Are You a Believer?

Are you a believer?

Or are you a doubter?

Are you a believer?

Or are you an excuse maker?

Are you a believer?

Or do you look for reasons to explain away God’s promises?

Are you a believer?

Or does your theology give you exception clauses to the following promises (and countless more)?

1 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

2 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

3 Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.

4 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

5 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

6 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

7 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

8 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

9 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.

Believer?

Doubter?

Excuse maker?

…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Beware of the “Ministry” of Division (2)

(Continued from previous post)

To replace the current “ministry of division” there is an urgent need for the “ministry of reconciliation” between believers, that can only come by putting off prejudices and favoured theologies and putting on love – for each other and for the Word of God.

Among the commands given to His disciples towards the end of His ministry, Jesus gave a “new commandment”.

John 13

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another

This was something important enough for Jesus to say it would be the distinguishing feature revealing to EVERYONE that we are His disciples. Surely a vital ingredient when taking the gospel to an unbelieving world.

It was also important enough for Jesus to repeat in John 16:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command

Not only does this statement repeat His command to love each other, the latter part clearly infers that failing to do so disqualifies someone from being Jesus’ friend.

The command for believers to love one another is also repeated several times in 1 John and Peter adds another voice saying in 1 Peter 1: 22

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 3: 8-9

love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.

1 Peter 4: 8

Above all, love each other deeply

I now suspect that some might try to find a bit of wiggle room by insisting that those they are labelling as false teachers/prophets/etc aren’t really fellow believers so the obligation to love them as Jesus loved His disciples doesn’t apply.
But even if we allow that presumptuous conclusion, Jesus also said we should love our enemies, so there’s no avoiding the commandment to love. And who are we to judge who belongs to Him, and who doesn’t – thereby excusing ourselves from loving them as fellow disciples?

It seems that so many features of the gospel preached and commanded by Jesus – some of the very important aspects of it, by which unbelievers will see its validity – are being far too casually denied by professing believers. That denial includes the rejection of present day confirming signs following the preaching of the gospel (something affirmed most times that preaching of the gospel is mentioned in scripture) as well as a distinct lack of love being shown between those claiming to follow Jesus.

Through that ongoing denial, the church is allowing Satan to do a very effective job of disempowering what little gospel message remains within the church, by convincing professing believers to avoid and dismiss instructions Jesus gave in the latter days of His time on earth. Instructions regarding a gospel confirmed by signs, and instructions regarding the love of believers for each other.

There is an urgent need for us all to make sure that ALL of our beliefs and practices are consistent with God’s word, without closing our eyes to inconvenient passages, and without resorting to childish clichés to excuse ungodly excesses.

That means NOT trying to explain away Spiritual gifts and/or miracles. It also means abandoning inane claims like ‘you can’t put God in a box’ to justify some of the more dubious things that some charismatics have promoted for too long as being genuine works of the Holy Spirit.

I recently read an astute statement, saying something like the following: “we might not be able to put God in a box, but He did put Himself in a book” – meaning He has revealed Himself, His character and His purposes in scripture; written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Himself and won’t act in anyway contrary to that revelation.

And it is the revelation given by God through scripture that is the key to resolve the problems on both sides of the divide being addressed. Both sides need to give scripture its rightful place as the foundational revelation of truth, against which any belief and practice can be measured. That does NOT mean that all truth is contained within the pages of scripture, but it does mean that anything inconsistent with scripture is NOT truth.

There is a need for honesty – to be honest to ourselves – and truly examine our lives and beliefs alongside scripture. To put aside assumptions and take the time to search the scriptures; not through the lens of someone else’s teaching, not through a theological system, but going to scripture itself, scripture alone with the aid of the Holy Spirit. But we do it with the intention and desire to find Jesus and what HE wants of us. Both the scriptures and the Holy Spirit testify of Him.

Unfortunately the division I’ve been addressing is being fuelled by erroneous beliefs, practices and attitudes FROM BOTH SIDES, things that compromise Christian gospel witness.

That has to change – and maybe THAT is what God intends to address through the current world situation.

But will we take the opportunity to use this time of isolation and disruption wisely?

Beware of the “Ministry” of Division (part 1)

 

… if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5)NIV

What does the ministry of reconciliation involve?

Firstly, God reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, which starts with Jesus’ ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.

Secondly it continues in the ministry that Jesus commissioned His followers to carry on after His return to the Father: the commission revealed through the instructions He gave prior to that return.

Each gospel gives a variation of those instructions with different levels of detail. Sadly they are instructions that seem to have mostly been ignored, dismissed, reduced, denied or otherwise avoided by most who profess to be followers of Jesus.

Matthew 28:

Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Mark 16:

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

John 14:

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it

John 20:

Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

From Luke in Acts 1:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Then we should see the example of the early church throughout the book of Acts, and how Paul often linked preaching the gospel with power, and confirming signs.

Do ANY of those describe anything resembling the ministry and experience of the majority of churches and those within the church today?

Sadly, I’d have to say no.
And even more sadly, most professing believers seem to be okay with that and find it acceptable.

Recently I’ve had my attention brought to some ministries who are doing what they can to go into the their communities, sharing the gospel with those outside of church walls, and are taking the other parts of Jesus’ commission regarding healing and deliverance seriously. And they are reportedly seeing people healed and delivered, and as a result turning to Jesus, whose reality has been confirmed to them through the signs they’ve observed or experienced.

Not long ago I posted videos related to two of those people. One of the videos showed a practical example, praying for the sick and seeing them healed. The other was more teaching related, with a very sound scriptural foundation, given through countless bible references for viewers to search the scriptures for themselves. That teaching was followed by a practical application of what was learned, with people testifying to being healed after the teaching was put into practice.

Those two videos caused a great deal of controversy, because of the alleged “associations” the men featured had with others – in other words, they were covered with a broad-brush application of guilt because of friendships, acquaintances, or links to people with whom they’d shared a preaching engagement.

For  more than a decade and a half I took that broad-brush approach myself; dismissing anyone who had a hint of being linked to any kind of group or individual with questionable practices and theology.
My recent situation has made me seriously reconsider that attitude, an attitude I’m now seeing as being a “ministry” of division.

In trying to convince me that the men in those videos should be avoided, I was sent links to articles “proving” they were involved in very dubious things – except, for the most part the articles offered no evidence, just unsubstantiated claims and rumours. Even worse, there were also misrepresentations and outright lies. Again the strongest reason for “condemnation” came down to some people they were linked to rather than what they themselves were saying and doing in the posted videos.

As a result I had to reconsider any trust I may have had in many of those people and groups who would call themselves “discernment ministries”, finding there was little if any discernment involved in anything they were doing or the conclusions they were drawing.

Discernment is something believers need, probably more than ever.
But, discernment is NOT gained through trawling web-pages for information allegedly exposing the wrong doings and wrong teachings of others. It’s not gained through spending hours of dissecting every word or phrase uttered by someone targeted for exposure to find a problem statement or claim. And its not a demonstration of discernment when someone is dismissed because of who they may know or have met with.

Discernment comes through searching the scriptures for ourselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit who inspired the writers of scripture. Discernment comes through believing scripture and DOING what scripture directs us to do instead of turning to theological opinions and teachings that try to explain why scripture doesn’t really mean what it actually says according to its context.

Genuine discernment is needed so we can assess ALL teachings and practices no matter what or who the source may be – whether it comes from a favoured teacher or from someone we’ve been advised to avoid. Ultimately WE are responsible for what WE accept or reject, so it would be wise to make informed judgements that align with scripture and not rely on potentially biased opinion from others.

Genuine discernment also allows us to respond with a lot more grace and wisdom towards others than outright broad-brush judgements allow. Genuine discernment can make room for us to learn from others and recognise the value of what they are doing when and if they are conforming to scripture, and it allows us to recognise and reject anything that IS genuinely erroneous, without seeing the need to reject everything they say and do.

This goes both ways – we should all make room in our lives to learn from others and to shape our own Christian lives to conform more and more with God’s requirements of us. But while it goes both ways, to date I’ve seen the aggression and condemnation has mostly been going in one direction, often from groups and people who dismiss the ongoing validity of Spiritual gifts and miraculous signs to accompany the gospel.

While charismatic groups have often ventured into questionable, extra-biblical territory, it is no less the case that those opposing them have virtually erased large sections of scripture from their bibles by seeing them as being no longer valid, as if the canonical compilation of the very scriptures that record them have nullified the gifts and miracles that the Bible itself teaches ARE and will continue to be valid.
Which of those groups present the greater problem? Those who add to scripture or those who subtract from it by disempowering the gospel?

I’d suggest that BOTH are equally a danger to themselves and to anyone who makes undiscerning judgements about their teachings. Both sides need to find reconciliation with God and each other through respect for, and obedience to, His word.

Have I wandered off track with the latter part of this article?

NO!

To replace the current “ministry of division” there is an urgent need for the “ministry of reconciliation”. There is a need for reconciliation between believers, that can only come with the putting off of prejudices and favoured theologies and putting on love – for each other and for the Word of God.

(To be continued)

Giving Careful Thought to the Paths…repentance.

A very insightful and informative article from Art Thomas about the “guilt by association” accusations that have been levelled against his ministry and others.

I thank the Lord for it.

I know that a few weeks ago I probably would have eagerly dismissed and cautioned against ministries like that of Art Thomas and Todd White, not because of anything inherently wrong with the work or the message, but because of alleged associations with others.

Lord, I repent of that attitude and the broad-brush condemnation that it fuelled.

What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

What is the New Apostolic Reformation? Why is it such a big deal to so many people? And what threat does the New Apostolic Reformation pose to the Church?

I want to offer a balanced response to these three questions and hopefully clear up some of the rhetoric and confusion that’s out there. My primary goal here is to give the Body of Christ a reasoned look at a complex topic so that we can be discerning and loving in how we interact on the subject. My secondary goal is to call out false teachers, slanderers, and children of the devil who have built their audiences out of innocent people whose itching ears are eager to hear what they want to hear.

Today I’m going to expose some wolves in sheep’s clothing, prominent theological errors, and divisive lies that are tearing apart the Church.

But it’s probably not going to look like what you expect.

In my best attempt to be like Jesus, I intend to love and defend the innocent while not pulling punches against those who have sown lies, discord, and false doctrine in the Church.

So hold onto your hat!

https://supernaturaltruth.com/understanding-new-apostolic-reformation/

See full article at link above.

Be Healed

Gloria and I have a Christian friend suffering from some worrying health issues. We’ve been praying for him each day and both of us separately felt led to visit and pray for him in person.
Gloria contacted his wife earlier today and suggested this, but the offer was declined.

Then later, we started watching a YouTube video of a sermon “Forget Not All HIs Benefits” – based on Psalm 103.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases…

The very popular preacher insisted that “Heals all your diseases” did not mean physical disease, but only “diseases of the soul”.

Is it any wonder that sickness is accepted and tolerated among Christians when they are being taught such garbage?
Basically being taught that the Bible doesn’t really mean what the Bible clearly says?
And that particular teacher is the compiler of a “study bible” retailed under his own name (MacArthur Study Bible) so he can more fully explain what scripture “really” means, instead of what is actually written in the biblical text.

When are Christians going to wake up and STOP trusting in the teaching of those who deny and oppose God’s word and replace it with their own opinions?

Is it surprising that our friend – a Christian – should be hesitant/reluctant to receive personal prayer for healing, when so much false teaching has indoctrinated large sections of the church?

As an antidote to the above I share the following video.

An Uncomfortable Truth? – Believers or Quenchers II

Jesus, who was, is, and ever will be  God, did not use His own divine power and authority during His life and ministry on earth.

He ministered and lived as a flesh and blood man, anointed by the Holy Spirit and in complete obedience to the will of the Father.

After He ascended back to heaven, He sent the same Holy Spirit that had empowered His own ministry to enable believers to do the same works (and greater) as those He had done.

Many try hard to undermine this “uncomfortable truth” because it contradicts their powerless theologies and they do their best to discredit those who have accepted it. Often they will make questionable charges against those they oppose, accusing them of heresies, such as the denial of Jesus’ divinity.

However, if there is any “denial of divinity at work”, it was in Jesus denying Himself the option of exercising His own divine rights and abilities, electing to submit to His Father and the Holy Spirit so He could perfectly identify with us in all ways and in all temptations, with the exception of committing sin.

When people deny the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit and His gifts in the church today, they then have the need to “explain” away all claims of that ministry being done by professing believers. They are therefore quick to attribute it all to Satan, and level accusations of heresy, potentially stepping into the dangerous territory of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.

Scripture makes it very clear, to those willing to believe the Bible instead of traditions they’ve been taught, that the Holy Spirit did not withdraw His gifts and ministry with the death of the apostles. Those gifts have never been withdrawn from the church and are no less needed today than they were in the early church era.

There seem to be two opposing, extreme camps. The deniers who do whatever they can to denigrate and accuse, versus those who get up to a lot of extra-biblical activities, supposedly “in the name of Jesus”.
I suspect that both categories could very well fall under the following warning given by Jesus, if an activity is not in scripture, or at least consistent with scripture, it is almost certainly NOT the Father’s will:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! (Matt 7) NIV

Are those who are so openly antagonistic to Spiritual gifts in general so confident of their own stance that they KNOW they are doing the will of the Father?

Are they so sure that THEY will not be counted among those Jesus didn’t know, because they are NOT actually doing his will with their heresy-hunting? Are their pronouncements not a form of “prophecy”? Claiming to be words representing God’s judgements?
Did Jesus commission His church to go into the all the world and expose heretics?

I’d also like to point out that those that Jesus did not know, were not necessarily doing deeds through demonic empowerment. They only CLAIM to have prophesied, driven out demons, and performed miracles. The likelihood of demonic spiritual empowerment seems unlikely when the name of Jesus was being used, although demonic deception in the mind of those doing the deeds is most likely, making them believe their own claims, rather than them actually performing the miraculous.

The above warning from Jesus ought to be balanced by another.
Where the one already cited relates to people DOING things that were NOT sanctioned by God, there is another related to doing nothing, where a servant chose to bury what his master had given him rather than use it as intended.

The church has been given a gift: the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit who empowered Jesus and His ministry. If we choose to ignore the gift, or bury it through denial,  how can we expect to avoid the fate of the servant who out of fear buried his Masters bag of gold instead of putting it to use as he was required, especially when Jesus instructed His disciples not to leave Jerusalem until the gift was given to equip them to be His witnesses throughout the world. Are later generations superior to the apostles and early church and able to be His witnesses without the empowerment and gifts of His Spirit?

…throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (matt 25) NIV

Believers or Quenchers?

Sadly the church in the affluent comfortable west is full of unbelief and unbelievers. It is the home of religious game-players instead of disciples.

Christianity has become a religion of convenience, where God is merely another commodity to add to life: a “fire insurance” to save us from a fiery eternity.

It has become a dead religion with no promise of life here and now.
A religion of excuses intended to rationalise our failure to experience what God has promised.
The result has no resemblance to the full life promised by Jesus.

All of the above smothers the gospel. Quenching it of any effect upon the lives of those who identify themselves as “believers” – and as a consequence rob the world of any hope of seeing Jesus as HE really is through their witness.

When Jesus said anyone wanting to be His disciple needs to “deny themselves” – He did NOT mean that we deny ourselves of the benefits God has provided to make us effective and fruitful ambassadors for His Kingdom.
In denying ourselves through excuses and unbelief, we are also denying the world of the gospel it needs to hear and see (in word and deed).

Many who identify as believers have no idea what “believe” means or what they are supposed to be believing. They claim relationship with God and yet have little idea of what God requires of them or what God desires for their lives. God becomes a lifestyle accessory instead of the LORD of their life.

Many have no desire to know or understand God’s will and put more effort into trying to avoid it (or explain it away) than accepting and submitting to it and desiring to grow in spiritual maturity.

For me the days of complacency and avoidance are over.

To live is Christ.

He is my life. I will love Him, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.

I will proclaim what He has done.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt 5) NIV