Posts Tagged ‘ False Prophets ’

Sermon: Chasing or Chosen – Mark 3:7-21

I preached again!

This is one in which I do not name names but I do call out bad teachings.

What are we chasing? Are we actually pursuing Jesus?

Give it a listen (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

https://DanielMKlem.sermon.net/player/audio/21726595?repeat=false&autostart=true

Chasing or Chosen    Mark 3:7-21

It is my Re-Birthday! (Well, yesterday was.)

As of today, it was 21 years [and approximately 1 day, or 15 hours for first service and 16.5 hours for second service] ago that I became a Christian. At 6:46 pm CST on January 9, 2000, at the tender age of 16, I first knelt down to say “Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God who died for my sins.”

I went through some struggles to get there, to be sure.

I was “that kid” in the youth group who had everything figured out, so I challenged the youth leaders and the pastor.

I dealt with chronic anxiety, always worried about trivial things as if they were huge, and I did not need another worry on my plate, like trying to please God.

I even went through a short time of thinking it might be possible I could be Christ (before misunderstanding a text about John the Baptist never touching alcohol, thinking it was about Christ, and that misunderstanding shot down any ideas of me being Christ right away.)

When the Holy Spirit finally finished breaking down my own ideas, fears, and misunderstandings, Jesus grabbed a great big hold of me, and I can guarantee He has not let go. (Not from lack of my own stupidity and running in different directions!)

That is why I make a cake every year on January 9. I celebrate my Re-Birthday, the day I was born again into God’s Chosen family: The Church, grafted into Israel by His blood.

What does this have to do with our passage today?

Well, we will spend most of our time in Mark 3, but I also invite you to be ready to flip back to Deuteronomy 18 and 13.

In Mark chapter 3, we see a transition from Jesus setting the foundation for His ministry to preparing to share His ministry with His disciples in Israel.

MESSAGE:

vv. 7-8:
People were coming from all over Israel. With the areas listed, Mark is letting us know people from all the tribes from the original Promised Land (Time of the Judges) have come to see if the Prophet like Moses – the Messiah – has finally come. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)


“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

But what were they chasing? v. 8b: They heard all that He was doing. He was healing paralytics and shriveled hands, He was casting out evil spirits, and He was rebuking and teaching with boldness and authority.

They were chasing the miracles more than the Miracle Maker. As we continue reading in …

vv. 9-10:
They were actually putting their Messiah in danger!

To be fair, we are talking about people who have been hurting, suffering, and worrying about what the government, religious leaders, and spiritual forces were doing to them. And here is someone standing up to the leadership and healing people.

But maybe you are wondering about Jesus’ response: Not just to get a boat ready. We remember from last week that the Jewish leadership were chasing after their own power and plotting to destroy Jesus, and now the crowds are endangering Him. However, we also know He often taught from boats, as we read in many other places in the Gospels.

vv. 11-12:
Spirits know who Christ is. They recognized Jesus as the eternal Son of God, something most people missed, even with miracles.

But why did He tell the spirits “not to make Him known”?

This is not quite like Scott taught a few weeks ago, telling those He healed not to tell anyone. Evil spirits and demons know who He is, and they will tell others truthfully who He is, but they also follow their leader, The Devil, and twist the truth and lie. He doesn’t want these spirits spreading misinformation.

“Did God actually say … You will not surely die … You will be like God …”

Hold on to that. We’ll get back to this in a moment.

vv. 13-15:
We remember people are expecting the Promised Prophet like Moses, and here is Jesus going up a mountain, just like Moses. But He is not getting God’s Commandments, He is being the Commander commissioning His generals.

Jesus basically chose His representatives for the 12 Tribes. Remember a few verses ago we saw that Mark was pointing to all of the Tribes of the Promised Land coming to see if this was the promised Messiah. Now, He has His representatives for each tribe, those He is sending out in His Name. Apostle means “one sent out.”

And what does He expect His Apostles to do?

First and foremost: They spend time with Him, learning from Him.
Secondly: Preach. They are to share the good news of this Messiah.
Finally: Heal and cast out demons and evil spirits.

Jump back with me for a moment to Moses’ promised Prophet in Deuteronomy 18, in vv. 20-22.

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord , if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.Now back a few chapters, 13:1-4.


“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.

Many so-called teachers, prophets, and apostles today often start out well, saying we need to spend time with Christ and learn from Him, and it sounds good. Then they spend more time focusing on miracles, signs and wonders, and dreams and visions.

At best, the preach a gospel-lite: You are basically a good person, you have to have dreams and visions or perform miracles, signs and wonders. Essentially, you are little gods. (Bill Johnson, Kenneth Copeland, Todd White, Bishop T.D. Jakes … even starting to hear it from Steven Furtick and his friends.)

Now. Remember what I told us to hold on to for a moment: “Did God actually say … You will not surely die … You will be … like … God …”

Many of today’s so-called teachers, prophets, and apostles are chasing the miracles more than the Miracle Maker. They are listening to the wrong spirits.

Perhaps you have heard the teaching today that just because someone gets a prophecy wrong does not mean they are a false prophet, they just tried prophesying in their own power and got it wrong. That is the exact opposite of what we read in Deuteronomy. “Did God really say …”

Perhaps you have even heard the rebuttal that those of us who point this out probably want to follow Deuteronomy 13:5, to kill the false prophet. Obviously, we don’t teach that in the slightest, but now we hear that next lie: “You will not surely die …”

All three of Satan’s lies in the Garden of Eden are being used even today.

Perhaps, you think, people do make mistakes and come from broken and sinful pasts, but God forgives and changes them.

True. In fact, Benny Hinn’s nephew, Costi Hinn, will readily attest to that. He worked for his Uncle Benny for years, and today he preaches the true gospel and the danger of these “prophets and apostles” today. But this also points us back to the next verses in Mark 3 …

vv. 16-19:
Mark, Peter’s disciple and friend (remember Acts 13 and 15, John Mark who abandoned Barnabas and Paul, later causing division between those two), understood Peter well, both having turned on those they loved. Hence, Peter is obviously first in the list, followed immediately by James and John, the Sons of Thunder. (Great preachers!)

These three – with at least four others: Andrew (Peter’s brother), Thomas, Bartholomew (Nathanael), and possibly Philip – were fishermen (Remember they were all together fishing after Jesus’ resurrection – John 21). They were the rough-around-the-edges (probably foul-mouthed) sailors of the day. They were prideful, power-hungry men (Remember the request by James and John to sit at either side of Jesus in His Kingdom!)

We know Matthew/Levi was a tax collector, and possibly Judas Iscariot. Tax collectors were seen as traitors to their people, their money not even allowed in the Temple. They were more interested in money (and power), and obviously not above turning on their brethren. Judas was obviously “the open-minded, social justice” one of the group who was “more concerned about the poor” than all the others. (See his suggestion of selling the expensive perfume Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet – John 12.)

That just leaves James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus (the other Judas), and Simon the Zealot. James and Other-Judas may have been businessmen of some sort or just farmers. They could be more down to earth, but they also had their opinions on politics and religion. Simon, the Zealot, was definitely involved in politics. The Zealots were constantly trying to make Israel great again (Sorry, not sorry!) and kick out the invading empire.

This was a rag-tag bunch of sinners … who all abandoned their Lord, one even betraying Him.

Yet, I hear Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Yes and hallelujah, God can change us. But we should still be wary of those who teach a different gospel – “not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:7-9)

No, the calling we all have is not to chase miracles but to realize we have been chosen to spread the Gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ: Matthew 28:18-20 –

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10)

But we also live in a culture that says sharing your faith is bad. (Including from the Pope!)

vv. 20-21:
Went home (most likely to Capernaum), where crowds kept them from eating. (Still missing the point to “love your neighbor as yourself” and that God was literally with them!) Yet, Jesus persisted in His ministry.

And His mom and half-siblings thought He had lost it.

He now has the Jewish leadership plotting against Him and His family doubting Him.

And yet, Jesus persisted in His ministry.

We can glean two things from this:We know, as we also read in Matthew 28:20, that God never stops. He keeps working out His plan.We will have people oppose us, either for not following modern understandings of religion and science or for being crazy for believing myths and stories (or even changing our lives so drastically and against societal norms).

And that can scare us, intimidate us, make us want to shy away from sharing our faith.

We might hear those thoughts: “I’m not good enough.”
“Who do I think I am to tell others that they are sinners?”
“If others make fun of me, they won’t hear the message anyway.”

Maybe we are chasing the miracles, the easy parts of Christianity: the power, the prophecies, and the praise of others.

We should realize we are chosen by God. And He has promised to help us by His Holy Spirit.

We can chase miracles that come from touching Christ, or we can realize that being His Chosen people means He has already chased us!

By ourselves, we run from the things of God by chasing our own interests or thinking we need to do something to please God. We seek the mountaintop experience, but God has come down from His mountain to change His Chosen to be more like Christ.

The biggest disease we have is our sin. It can only be removed by the grace we have by faith in the blood of Christ. Without that, we chase whatever we think will make us happy or whole, instead of realizing God’s Chosen One is the only One who can heal.

Let’s not chase after the miracles, but let’s seek the Miracle Maker and His peace and healing. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

If you do not know the peace of Christ, I invite you to seek Him and have your own Re-Birthday, or at least trust in Him more. Put your faith in the Faithful One. Realize your sinfulness – your own breaking of God’s Law – and believe that Jesus’ death on the cross brought you forgiveness, that His resurrection gives you the promise of eternal life with Him.

Yes, people may think you are out of your mind, possibly ridicule you or even persecute you, but Jesus it is better to know that is coming and prepare than to begin under the assumption that life will suddenly be the best ever. Jesus promised this life would be hard, but He also promised He is with us.

And He chose us.

Message Series: Malachi 2:10-16

It is about time for a short message series.

For the past few weeks and over the next couple of months, I will upload short messages based on the book of Malachi. It will probably be eight total and based on the section divisions in the English Standard Version of the Bible.

No special titles. Just taking a quick look at what was said.

So read along with me, and let us study what Malachi said to his people about 2,400 years ago.

Malachi 2:10-16

Remember that Malachi literally means “my messenger”, so he is God’s messenger, as all the Prophets were.

Chapter 1 was about God’s love for His covenant people – those who obey and love Him – versus those who refuse to listen to Him. The priests offered lame, sick, and injured animals as sacrifices, basically taking the Lord’s name in vain by calling it acceptable even though they were worthless gifts.

Chapter 2 can be called the passage about “bovine scatology”, because priests then (and many now) led people astray with false teachings. So God rebuked them and showed they are outside of the covenant.

Now, God rebukes not only the priests but any who practice what God said not to:

10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!

13 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Message Series: Malachi 2:1-9

It is about time for a short message series.

For the past few weeks and over the next couple of months, I will upload short messages based on the book of Malachi. It will probably be eight total and based on the section divisions in the English Standard Version of the Bible.

No special titles. Just taking a quick look at what was said.

So read along with me, and let us study what Malachi said to his people about 2,400 years ago.

Malachi 2:1-9

Remember that Malachi literally means “my messenger”, so he is God’s messenger, as all the Prophets were.

Chapter 1 was about God’s love for His covenant people – those who obey and love Him – versus those who refuse to listen to Him. The priests offered lame, sick, and injured animals as sacrifices, basically taking the Lord’s name in vain by calling it acceptable even though they were worthless gifts.

Now, God rebukes those priests:

“And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”

From verse three we see a reference to Exodus 29:14, that the sacrificial bull’s flesh, skin, and dung were to be taken out of the camp to be burned as an offering.

The unclean parts were taken away from God’s community of people and burned.

The priests were supposed to be keep/teach the life, peace, and fear of the Lord.

Naturally, our Perfect Priest – the teacher and source of life and peace – is Jesus.

Keep in mind: Malachi was written about 430 years before John the Baptist and Jesus came on the scene. He was the last prophet for 430 years, and he lived about 100 years after the end of the Exile and about the same time as Ezra and Nehemiah.

And the priesthood was already falling back into the old patterns that led to the Exile in the first place …

TODAY

We now see the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the hyper-charismatic movement – with people like Kenneth Copeland, Bill Johnson (and the Bethel Church at Redding, CA, leadership and friends), IHOP (Prayer, not Pancakes) with Mike Bickle and friends – who look good at first. They perform many signs and wonders and say we need Jesus, right? They say that Jesus is the Son of God, right?

I mean – we could say – doesn’t 1 John 2:23 say, “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also“?

But Jesus (and Paul, Peter, and John, including from the passage just quoted) warn about coming antichrists. “Christ” means “anointed one”, and Jesus warned about the last days in Matthew 24:23-36:

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.

Almost all of these modern “apostles” and “prophets” and teachers, especially at IHOP, say we should be seeking Jesus in the inner prayer rooms. In and of themselves, prayer rooms are not bad.

However, these people teach that we can be little christs (Yes, I know “christian” means “little christ”!), that we can receive special anointings (“I am the anointed of the Lord,” they say) and perform mighty signs and wonders.

Yet they also teach things like Jesus being the first to be born again, that He did not become the Son of God until [baptism, resurrection, ascension], that we can do literally everything Jesus can because we have His authority to do whatever.

They teach we should all learn to heal people and prophesy.

These are the the people who in March 2020 declared and prophesied that the C-19 virus would not lead to a pandemic, that it would be done by Passover, that a mighty south wind would bring a heatwave (Kenneth Copeland) to kill the virus (literally the day before a days-long cold snap hit the US).

C-19 proved they are all false prophets and teachers.

Some try to claim that a wrong prophecy merely means they got it wrong, that they are not necessarily false prophets. Yet Deuteronomy 18:20-22 says that if someone prophesies and it does not come true, they are a FALSE PROPHET. (And there are more passages.)

These people are not teaching truth. The prophesy life and peace, but they are at best deceived and at worst liars.

And God said in verse 3 that they have the dung of their pathetic offerings all over their faces. They are to be taken out of God’s community and burned.

Do not follow them, or you will follow them to the same eternal destination. (NOT with Jesus!)

As verses 8-9 tell us, God curses their offspring (in this context, those who follow them and even teach others the same things), and they are despised and abased before all people. They have been proven false teachers, prophets, and apostles.

Do not follow them.

Turn to the authority of Jesus Christ who commands us to go into all nations making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all He has commanded. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Follow Jesus.

Test everything I have said (and they teach) with the Word of God.

Message series: Malachi 1:6-14

[This is a little late. We did some remodeling and cleaning, and I forgot to upload on Saturday night! We have more storage area in our garage and a green bathroom, now, though! And this explains why I look tired in this video. I had worked hard all day!]

It is about time for a short message series.

Over the next couple of months, I will upload short messages based on the book of Malachi. It will probably be eight total and based on the section divisions in the English Standard Version of the Bible.

No special titles. Just taking a quick look at what was said.

So read along with me, and let us study what Malachi said to his people about 2,400 years ago.

Malachi 1:6-14

Remember that Malachi literally means “my messenger”, so he is God’s messenger, as all the Prophets were.

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor?

God is our heavenly Father, and today we see evidence that He is not given the honor that is due. But Paul reminded us what the times before Christ’s return would be like in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

This certainly describes much of our world today, even within the Church. But especially seeing as, as a world, we barely acknowledge our heavenly Father, let alone give much honor to our earthly parents. We are too busy seeking our own pleasure and thinking we are right about everything.

But back to Malachi:

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts.

God was talking to the priests of ancient Israel. But we see polluted offerings today.

We see it in the Prosperity gospel or the so-called New Apostolic Reformation with all of these new apostles and prophets and such who say we should be living our best life now and be healthy, wealthy, and happy. If you are not healthy and wealthy and happy, you have weak faith. It is your own fault for not trusting God enough.

It is these people making claims that “thus saith the Lord” when He has not spoken.

Like what?

Like these preachers and prophets who said the C-19 pandemic (at the time of this message) was going to end by Passover. Here I am two weeks after Passover having seen that it not only is not over but hit its worst days AFTER Passover (in the US, at least, which is what most of these people were talking about).

It is people trying to declare the weather act a certain way, such as Kenneth Copeland declaring a heatwave to kill the virus … and a cold snap hitting the very next day. Nationwide.

These are people claiming to be speaking for God, when they make false prophecies and have no actual power. This is blasphemy and taking the Lord’s Name in vain.

It can also be seen in a too-close, buddying up with politics.

It is saying “Our party is the Christian party” or “the Republican party is the party of Christianity.” It is saying that God is not only okay with such-and-such a thing but endorses it, such as saying abortion and gay marriage are godly acts.

I just stepped on the toes of Republicans and Democrats, but they are far from alone in this.

When we let our politics influence our faith, instead of the other way around, we put forth an offering polluted by the world. [Our religion should influence our politics, though!]

Back to Malachi:

And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.

Costi Hinn – Benny Hinn’s nephew – worked for his uncle’s ministry. However, he “shut the doors” by walking away from that ministry. Today, he is a pastor – in the Reformed tradition – and speaks out against his uncle’s ministry and other Prosperity Gospel, the NAR, and other hyper-charismatic ministries.

Both in ancient Israel and today, we have horrible sacrifices and offerings.

Today we see churches offering Mountain Dew and Doritos or beer and chips as “communion” so that their congregants can partake of the elements no matter what they have around. Or they change who the communion is done toward while using skittles and iced tea.

Churches say “gay marriage” is okay, when the Bible forbids it.

Churches say “No matter what you believe or how you live, why don’t you lead this bible study or lead this ministry … or become ordained and lead a church.” No repentance nor confirmation of beliefs.

God was not happy with sacrifices and offerings when Israelites offered lame and sick sacrifices.

God is not happy when we offer teachings and leaders that are contrary to His Word.

But there is good news! (And you probably know where this is going …)

God offered the ultimate sacrifice in our place when He offered His own Son, Jesus Christ for the atonement of our sins.

Jesus was the perfect, unblemished sacrifice.

He endured violence, but it was to redeem our violent nature by being beaten and killed on our behalf. He suffered death at our own hands to redeem our actions and make us holy as He is holy by washing us in His blood.

Our sacrifices and offerings have never been good enough. So He offered Himself.

And all we have to do is believe that and let the Holy Spirit change us to be more like the Son.

And this is the good news that will spread His fame throughout the nations, a pure offering of praise made by His redeemed, as we make His Name known.

And one day, Jesus is returning to renew the world. And all who live on this planet will worship Him.

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

Next week, we get into chapter 2!

It’s the End of the World As We Know It … Again …

Perhaps you remember five months ago all of the hype over Harold Camping and the impending rapture he calculated from the evidence in the Bible would occur on May 21. I made some comments on the whole affair here, here (tongue-in-cheek) and here.

Well, this week brings about part two of his prediction. You see, Harold explained that on May 21st God’s work of salvation came to an end, that the Holy Spirit was pulled from world (except believers, of course). No one else can be saved (be led to Christ). Instead, the final rapture in which the Elect (those who are saved) are taken up to meet Christ is the air takes place at the exact same time as the final judgement and destruction of Creation. This is all to happen …

This Friday, October 21st (2011, if you are confused on which “this Friday” I mean).

I have covered this topic before, as referenced above.

You know, if he is right about this date, amillenniallists have it all right (except the date. That is Harold Camping). On the other hand, if Harold has been right all along, then premillennialists are more right. I personally do not think postmillennialism has any basis in truth at all, but I will be friends with you even if you do think it has any basis in truth at all.

After that little rabbit-trail …

Can I get any comments? What do you think: Is the world coming to an end this weekend, or do we have more time? Or are we possibly disappearing before Friday?

Or do you think God has a rather hilarious sense of humor and will use this Friday to end everything as we know it to really shock Harry Camping … and everyone else?

Belief in Unbelief

I have discussed before about how doubt is okay in certain circumstances. I was recently reminded of this topic while listening to one of my favorite songs (Jason Gray, For the First Time Again, and today I refer to the verse mentioned in the song and will get back to this later!), and it also reminded me of a conversation I had with me own mum a few years ago.

The verse I refer to is Mark 9:24: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

The man who said this to Jesus believed that Jesus could help, but he struggled with doubt. He just handled it in the correct manner. He asked God.

What if our doubt has to do with whether or not God is involved?

The Bible deals with this.

John, in 1 John 4:1, says “Dear Friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Did you know we are not supposed to have a blind faith? Many in the Western Church have been raised to “just believe and not ask questions.” This verse seems to declare otherwise. (Another is 1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Some people send out and/or forward e-mails that sound very inspirational or seem to raise awareness of some injustice or cause. This is the very reason Snopes.com (atheistic, as far as I know, but still quite trustworthy if you are concerned) was founded, to discover which stories are true and false. (Something I found ironic, my mom raised me to study things, and when I e-mailed her a link to something cool she asked forgiveness for not trusting me and checking Snopes! I had already checked it myself! This is the conversation I mentioned above) It is more than okay to look into these e-mails and reports.

As we get into the presidential election, we are going to be hearing many things from the candidates and their supporters both for and against each candidate. We have seen some of these stretch the truth pretty far in the past. We should check everything we hear about a candidate before choosing what to believe about them. It is just smart and an all-around good idea. If you believe we can trust everything every politician says, you need a little more help than I can offer!

Every time we meet for church or to study the Bible or for a fellowship event (concert, Promise Keepers, Women of Faith, leadership/missionary conferences, etcetera) we should approach each teaching with sound reason and a healthy dose of skepticism. I am not saying we doubt everything that is said, nor I am saying we should discount our knowledge of what each speaker has said before. For example, if you have attended the same church with the same pastor for years with solid teaching, you should be able to trust what the pastor says this Sunday, too. However, as many of my pastor friends have said over the years, we should follow along in our Bibles with every teaching to make sure there is no mistake! This is not questioning everything that is said, rather it is confirming truth or revealing mis-truthes and mistakes.

Similarly, whenever a new teacher comes along, a new theologian theologizes, or science proclaims new evidence of something, we should test the statements and information for validity and trustworthiness both with Scripture and logic. I am sorry if your feelings are hurt, but outside of Christianity all religions do not pass most tests. Even some spheres of Christianity (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [Mormons], Jehovah’s Witnesses, Westboro Baptist Church, some separate congregations within mainline churches, and many others) leave Scripture and logic behind. We must be careful.

This is why doubt is a good thing. This is why we can believe in God and His Church but show signs of disbelief. My mom sometimes regrets feeling like “a Doubting Thomas,” but when we are receiving teachings from a fallen world and those who may be false prophets (which can come from other religions and secular society) it can be wise to not believe everything.

If we continually seek our Lord, it becomes easier to know when it is Him speaking and when it is not. I teach the young men I mentor (and anyone else who listens) to test everything I say. They are not to accept everything I say as truth but make their faith their own. We do not always agree on every little thing, and that is okay. It is not okay when our unbelief gets in the way of our belief in God and our ability to love Him and other people.

Have some doubt, but as I said in the posts I referenced at the beginning of this one, make sure your doubt pushes you toward God and not away.

Weekend Words and Sunday Stanzas – 05/29/2011

I am in the Grand Canyon today! Therefore the second poem should be okay, says I. This first poem is “in honor” of those who give false prophecies (I am done picking on them for a while after this, I swear!):

translation
daniel m  klem

i am an oracle of the Lord
 i am a liar

the Lord says to do this
i do not mean this

He also says to do that
all of this is a bunch of lies

the Lord God sent me a vision
this was my dream last night

nothing will ever harm you
you will suffer

if you listen to my prophecies
if you do not listen to the Lord

therefore  do as i say
stop listening to me

and God will bless you
or God will not bless you

because i am an oracle of the Lord
because i am the biggest liar you will ever meet

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 90.

And I know we are not on bikes this weekend, but I wrote this on a bicycle outing in which we did about 35 miles in a few hours before having food. It was so tough (poor, little me) …

perseverance
daniel m  klem

my friend and i
biking the trail
my legs weaker
wanting to bail
i want to ask
if we can break
all i want is
to stop and take
a breath of cool
refreshing air
who needs the wind
blowing my hair
but then I think
of what Jesus did
when He crossed
and took my sin
so  i will not quit
but keep going
as Jesus did so
we could keep growing
that we would love
God in Heaven
and join Him in
the greatest Haven
so i will pedal
throughout the day
because the Son
has shown the way

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, pages 46-47.

My What Big Sheep You Have!

Now that we know how to deal with false prophets (and other Christian-sinners), it is time to ponder people patronizing the pews of pesky perjurious prophets … and other bad teachers.

So fat ... so lazy ... don't wanna move ...

How is it that so many people can fall for such obvious mis-truths and blatant problems with hermeneutics (bible interpretation)?

First off, I am going to state that it is not all on these false teachers. We have had quite a stint of poor preaching and teaching in this nation (and through much of Western culture for a long time) that many people who go to church struggle with the basics of Christianity. When less than half of us know Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection and a third of us think Jesus sinned, there is a problem. This means the Church at large has been failing them.

Years of not receiving solid teaching keeps people spiritually malnourished.  We could call these people the seeds that grew among the thorns or are (or can become?) weeds.

The thing is, what most people are getting is the equivalent of junk food. Eating junk food can keep people going for a while, some even appearing perfectly healthy, but eventually from that most people will grow fat and tired and unable to even handle good food. When people get poor teaching, it is much the same. They can start out loving the message and may even produce some good fruit in their lives, bu they often become spiritually lethargic, unable to discern what is truth.

This, then, is how people can fall for lies, half-truths, and scriptural fudgings.

Bringing in Jillian Michaels … for souls …

As with those who lead them astray, we need to love them towards truth. Calling them morons, idiots, heretics, blasphemers, retards, snakes, wolves-in-sheeps-clothing, blah, blah, blah, on and on (I have heard/read all of these and more in the past few weeks, so there are too many to link!), only pushes them further away. You may actually be doing more harm than those poorly teaching them! You become just as guilty as the false teachers!

Telling them of their error is necessary, but it can and should be done with gentleness and respect. They deserve the same grace and patience we have all been given by our Lord. We just may be working through years of spiritual and psychological abuse, so it is needed! As Paul reminded us, it must all be done with love! Sometimes that means putting these poor sheep through some “The Biggest Loser: Spiritual Edition” with Jesus hosting and us working as trainers, guiding them through spiritual exercises and feeding them with healthy teaching. It will be tough on all of us, but it takes hard work and perseverance.

There have been great thoughts shared over the past couple of weeks! What else have you? Am I right? Am I being too nice? Am I naive? Have you dealt with anyone who has been sucked in by sneaky false teachings? How long should we work with them?

Balancing Our Prophet Deficit

Over the weekend the Rapture did not happen. I just thought I would fill you in case you were wondering. (For the record: Harold Camping is now saying that everything is happening on October 21. There is no longer a final Tribulation period, just the final act.)

Now we are faced with the question:

What do we do with Harold Camping?

Really, the question is “What do we do with false prophets and teachers, heretics, blasphemers, sinful brothers and sisters, and every other supposed Christian who messes up in some way?”

I have poked some fun at our friend Harold. I even do that for people with whom I agree! It is just the kind of great guy that I am. I must say, however, that I am quite put out by the number of people raking this guy over the coals. Do you not realize that this public display of renunciation in such a manner helps prove right those who want nothing to do with Christianity?

Do not get me wrong. He has done something that should not be condoned, and we should denounce his actions and teaching concerning this past weekend’s non-event. To ignore it or even praise it would send the signal to those outside the Church or those struggling within the Church that we are okay with dissenters and those who misuse Scripture and the name of God, and we are therefore deserving of their ridicule. To publicly call the guy names and attempt to smear his reputation is childish and exactly what we see happening in our culture with people every day. How is that the Church being better than the world?

Instead, we have two biblical models to follow:

  1. Tell the man to stop. If he refuses, simply have nothing to do with him. We should “hand him over to Satan” in hopes he will actually be purged of his sins (read the link). Then we respond to his claims so that the world knows what is going on, but we also make it clear he does not speak for all of us. Done. No name calling. No character assassination (admit it, a false prophecy is enough to do that). No helping the non-Christian masses with defaming our faith and our Lord.
  2. Tell the man to stop. If he refuses, treat him like a sinner. What are we supposed to do with sinners? Love them unconditionally in the hopes that they see their error, but we do not condone what they are doing.

Once again, I am guilty of what I am speaking against. I have joked around at his expense, albeit I kept it between myself and friends. I am not saying it is any better in God’s sight. I might still be guilty of leading others astray. However, we should strive to win over as many as possible through our love and loving actions towards each other.

Any thoughts on how we should treat Harold Camping, and any others who consistently sin? What does it mean to excommunicate a fellow believer in this day? Should we excommunicate him? (Quite honestly, it seems he already was by many Christians)