the Body of Christ to become informed as to what’s trending in the Christian community, we believe it’s necessary.  So – read it and weep:

Bridal spirituality was a common theme of medieval nun Teresa of Avila’s books where she records a vision she allegedly had in which the Lord Jesus appeared and declared they were married.

LTRP Note: This short article might be disturbing to read, but what is being described here is happening now in the church. Please take heed and pray for discernment as you listen to Christian speakers and read their books. The links below this article are to articles that substantiate what Lynn Lusby Pratt is saying.

By Lynn Lusby Pratt

About a decade ago, I became aware of the new wave of false teaching entering the church. One aspect of that teaching hinted that our experience with Jesus was (should be?) sexual. (Christians who use a mantra, as in contemplative prayer, and go into an altered state of consciousness sometimes have erotic experiences, which they mistakenly believe to be “union” with God/Jesus.) There was new interest in/promotion of the “bridal mysticism” of medieval nuns like Teresa of Avila: “Body and spirit are in the throes of a sweet, happy pain . . . and a spell of strangulation . . . swoon-like weakness . . .” There were quotes in Christian books, like Tony Campolo saying, “There is nothing wrong . . . with eroticism in worship.” And Ann Voskamp: “Mystical union. . . . God as Husband in sacred wedlock, bound together, body and soul. . . . To know him the way Adam knew Eve. Spirit skin to spirit skin . . .” [One Thousand Gifts, p. 217]. Ken Wilson: “I was having feelings of connection with the divine . . . [that] reminded me very much of the amorous feelings I have for my wife” [Mystically Wired, p. 27].

View article →

Why I Won’t Be Seeing (or Reviewing) The Shack Movie

The day The Shack sold its hundred thousandth copy, it became likely there would be a movie adaption. The day it sold its millionth, it became practically guaranteed. And, sure enough, it comes to theaters March 3, starring Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, and Tim McGraw.

For some time, I have been considering whether I should see and review it. I am quite sure that watching and reviewing The Shack would prove to be a wise business decision. I could get to an early screening, write up a review, and see a nice bump in my site’s traffic. Pageviews are the currency of the Internet and as a blogger I am supposed to base my decisions on what will maximize them. Even better, watching and reviewing The Shackcould be genuinely helpful to others. That is especially true if the movie proves to be as deeply flawed as the book. A review might serve to equip people to watch it with discernment or even to avoid watching it altogether.

However, I am far more sure that watching and reviewing The Shack would be an unwise and even sinful spiritual decision. For that reason I will not be seeing or reviewing The Shack. Let me explain why.

Read more

Flagship Southern Baptist Church Welcomes Charismatic Word of Faith Teachers To Stage in Atlanta, GA

Jeff Maples admonishes Southern Baptists to wake up and smell the coffee, as they’re being led astray by undiscerning SBC leaders such as Johnny Hunt. According to Maples, “The infiltration of God-denying and Holy Spirit blaspheming charlatans and false teachers into bible-believing churches is increasing exponentially.” In this piece over at Pulpit & Pen, he reveals who some of these wolves in sheep’s clothing are and what they’re up to.  He writes:

I have a prickly feeling in my neck right now. It came from the double facepalm I gave myself when I found out what FBC Woodstock is up to. Just when you think Johnny Hunt is trying to do things right, you find out he’s up to some other shenanigans. Hunt, who recently apparently denounced the sex predator Clayton Jennings, is the senior pastor of the flagship Southern Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia, FBC Woodstock. Hunt is certainly a mixed bag of nuts as his church is hosting David Platt’s Secret Church, a relatively solid bible teaching program, in April of 2017, he’s also hosting the Outcry Tour in May.

The Outcry Tour is a mishmash of false teachers and Holy Ghost blasphemers. The main participants in the tour are Jesus Culture, Elevation Worship, Steven Furtick, Levi Lusko, and Lauren Daigle. According to the website

View article →

Cru gives students free tickets, mixed messages about The Shack

Amy Spreeman has the story:

Should Christians ever use and consume entertaining apostasy like the heretical The Shack movie to witness to those who aren’t Christians?

Cru™ (Formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ), is promoting its free ticket giveaway to college students to see the film and take their friends. And in an almost apologetic way, the ticket site includes a caveat stating that Cru “does not endorse the movie.” That’s the small-font italicized quip at the very bottom of the website’s page. A footnote.

Free tickets. Not endorsing.

Without giving any warning or explanation as to why they don’t endorse, the site provides four videos from Cru and Family Life leadership clearly endorsing and encouraging movie lovers to not miss this “wonderful” film.

View article →

The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

The most controversial aspects of The Shack‘s message have revolved around questions of universalism, universal redemption, and ultimate reconciliation. Jesus tells Mack: “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.”

The publishing world sees very few books reach blockbuster status, but William Paul Young’s The Shack has now exceeded even that. The book, originally self-published by Young and two friends, has now sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into over thirty languages. It is now one of the best-selling paperback books of all time, and its readers are enthusiastic.

According to Young, the book was originally written for his own children. In essence, it can be described as a narrative theodicy — an attempt to answer the question of evil and the character of God by means of a story. In this story, the main character is grieving the brutal kidnapping and murder of his seven-year-old daughter when he receives what turns out to be a summons from God to meet him in the very shack where the man’s daughter had been murdered.

In the shack, “Mack” meets the divine Trinity as “Papa,” an African-American woman; Jesus, a Jewish carpenter; and “Sarayu,” an Asian woman who is revealed to be the Holy Spirit. The book is mainly a series of dialogues between Mack, Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu. Those conversations reveal God to be very different than the God of the Bible. “Papa” is absolutely non-judgmental, and seems most determined to affirm that all humanity is already redeemed.

The theology of The Shack is not incidental to the story. Indeed, at most points the narrative seems mainly to serve as a structure for the dialogues. And the dialogues reveal a theology that is unconventional at best, and undoubtedly heretical in certain respects.

While the literary device of an unconventional “trinity” of divine persons is itself sub-biblical and dangerous, the theological explanations are worse. “Papa” tells Mack of the time when the three persons of the Trinity “spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God.” Nowhere in the Bible is the Father or the Spirit described as taking on human existence. The Christology of the book is likewise confused. “Papa” tells Mack that, though Jesus is fully God, “he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being.” When Jesus healed the blind, “He did so only as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone.”

While there is ample theological confusion to unpack there, suffice it to say that the Christian church has struggled for centuries to come to a faithful understanding of the Trinity in order to avoid just this kind of confusion — understanding that the Christian faith is itself at stake.

Jesus tells Mack that he is “the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu.” Not the only way, but merely the best way.

In another chapter, “Papa” corrects Mack’s theology by asserting, “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.” Without doubt, God’s joy is in the atonement accomplished by the Son. Nevertheless, the Bible consistently reveals God to be the holy and righteous Judge, who will indeed punish sinners. The idea that sin is merely “its own punishment” fits the Eastern concept of karma, but not the Christian Gospel.

The relationship of the Father to the Son, revealed in a text like John 17, is rejected in favor of an absolute equality of authority among the persons of the Trinity. “Papa” explains that “we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity.” In one of the most bizarre paragraphs of the book, Jesus tells Mack: “Papa is as much submitted to me as I am to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.”

The theorized submission of the Trinity to a human being — or to all human beings — is a theological innovation of the most extreme and dangerous sort. The essence of idolatry is self-worship, and this notion of the Trinity submitted (in any sense) to humanity is inescapably idolatrous.

The most controversial aspects of The Shack‘s message have revolved around questions of universalism, universal redemption, and ultimate reconciliation. Jesus tells Mack: “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.” Jesus adds, “I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved.”

Mack then asks the obvious question — do all roads lead to Christ? Jesus responds, “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”

Given the context, it is impossible not to draw essentially universalistic or inclusivistic conclusions about Young’s meaning. “Papa” chides Mack that he is now reconciled to the whole world. Mack retorts, “The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?” “Papa” responds, “The whole world, Mack.”

Put together, all this implies something very close to the doctrine of reconciliation proposed by Karl Barth. And, even as Young’s collaborator Wayne Jacobson has lamented the “self-appointed doctrine police” who have charged the book with teaching ultimate reconciliation, he acknowledges that the first editions of the manuscript were unduly influenced by Young’s “partiality at the time” to ultimate reconciliation — the belief that the cross and resurrection of Christ accomplished then and there a unilateral reconciliation of all sinners (and even all creation) to God.

James B. DeYoung of Western Theological Seminary, a New Testament scholar who has known William Young for years, documents Young’s embrace of a form of “Christian universalism.” The Shack, he concludes, “rests on the foundation of universal reconciliation.”

Even as Wayne Jacobson and others complain of those who identify heresy within The Shack, the fact is that the Christian church has explicitly identified these teachings as just that — heresy. The obvious question is this: How is it that so many evangelical Christians seem to be drawn not only to this story, but to the theology presented in the narrative — a theology at so many points in conflict with evangelical convictions?

Evangelical observers have not been alone in asking this question. Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Professor Timothy Beal of Case Western University argues that the popularity of The Shack suggests that evangelicals might be shifting their theology. He cites the “nonbiblical metaphorical models of God” in the book, as well as its “nonhierarchical” model of the Trinity and, most importantly, “its theology of universal salvation.”

Read More

The post The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment appeared first on The Aquila Report.

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 →

Perry Noble’s Ended Preaching Career Revived at Elevation Church

Jeff Maples of Pulpit & Pen shares what is going on in the life of disgraced pastor Perry Noble after a 30 days in alcohol rehab — he’s preaching again! Noble fans have his pal Steve Furtick to thank for returning him to the spotlight. Maples writes:

Notable former pastor and founder of Newspring church in Anderson, SC gave his tacit approval of alcohol consumption in 2013. Three years later, he was fired by his church for “falling into sin” with alcoholism. The elders of his church made the decision to terminate him from the pastorate. Less than two months later, after a 30-day alcohol rehab program, he claimed to be cured of his disease and vowed to return to ministry.

I spent 30 days in a treatment facility in Arizona from mid-July until mid-August. Being in that place allowed me to come face to face with issues from my past as well as my current struggle, and placed me in a place to successfully overcome my overmedication via alcohol.

Now, I’m not sure if what he said after that is a result of his years of intoxication, or if he’s simply playing some kind of mind game, but he went on to say,

I can honestly say I am excited about the future God has for me and my family. The one thing I keep hearing from Him over and over again is that He is not finished with me.

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

Andy Stanley, Billy Graham, and the Bible, on the virgin birth

Andy Stanley, megachurch pastor and son of noted pastor Charles Stanley, said of the virgin birth, this past December,

A lot of people just don’t believe it. And I understand that. Maybe the thought is, ‘Hey, maybe they had to come up with some myth about Jesus to give him street cred, you know, later on.’ Maybe that’s where that came from.

It’s interesting, because Matthew gives us a version of the birth of Christ, Luke does, but Mark and John – they don’t even mention it. A lot has been made of that….

You’ve heard me say some version of this a million times, so this will be old if you’ve been around for a while. But see, if somebody can predict their own death and then their own resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world.

I was not surprised that Andy Stanley said what he said about the virgin birth. Though S. Lewis Johnson reminds us that the miracle was the conception, the birth itself was bloody, messy, and like every other birth in history. After I heard him preach it, I never thought about the virgin birth the same way again!

In any case, Andy Stanley continues to deny our fundamental doctrines (I’ve kept track and there are many doctrines he denies). The way his church treats worship tells us this, too. Just last month he had go-go dancers as part of the singing.

It is not possible either to deny the virgin birth yet accept Christ as holy, sinless deity. When Stanley made his statement, there was quite rightly a hullabaloo over it. However, Stanley is not the first pastor claiming to be conservative who denies the virgin birth as necessary to the faith. Billy Graham also denies the necessity of belief in the virgin birth. Yet there is no hullabaloo over Graham’s denial but only excuses made for his ‘misstatements.’

In my thorough study of Graham, which encompassed listening to sermons from 1949 through to the 1980s, reading several of his books, reading books about him, listening to interviews, reading two dissertations looking at the evolution of his theology over 50 years, the conclusion is clear to me. In 1993 Graham stated to Time Magazine (as codified in Ken Garfield’s book Billy Graham, a Life in Pictures, of the virgin birth specifically,

Graham has said that the virgin birth of Christ is NOT an essential part of the Christian faith. In an interview with a United Church of Canada publication in 1966 (“Billy Graham Answers 26 Provocative Questions,” United Church Observer, July 1, 1966), Graham gave the following reply to a question about the virgin birth of Christ:

Q. Do you think a literal belief in the Virgin birth — not just as a symbol of the incarnation or of Christ’s divinity — as an historic event is necessary for personal salvation?
A. While I most certainly believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, I do not find anywhere in the New Testament that this particular belief is necessary for personal salvation.

Graham denied the necessity of the virgin birth not just once but several times in different decades. Graham’s response was a classic example of his penchant for doubletalk. Is there any other kind of salvation, besides the personal? Is there global salvation? Impersonal salvation?

And if we use Graham’s silly statement as the basis, “I don’t find anywhere in the New Testament” …we can also say “I don’t find anywhere in the New Testament any specific reference to the Trinity” so therefore “belief in the Trinity is not necessary to personal salvation”.

If Christ be not the virgin-born Son of God, He could not be our Savior. To reject the doctrine of the Virgin Birth is to reject the only Sinless Savior that God has provided for sinners.

Of course Graham’s denial of Jesus as the exclusive way to God, as seen in his adoption of the wider mercy approach, was articulated clearly and affirmed with questioning, at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral interview in 1997, displays Graham’s saddest denial of all.

As mentioned above, Stanley is not the first impostor to preach that believing the virgin conception is unnecessary as a part of the fundamental beliefs for the faith, Graham got there long before Stanley did.

There are five fundamentals of the faith which are essential for Christianity-

1.      The Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:1; John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8-9).
2.      The Virgin Birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27).
3.      The Blood Atonement (Acts 20:28; Romans 3:25, 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12-14).
4.      The Bodily Resurrection (Luke 24:36-46; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 15:14-15).
5.      The inerrancy of the scriptures themselves (Psalms 12:6-7; Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20).

Below is a VERY general look from Thomas P. Johnston’s Examining Billy Graham’s Theology of Evangelism, (p. 379) Graham’s four phases of Graham’s life and Graham’s slow apostasy of the five fundamental doctrines.

The fact is, Jesus told us wolves will come in sheep’s clothing. This means they will appear as friendly and soft-spoken. They will seem to adhere to the Bible’s truths, but they are inside ravenous for your soul. Wolves subtly deny God, just as satan did in the Garden. An excellent example of this subtlety is Graham’s statement “I do not find anywhere in the New Testament that this particular belief is necessary for personal salvation. Be wary, friends. Even popular pastors can be wolves. As a matter of fact, especially popular pastors can be wolves.

Here are some resources outlining the importance of belief in the virgin birth as necessary for faith.

GotQuestions: Why is the Virgin Birth so Important?

Jesus was not born in sin; that is, He had no sin nature (Hebrews 7:26). It would seem that the sin nature is passed down from generation to generation through the father (Romans 5:12, 17, 19). The Virgin Birth circumvented the transmission of the sin nature and allowed the eternal God to become a perfect man.

Ligonier: Must Christians believe in the Virgin Birth?

Christians must face the fact that a denial of the virgin birth is a denial of Jesus as the Christ

Grace To You: Why the Virgin Birth is Essential

The virgin birth is an underlying assumption in everything the Bible says about Jesus. To throw out the virgin birth is to reject Christ’s deity, the accuracy and authority of Scripture, and a host of other related doctrines central to the Christian faith. No issue is more important than the virgin birth to our understanding of who Jesus is.

Source: Andy Stanley, Billy Graham, and the Bible, on the virgin birth