Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Seven Churches of Revelation

(Who They Represent in This Day and Age)
By Christine Peters

The book of Revelation opens with the letters from Jesus to seven churches in Christendom. In these letters He acknowledges what these churches are doing right, where they are going astray and He counsels them as to how to get back on track.  
Jesus additionally addresses the individual believers in each church, commending them for seeing through the fog of doctrinal teachings to the core message of the gospel, challenging them to withstand and overcome. The believers, however, are not the intended audience of the letters.
The Lord’s purpose is to focus on the leadership of these churches, admonishing them to take a gut check on what they are teaching their flocks and where His core message of salvation may be getting lost in their mix of doctrinal interpretations.  
These seven churches have historical roots as actual churches that existed in the Roman province of Asia. The churches are addressed by the city that they were located in.  
There are also prophetic applications of these letters. One application is that the seven churches represent different ages in church history and that they are progressive. This interpretation holds that at the end of days, two main traits will remain - that Christendom is either going to be very alive or very dead (apostate) in their teachings - a very black and white approach to the Lord’s warnings.  The progressive interpretation is not wrong, merely incomplete.
This article is written as a study on a different prophetic application of these writings, the interpretation holding that each of these seven church characteristics are alive and well today.  The intent is to look past the black and white interpretation of right and wrong and delve into the Lord’s warnings about all of the shades of grey in the middle.
The Lord cautions over and over in the Bible about false prophets and false teachers. The purpose of these letters is to address the churches with the Lord’s specific concerns as to the unsound doctrines and practices that have invaded them, putting their flocks at risk. Given the following warnings from the Lord about false teachers in the end days, I would think that people would look beyond their comfort zone and compare their approach to the core teachings of scripture.
Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

2Timothy 4:3-4: “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; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
There are four elements to each of the letters in Scripture, and they are as follows:
       Praise - What the Lord is pleased with.
       Condemnation - What the Lord is upset about.
       Advice - to the leaders of the group as to how to get back on track.
       Challenge - to the true believers within the group, to hold fast and overcome.
The fifth element in this summation is the application of the letters and is subjective based on the characteristics and symptoms presented in the Scripture.      
The Lord’s purpose in writing these letters was not for people like me to sit around and point fingers and I intend no offense with my conclusions here.  His purpose was for all to take a good hard look at the focus of their doctrinal stances and teachings.  
The Lord tells us that He has sent us out as sheep amongst the wolves, that we are to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).  Additionally, He counsels that we will know false teachers by their fruits (Matthew 7:20), that we are to study the Scriptures to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15) and that we are to try every teaching to see if it is from God (1 John 4:1).
Where I have mentioned specific denominations in my applications, my motive is not to condemn - I am merely comparing their doctrines and/or teachings to the Lord’s warnings and adding their stated positions as real life examples to the characteristics mentioned. An individual church is only as solid as its local leadership.
Don’t take what I have to say about this as the gospel truth - use these letters how the Lord intended: as a measuring stick.

1. Church of Ephesus - Revelation 2:1-7
Praise: I know that you do good deeds, and work hard. You are patient and cannot stand evil. You condemn those who do wrong and hold false teachings to the fire.

Condemnation: You have left your first love - the core of the gospel.

Advice to leaders: Remember where it is that you have fallen from, repent and go back to the original teachings.

Challenge to believers: To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Application: Men intent on abandoning the word of God (their first love) for their own doctrinal interpretations.

The inference here is the addition of doctrines into the church placing more importance on them than on the Word of God. This refers to legalistic churches that institute man-imposed salvation requirements, such as specific baptism rituals or organization membership, and teach that there is no salvation unless these requirements are met. They focus more on dos and don’ts and on who does and doesn’t do, than on the core message of Scripture and thus they deny salvation by grace through faith. The easiest way to spot a church of Ephesus is their claim of being the only true remnant church of Christ and their insistence that there is no salvation outside of their organization and without their rituals.  
Denominations known for this practice include the International Church of Christ, Seventh Day Adventists and the United Pentecostals (UPC - Oneness Pentecostals).

2. Church of Smyrna -- Revelation 2:8-11

Praise: I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich).

Condemnation: None!

Advice to leaders: Don’t fear your suffering - Satan will torment you and you will be tried. Be faithful unto death and you will have the crown of life..

Challenge to believers: He that overcometh shall not be hurt by the second death (and will have eternal life).

Application:  Throughout the world, Christians are being persecuted in places like China, Russia, the Philippines and the Islamic nation states. Witnessing is illegal in many of these places and sadly, it is all too common to hear of Christians being jailed, tortured and even beheaded for the crime of attempting to spread the gospel and the testimony of Jesus. 

3. Church of Pergamum - Revelation 2:12-17
Praise: You live where Satan lives, yet you never renounced me.

Condemnation: But I have a few things against you, your teachings pollute your people both spiritually and socially with unacceptable pagan practices.

Advice to leaders: Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth!

Challenge to believers: To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth [it].

Application: Those teaching false doctrines, causing people to sin because they think it is “okay” based on the interpretations of their leadership. What these leaders are doing is teaching that the Word of God is to be treated as a cafeteria plan where you can pick and choose what you want to believe and disregard that which you don’t. Pergamum is not lukewarm to the gospel, they have just chosen to believe that certain things in it don't apply to them. 

The first group that comes to mind here is the MCC - The Metropolitan Community Church  (gay Christians.) This is a huge denomination that teaches that it is okay to be gay and Christian, maintaining that God created them gay (so it must be all right) rather than acknowledging that their homosexuality is merely a manifestation of the sin nature that we are all born with.

4. Church of Thyatira - Revelation 2:18-29
Praise: I know your deeds, your love, your charity, faith and service. You are doing more of these things than you ever have!

Condemnation: While on the outside, you appear as a model church, you are rife with corruption and corrupt teachings, from deep within. You have committed adultery against me with your idol worship.

Advice to leaders: Repent now or I will spew you into the Tribulation.

Challenge to believers: To those who are faithful within, rejecting the false doctrines, hold fast till I come.

Application:  The Lord references Jezebel in his condemnation to this church - referring to the woman who lured people away from Him with idolatry by focusing them on things other than Him. 
Traits seen today include viewing Mary as the mediatrix between Man and God, the veneration of statues and images,  grace being administered through humanly prescribed sacraments, church tradition held as equivalent in authority to the Bible, and the doctrine of confessing to priests as a means of maintaining one's salvation. The prime example of this is the Roman Catholic Church.

5. Church of Sardis  - Revelation 3:1-6
Praise: I know your deeds - your name carries much recognition among men.

Condemnation: But now you are dead.

Advice to leaders: Remember your beginnings, return to them and repent. You are not paying attention to my Word and you need to wake up!

Challenge to believers: He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Application: This is referring specifically to name brand denominations with long, well known histories that have fallen from truth and are seeking ecumenical unity without regard to the gospel. The suggestion the Lord is giving here is that these are the Reform churches—once very alive but now dead in their doctrines, filled with Sunday country club pew warmers. 
Denominations that have embraced this ecumenical neutrality include the Methodists, Lutherans and Presbyterians. I am speaking to the global stances here—again, a particular church is only as alive or dead as its local leadership. 

6. Church of Philadelphia - Revelation 3:7-13

Praise: You may not be the biggest group, but I know your works and your teachings. Even without strength or power, you have kept My Word and not compromised My name.

Condemnation: None!

Advice to leaders: I am coming quickly. Hold onto what you have.

Challenge to believers: Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, [which is] new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and [I will write upon him] my new name.

Application:  This is written to those who are on fire for the Lord’s return that have kept the winds of false doctrines out of their midst and maintained solid teachings.  While everyone wants to think that they are in the church of Philadelphia - it is important to note, that there are true believers in each of the 7 churches. The Lord is merely commending the leadership of Philadelphia for their adherence to sound doctrine. 
Ironically, the letter to the church of Philadelphia is used/abused by many churches to justify their exclusivity (no salvation outside of their organization) under what they perceive to be the “end times remnant church clause.”  For this reason, these churches are in reality the churches of Ephesus, discussed above.

7. Church of Laodicea - Revelation 3:14-22
Praise: None!

Condemnation: You are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other but because you have no redeeming qualities whatsoever, I will spit you out of my mouth into the tribulation.  You say that you are wealthy and in need of nothing, but what you don't realize is that you are truly wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.

Advice to leaders: You need to start concerning yourself with eternal riches and not earthly ones, humble yourself about  your sins and open your eyes to My truth before it’s too late.

Challenge to believers: To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne

Application:  Unlike the other churches that have let doctrinal interpretations cloud the message of salvation, this group is neither hot nor cold to it - they simply avoid it all together. They teach of wealth and healing but not of salvation and repentance. Rather than instruct people on how to humble themselves to the Lord's will, they teach that He is to conform to our will.  
Jesus said in John 18:36 that His kingdom is not of this world. In Matthew 6:19-20, He explains that we are to store up our riches in heaven and not on earth.  All of this is seemingly lost on the church of Laodicea, whose complete focus is on the here and now. They flaunt their opulent lifestyles as proof of the Lord’s earthly blessings. 
They teach that the first step to health and wealth is to give “seed donations” to their ministries and then have the faith that the Lord will bless this gift and multiply it in return. This becomes a vicious cycle when those who are not healed or showered with wealth are told that it is because they lack the faith to give enough to these ministries, thus soliciting even more donations - all the while, using the Lord's name to increase their personal wealth.
Not only are these teachings alive and well in Christendom today, they are the predominate focus in more ministries than I can count. They are the hallmark of the Word of Faith/Revival/Latter Rain movements who have taken the world by storm under the guise of “Fifth Wave” evangelism with such leaders as Benny Hinn, Paul Cain, Rick Joyner, Marilyn Hickey, Kenneth Copeland, Paul and Jan Crouch, Jesse Duplantis and Fred Price—the list is endless.
Bottom Line to the Seven Churches
Doctrines are nothing but man's interpretation of God’s Word. They in themselves do not save, but they can and do cloud the issue of salvation. The Lord cautions over and over in scripture about false teachers in the end days, leading His flock astray. Sadly, His message is getting lost in a sea of pick-and-choose scriptural teachings and rituals.
Now is the time for self-examination.
Are you leading someone away from the message of salvation with extraneous teachings rather than to it with the core of the gospel?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Are You Ready?

   More than ever before, my inner groans for Christ's return for his bride have been growing stronger and stronger: "Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.  For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." (Romans 8:23-25)
  Even when things are going particularly well in life, I'm always left with the feeling that this life is a vapor and all is vanity: "I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind." (Ecc. 1:14)  
  At times I'm left praying and shouting out to God to come soon, even so Come Quickly! With all I'm seeing in the news and listening to through Bible commentators and talk shows, I get a greater and greater sense that our "catching away" is not 20 years away, but most likely 5 years or less! Now no man knows the day or the hour, but for those who are watching and waiting for that blessed Hope: "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.  You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober." (1Thess. 5:4-6)
 Believers who are alert and watching are fully aware of the times and able to discern when the birth pangs are getting closer and closer together! When you see the world stage being set for things that will take place in the 7 year Tribulation period, you know the rapture is near! 
 I believe "God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him." (1 Thess. 5:9). The Bride will not go through what is about to wake this world out of its slumber! The Bride will be taken to heaven to be with the Lord until we come with Him in the clouds after the judgements have fallen upon this earth! 
 My question to you is: Are You Ready? If you are a Christian....are you busy doing the Lord's work until He comes for us? If you are not a Christian, why are you waiting to get right with God? Behold today is the day of salvation! You are not promised tomorrow or 80 years to live!! Jesus Christ came and died and rose again for you and to take your sins!!! Why would you choose this world and it's fleeting pleasures over an eternity spent with God himself? Don't get ripped off by the evil one! Repent of your sin and embrace Jesus Christ as your savior today!!!


Monday, September 7, 2015

The Leading Of The Spirit

"As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God.' -- Romans 8:14, 16
It is the very same Spirit that leads us as children who also assures us that we are children. Without His leading there can be no assurance of our filiation. True full assurance of faith is enjoyed by him who surrenders himself entirely to the leading of the Spirit.
In what does this leading consist?  Chiefly in this, that our whole hidden inner life is guided by Him to what it ought to be. This we must firmly believe. Our growth and increase, our development and progress, is not our work but His: we are to trust Him for this. As a tree or animal grows and becomes large by the spirit of life which God has given to it, so also does the Christian by the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. (Hosea 14:6, 7; Matthew 6:28; Mark 4:26, 28; Luke 2:40; Romans 8:2) We have to cherish the joyful assurance that the Spirit whom the Father gives to us does with divine wisdom and power guide our hidden life, and bring it where God will have it.
Then there are also special directions of this leading. 'He will lead you into all the truth,'  When we read the word of God, we are to wait upon Him, to make us experience the truth, the essential power of what God says. He makes the word living and powerful. He leads us into a life corresponding to the word. (John 6:63, 14:26; John 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:10, 11; 1 Thes. 2:13)
When you pray, you can reckon upon His leading: 'The Spirit helpeth our infirmities.'  He leads us to what we must desire. He leads us into the way in which we are to pray, trustfully, persistently, mightily. (Zech 12:10; Romans 8:26, 27; Jude 12, 20)
In the way of sanctification it is He that will lead: He leads us in the path of righteousness. He leads us into all the will of God. (1 Cor. 6:19, 20; 1 Peter 1:2, 15)
In our speaking and working for the Lord, He will lead. Every child has the Spirit: every child has need of Him to know and to do the work of the Father. Without Him no child can please or serve the Father. The leading of the Spirit is the blessed privilege, the sure token, the only power of a child of God. (Matthew 10:20; Acts 1:8; Romans 8:9, 13; Galatians 4:6; Ephes. 1:13)
And how then can you fully enjoy this leading?  The first thing that is necessary for this is faith. You must take time, young Christian, to have your heart filled with the deep and living consciousness that the Spirit is in you. Read all the glorious declarations of your Father in His word concerning what the Spirit is in you and for you, until the conviction wholly fills you that you are really a temple of the Spirit. Ignorance or unbelief on this point makes it impossible for the Spirit to speak in you and to lead you. Cherish an ever-abiding assurance that the Spirit of God dwells in you. (Acts. 19:2; Romans 5:5; 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:5  Galatians 3:5, 14)
Then the second thing that is necessary is this: you are to hold yourself still, to attend to the voice of the Spirit. As the Lord Jesus acts, so does the Spirit. As the Lord Jesus acts, so does also the Spirit: 'He shall not cry nor lift up His voice.'  He whispers gently and quietly: only the soul that sets itself very silently towards God can perceive His voice and guidance. When we become to a needless extent engrossed with the world, with its business, its cares, its enjoyments, its literature, its politics, the Spirit cannot lead us. When our service of God is a bustling and working in our own wisdom and strength, the Spirit cannot be heard in us. It is the weak, the simple, who are willing to have themselves taught in humility, that receive the leading of the Spirit. Sit down every morning, sit down often in the day, to say: Lord Jesus, I know nothing, I will be silent: let the Spirit lead me. (1 Chron. 19:12; Psalm 62; Psalm 2, 6; Psalm 131:2; Isaiah 43:2; Habakkuk 2:20; Zech. 4:6 Acts 1:4)
And then: be obedient. Listen to the inner voice, and do what it says to you. Fill your heart every day with the word, and when the Spirit puts you in mind of what the word says, betake yourself to the doing of it. So you become capable of further teaching: it is to the obedient that the full blessing of the Spirit is promised. (John 14:15, 16; Acts 5:32)
Young Christian, know that you are a temple of the Spirit, and that it is only through the daily leading of the Spirit that you can walk as a child of God, with the witness that you are pleasing the Father.

Precious Saviour, imprint this lesson deeply on my mind. The Holy Spirit is in me. His leading is every day and everywhere indispensable for me. I cannot hear His voice in the word when I do not wait silently upon Him. Lord, let a holy circumspectness keep watch over me, that I may always walk as a pupil of the Spirit. Amen.

  1. It is often asked: How do I know that I shall continue standing, that I shall be kept, that I shall increase?  The question dishonours the Holy Spirit -- is the token that you do not know Him or do not trust Him. The question indicates that you are seeking the secret of strength for perseverance in yourself, and not in the Holy Spirit, your heavenly Guide.
  2. As God sees to it, that every moment there is air for me to breathe, so shall the Holy Spirit unceasingly maintain life in the hidden depths of my soul. He will not break off his own work.
  3. From the time that we receive the Holy Spirit, we have nothing to do but to honour his work: to keep our hands off from it, and to trust Him, and to let Him work.
  4. The beginning and the end of the work of the Spirit is to reveal Jesus to me, and to cause me to abide in Him. As soon as I would fain look after the work of the Spirit in me, I hinder Him: He cannot work when I am not willing to look upon Jesus.
  5. The voice of the Father, the voice of the good Shepherd, the voice of the Holy Spirit is very gentle. We must learn to become deaf to other voices, to the world and its news of friends and their thoughts, to our own Ego and its desires: then shall we distinguish the voice of the Spirit. Let us often set ourselves silent in prayer, entirely silent, to offer up our will and our thoughts, and, with our eye upon Jesus, to keep ear and heart open for the voice of the Spirit.
—New Life, The (Andrew Murray)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sorcery: Ushering in a “Blissful” Christless Eternity

july_nl_720.png A few years ago I had the wonderful privilege of ministering to a very elderly lady who was about to be operated on for a cancer issue. It was not a life-or-death-related surgery, but at her advanced age there were some definite concerns. As we awaited the gurney to transport her to surgery, I asked her a question that had been pressing on my heart. I was aware that she may not have known the Lord beyond her social Christian upbringing. She knew a number of things about Jesus, but I wasn’t confident that she was born again. So I asked her simply, “What’s next?” I could tell that she was apprehensive about the pending surgery, and my question startled her. She asked what I meant. Trying to be as sensitive to the situation as I could, I nevertheless told her that I felt compelled to ask her if she thought about what was next for her should she not survive the surgery.
That may seem like the wrong thing to ask. There are those who would have me say things that would build up her confidence regarding the outcome of the operation. Many believe that a positive attitude increases one’s chances of survival when the body goes through a physically traumatic event. There is little doubt that one’s attitude can influence a person’s condition for wellness or harm, and a good attitude certainly wins out over a bad attitude ( see Proverbs:15:13, 15; 17:22), but it’s no guarantee regarding the hoped-for outcome.
I wanted her to be both encouraged and to have a guarantee as she faced surgery. I interrupted her perplexed look by straightforwardly asking if she wanted to spend eternity with Jesus.
I knew that she had enjoyed “listening in” on conversations when my wife and I and our children talked about Jesus and our love for Him. None of that involved “preaching at her.” It had primarily consisted of family members talking about the One we each loved above all and what He was doing in our lives, such as answering our prayers, helping us to grow in our biblical faith and enabling us to share the gospel and do the things that pleased Him.
She never hesitated in her “yes” response. Hers was not a fear-of-the-surgery reply. It was obvious at that moment that the Lord had given her peace and His perfect love had cast out her fear. I then repeated the simple gospel (which she had heard in our home numerous times) and asked her if she believed in her heart that Jesus had paid the full penalty for her sins and if she was willing to accept His offer of the gift of eternal life. Again, there was no hesitation in her affirmation. It seemed to me that the Holy Spirit was bringing to her mind the things we had previously talked about related to the gospel. She survived the surgery, but it was not too long afterward that she received that for which she had asked. She went to be with her Savior, who had promised that she would spend her eternity with Him.
There is no greater promise given in the Scriptures and, therefore, no greater encouragement: “[Christ] in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest [guarantee] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians:1:13-14).
As I mentioned, the lady was elderly. She lived until her mid-90s. The children she had birthed were a part of the “baby boomer” generation (those born right after World War II and into the early ’60s). It is the largest generation thus far in US history, peaking at nearly 79 million at the end of the 20th century. The first of the baby boomers (1944-’46) are now entering their 70s, and most are suffering the plight of old age with its accompanying illnesses.
The baby boomers introduced the subculture of the hippies, a youth movement that began in the US and rejected the establishment with its traditional social customs. They protested war and violence and instead promoted peace and love. Much of the movement was fueled by mind-altering drugs that were greatly encouraged by influential men such as Harvard professor Timothy Leary (“Turn on, tune in, drop out.”), a major advocate of LSD. The use of psychedelics grew exponentially during the 1960s. Drug companies and psychiatric researchers tested them “on alcoholics, people struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depressives, autistic children, schizophrenics, terminal cancer patients, and convicts, as well as on perfectly healthy artists and scientists (to study creativity), and divinity students (to study spirituality).”  The 1970 Controlled Substances Act, however, put the experimentation and use of LSD and other psychedelics practically out of business—but only for a time.
Today, those of the psychedelics-prone hippie generation are now part of the establishment. They may have “turned on” and “tuned in,” but many did not “drop out.” In fact, some are running our largest and most prestigious institutions, from medical institutions to research organizations to universities. In a rather stunning article published in the New Yorker magazine titled “The Trip Treatment,” subheading: “Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results,” author Michael Pollan documents the surprising return of medical experiments featuring hallucinogenics. Psilocybin, a.k.a. the sacred or magic mushroom, is the lead experimental drug. That’s primarily because it doesn’t carry some of the “political and cultural baggage” of LSD, which is “stronger and longer-lasting in its effects and is considered more likely to produce adverse reactions.” The research is taking place in respected institutions such as Johns Hopkins, UCLA Medical Center (Harbor), New York University, the University of New Mexico, London’s Imperial College, the University of Zurich, and many other universities. Pollan notes that “Researchers are using or planning to use psilocybin not only to treat anxiety, addiction (to smoking and alcohol), and depression but also to study the neurobiology of mystical experience, which the drug, at high doses, can reliably occasion.”
The New Yorker article cites the case of a man whose cancer had spread throughout his body and was given no hope of recovery by his doctors. Facing death drove him to seek options to relieve his extreme anxiety. Quoting researchers, Pollan writes, “Cancer patients receiving just a single dose of psilocybin experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months…. People who had been palpably scared of death—they lost their fear.” Novelist and drug proponent Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) is often quoted for support regarding using psychedelics with terminal patients “in the hope that it would make dying a more spiritual, less strictly physiological process.” Huxley, a humanist and anti-Christian, was injected with LSD at his deathbed. His “spiritual” process (read hallucination ) may have given him temporal relief, but his ecstasy, according to the Scriptures, eased him into an eternal separation from his Creator in a place where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth in darkness forever (Matthew:22:13). The Word of God would have us think about death and what follows as life’s most critical consideration .
Huxley’s so-called spiritual process has been an important subject of many of the researchers. Pollan writes, “Perhaps the most influential and rigorous of these early studies was the Good Friday experiment, conducted in 1962 by Walter Pahnke, a psychiatrist and minister working on a Ph.D. dissertation under [Timothy] Leary at Harvard. In a double-blind experiment, twenty divinity students received a capsule of white powder right before a Good Friday service at Marsh Chapel, on the Boston University campus; ten contained psilocybin, ten an active placebo (nicotinic acid). Eight of the ten students receiving psilocybin reported a mystical experience, while only one in the control group experienced a feeling of ‘sacredness’ and a ‘sense of peace.’ (Telling the subjects apart was not difficult, rendering the double-blind a somewhat hollow conceit: those on the placebo sat sedately in their pews while the others lay down or wandered around the chapel, muttering things like ‘God is everywhere’ and ‘Oh, the glory!’).” Further evaluation of the experiment noted that some of the subjects had to be given antipsychotic drugs in order to counter the side effects of psilocybin. For some of the early researchers “it was difficult not to conclude that they were suddenly in possession of news with the power to change the world—a psychedelic gospel.”
What then of this “gospel” from a biblical perspective? It contributes to a fulfillment of what the Scriptures indicate will be an end-times deception. It is referred to as sorcery . The term in Revelation:9:21 and 18:23 in the Greek is pharmakeia , which Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines as “the use or the administering of drugs.” Galatians:5:20 translates the term pharmakeia (from which we get our word pharmacy) as witchcraft . It should be apparent from those scriptures that drugs will play a major part in the “strong delusion” of the Last Days (2 Thessalonians:2:11). Revelation:18:23 declares that “thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” Furthermore, the commitment to the use of drugs will be so strong that even after God pours out His wrath upon the earth during the Great Tribulation none will repent of their sorceries (Revelation:9:20-21).
Satan’s devices often come progressively like ocean waves that arrive in sets. When a wave crests and crashes on a beach, it deposits its debris and then retreats. That wave is followed by another wave, which deposits more debris. This analogy fits the use of hallucinogenic drugs by the baby-boomer generation followed by a new wave, which is taking place today. This is not intended to condemn the use of all drugs, some of which, notwithstanding their abuses, have been helpful to mankind. Hallucinogenic drugs, however, have a long history in many cultures as key ingredients in religious rituals. The drug-induced altered state of consciousness transcends euphoric experiences and becomes a means of contacting spirit entities. That has been the mainstay of shamanism throughout the world by people groups and cultures that have had no contact with one another. The shaman or witchdoctor, by ingesting or inhaling a hallucinogenic substance, is enabled to commune with the spirit world. He is thus “equipped” to mediate between the spirit beings and his tribe or village. The Bible censures the practice as a form of divination that results in communication with demons (which explains the uniformity of shamanism throughout the world).
Although there is a great deal of research to document the harmful effects of psychedelic drugs, even so, many participants in the psychedelic experiments are convinced of the value. Pollan reports that support for the use of hallucinogenics is gaining ground. The prestigious Psychopharmacology journal published a supportive landmark article titled “Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance.” One might judiciously wonder exactly what pharmacologists were taught about the mystical and spiritual realm.
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned having asked my friend: “What’s next?” This is a question that must be answered by everyone who faces death, because our eternal destiny depends upon it. Scripture is unambiguous: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews:9:27). It is an extraordinarily deceptive scheme of the Adversary to deny a dying person what may be the final opportunity for salvation by wrapping one’s last days of physical life in a cloak of psychedelic bliss. Heartbreakingly, this drug wave will certainly increase in the days ahead, as Pollan points out: “Many of the researchers and therapists I interviewed are confident that psychedelic therapy will eventually become routine. Katherine MacLean hopes someday to establish a ‘psychedelic hospice,’ a retreat center where the dying and their loved ones can use psychedelics to help them all let go.” The former hippies will likely help with its formation: “Many of the people in charge of our institutions today have personal experience with psychedelics and so feel less threatened by them.”
Fifty years of the ever-increasing influence of Eastern mysticism, however, through its homogenized and westernized form known as the New Age Movement, has corroded away the last chains of opposition. The gurus rushed to the West, trumpeted in by the Beatles under the guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Eastern meditation took its practitioners to a higher level of altered states of consciousness than the banned hallucinogenic drugs. (See America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice: the Rise of New Age Shamanism by Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon for a detailed account of sorcery’s surprising impact on the West.)
Maharishi’s Spiritual Regeneration Movement, which was barred from US schools because of its blatant teaching of Hinduism and Eastern mysticism, has come back even stronger as the fraudulent science of Transcendental Meditation (TM).
Popular TV medical doctor and Sufi Muslim, Dr. Oz is the national spokesperson for Transcendental Meditation’s mystical mind-altering Hindu practice. Yoga, which is the heart of Hinduism, rivals Starbucks in popularity and can be found everywhere throughout the country, including in Christian churches. Its meditation is a more direct vehicle to a mystical altered state of consciousness. The legal use of marijuana (the psychedelic drug cannabis) began under the belief (some would say “ploy”) that it has significant value for medicinal purposes. It has recently been ushered into the realm of a recreational substance in a few states. It’s hardly a wild guess that the rest of the country will follow.
The astounding and pervasive use of drugs (which, again, the Bible terms sorcery ) in our day is one more proof of the prophetic accuracy of Scripture. Certainly the world is falling prey to the deceptive scheme instigated by the father of lies, Satan himself, and, tragically, so are many who profess to follow Christ. The Israelites heard from the Prophet Jeremiah God’s words of correction and His pleading with them to return to Him, yet they refused to repent of their spiritual adulteries. Christendom today is on that same path.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will convict the hearts of believers who, knowingly or unknowingly, have succumbed to sorcery, that they would repent and obey His Word.   TBC

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Catholics Should Believe Their First Pope

By mike gendron

The apostle Peter played a prominent role in the early church. Soon after he abandoned his career as a fisherman to follow Christ, he became a fisher of men. Several of his sermons were recorded in the Book of Acts, and his two epistles are included in the divinely inspired Scriptures. Since Catholics have been taught that Peter was their first pope, I have developed some questions to shed some light on his theology, ecclesiology, and soteriology. All of the answers come directly from his writings and sermons. It is my prayer that those of us who have been sanctified by the truth will share these glorious truths with our Catholic friends and loved ones.   

Peter, were you the first pope and the supreme head of the first century church?
"As a fellow elder, I exhort the elders among you... to shepherd the flock of God." (1 Pet. 5:1-3)

Are you the rock upon which Jesus would build His church?
Jesus is "a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God, chosen and precious... The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense. They stumble because they disobey the word." (1 Pet. 2:4,7-8)

Were you infallible?
Paul opposed me to my face because I was not in step with the truth of the Gospel.(Gal. 2:11,14)

Should we confess our sins to priests?
Repent of your wickedness and pray to God that your sins may be forgiven. (Acts 8:22)

Should we pray to Mary and the saints?
Pray to God. (Acts 8:22)

Can anyone be saved apart from the Lord Jesus Christ?
"There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

What would you say to Pope Francis who teaches that atheists can follow their conscience into heaven?
"There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction." "The ignorant and unstable twist Paul's letters to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures." (2 Peter 2:1; 3:16)

Can anyone be certain that they have inherited eternal life?
God has caused believers to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven and protected by the power of God through faith. (1 Pet. 1:3-5)

Is it possible for God's grace or indulgences to be purchased for the remission of sins?
God ransoms us "not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ." (1 Pet. 1:18-19)

Can a person be born again through water baptism?
The only way to be regenerated is to be "born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God." (1 Pet. 1:23)

Should Jesus Christ be made a sin offering during the sacrifice of the Mass?
Christ suffered "once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit" (1 Pet. 3:18).

Is the Catholic priesthood necessary to mediate between God and man? 
Every believer, who is called out of darkness into Christ's marvelous light, is made a priest for the purpose of offering spiritual sacrifices to God and proclaiming His perfections (1 Pet. 2:9).

Should Jesus continue to be pictured as a dead man hanging on a cross or as a baby in Mary's arms?
The resurrected Christ has "gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him." (1 Pet. 3:21-22)

What should we do in these days of great deception?
Take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 3:17-18)

There is a profound contrast between the divinely inspired teachings of Peter and the fallible, ungodly opinions of Pope Francis. The enormous disparity between the instruction of these two men Catholics call "pope" shows how far the Roman Catholic Church has departed from the faith of the apostles. May God give us all a greater compassion for the many victims of religious deception. Read more contrasts between Peter and Francis here.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Giving the Gospel to Your Children

by John MacArthur
What are the bare-bone facts of the gospel? What is the minimum information needed to believe and be saved? While those questions may foster interesting discussions, they are not valid questions for developing evangelistic programs. Sadly, too many evangelistic efforts are based on answers to those questions.
In fact, many of the formulaic approaches to the gospel deliberately omit important truths like repentance and God’s wrath against sin. Some influential voices in modern evangelicalism have actually argued that those truths (and others, including Christ’s lordship) are extraneous to the gospel. They say such matters should not even be brought up when talking to unbelievers.
Other evangelical leaders, desiring ecumenical unity with Catholic and orthodox churches, suggest that important doctrinal issues such as justification by faith and substitutionary atonement are not really essential to the gospel. They’re in effect calling for a bare-bones approach to the gospel. Their ecumenical openness implies that virtually any kind of generic faith in Christ may be regarded as authentic saving faith. They ignore the fact that the New Testament condemns those who profess to believe in Christ while rejecting or twisting the doctrine of justification (Galatians 1:6–9). It seems many evangelicals are obsessed with finding out how little of God’s truth a person can believe and still get to heaven.
Parental Evangelism
Applied to parenting, that approach has potentially eternal consequences. That’s why parents should resist the temptation to think in such terms. The sort of constant, faithful, diligent teaching required by Deuteronomy 6:6–7 is incompatible with a minimalist approach to the gospel.
The gospel is the good news about Christ. There is a sense in which the gospel includes all truth about Him. There’s no need to think of any aspect of biblical truth as incompatible with or extraneous to the gospel. In fact, since Christ is the sum and the summit of all biblical revelation (Hebrews 1:1–3), every truth in Scripture ultimately points to Him. And therefore none of it is out of place in evangelistic contexts. One could accurately say, then, that parents who want to be thorough in evangelizing their children need to teach them the whole counsel of God, taking care to show the gospel ramifications in all that truth. That, I believe, is the true spirit of what Deuteronomy 6:6–7 calls for.
No single formula can possibly meet the needs of every unregenerate person anyway. Those who are ignorant need to be told who Christ is and why He offers the only hope of salvation (Romans 10:3). Those who are careless need to be confronted with the reality of impending judgment (John 16:11). Those who are fearful need to hear that God is merciful, delighting not in the death of the wicked but pleading with sinners to come to Him for mercy (Ezekiel 33:11). Those who are hostile need to be shown the futility of opposing the will of God (Psalm 2:1–4). Those who are self-righteous need to have their sin exposed by the demands of God’s law (Romans 3:20). Those who are proud need to hear that God hates pride (1 Peter 5:5). All sinners must understand that God is holy and that Christ has met the demands of God’s perfect righteousness on behalf of sinners (1 Corinthians 1:30). Every gospel presentation should include an explanation of Christ’s sacrificial death for sin (15:3). And the message is not the gospel if it does not also recount His burial and the triumph of His resurrection (vv. 4, 17).
Highlight the Crucial Gospel Doctrines
Along with a commitment to be thorough, however, parents must also take great care to highlight certain truths that are particularly crucial to a correct understanding of the gospel. Here are some pointers that will help keep you on course:
Teach Them About God’s Holiness
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). That is not speaking of a craven fear. It is not the kind of fear that regards God as capricious in His anger. Rather, it is a devout, reverential fear of offending God’s holiness, based on a true understanding of God as One whose “eyes are too pure to approve evil, and [One who] can not look on wickedness” (Habakkuk 1:13).
Show Them Their Sin
Be sure to teach your children from the youngest age that misbehavior is not merely an offense against Mom and Dad; it’s also a sin against a holy God, who demands that children obey their parents (Exodus 20:12).
Help educate your children’s conscience so that they understand they are accountable to God first, and then their parents. Teach them this with love and genuine compassion, not in a browbeating manner.
Teaching them they are sinners does not mean belittling them or tormenting them with constant verbal battering about their failures. The goal is not to trample their spirit by continually berating them. Instead, you need to instruct them tenderly and help them view their own fallenness from God’s perspective. They need to appreciate why they are drawn to sin, and ultimately they must sense their own need of redemption. Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). How will your child turn to Christ if he doesn’t realize he’s sick?
Instruct Them About Christ and What He Has Done
Teaching your children about their own sin is by no means an end in itself. You must also point them to the only remedy for sin—Jesus Christ. He is the heart of the gospel message, so instructing them about Jesus Christ should be the ultimate focus and the design of all your spiritual instruction.
Explain Christ’s deity (John 1:1-3, 14) and His Lordship (Philippians 2:9-11). Explain that He became a man (Philippians 2:6-7), but maintained His sinless purity (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22-23) and became the spotless sacrifice for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21), shedding His blood as an atonement for our sin (Ephesians 1:7). Explain how His death on the cross purchased our salvation (1 Peter 2:24; Colossians 1:20), and that He triumphantly rose from the dead (Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). And explain that He freely justifies those who trust in Him (Romans 5:1-2; Galatians 2:16), and that His righteousness is imputed to us (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:5-6; Philippians 3:8-9).
Tell Them What God Demands of Sinners
God calls sinners to repentance (Acts 17:30). Genuine repentance is not self-reformation or the turning over of a new leaf. It is a turning of the heart to God from all that is evil.
It’s helpful to stress that repentance is a heart-turning and should not be equated with any external action on the child’s part. In many modern evangelicals’ minds, the act of praying to invite Jesus into the heart has become practically a sacramental means of salvation. The same thing is true of lifting a hand in a meeting, or coming forward to the altar. But such external actions have no intrinsic saving efficacy. They are all works, and works cannot save. Faith—a repentant trust in Christ alone for salvation—is the one true instrument of our justification, according to Scripture. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
It’s best to avoid all such emphasis on external actions, and keep focusing instead on the response Scripture calls for from sinners.
Advise Them to Count the Cost Thoughtfully
Don’t downplay the hard demands of Christ. Don’t portray the Christian life as a life of ease, free from difficulties and dilemmas. Keep reminding your kids that the true price of following Christ always involves sacrifice, and the prelude to glory is suffering. It’s true that Christ offers the water of life freely to all who will take it (Revelation 22:17). But those who do are making an unconditional commitment to follow Him that may literally cost them their very lives.
Here is why all the central truths of the gospel focus on the cross: It reveals how heinous our sin is. It shows the intensity of God’s wrath against sin. It reveals the great love of God in paying such a high price for redemption. But it also serves as a fitting metaphor for the cost of following Christ. Jesus repeatedly stated that the cost of following Him involves a willingness to sacrifice all.
Urge Them to Trust Christ
We began by noting that regeneration is the Holy Spirit’s work in the heart, and we cautioned parents not to employ artificial means or external pressure to coax a shallow profession of faith from the child. Nonetheless, there is an urgency inherent in the gospel message itself, and it is right for parents to impress that urgency on the child’s heart.
God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

(Adapted from What the Bible Says About Parenting.)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Ten fatal flaws of Catholicism

At the Worldview Weekend Conferenced in Branson, MO, John MacArthur responded to some thought provoking questions from the audience. When asked why so few evangelicals are contending for the faith against Roman Catholicism and its ecumenical movement, he said it is because they are ignorant of the errors of Catholicism. The next day, Mike Gendron took the opportunity to inform the audience of the ten most fatal errors of Catholicism. They are listed below:

1) It perverts the Gospel by adding requirements (Gal. 1:6-9).
2) It rejects the Gospel's promise of eternal life (2 Tim. 1:10). 
3) It rejects the sovereign, regenerating work of the Spirit with its sacrament of baptism (Eph. 1). 
4) Its bishops are false successors of the apostles, having not witnessed the resurrection (Acts 1:21-22).
5) It distorts the Word of God by adding its tradition to it (Prov. 30:6). 
6) Its illegitimate priesthood encourages the idolatrous worship of a wafer as Almighty God (Exodus 32).
7) It denies Christ's blood as the only purification for sin (1 John 1:7).
8) It blasphemes God by giving His titles of Holy Father, Head of the Church to the pope (John 14:1617:11; Eph. 5:23).
9) It rejects Jesus as the only way of salvation (John 14:6).
10) It follows deceitful spirits and teaches doctrines of demons by forbidding its clergy to marry (1 Tim. 4:1-4