Saturday, September 29, 2007
conferences and conventions, some local, some state-wide, and some global.
As always Lucifer stands at the rostrum, like any religious presidential figure,
smilingly proud of the expectant faces looking up at him.
Like most religions, after the preliminaries are over, like welcoming those closest
and most loyal, usually those who pander to his insatiable pride, his evil eminence
gives his opening address.
There was something of great urgency in his voice this time, as he said,
"My dear brethren! I cannot but get straight to the point. We have had great
successes causing Christians to turn from their original purposes. At first we
tried to keep them from meeting in the buildings they refer to as “churches”.
"Obviously we have been successful in blocking them from properly
understanding their original purpose of actually being the building made
up of living stones.
As a result, we now have no need to keep them from their meetings.
”We know can't keep them from reading about the truth in their Bibles.
On the other hand we have been largely successful in obscuring the truth
by causing them to believe their leaders are the only ones who can
understand the truth. They have become dependent on men, instead of
independent of them. Instead they have become independent of God
and His instructions for them. That's good!
"Because of the power of God’s spirit, we can't keep them from knowing
about their saviour (the devil would hardly use capital letters). Problem is,
once they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over their eternal
end is broken, but because they are still part of their world, we can
still exert great influence. "I have figured out a strategy which will help
our cause. We now have no need to hinder them from their weekly ritual
of going to their, excuse me, "churches", heh, heh, heh, which they think is
being the people their saviour died for; nor have we any need to hinder
them from their, so-called, fellowship dinners, which are contrived to make
them appear in unity.
Most human organizations do these things, for much the same reason, a
psychological ploy called ‘bonding sessions’.
"The plan I’ve hatched is this: Let’s steal their time, so they don't have
time to think about matters and realize they
have got it wrong.
Rubbing his hands together, and chuckling to himself the devil said, "This is
the way it will work! We will give them leaders who think like those who
belong to us, they will assume the position of Chief Executive Officers,
Their lack of humility will cause them to think they are special; you know,
more sophisticated, higher status.
“These leaders will do all the planning and thinking. Like our crew in
the world, they will constantly want to be seen in the right places,
with the right people, traveling the world to do so. They will preach,
and talk about their authority, about money and numbers, and
about those who can be coerced to join their organization.
Quantity rather than quality will be the name of the game!
“These leaders must be urged to jealously hold on to their
positions, which…….Oh! Hah! Hah! I can hardly speak when
I picture it….they think are biblical OFFICES which give them status.
Can you believe their naivety?
Having composed himself, the devil continue, "Now, our major task will be
to distract them from understanding the relationship with his father,
which their saviour has purchased for them, and the intimacy with
Him, which can be theirs with one another, as a result!
The devils cohorts are getting excited and restless by now, and loudly
shouted, "How can we achieve this?"
The devil’s smile was cunning and malevolent,"Develop in them a sense of
dependence on their leaders. Cause them think that the leaders
are the only ones who can really hear the holy spirit speak to them
through the written words the father has given them. Instill in them
the mindset that they must depend on their leaders to tell them what
to believe and how to live. Help the leaders to develop an
unhealthy regard for themselves and their expertise.
Encourage the leaders to train the people to sit silently,
like zombies, in their pews. Then make sure that the leaders reinforce,
in those dummies who follow them, that they cannot be good
followers of their saviour if they don’t attend every meeting of
their religion, that these meetings are more important than husbands,
wives, families or ministry needs. Very importantly, cause the
leaders to become skilled at guilt tripping sermons.
As for the followers of these leaders, cause them to demand a lifestyle
which will fill their time with getting more and more income,
with the goal of gaining the material goods which are dangled before
their eyes on a daily basis.
Cause them to develop strong interests in other religious activities
which they call sport, clubs, lodges, going to the pub, etc. You know
what I mean, keep them busy with the non-essentials of life and invent
innumerable schemes to occupy their minds.
"Very importantly help them to get deeper and deeper into debt. .
Then work on the wives, persuade the wives that the greater need
is for them to forgo the greatest God-given ministry in the world,
of being a homemaker and mother, and to take outside work for
long hours to make up for what the husbands can’t contribute to
their debt load.
Cause the wives to , follow their own whims and cease honoring their
husbands as the spiritual head of the family.
"Plan their debt and their covetousness so they will need to work
long hours seven days each week.
"An important spin-off will come with this. Both husbands
and wives will be tired and on edge. The slightest thing
will upset them and cause them to argue. The blame game
will begin, and, best of all the knock on effect will be that many
will divorce, the children will be affected by the parents
inconsistency with what their revered bible tells them, and
reject what the parents supposedly stand for.
“Of course their busy-ness, fawning after, and keeping up
with their leaders, and their legalistic demands, working, working,
working, will prevent them from spending quality time with, and
serving, their fellow believers, and their children, prevent them
teaching of the saviour and forming them into godly members
Whatever you do, stop them from thinking about the things
they profess to believe; whilst driving make them turn the radio
or cassette player on, preventing them from talking, sharing,
fellowshipping, thinking, meditating.
Give them the pretext that they need to constantly listen to
religious speakers and music. Whilst at home, urge them to
keep the TV, VCR, CDs and their PCs constantly switched on,
so that, you, brethren, can tantalize their lusts, cravings, appetites,
covetousness, and simply keep their minds occupied.
"Cause them to forget that real beauty is internal. Throw the
world’s ideas of beauty at them, everything that is skin deep,
like the half-starved women on catwalks, the glitz and glamor
of society, the artificial, purile world of sexual impurity,
unfaithfulness and lust characterized in the popular magazines
It will induce husbands to be dissatisfied with their wives
and wives with their husbands.
"Help them to become religious zealots worshiping,
what they like to call, “nature”, instead of seeing the world
as a manifestation of God’s creating power, glory and majesty,
a gift from Him to provide their needs.
"Give them Santa Claus and Easter bunnies instead of my
enemy who hung himself on that cross.
Distract them from his resurrection and power over sin and
"Whatever you do, give them a multitude of “good”
projects to be involved in, you know, the things
they can do with their limited human capabilities,
sacrificing their health and family for the good cause.
“I remind you that you are the secret service of my
government. Ensure that the suckers never realize that
our motto is Keep Them BUSY --- B-e U-nder S-atan's Y-oke!
The attentive demons were like young horses chafing at the bit, eager
to put their master’s plan into operation, chatting about their master’s
instructions, “We’ll get them busier and busier in religious
Another voice cried, “Remember worldly activities, and
As they rejoiced in the knowledge that, if they could achieve
their master’s ideals, one ventured, “Christians everywhere
will be so busy being religious, ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’,
and being “good”, that they will have little time to be godly.”
Another chimed in excitedly, “Their families will disintegrate.
The world will see that there is nothing distinctive about them,
and laugh at their false piety.”
A voice from the back of the venue was heard to loudly exclaimed,
"They won’t have time for their God or for the ministry, to
which they have been called, of rearing godly
families, serving one another, sharing the news about Jesus
A great cheer went up! A semblance of order was restored,
and as the infernal president of this annual convention drew the
meeting to a close, he couldn’t help but indulge in a loud snicker,
and said, “Come to think of it, we’ve been rather successful
to date, let’s put our shoulders to the load!
We will gather, at a place to be announced, next year.
This meeting is duly closed!”
Friday, September 28, 2007
Paul gave a warning to the congregation of believers at Corinth, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”. (1 Cor. 10:12).
Sometimes, when we read the writings, or hear the pronunciations, of leaders, we forget that those who have been deceived, as a result of which they become deceivers, can be in positions upon which rests greater responsibility.
They can be the nicest, most sincere, and diligent leaders, not the openly malicious wolves, often imagined.
In 1 Kings, chapter 13 we find the account of a prophet who the Scriptures describe as being “a man of God from Judah to Bethel”, who was there because of “ the word of the LORD” He had been sent by God as a His mouthpiece, to prophesy against Jeroboam, the kin. There could be no doubt about the prophets credentials because His prophecy proved to be true, fulfilled in the way it was spoken. The Lord healed the king’s withered hand through the ministry of this prophet. He was a man whose single mindedness towards God kept him from coveting the honors of this world. Such a man would not likely be deceived. Well! Would he?
Have a read: 1 Kings 13:1-10
How we praise God for such an upright, honourable man!
One of his peers arrives on the scene, a prophet, who came to deceive the faithful prophet with an invitation to do exactly what the Lord had forbidden (1 Kings 13:14-17).
At this point we could be forgiven if we concluded that all was well and the first prophet‘s integrity would hold firm. It didn’t! He believed the older prophet. He was deceived.
Look at how God’s man was deceived! The older prophet said to him, “I also am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, “Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water”(1 Kings 13:18). Then we read these vivid words, “But he lied to him”(18b).
The first prophet, honorable man of God that he was, could have had a banquet with the King, but would rather be faithful to his Lord. Now, we find this very same man , heeding a lying prophet, who gave him a similar invitation, which refuted God’s instructions, by speaking a lie.
After enjoying the repast, he resumed his journey, but not without a reminder of his unfaithfulness. The old prophet now drops a bombshell, “and he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, Thus says the LORD, "Because you have disobeyed the command of the LORD, and have not observed the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, but have returned and eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which He said to you, Eat no bread and drink no water; your body shall not come to the grave of your fathers.'
There are many questions we could ask about this story. The old prophet proved to be a true prophet, his prophesy proved to be a true word from God, yet he had lied. Whatever the motives, he was used to test the first prophet, who had received a direct word from God. Why did he succumb?
Apparently the old prophet knew what would happen and willingly gave his donkey, a precious possession, to the first prophet.
The first prophet continued on his way and, “………. a lion met him on the way and killed him, and his body was thrown on the road, with the donkey standing beside it; the lion also was standing beside the body....And he (the old prophet) went and found his body thrown on the road with the donkey and the lion standing beside the body; the lion had not eaten the body nor torn the donkey”...” (1 Kings 24, 28).
What is this telling us?
There can be no doubt that there are many leaders today who are knowledgeable, nice, sincere, clean-cut, good orators, rhetoricians of great skill, but how many are really like the old prophet?
How many believers are studying the Scriptures for themselves, hearing the Spirit of God speak through His word, so that they will not be convinced by leaders who speak false words which they claim is what God says?
It’s very easy to point to the obvious cults, which abound. But what of the cults that are forming within mainstream Christianity, who have evangelical statements of doctrine, but revolve around one man, or a small group of men who claim to have the authority of God?
Every word spoken by those entrusted as elders, pastors, or whatever they might be named, MUST be put to the test of Scripture itself, and not what the speaker or writer claims that Scripture says. Leaders need to often remind themselves of Paul's warning to the believers at Corinth , after all they are a part of the congregation, not apart from it.
What is your measure of truth? What a famous author, dead or alive, says? What a great preacher, dead or alive, says? What some, so-called prophet says? What your denominational Confession, or Statement of faith says? Or! Is your measure of truth what God has revealed in His word?
There are no infallible teachers, preachers, elders, and that includes the pope and me! The only sure word of God is what is written in the pages of Scripture!
Monday, September 24, 2007
I have no doubt that there will be those who would have Alan drawn and quartered for his views which challenge the status quo and the comfortable careers some have chosen for themselves and worked towards.
If we can see congregations led by men who are long-standing members of that congregation, whose spiritual and human development has been observed by people who know him intimately, know him for whom his present witness declares he is in Christ, not for what he did or was in the past, and now recognize him as a man prepared by God for eldership, we will see truly Biblical leadership and congregations who can follow their leaders, rather than their chief executives.
The implications, of what Alan outlines, are enormous, both for congregations who decide to understand eldership in the way he has written, and for those men who understand themselves to be members of a congregation who have been given a corporate ministry of making disciples in the community in which they live.
It is my belief, in my country, it will require a move of the Holy Spirit, which bypasses much of the established "church" which insists on functioning as a humanistic institution structured on humanistic principles, in which leaders see themselves as career men working their way to the top, sometimes using very humanistic methods.
A congregant who proposes a similar approach to Alan's series, will find themselves charged with any number of demeanors such as divisiveness, undermining the pastor's authority, etc., etc.
If we read Scripture, in the light of what Scriptures say, and not in the light of what our traditions say(many of which are trying to maintain an earthly tabernacle cf. Heb.9:6,8), we will find that much of our traditional views are forced, to say the least. We are not Old Covenant, but New Covenant people, we are Christ followers, with new orders, everyone gifted, and having a ministry, some gifted in the area of leadership.
All are equal, but with different responsibilities. There is simply no Biblical evidence to believe that an hierarchy, of any sort, is tenable.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Brother Dave Black linked to David Regier’s blog regarding his many good thoughts regarding confession and he says, “I thank God for those people in my life (including bloggers I know only via the web) whose company invigorates me, and when I watch their lives I am full of new resolve to confess my sins and shortcomings (sometimes to others and not only to God). I have found it extremely helpful, as David points out, to remember that my actions and thoughts are never purely private matters but effect the people all around me, for good or for ill. I too am growing in my ability to be transparent with my fellow Christians. For people in whom the Holy Spirit is working, living without personal integrity and spiritual community is simply intolerable.”
This is so very important, but Dave’s bracketed comment has something extremely important to say, (sometimes to others and not only to God). The word “sometimes” is a very wise word to use and it is with that thought in mind I wrote a response to David’s great comments:
I have, through my own experience in those days, and that of others in later life, modified my thinking to a large degree. I like to think that the Biblical idealism of my younger days has been been balanced by a healthy Biblical realism, which is not at all cynical.
I am reminded of Solomon's words, "If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, And if you scoff, you alone will bear it."(Prov.9:12)
I was warned by a wise older brother to never share the deep things of the heart, such as you speak of, with another brother unless he had proven himself trustworthy, and then, with only one whom you know will conscientiously honor your trust, and bear your burdens with you. I confess I privately scoffed, and I did have to bear it, for many years to come.
Our Lord's words to the disciples mean much more to me in these days, "I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves."
As much as I loved, and was loved in return, by the congregations I served for many years in Jesus' name, there are still only three or four people with whom I would share my confession.
During my years I have seen lives, literally destroyed, families damaged, simply because Christians are imperfect human beings, who, without intent, malice, or any other purpose, thoughtlessly leaked a confidence shared in confession.
The older brother mentioned above, in my opinion, was one of the wisest and most mature Christians it has been my privilege to know. He was a deacon in a church which didn’t recognize elders, but never understood they had a God trained elder in their midst.
I am thankful to David for prompting my thoughts and want to make clear that my further comments are for whomever may want to peruse my sorry attempts to share some of the lessons I've learned.
I have learned that there are many reasons why people “confess”, both publicly and privately. For some it is simply a psychological transfer of their guilt onto the one/s to whom they confess (“you are to carry my burdens”). For some there is a sense that they portray themselves as heroes of the faith because they have the “guts” to confess . For some it is a carry over from R. C. doctrine. Sometimes there is bravado in the confession ( “my sin is worse than yours”) . To many confession is simply a work which must be done on the way to heaven. Strange, but very human, never-the-less true. There are many reasons which are not genuine Biblical confession (often bringing to question the genuineness of their faith).
Some, or all, of these can be very real stumbling-blocks for new, or immature Christians.
Confession is not necessarily connected with saving faith. Unbelievers often confess for the above reasons, even in tears, often because they have been caught out.
I am convinced that, even amongst Christians, there is seldom any awareness, or recognition, of the enormity of our sin, and that the confessors often grade the seriousness of their sin, as lesser or greater sins, and therefore less or more serious..
Grief and ensuing sorrow leading to repentance recognizes the grave insult which our sin does to what our Saviour, in His life, death and resurrection, has done on our behalf, and ought to be the reason we confess, by specifying the sin, firstly, to our heavenly Father, and secondly, to those offended, and generally (not specifying the sin) to the wider group, NOT simply because it is a good, thing to do.
My concern is that there seems to be a culture of confession developing in many churches, especially the non-institutional ones (I don’t belong to one), which has absolutely nothing to do with genuine Biblical, Holy Spirit influenced, sorrow and repentance.
I have no doubt that there are many false professors (unbelievers) in congregations who have done much harm to the cause of Christ via the well meaning, but naïve use of the Scriptures, by genuine brethren, to justify an idea that seems to have reached its time, or what is assumed to be a re-discovered truth. As I mentioned in my response to David, I have seen lives destroyed and families damaged because of this.
Maybe, many, who have been recognized as elders, need to understand that they ride donkeys, not white chargers, and lead the way in general confession as the congregations meet, and teach about the fact that confession, apart from a genuine relationship with Christ (saving faith) and genuine repentance, that confession is meaningless.
Monday, September 3, 2007
During the last several weeks my thoughts have been stimulated, along a particular thread, by brothers Dave Black, Alan Knox, Steve Sensenig, Lew, et al. I’ve come to love these fellows through their writings, not just because they and I seem to be on the same page, sharing the same concerns, but because I sense they share my love for the Lord Jesus Christ and His people, the Church He promised to build. Accompanying that sense is that of a common distrust of what “the church” has become. I am so grateful to God for allowing me the privilege of interacting with such brethren.
Their blogs, and indeed, some of the responses to their writing, has often caused me to come to a point where I feel compelled to commit them to writing. That is true of this attempt.
In response to one who commented on his blog entitled “Ransome letter Theology…", Alan responded, “…. . to be completely honest, I don't care about the "system". I do care about people whether they are part of a system or not. I am concerned about these things because it teaches people how to rely on the system instead of teaching them how to rely on God.”
Dave Black has written an article which he titled “A Twenty-first Century Church”, and makes the statement, “Power cannot last if we do not worship it.” As he finishes his article he makes the provocative statement, “The fight of faith to which we are committed is not a battle against Christianity. It is a battle to free Christianity from the shackles of Christendom, to smash our idols, and to establish a church that is once again characterized by poverty of spirit”.
In a blog entry entitled "How (Not) to Judge Someone’s Orthodoxy", Steve, quite correctly refers to, what appears to be, a common attitude amongst those who believe they are the sole owners of orthodoxy, when making a judgment regarding the state of the soul of another, “Don’t give your brother any benefit of the doubt. Give them, rather, a theological quiz, and grade it based on your own inerrant, infallible, and complete knowledge of the truth.” His post entitled "WCF and Its View of Scripture", as well as some of the comments, also illustrates the issue.
Lew has been posing some questions, such as one about tithes and offerings, which are often used to make an assessment of one’s spiritual standing within “orthodoxy”.
These brethren are not alone in their concerns about what is happening around us, and their comments illustrate very clearly a growing concern that has been gnawing at me for years, but which, I must confess, I didn’t want to entertain.
Even though we can find a wide variety of thought on what Christians call “orthodoxy”, I am convinced that our particular “orthodoxy”, whether it is old “orthodoxy” or the new “orthodoxy” equates, in the minds of many leaders and members, with power, control, an assumption of having God in the team “because we are orthodox”, a source of pride “because we are not like those others who don’t believe what we believe”. It gives us a false legitimacy for our schisms, and it keeps the focus on “our church”, “our denomination”, “our emphasis” etc.! The fear of being seen as "unfaithful" prevents many from "jumping ship".
This is an abomination, which in fact is ANTICHRIST! Take note! I did not write that it is THE antichrist!
This "our church”, “our denomination”, “our emphasis” orthodoxy IS NOT the orthodoxy of the Lord Jesus Christ nor that of the Apostles!
Why do I say that it is antichrist? Simply because it is the criteria of acceptance of others as genuine Christians, and is the focus of local “church” membership.
The particular “orthodoxy” to which a group subscribes promotes a culture of suspicion and enmity towards, and rejection of others who fulfill all the requirements of Scripture regarding becoming, and being a child of God.
Most of us understand the word ‘antichrist’ to mean ‘against Christ’ because of the prefix ‘anti’. That’s quite correct, but, it also means ‘instead of Christ’! More often than not our “orthodoxy” is more important than whether a person is in relationship with the Father through the finished work of His precious Son.
Our “orthodoxy” promotes other antichrist attitudes within the system it produces. Listen to people who belong to “church” groups talking about what Scriptures teach, about moral or ethical issues. Whose name is invoked most often? “Pastor so-and-so says ….”, “such and such author says…”, “our constitution says….”, etc., etc.,etc.
How many times do we hear someone say, “The Lord says….”, or “The Scriptures say….”, or “God’s word says…” in comparison to the above?
Aren’t we in danger of placing “pastor”, an author, our constitution, our denominational distinctives, in a position which is, in fact, instead of Christ?
Is it possible that in our adherence, to a particular doctrinal, denominational, position, or a particular “pastor’s” or author’s teaching, has grown into a religious fervor that has turned our “orthodoxy” into the place where our security rests?
Is your “orthodoxy” really a false god, an ANTICHRIST ?