Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

The Shack

Recently a loved one asked me to read the popular best seller, The Shack, I have tried over and over again to get through the book. I finally got through reading it about a week ago. For me it was a very uncomfortable experience.

I certainly don’t judge anyone as evil for reading it. I just think it is a dangerous book in that it is a human attempt to remake God “politically correct” and “relevant”

I felt very uncomfortable as though I was reading blasphemy, making God into our own image.

It’s right for God to make man in His own image for He is God. Gen. 1:26
But it is sacrilegious for man to make God in his image. Exodus 20:1-5,
It’s not only sacrilegious, but dangerous. Romans 1:18-32

That’s my major problem with the book.

For a fair and objective review of The Shack check out this link.

http://www.challies.com/articles/the-shack-by-william-p-young

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July 10, 2010 Posted by | Deception Series | Comments Off on The Shack

Deception series: Introduction

Repeatedly  the Bible warns us of dangers and deceptions. We are to beware of false prophets who come to us as wolves in sheep’s clothing.  We are to be on guard to self-deception and to the wiles of Satan. 

As shepherds  lead their flocks to  green pastures, and protect them from many dangers,  so pastors are to lovingly feed, warn and protect their flocks. The following posts give some pertinent warnings for you.  Please, do not take these warnings lightly and end up destroying your life.

 

May 30, 2006 Posted by | Deception Series | Comments Off on Deception series: Introduction

Deception series #1: False Prophets

At the conclusion of His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7,  Jesus gave the warning to beware of false prophets. As genuine currency is studied in order to recognize counterfeit bills, so in the spiritual realm we need to identify a true prophet in order to recognize a false prophet.

The Terrifying Voice of God

When  Moses went up into Mount Sinai to receive  the Ten Commandments from God,  it was an awesome, fearful occasion. Exodus 19:10-25 records the warning God gave to Moses for the people.  It was a terrifying time in Israel’s life.  Exodus 20:18-19 describes their fear. “And all the people saw the thunderings and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed and stood far away.  And they said unto Moses, “Speak thou with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us  lest we die.”

Prophets speak to men for God

In Deuteronomy 18:15-22 we have God’s response to fearful Israel.  In this passage God assures the people that He understands their fear and he announces that He will raise up prophets and put His words in their mouths and expect the people to listen and obey just as if He were speaking to them directly.  He also warns of false prophets who would presume to speak for God.  He warns that He will hold them accountable for their  presumption.  God also explains to the people how they can recognize the true prophet.  Everything he says will come to pass just as he prophesied.  Listen to him and fear God.  As for the false prophet, ignore and have no fear of him.

True Prophets

Some of the true prophets include Moses, Samuel,  Elijah, Elisha, Michaiah, as well as the major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel  and the  12 minor prophets listed at the end of the Old Testament. God spoke to them in dreams and visions.  However, in Numbers 12:1-8  we have an account in the life of Moses that shows us that God spoke to him directly mouth to mouth.  Moses was in a separate category from the rest of the prophets.

False Prophets

Balaam was an unusual false prophet.  He spoke the truth, but he used his influence to lead Israel astray by encouraging them to fellowship with and eventually intermarry the heathen.  His story is told in Numbers 23, 24,  25:1-3  and 31:16.  God’s judgment on Balaam is found in. II Peter 2:14-15, Jude 11, and Revelation 2:14. Balaam is a sober warning to  evangelists and pastors today who  preach the truth; but in their  efforts to reach the lost, invite unbelievers to join them in sponsoring  crusades and being involved in the follow up of new converts..  Paul warns against this in  II Corinthians 6:14-18.  See Unequal Yoke article in SEPARATION series

There were other false prophets in Old Testament times, including the prophets of Baal  whom the Prophet Elijah defeated in  a great contest.  Read the exciting story in I Kings 18. 

Jeremiah exposed  Hananiah, a false prophet in Judah.  Jeremiah  faced a lonely, dangerous life because of his faithfulness to God in preaching the truth and exposing false prophets.

Why False Prophets are so Popular

False prophets are popular because people in their spiritual blindness love to hear their inoffensive preaching.  In Jeremiah 5:30-31 we read that  people follow them because they  love to  hear them. Protestant churches that are now led by liberal preachers were once solid, Bible teaching churches. There came a time in the history of the church when people rebelled against the faithful preachers and replaced  them with the preachers who gave them what they wanted to hear. Isaiah 30:8-10 speaks about people who refuse to listen to God’s prophets.  They say to them, “Prophecy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophecy deceits.”   Can you imagine people asking their preachers to give them what they want to hear?  That’s as foolish as telling your doctor who has just examined you to avoid telling you any bad news and telling him to give you only good news,  even if it is a lie.

False Prophets Increasing

Matthew 23:13-15,   24:3-5 and  II Timothy 3:1-7 warn that in the last days, false prophets will increase in number and in their ability to deceive people.  They will creep into homes through radio and  television and by boldly coming to your front door with their false literature. They also infiltrate churches, Christian colleges and seminaries,. influencing  a new generation  to adopt  their false doctrine.  They are more prolific and dangerous today than at any time in human history.  They not only destroy themselves, but they destroy those who listen to them, keeping them from the “the narrow way.”  They are destined for destruction. Galations 1:8-9,  II Peter 2 and  Jude 1

God’s Rules for Prophets in the early Church.

I Corinthians 14  lists rules for the exercise of  the prophet’s gifts in the time of the early church.. 

1. Only two or three were to speak publicly and in order in a church service. 14:29

2. They spoke freshly, revealed truths and they also taught what other prophets had revealed. 14:30

3. The other prophets were to judge and discern if truth had been spoken. 14:29

4. The prophets were subject to one another.  They were in unity and did not contradict one another. 14:32

Why There Are No True Prophets Today

There were some true prophets who ministered to the Church in the beginning of the church age 2000 years ago.  These were men who had the gift of prophecy who spoke God’s Word before the Bible was completed. Ephesians 2:20 tells us the Apostles and Prophets were foundational to the church.  Once the canon of Scripture was complete, the office of  Prophet ceased.  With the Scriptures complete, there was no further need for this office. I Corinthians 13:8-10 There are now no true prophets today who have visions and hear from God apart from studying  His Word.

The Role of Pastor/Teachers Today- Feed the Flock

The pastor and teacher has replaced the office of prophet.  He no longer hears from God through visions and  dreams..  Rather he studies the Bible and brings God’s message directly from God’s Word. God’s Word teaches that women are not to teach in the public church service.  This does not belittle women. They can be just as godly as any man.  Godly women, including single women, have had the most influence on me through my childhood and teen years.  I can think of at least a dozen women who have helped shape me into the preacher I am today.  I thank God for faithful, Godly women. Though Godly women can teach  children,  young people and other women and thus influence the next generation for God; women should not be pastoring churches. That’s not my opinion, nor is it politically correct.   It’s God’s clear instruction..  See I Corinthians 14:34-35.  I Timothy 3:1-13  Titus 1:5-9

Protect the Flock

In II Timothy 4:1-4  Paul charges Pastor Timothy to  “preach the Word; be instant in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”  In Acts 20:28-35  Paul warns the pastors in Ephesus to beware of false prophets and others who would attempt to infiltrate the church and divide it.  A true pastor is a shepherd who leads his flock to the green pastures of Scripture.  He is also on guard continually for wolves in sheep’s clothing who would come and destroy the flock.

Isaiah 56:10-11 also describes a faithful prophet/pastor as a barking dog who alerts his congregation to false teachers. A barking dog is noisy and awakens sleepers.  If there is no danger, then the barking is irritating.  If there is danger, the barking is comforting

What Should You Do?

Christian friend,  I encourage you to make sure you are in a church pastored by one who faithfully gives you the Word of God.  I trust that, like the Berean Christians in Acts 17:11,  you will check what you hear by the Scriptures and make sure you are hearing the truth.  I Thessalonians 5:1  charges you to “Prove all things and hold fast to that which is good.”   May God help you to stay in the Word and test everything you hear by God’s Word and may you be faithful to Him in rejecting false teachers and supporting God’s faithful servants. 

May 29, 2006 Posted by | Deception Series | Comments Off on Deception series #1: False Prophets

Deception series #2: Self-Deception

In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus warned of the dangers of the deception of false prophets.  In  verses 21-23  He warns of the danger of self-deception. James also warns of the same thing in James 1:22-27. Many people call themselves Christians because they are Americans or because they go to church occasionally or because they believe facts about the historical Jesus. But based on what Jesus said,  we must conclude that many people who claim to be Christians are not.  They are deceived, either by false prophets or they are deceiving themselves.  In Matthew 7:13-14  Jesus said that few are on the narrow road to Heaven and many are on the broad way to hell.  In verse 22 Jesus warned that many are self-deceived about their relationship with God. 

Nominal Christians?

Many people are nominal Christians. That is, they are baptized, confirmed, members of a church; but they are Christians in name only. There is no peace, joy or reality in knowing Jesus.  Church attendance is just a habit and a duty.  For many it is drudgery.  They are happy for good excuses to stay away from church.

One may study and know church doctrine.  One may even go to seminary and  be ordained as a minister or priest,   but that does not make him a Christian.  He may sacrifice time and money to help his church, but that does not save him from hell.  The nominal Christian, though faithful in his church; has never been born again. He lacks a hunger for God’s Word, nor does he thirst to know God and to live a righteous life.

Hypocritical Christians?

Hypocritical professors of Christianity know they are not saved.  They go to great pains to play the role of a Christian.  They deceive others, but they do not deceive God.  They are as lost as the hypocritical Pharisees who hated Jesus.  Matthew 15:7-9  God’s judgment awaits them. Matthew 24:51

Hypocritical Christians know the language.  Often they are fervent and zealous in their Christian service. Often there are tears of emotion in their worship. They depend upon their works of righteousness to attain Heaven.

Genuine Christians!!!

In contrast, a genuine Christian loves the Word of God.  He can’t get enough of it.  He enjoys the fellowship of God’s people. He hates sin, especially the sin that he sees in his own life.  He longs to be pure and holy. He loves the Lord Jesus with all his heart and longs for an intimate relationship with Christ.

A genuine Christian is one who has come to the end of himself.  He knows he cannot attain salvation through good works. He knows he is a sinner deserving of hell. He knows that Jesus is God come down to this earth in human flesh to die on the cross to pay the penalty for sin. He knows that Jesus rose from the dead three days later. His trust is in Christ alone who died for him.  He has confessed Christ publicly as his Saviour  Though not perfect, he has turned from his life of sin and desires with all his heart to live a clean, pure life.  His heart has been radically transformed.   Old things have passed away and everything is new. II Corinthians 5:17.

Matthew 7:21 warns that the true Christian is not someone who simply talks piously, but the true Christian is the one who does the will of God.   What is it that we must do?  John 6:28-29 asks and answers that question.

“Then  said they unto Jesus, What shall we do that we might work the works of God?  He answers,  “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.”  

Are you a Nominal, Hypocritical or Genuine Christian?

If you are not sure about your salvation, settle it now.  Admit you are a lost sinner.  Admit you cannot save yourself.  Cast yourself on God’s mercy and trust the gift of His Son, Jesus, who died for your sins.  God will make the transformation in your life.  No,  you will not attain perfection; but you will have a heart that longs to know and glorify God, and you will join those on the narrow road headed for Heaven. Don’t delay.  Don’t wait until it is too late.   Read the warning in Luke 13:24-25 “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.  When once the master of the house is risen up and hath shut the door, and ye begin to stand without and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us!  He shall answer and say unto you,  I know you not whence you are!” 

Don’t Wait for God to Shut the Door

As Noah built the ark, preparing for a universal flood,  he warned people to flee from the coming judgment.  People ignored him.  When it came time to enter the ark only Noah and his immediate family entered.  Then God shut the door.  When the rains came and people tried to enter, it was too late.   One day God will shut the door of salvation.  Will you be in the Ark of Christ or will it be too late for you? 

May 28, 2006 Posted by | Deception Series | Comments Off on Deception series #2: Self-Deception

Deception series #3: When the Wind Blows

Matthew 7:24-27 and in Luke 6:47-49 record Jesus' story of the two men who built their houses; one on a rock foundation and the other on the sand. When the storms came and the winds blew and the floods rose up, the house on the rock foundation stood firm and the house on the sand was destroyed.

What's below the surface?

We've been warning about self-deception. This story illustrates self-deception and the consequences. It also warns us to be cautious about trying to assess the seeming success of others. Don't be deceived because one looks and acts like a Christian. He may not be. Don't be envious of the seeming success of others. If they are not building on Christ, the sure foundation; their destruction is coming.

Let's take a look at these two men and their homes. They both desired nice homes. They possibly built identical houses. They were possibly close neighbors. They lived under the same weather conditions, facing the same storms in life. The only difference lay below the surface. One had a foundation. The other had none. Both homes might have had the same value, but after the storm, the one house was worthless.

Don't take shortcuts.

The foolish man was in a hurry. He took short cuts. He didn't bother to dig deep. He didn't bother with foundations, because as he said, "You can't see it anyway." He lived only for today. He thought, "Why be so pessimistic and negative? Just keep a positive outlook on life. Don't think about storms and they won't happen." He gave no thought to the future until it was too late.

The wise man's desire was to build a home that he could live in the rest of his life and be able to pass it on to his children. He built a house that would be durable and stand the tests of time. Though building a foundation took effort and money, he considered the greater cost of building without a foundation. No doubt, he went to an architect for advice and blueprints. He wanted a house that would stand not only in the sun shine, but in the times of severe storms that he knew would come.

LESSONS FOR US

.If Christ is not your Saviour and Lord and the foundation of your life, your future is at risk. It's not a question as to whether storms will come; it's a question of when they will come. If Christ is not your foundation, you will crumble and come apart when the storms arrive.

Young people need to be concerned about foundations when courting and planning marriage. Most of their courting days should be given to building that foundation together. Once married, it is often too late to consider foundations.

Are you building on the shifting sands of feelings and self-righteousness, or are you building on Christ, the Rock. Read I Corinthians 3:10-15 and Colossians 2:6-10 and make sure about your foundation. To concern yourself with foundations after the storms come and destroy your home is as useless as trying to buy home owners insurance to pay for the damage after the storm has already destroyed your home.

A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENTIf you are a Christian, Jesus is for you. Romans 8:31 He is praying for you. Luke 22:32 When the storms come, you WILL stand. II Corinthians 9:8. The Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:1 urges us, "Therefore, my dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord."

May 27, 2006 Posted by | Deception Series | Comments Off on Deception series #3: When the Wind Blows

Deception series # 4: Perverted Gospel

Biblical  Christianity has never been popular with the world. Jesus warned His followers in John 15:19-23 that they would never have the love and the approval of the world.  If the world hated Jesus, they would hate and persecute His followers also.    He warned in Luke 6:26  "Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you."  Such popularity is a red flag of warning.  Watch out!

You can always recognize truth from error when listening to a preacher or evangelist, or when reading a book dealing with the Christian life, or when viewing a Christian film dealing with Christ and salvation.

If it is of Satan, it will always gloss over or totally omit the truth of the Doctrine of Christ.

What is that doctrine? 

We are all sinners, alienated from God, helpless and hopeless to save ourselves through our own self-efforts.

Jesus, God in human flesh,  came down from Heaven to reconcile us to God by paying the penalty for our sins  through His blood sacrifice on the cross.

Those who trust Jesus and receive this gift of God's grace, are declared righteous and made fit for Heaven through this wonderful gift of God's grace. They are, as Jesus put it in John 3, "born again". Paul declares in II Corinthians 5:17   "Therefore  if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." 

Beware of those who compromise God's Word.

If a preacher or evangelist is of God;  if a Christian book dealing with the Christian life is of God; if a Christian film dealing with salvation is of God,  the doctrine of Christ will always be made plain.

Beware of the  preacher who attempts to preach the Gospel and leaves out the heart of the Gospel.  Beware of  a Christian author who attempts to write a book on Christianity and does not make clear the only way of salvation through Christ.  Beware of  a film maker who attempts to tell the story of salvation and ignores the heart of it.

Paul warned his converts in Galatians 1:6-9  "I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the Gospel of Christ.  But though we or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."  Recognize he is under God's curse.

Again Paul warned in Romans 16:17-18  " Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." 

John warns in II John 7-11  "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.  This is a deceiver and an antichrist.  Look to yourselves that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.  Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God's speed. For he that biddeth him God's speed is a partaker of his evil deeds."  

In Revelation 17 and 18  John prophesies of the final ecumenical world church in the last days.  In Rev. 18:4-5  we are warned to "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." May God give you discernment to recognize truth from error and may He give you courage to take a stand for truth and reject error.

May 26, 2006 Posted by | Deception Series | Comments Off on Deception series # 4: Perverted Gospel

Deception series #5: Cults

 

Three terms tend to confuse people: The Church, Denominations and Cults. Let’s consider them here. 

THE CHURCH

 In this present age Christ is calling out from this world  a people for His Name and  for His glory. The aged Simeon who held the baby Jesus in his arms said of Him, “For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people.  A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people,Israel.”  Luke 2:30-32

As the Church Age got underway, James the leader of the Church in
Jerusalem referred to Simeon’s statement spoken years earlier. “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name.” Acts 15:14

The church is not primarily a building, although we  refer to  the buildings where we meet as churches.  Instead, the church is the gathering of those who have been redeemed by faith in the shed blood of Christ, both Jews and Gentiles. Not everyone who is a member of a visible local church is a member of The Church, Christ’s Body; only those who have come to Christ, recognizing their lost condition as sinners and have received Christ as Saviour.

Christ’s  Invisible Church is His spiritual Body, of which He is the Head;  made up of believers from visible churches.  His Church transcends and overcomes racial, national, language,  cultural and denominational barriers.

Christians are the Church In Ephesians 2:22 Paul refers to the church as “a habitation of God through His Spirit”. and in Ephesians 5: as  the “Body and the Bride of Christ. “

When Jesus died and rose again from the grave, just before He returned to Heaven, He commissioned His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20  and Acts 1:6-8  to preach the Gospel and to baptize the believers in water.

He also sent His Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost to do what we who are His followers cannot do:

draw sinners to Christ  John 6:44,   

convict them of sin   John 16:7-11,

regenerate them  Titus 3:5-6,

seal them to the Day of Redemption  Ephesians 1:13  and 4:30,

and baptize or unite  them into Christ’s spiritual body, The Church  I Corinthians 12:13

 That baptism of the Spirit is not an experience we are to seek. 

God’s Spirit takes the active role in the heart of everyone who puts his trust in Christ and baptizes him into Christ’s Body. I Corinthians 12:13  In fact, Romans 8:9  warns that if the Holy Spirit does not live in our lives, we are not  Christians. 

The only command we are given as far as the Holy Spirit is concerned is to be filled or controlled by Him. Ephesians 5:18-22  When we yield ourselves to Christ as Lord,  the Spirit of God takes over in our lives and He enables us to live the life of Christ which we could never live apart from Him.  When filled by the Spirit, we bear the fruit of the Spirit.  Galatians 5:22-23

DENOMINATIONS

No sooner was the Church established when division set in over doctrinal differences, personality differences  and leadership style differences.  Paul wrote I Corinthians to help that carnal, divided, church learn how to deal with their differences in a Christ-honoring way.

As currency is made up of denominations of coins and bills,  so the church is made up of denominations.  The $20.00 bill is not our nation’s currency.  It is only a denominational expression of our currency.  The Methodists or the Presbyterians or  the Pentecostals  or the Baptists are not The Church; they are only denominations of The Church. 

A humble, spiritually-minded  denominationalist understands that his denomination does not have the full picture nor do they have  all the answers.  On the other hand, an arrogant, self-righteous denominationalist  is convinced that his denomination alone has it all together and that all other denominations are wrong.

If only all of us could learn the truth of I Corinthians 13:12  “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.”   It is right to be dogmatic in declaring the Bible to be  the inspired, infallible Word of God  and it is right to be dogmatic about the doctrine of Christ,  but it is arrogant of us to take the position that we are correct in our understanding of every verse of Scripture and that those who disagree with us are wrong.

CULTS

There are at least five distinguishing marks of a cult.

1. A cultist believes that simple faith in Christ is not enough.. As Satan deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden by offering her an opportunity to discover hidden knowledge beyond what God had spoken to her; so the cultists offers secret knowledge beyond the Bible that only those initiated into the cult can understand.

2. The cultist thinks that only those who belong to his group are members of  the true church.  All others are false.

3. The Cultist usually has his own holy book in addition to his Bible and he uses  it as a key to interpret the Bible.  God warns in the last book of the Bible, in Revelation 22:18-19  that the one who adds to the Bible or subtracts from the Bible is under God’s curse. 

4. Some have their own modern prophet or prophets  who they believe speaks  to them with the same authority of Scripture.

5. Most serious, the cultist  adulterates or denies  the  Doctrine of Christ.  Those who do, face God’s judgment.  Galatians 1:8-9    II John 7-11

WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST? 

See the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospels, especially in the Gospel of John.

1. Jesus is God, the Creator,  come down in human flesh.  John 1

2. Jesus was born of a virgin mother, Mary.  Isaiah 7:14  Luke 1:26-35

3. Jesus was the sinless, spotless Lamb of God slain for our sins.  Isaiah 53  John 1

4. Jesus died on the cross shedding His blood as the perfect and complete sacrifice for our sins. Romans 3-5  Hebrews 10    Isaiah 53

5. Jesus rose from the tomb in a glorified body.   John 20-21

6. Jesus ascended back to Heaven where He is today interceding for us. Acts 1

7. Jesus is returning to this earth for His own and  to establish His Kingdom. Acts 1 and  I Corinthians 15

8. The Gospel (or Good News) is that those who receive this Jesus of the Bible; trusting Him alone for salvation, are saved and made fit for Heaven.  Those who reject this Jesus are lost and condemned to hell.

For further teaching concerning The Doctrine of Christ, go to my series on SEPARATION which begins with this truth.

The most important question you can consider is not of which church or denomination are you a member. The most important question you can ask yourself is,   AM I A MEMBER OF CHRIST’S BODY THROUGH  FAITH IN THE SHED BLOOD OF CHRIST?  Once that question is settled, ask God to help you find a church where you can hear the Bible preached and where you can grow in the grace and knowledge of God. If you live in the Albuquerque, NM area, I would invite you to visit Alameda Bible Church.

May 25, 2006 Posted by | Deception Series | Comments Off on Deception series #5: Cults

Deception series #6: Sign Seekers

In Luke 11 we have the record of Jesus healing  a demon possessed man.  The unbelieving crowd who witnessed  the miracle responded in two ways. 

First, Rejecting Jesus as God, they claimed His power came from Beelzebub,  another name for Satan.  That rejection was hateful, insincere, and ridiculously illogical.  Why would the devil be casting out demons  when his whole purpose is to possess people with demons? 

Secondly, they asked Him for a sign or a miracle to prove that He was from God.  They  had just seen a sign, but they still rejected Him. Luke 11:16, 29-30   

This rejection was evident  from the beginning of His ministry. Luke 4:28-30  tells of how they attempted to kill Him by throwing Him over a precipice. Why? Because He reminded them from Old Testament events that God loved the whole world and not just His people, Israel.  In fact, in the Abrahamic Covenant found in Genesis 12 we read that God’s  purpose in calling Israel to be His people was that through them He would bless the world.  

An evil and adulteress generation 

In Matthew 12:38-39 Jesus describes the kind of people who seek after signs and miracles.  He describes them as  “an evil and adulteress generation”  They have to have physical, tangible evidence before they will believe God; but when they have seen the miracles they continue to go their own ways, ignoring God in their lives.  These same people seek after emotional experiences  and equate them with spirituality. One day Anti-Christ will appear on earth and perform amazing miracles and all those who reject Christ will be convinced that Anti-Christ is the man to follow. Revelation 13:11-18 

Dear friend,  emotional experiences can deceive you.  They can be of Satan.  Many people claim to believe in Jesus when they  attend emotionally charged meetings and see signs and wonders, but they are not saved.   Listen to what John said about this in John 2:23-25Many believed in His name when they saw the miracles which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men and needed not that any should testify of men, for He knew what was in man.”   People attend miracle meetings and often go out the same way they came in; in their sins.  Their religion is totally wrapped up in seeking emotional experiences.  They are not in the least interested in Bible teaching or being confronted about their sin.  Such people have never been born again. 

Thomas would not believe without seeing. 

The Disciple Thomas  was a sign seeker. After the resurrection of Christ,  he refused to believe Jesus had risen from the dead.   The rest of the disciples had seen Jesus that first Sunday night when He appeared to them in His glorified resurrection body.. Thomas was not there.  Read the story in John 20.  When the disciples came to Thomas afterwards and told him  the wonderful story of seeing Jesus,  Thomas did not believe them.  He said,  “Except I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand in His side, I will not believe!” 

After eight days Jesus’ disciples gathered again in the same room where they had seen Him before.  This time they had persuaded Thomas to come with them.  In John 20:26-29 is recorded  one of the most emotional stories in the Bible.  In these few verses you will read an account of  Thomas’ conversion and genuine worship.  Jesus appeared again.  When He saw Thomas, He invited him to put his fingers into the nail prints of His hands and thrust his fist into the spear hole in His side.  Do you think Thomas took Him upon His offer?  Not a chance!  Instantly Thomas believed in Jesus and no doubt fell down before Him in worship and cried out, ” My Lord and My God!”  The doubting disciple had now become a believing Apostle ready to be sent out into the world as a witness. 

Listen to what Jesus said to Thomas then and to us today.  “Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed.  Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29  You and I who have trusted Jesus have never seen Him physically.  God blesses us in a way that  the disciples could never have been blessed.  

Christ’s resurrection is all the proof we need. 

The Apostle John gives the purpose of His Gospel of John in 20:30-31  In those verses he tells us that  of all the miracles Jesus performed while on earth, we are given just the miracles we need to know to be convinced that Jesus is the Son of God and that through trusting Him we can be saved.  Certainly, Jesus’ resurrection stands out as the most important of all miracles.  Of all His miracles,  His bodily resurrection from the grave most certainly convinces us that He is God and that we can trust Him for our salvation. Reject the miracle of Christ’s resurrection and all the other signs will not convince or save you.  .          

May 24, 2006 Posted by | Deception Series | Comments Off on Deception series #6: Sign Seekers

Deception #7 Deluded Souls

In Luke 13:22-30 we read that as Jesus was preaching to the crowds, one of them asked if only a few would be saved.  Where did the questioner get this idea?  He probably got it from  Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed  and His parable of the leaven mentioned in verses 19-21. In the parable of the mustard seed Jesus likened a little mustard seed (Christ’s Church), through the infiltration of false teachers, growing into a huge tree of false Christendom. Read Revelation 17 carefully, noting even a reference in verse 9 to the city in which this false system is headquartered.  Note also in 18:1-4 a description of this huge tree named Mystery Babylon, filled with all sorts of unclean and hateful birds which will be  destroyed in the end of time.   

Christ’s true church, composed of sinners who put their trust in Christ and were made saints by God’s grace, are warned to flee from the contamination of this huge tree; for God’s judgment is about to fall on her.  Learn more about this by reading and studying our series on PROPHECY on this web site. Another parable Jesus told was of the Leaven mixed in meal until it leavened or influenced the entire batch. As leaven or yeast influences bread dough, so the leaven of sin has a negative penetrating affect in the Church. 

For more on the parable of leaven, go to “Leaven in the Church” in our DISCIPLESHIP series. Both the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven speak of negative influences and satanic attacks on the Church in this present age. So in Luke 13:22-30 Jesus speaks of the Day of Delusion, the Day of Opportunity, the Day of Judgment, the Day of Rejoicing and the Day of Surprise. Let’s briefly touch on these. 

THE DAY OF DELUSION 

When asked if only a few would be saved, Jesus did not give numbers but used the words  few and many in Luke 13:23-24  and again in Matthew 7:13-14.  What Jesus is saying in these passages is that many are going to be deceived and few are going to be saved. In Luke 17:26-32  Jesus likens life on earth at the time of His return,  to life before the Flood in Noah’s Day  and life in Sodom in Lot‘s day. Genesis 6:5 tells us that in the days before the Flood, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”.   Life in Noah’s day was so utterly wicked that God destroyed the entire human race, as well as all air breathing animals, from off the face of the earth except for one family,  Noah and his wife and their three sons and their wives, along with two of every air breathing animal,  which were saved in the ark Noah had built. 

The evidence of the world wide flood is seen in the fossils worldwide, even of mammoths in the Arctic region  which were drowned and frozen with green vegetation in their stomachs; for after the flood tremendous climatic changes occurred as the polar regions became frozen.  Read  Dr. John Whitcomb’s book,  The Genesis Flood, for more on this. Life in Sodom in Lot‘s day was so corrupt that God rained fire and brimstone on it, utterly destroying the city.  The ruins of Sodom have been discovered in the planes of Jordan, including  evidence of its molten artifacts. So as the old world was destroyed with water,  II Peter 3:6-7 warns us that this present world is one day going to be destroyed with fire.  Talk about “global warming”.  This indeed with be a moment of intense “global warming”   

The world today is filled with deluded souls who go to church and go through their religious rituals faithfully.  They know facts about Jesus, but they have never put their trust in Him alone for salvation from sin.  Their lives have never been changed by the power of God.  Deluded by their false leaders, they continue on in their sins, trusting in their churches rites and sacraments; doomed to spend eternity in hell.  They have, as Paul writes in II Timothy 3:5, a form of godliness, but deny the power of God in their lives.  In I John 5:4-5 we learn that true believers in Christ experience victory over sin.  Though not perfect, they love righteousness and hate sin.  In I John 4:1-3 we learn that the spirit of anti-christ is already at work deluding souls from the truth.  Read Luke 13:24-28 to learn the awful fate of those deluded souls who miss Heaven simply because in their self righteousness, they rejected salvation by the grace of God through faith in the shed blood of Christ. 

THE DAY OF OPPORTUNITY

  Jesus pleads with us to strive to enter the strait (narrow) gate and to get on the narrow path that leads to Heaven.  The gate or door to salvation is none other than Jesus Himself as recorded in John 10:9. It is unpopular in this world to be identified with Jesus.   You have to fight the devil to hear the truth. You have to struggle against the stream of humanity headed for Hell on the Broadway.  You have to buck public opinion and political correctness to get on the narrow way.  But there is no salvation apart from trusting Jesus alone, as Peter preached in Acts 4:12. Paul pleads with us in II Corinthians 6:1-2  to receive Christ today. 

You have no guarantee of tomorrow and you may have no desire to be saved tomorrow.  The older one grows, the harder  grows the impenitent heart.  Very few people ever come to Christ in old age, although it is not an impossibility.  Why is it so difficult to receive Christ? Two major hindrances are our pride and self-righteousness and our unwillingness to turn from our sins.  How foolish it is  to let that keep us from going to Heaven and sending us to hell.   

To reject Christ as your Saviour now is to face a closed door of salvation  as you enter eternity and hear Christ say,  “I know you not!”  Luke 13:25  If God’s Spirit is speaking to your heart of the need to be saved,  don’t delay.  Receive Him today. Simply admit you are a guilty sinner unable to save yourself and cast yourself on Jesus who paid the full penalty for your sins.  Receive Him by faith as your Saviour and know the joy of sins forgiven and His imputed righteousness.  For more detail on this, go to our SALVATION link on this web site. 

THE DAY OF JUDGMENT 

In Luke 13:25-28 Jesus warns of impending judgment on all those who reject Him as Saviour.  As God shut the door of the ark in Noah’s day before the flood began,  so God alone will shut the door to salvation for those who reject His Son, the Lord Jesus.  Eventually they will stand before the Great White Throne Judgment; not to be tried, (we’re already condemned John 3:18), but to be sentenced to everlasting Hell. That terrifying moment is recorded in Revelation 20:10-15.  Christ rejecters will spend eternity with Satan, his demons, the Anti-Christ and all those who have rejected Christ.  Hell is a place of eternal punishment in molten fire, unquenchable thirst, eternal memories of missed opportunities to be saved and utter loneliness.  Those who have put their trust in Christ and have been born again will NEVER face that judgment.  That is repeated several times in John 3, 5  and Romans 8:1-4 

THE DAY OF REJOICING 

The moment one trusts Christ and is born again by the Spirit of God, rejoicing begins.  Though the Christian life is filled with difficulties and persecution, it can be characterized by rejoicing. See Philippians 4:4.  Though the Apostle Paul lived a most difficult life of opposition and discouragement, his mind was always set on rejoicing in his wonderful salvation in Christ. Certainly we will rejoice when we meet Christ when He returns for us. Read Titus 2:11-14, I John 3:1-3  I Thess. 4:13-18 

When we arrive in Heaven we will certainly rejoice as Christ’s Bride. We will rejoice at the wedding feast.  Read Matt. 25:1-13 Revelation 19:1, 6-9 and we will rejoice throughout eternity.  And old song Christians love to sing is “When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.  When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.”

  THE DAY OF SURPRISE 

Finally, in Luke 13:30,  Jesus speaks of the day of His  return as a day of surprise when “the last shall be first and the first shall be last.” Some  people for whom we had great admiration will turn out to be nobodies in eternity and some people we scorned as nobodies will be great in the Kingdom of God.  The reason that will be a surprise to most of us is because our thinking and our values are so perverted by Satan, the god of this age. 

That’s why it is wise for us to learn not to try to assess the faithfulness and value of other Christians. The entire 14th chapter of Romans is given to this warning.  Paul also warns us in II Corinthians 10:10-12 to refrain from comparing ourselves with other Christians.  Those who do are not wise.  On the other hand, we are commanded to discern preachers and teachers of God’s Word by their faithfulness to the Word. Those who teach contrary to what the Bible says are to be rejected. Acts 20:28-32,  Romans 16:17-18,  Galatians 1:6-9,  Titus 3:10.

May 23, 2006 Posted by | Deception Series | Comments Off on Deception #7 Deluded Souls