Sunday, July 24, 2016

Discerning of Spirits: What it is and why it's important to your local church body, and the church-at-large

The level of doctrinal Christian error and demonic activity in this present world is staggering. The spiritual war is cosmic and invisible. (Ephesians 6:12). But recently someone followed my blog on Wordpress. In doing my diligence I perused her blog to see what they were about. What I found absolutely horrified me before the Lord, as much as it worried me for the woman's soul.

The tagline to her blog is -
The writing of the Holy Bible continues, published by G.ROY. God dictated unto me the words coming out of His mouth through the use of his prophets and I wrote them out in this blog (web log of God) for the instruction of us whom ends of the world are come. Sometimes some highlights are thrown in to help people understand the context by which the prophecy was worded out. I am not deciding what is to be written and called a prophecy. God speaks, I write word for word what was said!
Immediately one praises the Lord for His patience in not doing to this writer as He did to Ananias & Sapphira, (Acts 5:1-11) or Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:7) for profaning His holiness. The unmitigated pride and deep demonic delusion evident in that blog's About section is stunning. And yet there's more.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Sheep: from The Scripture alphabet of animals

I suppose you think you already know as much about sheep and lambs as I can tell you, and perhaps you do. Yet I dare say you never took up your Bible to see how many times they are mentioned there, or how many beautiful things are said about them. 
Abel, who, as you know, was the third man that lived on the earth, was a "keeper of sheep;" and there have always been a great many shepherds in the world from that time to this. Some of the men who lived in old times had a great many sheep. Job had seven thousand, which God allowed to be taken from him; but afterwards gave him twice as many-fourteen thousand. At the time when Solomon’s beautiful temple was dedicated to God, he offered a sacrifice of a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. 
If you want to know how many that is, try to think of a pasture with a hundred sheep in it-then think of a hundred pastures, just like it, with just as many sheep in each-then think of those hundred pastures taken twelve times over, and you will begin to understand how many there were. It is not common with us to have persons whose whole business it is to take care of sheep, but that was always the way in Bible countries. 
This was not done by servants, at least not always; for a great many rich men employed their children as shepherds. Rachel, who was afterwards the wife of Jacob, "kept her father’s sheep"-so did Jacob’s twelve sons-so did Moses for his father-in-law. 
Cook, H. N. (1842). The Scripture alphabet of animals. New York: American Tract Society.

Kay Cude: The Light of Our Salvation

Click to enlarge. Kay Cude: published with permission
Artist's statement:
For me, the lone tree speaks of God's wonderful handiwork, not only representing His gift of nature, but brings to mind that His redeemed are not alone, but safely tucked within His Might eternally. And as the brilliance of the sun pierces boldly through the dark-ending of the storm, one thought leads me to another -- remembrance of Christ's death and resurrection. Then speaks to His beloved redeemed: the "things" of this world are now more clearly seen through the light of His Salvation! We must daily pause to remember...

Friday, July 22, 2016

Stalking horse religion

For if it be unlawful to follow Christ for loaves, (as it is in the sixth of John), how much more abominable is it to make of him and religion a stalking-horse to get and enjoy the world! Nor do we find any other than heathens, hypocrites, devils, and witches, that are of this opinion.
The above quote is from Pilgrim's Progress. The main character named Christian is discussing the motives behind following Christ. We do not follow Him for loaves, as Christian says. Put another way, we don't follow Christ for what we can get out of Him to satisfy our fleshly desires.

Christian goes on to give three examples of those who DID pretend to follow Christ but really were in it to get what they could.
The hypocritical Pharisees were also of this religion; long prayers were their pretence, but to get widows' houses was their intent; and greater damnation was from God their judgment. [Luke 20:46-47] 
Judas the devil was also of this religion; he was religious for the bag, that he might be possessed of what was therein; but he was lost, cast away, and the very son of perdition. 
Simon the witch was of this religion too; for he would have had the Holy Ghost, that he might have got money therewith; and his sentence from Peter's mouth was according. [Acts 8:19-22] 
Christian in Pilgrim's Progress mentioned a "stalking horse." I had to look that one up. According to Wikipedia-
The term stalking horse originally derived from the practice of hunting, particularly of wildfowl. Hunters noticed that many birds would flee immediately on the approach of humans, but would tolerate the close presence of animals such as horses and cattle. Hunters would therefore slowly approach their quarry by walking alongside their horses, keeping their upper bodies out of sight until the flock was within firing range. Animals trained for this purpose were called stalking horses.
I like a mental visual as I learn about the Bible's truths. This was a useful metal image to me. To be even more literal, here is an illustration of a stalking horse with its hunter behind it, using the horse as a moving blind.

The horse is the shield, concealing the hunter's true motives. And that is what false teachers do, they use religion as a shield until the moment they pull the trigger and by then his motives are too late for the stalked prey. The Christian is the prey.

It is often hard for Christians to understand that false teachers who teach under the cloak of Jesus' name or a sham religion, however sincerely presented, are stalking you. Many times I receive the comment that the false teacher is just making a temporary mistake, or is a little off on one point of doctrine but solid on the rest.

Sisters, there are only two kinds of people, Christians and pagans. Teachers who teach falsely for long periods of time who refuse to recant, repent, or correct, are pagans. The only thing they are sincere about is that they are sincerely and truly stalking you, out for your harm and not your good. If they are of satan, we know the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10). Therefore a false teacher comes to kill, steal, and destroy.

Many people get this far in an essay and mentally they are saying, yes, yes, of course. But when it comes to applying this truth to a known name, their mind balks. Beth Moore, intentionally out to harm me, using pretense and false religion as a stalking horse? Ann Voskamp? Lysa TerKeurst? Jennie Allen? Joanna Gaines? Destructive and harmful? But they're so nice! So engaging! So successful! However, the Bible helps us here too. We are told the false ones come with smooth talk and flatteries. Just because they destroy nicely doesn't mean they aren't destructive.

For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Romans 16:18)

Who is Paul speaking of? "Those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught;" (Romans 16:17). Paul says flatly to avoid them.

You've heard the term snake oil salesmen, who are defined as a "someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods or who is themselves a fraud, quack, or charlatan." False teachers are the same, they know what they are doing. It's not a mistake. Their consciences are so seared that they don't care. Sisters, don't be distracted by the horse. Look at the gun.


Additional Resources

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

What is Biblical Discernment and Why is it Important?

Discernment Video Bites: Heaven Tourism, Revelation v. Illumination, Jesus Calling, more

There are three videos recently released, in which Pastor Justin Peters speaks on various discernment topics. Known for his lessons on discerning the Word of Faith/Prosperity Gospel movement, through leading conferences and producing DVDs, such as a recent one titled "Clouds Without Water," in these short but in-depth video bites Mr Peters discusses-
  • Heaven Tourism,
  • The inherent dangers of Jesus Calling,
  • The difference between Revelation and Illumination,
  • The responsibility of the Christian Bookstore (yet to be released).

The sin struggle of summer

I work in education and that means summers off! Mind, my salary covers employment for 190 days, so I'm not paid for the days off summers off, but at this point of my life I'm happier to have the time.

I had 9 weeks off, all in a row. Sixty-four days from May 27 to August 1, I've had a blissful time here in what I call The Hermitage. It's so dubbed because I like to spend copious amounts of time indoors in my small apartment. Alone. Never lonely.

Like everyone else, during the seasons when I'm working, there are always lots of other things I'd like to do, but the fact that I'm committed elsewhere for 9 hours a day (longer if I work AfterSchool Program) means I don't have time to do all that I want. I like to read, study, surf the web, watch movies, write, and do crafts. Erm, I can't squeeze all that into a day that is also dedicated to doing my best job at school. Add errands and cleaning to that, and like everyone else, time is short.

But the moment the teachers and parapros sing goodbye and wave off the last bus, and the principal dismisses the staff, to the moment the first pre-planning session, huge quantities of unbroken day upon day lay stretched out before me.

I always start off the summer with a schedule and a commitment to stick to it. First off, daily Bible reading, prayer, study, writing the blog and theological reading for several hours. After that, a bit of cooking and in the afternoon, doing something productive for the Kingdom. I have several projects going and some ladies I disciple. Then the evening, a movie or a TV show.

And that is what I do, for the first few weeks.

Inevitably, my guard relaxes and my schedule slides. I spend more time watching TV than in reading the Bible. That goes on for a little while then I pull myself up again and get back to it. Rinse. Repeat. I say "inevitably" because my sin nature wants what it wants and not what Jesus wants.

The sinful tendency to want to indulge the flesh and not the spirit remains a constant battle all summer. Yet unless one doesn't work at all, or perhaps freelances with time in between jobs, this job as an educator is one which affords an unusual amount of time. I love to use it for the Kingdom, it's what He gave me this life for, to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. As an unmarried woman with no children, what else would I be doing with the time? And still, I don't use every minute for Jesus and by the end of summer sometimes I don't use an entire day for Jesus.

And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:34)

It got me thinking about the other place where there is long unbroken periods of time stretching out where one can work for the Kingdom. Heaven. What bliss it will be to be able to work for Jesus without a sin nature! I won't disappoint myself and even more important, I won't be disappointing Jesus. I won't have to spend mental and emotional time reining in my sin nature. I will be able to work for Him in joy and perfection, using every moment for Him, fully. My mind will have been expanded so that it can give its full attention to whatever task Jesus has set before me. Best of all, there will be "time" to do it all. No man-made, artificial constraints will compete with what we will joyfully set out to accomplish for our sovereign King.

There are so many joys to look forward to in heaven. This is one of them: eternal, perfect, joyful work for Jesus. Now, back to my schedule I'd planned for today.

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. (Proverbs 6:6)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Jesus Calling and The Battle for Sola Scriptura

The Protestant Reformation began almost 500 years ago (in 1517) after Martin Luther posted his "95 Theses," which proposed two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority - (not the Catholic Church) - and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their works. By the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church had been teaching that one could attain salvation by one's own meritorious works that they alone were the authority, and darkness had settled over the land. Luther's act sparked the Reformation. To this day the Catholic Church maintains that sola scriptura is a "blueprint for anarchy".

Those two central tenets posted by Martin Luther were later expanded to become known as the Five Solas, as Theopedia explains here
The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant Reformation intended to summarize the Reformers' basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. "Sola" is Latin meaning "alone" or "only" and the corresponding phrases are:

Sola Fide, by faith alone.
Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.
Sola Scriptura is the tenet I'm looking at today. Theopedia explains sola scriptura further-
The inerrant Scripture (the Bible) is the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. It is denied that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian's conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.
And here we have the point. Currently, Scripture alone is the sole point of intersection of God's personal revelation of Himself to man. (Hebrews 1:1-2). 'Personal experience can never be a vehicle of revelation.' Never ever.

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, (2 Peter 1:19).

Satan battles the above five points at every turn. The battle for sola scriptura has been extremely pitched in our era. Book after book published from Christian publishers purport to show how to commune with God by doing certain things that will enhance one's antenna for receiving His personal revelation. People claim visits from Jesus and visits to Jesus in heaven. They claim to have heard Him speak to them and have received personally tailored career advice or new theological commands or projects to engage in (Joanna Gaines of the HGTV show "Fixer Upper" and Beth Moore, are two examples). Book after book emerge from someone claiming to have had a heavenly visit and personal tour of heaven (or hell). Claiming a personal divine word is the new mantra.

Last year's Shepherd's Conference at Grace Community Church was titled the "Inerrancy Summit" and worked to teach attendee pastors the importance of defending truth against all those who seek to undermine the authority of scripture. John MacArthur opened the Summit by listing four reasons why such a summit is needed, one of which is that Scripture is authoritative and pastors and teachers are called to declare it. In his speech, MacArthur gave a quick overview of the progress of the undermining of scripture in our era-
In the 1960s and ‘70s, experientialism began to infiltrate the mainline denominations. This movement tempted the church to define truth on the basis of emotional experience. Biblical interpretation was no longer based on the clear teaching of the text; but rather upon feelings and subjective, unverifiable experiences, such as supposed revelations, visions, prophecies, and intuition. 
The Third Wave movement of the 1980s continued the growth of mysticism within the church, convincing people to look for signs and wonders and to listen for paranormal words from God rather than seeking out truth in the written Word of God. 
The New Apostolic Reformation [NAR] is the latest in these kinds of movements.
FMI on NAR, go here or here

One attack on Sola Scriptura that has persisted for 12 years and is now its own cottage industry, is the book Jesus CallingJesus Calling is a book written by Sarah Young. Ms Young was restless with the Bible and wanted more. She actively sought out hearing from God and these supposed divine utterings were captured by her pen and made into a book. In the book, Ms Young puts the utterings from a "Jesus" into first person.

Being dissatisfied with the complete revelation of God to man in His word is attack #1 on sola scriptura. And there are soldiers who continue to stand on this important point, such as Justin Peters. Here is a short video speaking about the importance of sola scriptura and warning to avoid the Jesus Calling book.

Jesus Calling: The Battle for Sola Scriptura
"Where the battle is really being fought today is over whether or not God's word is sufficient, and evangelicals are losing that battle." ~Justin Peters

If you read, listen to, or follow any teacher who professes Jesus and yet also claims to have personally heard from God or uses personal revelations of teachings they say they've received from God, avoid them. What they are doing is undermining the sufficiency of scripture. The Bible says,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Bible does not say, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, plus what I told Beth Moore last week and including what I mentioned to Sarah Young and...

For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

It is through the scriptures that we gain our instruction and have hope. Scripture alone.


Further Reading-

Theopedia: Sola Scriptura

Shepherds Conference Inerrancy Summit: all the sermons

Ligonier: What does Sola Scriptura mean?