Friday, March 18, 2011

Our State of Affairs: Nationally and Spiritually Pt. 2

2 TIM 4:3
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears

Any Christian who is still reading their Bible knows that this time has come. The word 'endure' in the Greek is found in 2 THESS 1:4; it's anechomai, meaning "to hold onself up against, to put up with (tolerate?), to uphold, to have. Anechomai is also used in MATT 17:17; 1 COR 4:12 as "suffer"; 2 COR 11:1,4,19-20 as "bear with" and "suffer" and HEB 13:22 as "suffer".

MATT 17:17
Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me

In the passage in 2 TIMOTHY, the negation of anechomai is used, meaning that these will NOT hold up, will NOT put up with [tolerate] sound ("healthy, wholesome, sound")teaching.

The apostle Paul elsewhere stated,

ACTS 20:28-31
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Note that these "grievous wolves" will enter in among the sheep and destroy them; also that these other men will arise (from the midst is implicated here)and not destroy in an obvious sense, but draw disciples after themselves, but nevertheless to a ruinous situation that brought the apostle Paul to tears with heartbroken concern.

In today's church it seems that most anything is tolerable, except for the Truth of God's Word. Rather than teaching and preaching and living out God's Word, too many pastors are living in their own little fiefdom's and engaged in activities that are not sinful necessarily, but dangerously neutral - they are not heart broken over their flocks for which the Holy Spirit made them overseers (or did He? How many of these are hirelings?) and over the spiritually destitute condition of their church members. They are distracted by social activities, recreation, being busy about so many things that have no bearing on the Kingdom of God and the Gospel!

UPDATE (4/24/11): From Understand the Times with Roger Oakland, we have the following article (posted on their blog):

The Death of the Mega Church
There are others that take on the title of 'pastor' but are most certainly not called of God; they are self-interested, self-promoting and in a word, selfish. The LORD God had some very hard things to say to such shepherds as these in Ezekiel, the 34th chapter - 

EZEK 34:2-5
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?

Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.
The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up [that which was] broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.

And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.

. . . and on it goes, with God pronouncing judgment upon these hirelings and false shepherds.

In the first part of this 'State of Affairs' article, we examined the state of our nation, the deplorable condition that our country is in from an economic, social, moral and spiritual stand point. Because of our rebellion and turning our backs on God, I believe our nation is ripe for judgment.

What is shocking to contemplate is that the church, that is supposed to be the salt and light of the world (MATT 5:13-14), is in no better condition! Scripture clearly states that:

1 PET 4:17-18 
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

I believe one of the ways that God is judging the church (the collective, visible church which is composed really of a mix between believers and non- [pretend] believers) is by allowing these false teachers, false prophets, hirelings and wolves to enter in and cause ruin.

Indeed, the integrity of church-goers is being tested by God, whether or not they will hold fast the form of sound words, or be intolerant towards such biblical truth. God is watching and will deal in accordance to our responses as accountable stewards to and of the Truth of God's Word. For those who value, love, receive and understand, and also obey the Truth, God is faithful to grant greater and deeper truth from His Word and they will find spiritual health to increase and abound (2 TIM 3:15).
These will be blessed with discernment and understand what is true and what is false in any given teaching or practise.

Yet for those who reject God's truth in favor of 'new truth' or scripture taught and mangled out of context, expounded upon by heretics and false teachers, these will find themselves less able to recognize legitimate truth and fall under the sway of greater and deeper deceptions (ROM 1:18)!

These will be unable to discern the true from the false, and become their own victims, all because they perceive the truth as being "intolerant, judgmental and unloving" resulting in spiritual sickness, poverty and ruination.

Scripture states that " . . . For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required . . ." LUKE 12:48This particular chapter has much to say about stewardship and how God holds us accountable for what we have received and depending on how much we have received, and been faithful in what we have been given, He will render reward (or punishment for those who were unfaithful stewards). Note that those who were unfaithful stewards were also those that believed that their " . . .LORD delays His Coming . . . ".

I strongly believe that having an expectancy of the LORD's return at any moment is key in being faithful, diligent stewards for the LORD (LUKE 21:34-36; TITUS 2:11-14; HEB 10:24-27; 2 PET 3:10-12; JUDE :20-25)!

Yet the church today isn't looking for the LORD Jesus to return; they are being admonished that "its none of our business" when He returns by today's most popular 'pastors'. This has resulted in spiritual lethargy and apathy which in turn has brought about a lax attitude towards all scripture and the admonition to not merely hear it, but to obey it as well (MATT 7:24-27); in a spiritual sense, I can almost hear the crashing walls of the church as she is being assailed upon by every diabolical force under Satan's command, all because she isn't remaining standing on the Rock.

I recall David Wilkerson's words,
"And I looked at the whole religious scene today and all I see are the inventions and ministries of man and flesh. It's mostly powerless; it has no impact on the world. And I see more of the world coming into the church and impacting the church, rather than the church impacting the world..."
For a 7 minute compiliation of this teaching, may I encourage you to watch this clip:

A Call To Anguish by David Wilkerson

I cannot hear those words without getting stirred up and desirous for a deeper commitment to prayer and intercession for our nation and the church!

This brings me to another point - not only has the church become disinterested in the Bible, in favor of the latest most popular "purpose driven" or "best life" book; or at least distanced from the Scriptures by letting the pastor do all the studying and teaching (so we won't have to, but it seems even many pastors aren't diligently studying and showing themselves approved unto God as able and faithful workmen!); we have also lost the passion for prayer, and rending our hearts over the lost souls and a wayward church!

We have also lost our fervor and zeal for GOD in fellowship with our precious LORD JESUS; in simply spending time in His Presence and savoring the Person Who is our very LIFE!

Because we have been neglectful of a simple Christianity (2 COR 11:3) that will take God's Word (and no one else's) and study it, relish it, cherish and "esteem it more than our necessary bread" JOB 23:12, and engage in prayer, and seeking God's face we find ourselves spiritually depleted and seek fulfillment through new church programs, entertainments, popular books, more 'relevant' fellowships and even such things as mystical experiences (as in contemplative prayer, centering, yoga, T.M., what have you) to fill the void that's within professing believers.

Yet even Bible reading and prayer can become formulaic, that is, 'Do these things, and the desired result will be a closeness with God'. Christianity is not about a formula, its about a relationship with the living God through the Person of Jesus Christ! Are we learning the Bible for biblical knowledge or to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ? Are we attending prayer meeting out of obligation or with the intention of impressing others, or are we genuinely thirsting and pursuing God for no other reason than HIMSELF?

And what of fellowship with the LORD, just spending time in His presence and being blessed by Him alone? This is something nearly foreign to the church today (who are busy about seeking another Jesus by other means as mentioned before regarding mystical experiences).

Is it any wonder that the church has become wayward and lost, sheep without a Shepherd because they have forsaken the Shepherd in favor of an ecumenically correct, emergently relevant, subjective-based experiential 'faith' rather than an objective-based effectual faith that disregards any and all authorities that contradict God's most precious Word?

Case in point: the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) which used to be evangelical in nature and purpose, that would reject anything unbiblical has now decided that they are going to unify with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) in various causes (and ministry of evangelism?) and 'dialogue' with them. Beware when you see or hear that word 'dialogue' in connection with any presently biblical church or ministry that is meeting with a non-Christian religion or group. It spells trouble and is almost always a precursor to some form of unification or at the least, an alliance of some kind.

Eric Barger of TAKE A STAND ministries has written an article re: the NAE and their 'dialoguing' with the Mormon church:

TAKE A STAND! ministries: Evangelicals Courting with Mormons?

There are any number of compromising beliefs and practices inundating the church today, and with little or no discernment from the institution established by Jesus Christ and was founded upon Himself, the ROCK. In regards to discernment, there is the following article from TTUF:

Is The Discernment Gene Becoming Recessive in the Body of Christ?

I don't know if you have the fortitude to stomach too much idolatrous heresy, but I offer this link for you to see and understand just how rampant the apostasy is, and how far reaching and 'far out' teaching in the 'church' has gone. If you're anything like me, you're somewhat isolated from everything that's going on in the world, so many of these instances took me by surprise somewhat (as well they may you); note particular the links that bring you to various catagories in regards to the idolatry of our present age:

The Museum of Idolatry

Please note, we do not endorse everything on the above web site, but use this resource for its own stated purpose: as a means of revealing the condition of the so-called church today, and what passes for Christianity (when in fact, these things are nothing more than confusion, heresy, apostasy and Babylonish religion).

The following is a list of good, solid discernment ministries that provide commentary and counsel from the scriptures on the issues of today's apostasy -

For an example of competant, informed and balanced research, may I encourage you to peruse the web site of Lighthouse Trails Research ministry (this ministry focuses on all things Emergent, and as this emergent movement encompasses quite a lot of areas, the research done by these saints is quite comprehensive):

Lighthouse Trails Research (take note of the left hand side bar with the title of: "How is the New Spirituality Entering the Church" and all the links under this heading; also be sure to "click here" for more!).

Read this special report by Roger Oakland of UNDERSTAND the TIMES ministry, and take a look at his web site as well:

A Special Report - Globalization

Another excellent perspective by Roger Oakland, of the church today, its pastors and their forlorn and fallen condition:


Roger Oakland's web site: UNDERSTAND the TIMES

Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon's The BEREAN CALL has been in ministry for decades and has faithfully, unflinchingly provided God's Word, and they have dilgently searched the scriptures and compared today's religious leaders and organizations against them, and heralded the truth without compromise!

These brothers recently published an excellent article, written by T.A., related to this very subject of apostasy! Here is the web link for it:

Apostasy and It's Antidote

Berit Kjos (she's Norweigan) has a great web site also! I first heard of her when she wrote the book Brave New Schools, and since then found her site, and can heartily endorse her articles and positions.

Kjos Ministries

Jan Markell is another lady saint whose tireless efforts, like Berit's has been a God-send in shining God's Light of Truth into this darkening world that is penetrating the church; I'm confident you will be blessed by this resource as well!

Olive Tree Ministries

As already mentioned, Eric Barger's ministry is also a valuable aid in understanding today's world of compromising church and church ministries as well as cults and cult-like organizations. Here is his information packed web site:

TAKE A STAND! Ministries

Of course you will find many more links on all three sites for which I write, FROM the MIND of FIRE, this site as well (The RED PILL Consortium) and The TRUTH Under FIRE; we trust that all these web sites, ministries and sources of information will be a blessing to you, and will aid you in seeking out and finding the truth; a very rare, nearly extinct commodity in the world today!

In conclusion, let's examine some scripture that speaks on the apostasy (as explicitly mentioned in 
2 THESS 2:3):

1 TIM 1:18-19 
This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
"Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

1 TIM 4:1-2 
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.

HEB 3:12-14
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

2 PET 3:17-18
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

LUKE 18:8
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

We end this article at the same place we began, but a few verses down, in -

2 TIM 4:5-8
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

While these words, spoken by Paul were addressed to Timothy, a pastor, I'm hard pressed not to apply such words of exhortation to all faithful Christians. These last few words by Paul were written confidently by the apostle in that he fulfilled all that was God's will for him, and that he accomplished the purposes of the LORD for his life - he finished the race! Can I say that of myself? Can you?

Paul kept the faith, but the church today is forsaking it! He fought the good fight, but the church hasn't even entered the contest, they would rather dialogue!

I can't help but notice that in the midst of this exhortation to Timothy, Paul once again mentions the LORD's appearing in connection with faithful service and the love of His appearing (the Second Coming).

I became a disciple of Jesus Christ in 1980, and ever since that day, its been nearly every day that I've longingly looked up into the skies and asked, "Is today the Day of Your return LORD?" All the more so today, I'm asking that same question but now with a special urgency and expectation.As believers we must not tolerate any false way, but in fact, like King David, we find ourselves hating any and all of them (PSALM 119:104,128). It seems today, that every path is valid for too many pastors, churches, lay leaders and teachers, church members and emergent sorts. Yet if every way is true, then none are false and its impossible to make a mistake, lies don't exist, and deception is mere illusion.

Does the Bible teach this? Can you find biblical justification for the sayings of Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, or their mentors like Robert Schuller and C. Peter Wagner (if you don't know any of these names, type them in the search engine at Lighthouse Trails Research ministry, and you will learn!). Do you believe its not the duty of Christians to judge (not hearts certainly, but doctrines and statements purported to be truthful and biblical)?

What about the fundamentals of the faith? Is Jesus both divine and human? Was He born of a virgin? Did He ever sin? Did His death on the cross bring us salvation? Did He really rise from the dead? Are these questions really all that important?

Is the Bible the inerrant Word of God or does it merely contain the Word of God (do you know the difference between these two statements?). Are there other revelations that are valid and should be added to the scriptures, whether they are parchments of ancient 'lost books' or the utterances of modern day prophets?

These are crucial questions and they require accurate answers that will reflect our own spirituality and its source. If you don't know the answers to these questions, you need to learn and understand the reason for the faith that we have (1 PET 3:15) and hold fast the truth in God's Word which, along with the Spirit of Truth is our only protection from the deception that had permeated almost every facet of life, so much more so, the church.

The State of Affairs for the church looks grim indeed; judgment is coming upon those who are not looking with expectation for the LORD's return, who are not diligent in their obedience to God's Word, who are not rightly judging (discerning) and thus allowing heresies and false doctrines into their lives and the lives of the saints in the church. Those who are not truly, spiritually loving and serving God.

For those holding fast to the truth, and standing upon the ROCK, the LORD is a Refuge in the midst of this satanic storm and will prove faithful in ministering to us in our hour of need and temptation, the time of our testing and persecution, the moment of truth when we may well have to lay down our lives for the LORD's sake and His precious Word of Truth (as our brothers and sisters have done for centuries past and likewise today all around the globe)!

May the LORD continue to exhort, encourage, reprove and rebuke us, His sheep, His children, His own, that He chastens out of a heart of love and for our good!