Thursday, June 28, 2012

Last Chance Era?

(1 John 5:9-13) If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for the witness of God is this, that he hath borne witness concerning his Son.  (5:10) He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he hath not believed in the witness that God hath borne concerning his Son.  (5:11) And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  (5:12) He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life.  (5:13) These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, [even] unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God.  
My heart is heavy today. This is what happened. 
Recently, I carefully stepped out of my self-imposed isolation and started reading in blogs again. It was more about curiosity than loneliness. I’m not in the least lonely. Besides an active family I have very dear Christian friendships and, more importantly, a close, personal relationship with Christ. Thus, I do not lack for edifying Christian fellowship. But I’ve been on a quest to find some answers and, in this techno age, the web is the shortest distance between the dots and therefore I started an online search.
For the record, I am uber cautious now, having been duped more than once by false teachings that sounded so good at the outset but turned out to be more about humanism elevated to a level of idolatry. What I have learned for my bad experiences is that “good” is a misleading term but is the single most successfully employed hook that snags the unwary. I refer to this as Good for Goodness Sake. I am more discerning now and so I have heightened sensors that kick off when it becomes clear that the concepts of good and love are being reinterpreted by standards of the flesh.
Over a period of several weeks, as I was reading and researching, a term I was not familiar with kept popping up–Universal Reconciliation. Based on what I know about new age religion and the joyous ideology of you’re-ok-I’m-ok-love-wins, I set it aside coming to a cursory conclusion without stopping to research the history and doctrine; the name alone was enough for me to be less than interested in educating myself about what portended to be yet another intellectual attempt to redefine God. I assumed it meant that someone somewhere determined that since God is love therefore God could never condemn the creatures He loves. Sounds good doesn’t it?
Surprisingly enough I was very close. But actually it’s worse than that. 
I thought, in my ignorance, that Universalism was something new, just another same song, one hundredth verse of New Age. Once I was compelled to research the history I found to my utter shock that some form or another has been around since the middle ages. In my defense, I can claim that there are so many uplifting things to study, there really isn’t enough time for me to arm myself with knowledge about every religious diversion. But I was more or less forced to find out more about Reconciliation Doctrine because I had engaged myself in a friendly discussion of Romans 11:25. Again, I state that this is outside of my normal comfort zone because I learned the hard way, years ago, that I am not good at debate or Christian Apologetics. I do admire those who are though. But I have a distaste for contention and I have often seen friendly debate, especially about hot topics like religion or politics, dissolve into worse than simple disagreement. In the end, nothing is resolved. No one changes anyone else’s mind about anything. Everyone retreats wounded. Lose/lose.
During the course of the discussion about Romans 11:25, it came out that the perspective of the other person was founded in Universal Reconciliation. I have not replied to his last post because I had to do what I always do, pray and wait on the Lord. I slept on it. When I woke up I knew I needed to find out what UR was all about first. What I discovered simply confirmed for me what I had originally assumed and also something else. It was this “something else” that grieves my soul.
Starting with John 3:16, I know that no matter how many verses of Scripture, even those quoting Jesus directly would be able to sway or cast reasonable doubt in a mind that is given over to a false gospel. I asked myself, why is that? Well, why not? Was it not God that hardened the hearts of the Jews in the first century? (Romans 11:25) For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits, that a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.  
Why is it not just as possible that gentiles, who have run after another Jesus or another gospel, would not also be vulnerable to hardening? And if, as is commonly interpreted to mean, Romans 11:25 sets a time when the grafting in of the gentiles will be complete, like a cut-off date of a contest, this hardening will then signal the end of the era. 
Given the plethora of false doctrine now offered up in bright exciting packaging, books, CDs, websites, mega-churches with generic, might-as-well-be-a-resort organizations for those looking for a more stimulating or acceptable, less intimidating, no repentance required theology, there is a distinctly dangerous possibility that we are in that era. 
And this is what grieves me, that it is looking as though we have come to the end of the last chance - just as the Jews experienced. We are in the get-it-or-don’t era. Some will, many won’t. But to those who are just now teetering on the edges, still in the dabbling stages where you are taste-testing the flavor du jour of all the delightful, flesh satisfying offerings,  I ask that you simply stop and weigh everything against this one thing:
A true love for and devotion to Jesus cannot spring from either a desire to escape damnation or reap reward. The only acceptable reason for loving Jesus is because He is worthy. What else do we really need to know?
For Christ,
For a comprehensive study in Universal Reconciliation -The Reason's Why Universalism Is False - by Don Hewey
Christian Apologetics Research Ministry

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Word To The Wise

(Deuteronomy 18:21) And if thou say in thy heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?  (18:22) when a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken: the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not be afraid of him.           
Recently I received a forwarded email from a dear sister in Christ. It was a “word” sent to her by someone else. The name of the original author was not passed along with it so I don’t know who wrote it. Because of hard-earned past experience I am justifiably cautious about reading and/or accepting at face value prophetic words claimed to have been received from God, especially when I don’t have a clue about the person’s track record. But there are certain types of compositions that scream out to me as blatantly false. Heretofore I had not considered that I have a built in criteria that a supposed word of God should measure up to but apparently I do have and so I thought I’d delineate and present these guidelines as a word to the wise.
While I am the first to grant that God speaks to us in the way we can hear, I am instantly put off by a long, rambling, ranting tirade that sounds more like the person delivering it than the Almighty Sovereign God. Anyone can say, well, God is just speaking in modern language. Fair enough, but what about content? What if the content, regardless of the elocution does not align with the best source we have for testing a Word from God, i.e., the Bible?
Smokescreen Language
After volume and choice of words is questioned, the next big test is identifying what is known in the writing world as Omnipotent Point of View. When a writer wishes to empower a concept, he/she will present it through an all seeing, authoritative voice. From this vantage point all manner of wise words can be unleashed without much fear of being challenged. But it’s just a gimmick and a smokey way to hide lack of credibility and if you test any of it and find it wanting, then you have to assume none of it is coming from God. Quoting from the email from the end of the first paragraph: 
“There is much knowledge in the world today. But not too much because there are enough truly wise men able to handle it. But the wise have not stepped up and out. They are beaten back by the foolish, unwise and evil. I am about to change that. Many will find themselves elevated without effort – thrust into positions of leadership that they are well able to handle. They will not all be followers of My Son even as not all of the founders of America were. But they will be true and honest, gifted by Me for the hour.  I want to purge government in this hour. All governments. Much is happening in every country. It is an active time.”
Sounds pretty wise, and, well, godlike, doesn’t it? But let’s hold up the comment about purging government to Romans 13:1-4 (13:1) Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the [powers] that be are ordained of God.  (13:2) Therefore he that resisteth the power, withstandeth the ordinance of God: and they that withstand shall receive to themselves judgment.  (13:3) For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. And wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same:  
So, I’m thinking that even though God would be more than justified to be angry about what is going on in government today, I also know that His Gospel points to us being more focused on our own behaviors. Look to our own dirty skirts. Government has largely been corrupt throughout history, has it not? But I am supposed to accept that God is now sharing His imminent plans to purge all governments, “this hour” with this person. That’s not to say I would be shocked if He did, I’m just sensing that the words are more a revelation of the writer’s personal knowledge of what is happening in current events than what God would be saying to prepare His people for imminent desolation of all government. It just seems there is something missing, a large chunk of what prophecy has always been about, i.e., REPENTANCE.  
Feet of Clay
Before I get too far along I have to address the lack of attribution of the author in the email. On several occasions I have questioned a word sent to me and done a web search for the writer. When I have found additional commentary written by a self-proclaimed prophet, using only a small amount of discernment and applied criteria, I usually can spot the cracks. What I have found is that it is common for someone to get so comfortable with the elevated position of anointing, whether real or imagined, that he/she begins to believe in his/her own spiritual mandated wisdom and authority and unchallengeable invincibility and then stumbles from boldness. This, then, leads to the inevitable spouting of absurdities, prophecies that do not come about, and ultimately cracks in the clay feet. I don’t always need to know who wrote something to discern whether it holds up to Scripture or not but if given a larger body of work to examine, a false prophet will always reveal him/herself sooner or later. 
What’s the Big Deal?
If, after failing the first tests, I still have questions about the veracity of a word presented as prophetic, I ask one last question: What is the harm if it isn’t really coming from God if it sounds good? 
This can be identified as Deception by Spiritual Arrogance. Those who anoint and appoint themselves as prophets of God are wide open for familiar spirits to take over. If they are able to attract a following their overt good words are an enticement to believe other things. Not so good. When someone claims to be a spokesman for God, where is the accountability when dreams, visions and prophecies are not fulfilled? How easy it is to justify and make excuses for someone just because you have a sense of loyalty to him or her. Their authority and false teachings then become distractions away from the Gospel, which then pull followers away from what we are supposed to be focused on. But more often than not, even when the truth is plain as day, people stay mired in false teachings, continue to believe the wildest prophecies, make excuse when they fail, and never ask the hard questions because it’s just too hard to admit that they have been deceived. Many fall away in despair and lose whatever faith they began with. 

This, then, is the harm false prophets do to the Body as a whole, when parts are damaged. 
No doubt we do live in precarious times. Technology has made it possible like never before for humans to be able to communicate with so many so quickly. Ideas, religions, doctrines and self-proclaimed leaders rise and garner to themselves willing followers both in bonafide denominational organized religions and errant off-the-path cults. Wounded, disillusioned Christians often leave denominational churches only to reattach themselves to some other kind of religious bondage sooner or later. Many are attracted by the excitement of signs and wonders and “thus sayeth the Lord” prophecies. Unfortunately spiritually emotional people are vulnerable because they prefer to believe and trust someone else, even in the stark face of real undeniable evidence of wrong-doing, than hold that person’s words and behaviors up to the hard light of Scripture. What they want is what has always been a snare for seekers/believers, they want a flesh and blood leader to tell them what and how to believe. They want a prophet who is God’s spokesperson to herd them rather than take the scarier lonely road to study and humble themselves to hear from the Lord themselves. 
I have often thought that it boils down to not really believing that God can and will speak to us individually. 
Well, apparently it’s easy to find a leader. All one has to do is pick one of hundreds presented on the web and through forwarded emails. The wolves are out there prowling for prey. All you have to do is find the one that is saying what you want to hear and you’ve got yourself someone and some thing to believe in. 
Warning: Do so at your own peril. 
(Jeremiah 23:16) Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they teach you vanity; they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. 
 (Deuteronomy 13:1) If there arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and he give thee a sign or a wonder,  (13:2) and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;  (13:3) thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  (13:4) Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.   
(Matthew 7:15) Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.  (7:16) By their fruits ye shall know them. Do [men] gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  (7:17) Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  

In Christ,


Sunday, June 10, 2012

God's Ways Are Not Our Ways

I am, and have always been, peculiar. I see things dimensionally. For as long as I can remember I can look at a physical object and see it in schematic form, exploded out, each part that makes up the whole but exists on its own separate plane. Thus, I have always been good at designing and building things. It’s a long story, suffice it to say this is a part of my personal operating system that has always seemed to set me apart from the world’s norm. I have willfully marched to a different drummer, forever odd man (woman) out. But, because of this somewhat unique ability, I also look at concepts using a similar perception. One thing that I have always seen differently is creation. I am acutely devoted to the concept of a Sovereign Creator.

I won’t even begin to argue this with staunch evolutionists because it is a futile effort that cannot come to good conclusion. As I mentioned I am not inclined to debate anything (part of my personality type). However, on this issue, where I diverge from the gotta choose A or B stance is that I see there are many more parts, which have not been identified because people cannot see beyond the simple black and white choices that have been set forth. Please note: I’m not tossing the evolutionist/creationist battle out for discussion, I am using this to lead to something else.

I recently discovered a truth about myself that answered so many questions. It was like a door that opened up. But then, as is usually the case, after pondering this, I stopped looking inward and looked outward and found something else that was profound. I was reading a political blog by a fellow who always has a unique perspective that I “get”. He mentioned, off-handedly, that he was identified as an INTJ personality type, as defined by criteria set up in the Meyers-Briggs personality test that delineates 16 separate main categories that humans fall into. I think this test was created using Carl Jung’s research on human behaviors. Anyway, I was curious (there’s a shock) and did a search on the INTJ type. I found it in Wikipedia. Turns out this is the rarest of the types, accounting for 1%-4% of the population. As I read the description it was like reading about me personally. There was not one thing, either in the primary four or the sub-group and auxiliary four categories that did not identify my outlook, my perspectives, my tendencies and my personality, both visual and hidden. It was an epiphanic moment for me, I have to tell you. It was something akin to vindication, but not exactly. Maybe more like justification. At the very least I saw myself not so much as a mutant, but as a true, albeit small, part of a whole.

Then, when I took this revelation outside of my own small realm and began applying it to other issues, I was able to connect some missing dots. First, reiterating my comment about believing a Sovereign God created the universe, I also accept without question that He also set in place a unique natural order (all sciences) that we, for all our advanced knowledge, have only seen a tiny glimpse of. So, what if He created us in His image (body, soul, spirit) but divided us into unique categories because the Divine Natural Order was established to be synergistic? Adam was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge because, being omnipotent, God knew mankind would screw it up and then begin worshipping the knowledge instead of Him. Clearly He was spot on, too.

If we take into consideration how it was supposed to be, with different types all working individually to make the whole greater than its sum, we can see the archetype for the Body of Christ in the original Plan. Unfortunately, this is a word of knowledge that is hidden now and instead of us recognizing and utilizing the advantages of our differences, we choose to be dogmatic, judgmental separationists, all of which is governed by the immature, petty, fleshly stronghold of “SELF” which is the weakness that Satan is allowed to use to sift us. 

But where we really stumble is in our total lack of comprehension of the multi-dimensional power of faith. We either commandeer and attempt to micro-manage a self-righteous facsimile of the Holy Spirit to our own agendas or we simply ignore Him, trusting and leaning on our own understandings more. Faith is, at the same time, so complex and yet so simple. It’s like looking at a basic tool without being able to see all the parts that it is constructed of. We use the word “faith” as though we understand the concept, but until we are able to say with conviction, “I will trust Him, though He slay me,” we have not fully grasped the meaning of true faith. 

All this is to say, for these and many other reasons, mankind could not and will never be able to save itself and that is why we needed a Savior. And though He is denied, rejected and falsely represented, He remains true to those who seek Him. He knows we are flawed, He knows we are easily lead astray. He takes the 999 steps to our 1 and yet we often refuse to take the one. If it were not for Grace, who then could be saved? The fruit of a truly surrendered life is not good works, as are defined by man, it is the undeniable result of obedience to the prompts of the Holy Spirit. Obeying the laws of synergy, good fruit lifts up, creates and multiplies, conversely bad fruit always pulls down and destroys. More importantly good fruit always points to Him. 

This is how we know how to discern the difference.

For Him,