Posts Tagged ‘doctrinal controversy

02
May
17

Watch out that no one deceives you (end time warning)

When Jesus’s disciples asked him about the signs of the end, and Jesus (2nd) coming, Jesus prefaced His answer with the warning:
“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.”

I’m sure that preface wasn’t insignificant or merely a throw-away line, not was it placed at the beginning of his answer by accident. End time teaching, speculation and prophetic claims are considerably prone to error and therefore we should be extra-wary – making sure we search the scriptures for ourselves, testing everything.

I started my Christian life at a time when “the end times” were a favoured topic, with best selling books devoted to near future events and the imminent fulfilment of end time Bible prophecy. In particular Hal Lindsay’s The Late Great Planet Earth was considered essential reading.

In keeping with Lindsay’s pre-trib. rapture message, I displayed a sticker in my car warning passengers of the danger of the car becoming driverless should the rapture occur during the journey.

The “threat” of an imminent rapture was commonly used in evangelism. Churches would screen a film Like a Thief in the Night and its sequels, showing the scary outcome for those who missed the rapture and were “Left Behind” (as in the popular, more recent, series of novels). It seemed many people could no longer be motivated to faith by a fear of hell, so fear of future events, of God’s wrath upon a post-rapture world were utilised instead.*

But how much of all of that was REALLY in line with biblical accounts of the end time?

Not a lot. That’s what I discovered when I finally took the time to study what scripture itself said, in contrast to what popular Christian media was promoting; or what was so often being preached in the churches I attended.

So much of what was stated as “gospel truth” turned out to be wrong. Henry Kissinger wasn’t the antichrist. The imminent rapture didn’t happen. Life went on and my passengers weren’t left alone in a driverless car. The antichrist’s Europe grew well beyond the beast’s ten kingdoms (and more recently has shown to be prone to imploding).
Most of the speculation that had been heralded as “biblical” has long become out-dated.

Maybe all of that has led to a weariness, instilling a feeling of disillusionment and forcing a reassessment of the importance of the “end times”, where the attitude has caused people to consider:

“Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

And that is the danger of unbiblical teaching. It leads to unbiblical conclusions and expectations and can make us weary of very important matters.

Regarding the end times, maybe more than many other issues, we NEED to be sure our understanding is grounded in the truth of scripture. As mentioned above, Jesus prefaced His prophecies of the end times with a warning: “Watch out that no one deceives you”. And he didn’t leave it there with a solitary statement. The whole section where He details end time events is full of warnings intended top equip the believer to overcome and survive through very difficult times, when it will seem easier to go with the flow instead of standing out from the crowd to proclaim the truth.

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* I would argue that fear isn’t necessary the best motivation to get people interested in the gospel – especially fears based on false expectations, such as missing out on a pre-trib rapture.

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26
Jun
16

Andrew Strom and Baptism

Andrew Strom has recently posted articles on his Revival School site about the importance of baptism in relation to salvation. They have inspired an “interesting” series of comments disagreeing with his teaching.

http://www.revivalschool.com/the-baptism-controversy-andrew-strom-comments/

http://www.revivalschool.com/shocking-bible-study-the-lost-foundations-by-andrew-strom/

The main arguments against seem to be based on the absence of references to baptism in selected verses, while ignoring all of those parts of scripture that DO refer to baptism.

This stands as a prime example of why beliefs should not be based on texts taken in isolation. Every individual bible verse does not contain all truth. The whole picture is given across the breadth of scripture.

In addition to that selectively blinkered attitude to scripture, some very old arguments are also trotted out: the examples of the thief on the cross, deathbed conversions, or conversions in a waterless desert are cited to argue against the need for baptism.

I’m quite confident however, that those making the arguments are NOT hanging on a cross, are NOT on their deathbed, and are NOT miles from any water; so really their arguments have no practical validity and are offered merely as a way of excuse.

Others opposing Strom accuse him of promoting baptismal regeneration. That accusation not only misconstrues what Strom has said, it also shows up the accusers’ ignorance of what “baptismal regeneration” is about: that is the act of baptism itself is the sole means by which salvation is attained.
That false doctrine is the reason why infant baptism came to be practiced; ensuring babies are made acceptable to heaven as soon as possible in case they die in infancy. That is NOTHING like what Strom is teaching.

I think a major reason for the misunderstanding is the way people think of salvation. They see it as a matter of crossing a line from unsaved to “saved” – and if they’ve crossed the line then everything else (such as baptism) isn’t important.
I believe a more accurate view to take is that salvation is a life’s journey during which, through faith IN Him and obedience TO Him, we are equipped and strengthened for service and to remain steadfast as believers. It’s not starting the race that’s important; it’s whether we keep running until the finish line; and in that we need all the help we can get.

The real issue is not whether baptism is needed for salvation – but whether baptism equips us for ongoing effective lives of discipleship until our race has been run.
To illustrate: we don’t need to have eaten food to enter this world alive as a new born baby – but our ongoing survival and efficiency as a living person depends on our consumption of food after our birth.

01
Jun
16

What Is The Mandela Effect? by Tricia Tillin

Here is a link to a very interesting article that I think fits well with one of my earlier posts that I called “Christian’s Don’t Lie”.*

https://bannerministries.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/what-is-the-mandela-effect/

One part of this article that I found interesting relates to conspiracy claims that Bible texts are being altered. The author points out one reason for this idea gaining traction: a lack of knowledge of what the Bible actually DOES say – and a reliance on memory, or secondary sources for bible knowledge.

When someone eventually looks to scripture – maybe as a result of being told that certain texts have been changed, they will see that the Bible says something different to what they THOUGHT it said, which to some confirms the conspiracy.

An example is given of a verse in Isaiah 11 about the lion lying with the lamb. It’s a well-known biblical statement, and yet when we go to our bible we’ll see it is different. However it has ALWAYS been different to what it is commonly believed to say.

I think the very fact that people can believe the Bible is being changed is a reflection of how little the Bible has been read, and therefore how little GENUINE Bible knowledge they have. It’s therefore not surprising that people are so easily tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.

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* https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/christians-dont-lie/

07
Jan
16

God’s Word and Correction

part DSCF0891
I’m not convinced of the value of expressing beliefs through lists of “supporting” scriptures. To me it seems more like an exercise in concordance use than anything resembling an understanding of scripture.
It’s something I’ve chosen to avoid doing for some time – although far too often I can still be tempted to take a shortcut by using a search engine to find a verse to support what I want to say. However, most of the time when I do that I find the reference I sought doesn’t really give the support I’d hoped it would. Context can be very inconvenient at times, showing that “memory verses” can be very misleading.

Some people seem to think that if they give you a long enough list of scriptures, then the verses provided will make the validity of their point of view obvious – sometimes they think they don’t even need to express their point of view, assuming that the scriptures alone will make their understanding of truth evident (at least to those who are spiritually minded). But can a truth be made evident through a list of verses tracked down through a concordance or search-engine: a list presented with little attention given to what those verses are ACTUALLY saying within their intended biblical context?

Recently I read the following statement: “if any[one] wants to correct anything, just do it with scriptures, let God’s word bring the correction” .
But what exactly is meant by that? Is correction administered through providing a longer list of proof verses than the one “needing” correction can compile? Or is it a matter of duelling with those texts until a participant is beaten into submission by superior firepower?

Scripture is an essential God-inspired resource, but it can be misused.
It is very easy to find individual parts of the Bible to support almost any idea that man can create. Therefore it is also very easy to “correct” anything that contradicts our own ideas by seeking out a favourable collection of bible statements.
While there is a significant lack of respect for scripture across broad sections of Christendom, the opposite approach, making scripture the prime focus, is no less prone to leading to error. So, in using scripture to prove a point can we actually be missing the point?
In using it primarily as a tool to support or refute theological arguments are we missing the revelation of God that’s at its heart.

Instead of trying to shape our Christian life and beliefs according to isolated “texts” from scripture, maybe we should look more to the Person revealed throughout all of scripture, and see how we relate to Him, His character and His ongoing plans for His creation.

part DSCF0891

01
Oct
15

Article by Tricia Tillin: “Nailing My Rapture Colours To The Mast”

The majority of the long article at the link below addresses the subject of “the rapture” but I think it has value beyond that single topic. It also looks into the wider issue of how easily we allow ourselves to accept teachings that lack a biblical foundation.

As I read it, I found a lot of my own experience being described, including the way my understanding of “the rapture” and the Tribulation period changed completely when I put aside what I’d been taught at church (and through popular books) and spent time learning what scripture actually said about the matter.

No doctrine can be established by applying different principles to similar texts, nor by overlaying scripture with an interpretation derived from another, dissimilar, part of the bible. We must not “read between the lines” when the lines themselves state the obvious. Nor do we have the freedom to extrapolate from the given text something that it does not teach, even when that doctrine appears elsewhere in the bible.

The scripture means what it says. We can’t turn it around, play with words, and mould it into something else. I have personally experienced this very thing. I even participated in it, to my shame.

In the day when I was deluded by the Word-of-Faith groups, I used to wink at their mishandling and twisting of scripture, because it confirmed my/their beliefs. I refused to listen to reason, or to anyone who said otherwise. I got defensive, angry even, at those who tried to open my eyes.

I remember sitting in conferences, and listening to audio tapes, and as somebody who knew the bible well my mind gave a little jolt when I heard these WoF teachers interpret the bible texts to mean something fanciful and wild. But I overlooked it! I winked at it! I excused them.

I told myself, “well they must be right because they know more than I do, and anyway, this teaching is very positive and uplifting and it makes me feel good.”

I didn’t WANT to be dissuaded.

I had the same sense of angry indignation when any of my friends tried to argue me out of WoF. I got hot, defensive, loud in the defense of my preferred interpretation (while inside having a few niggling doubts.)

Indeed, the more my doubts grew, the more defensive and aggressive I became. I was, in effect, putting my fingers in my ears and singing LaLaLaLa! I didn’t WANT to be persuaded!

Eventually, God shook me awake.

read complete article here:

http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/biblical/nailing-colours.html

06
Nov
14

Does Your Fridge Light Offend God?

lightI learned the other day that opening the fridge on the Sabbath can cause problems. It’s because of the refrigerator light. Apparently it’s related to Sabbath prohibitions associated with electrical switches. As far as I can determine it has something to do with the Sabbath day commandment against lighting a fire in a person’s home (Exod 35). Engaging a switch to complete an electrical circuit is apparently equated with lighting a fire in modern Jewish tradition.

Of course there are ways and means of getting around the fridge light problem, such as removing the light globe. Or maybe an easier way is using that indispensable product with 1001 uses: duct tape. A small strip can be used to hold down the switch, so that it remains in the closed-door position, thereby ensuring the light remains unilluminated.

So, what’s so important about this information and why do I mention it?

Firstly, I have nothing against Jews maintaining their own traditions, whether for religious or cultural reasons. I also have no objection to Messianic Jews continuing those traditions after they come to faith in their Messiah Jesus. It’s not up to a gentile like me to insist they have to abandon their cultural ways and adopt a “Christian” way of life, just as there is no need for any other cultural group to abandon non-sinful aspects of their lifestyles. And apart from the inconvenience to those personally involved, avoiding electrical switches on the Sabbath does no one any harm.

Until…

1) It is believed and promoted that the prohibition is a directive FROM God.
2) It is believed and promoted that observing the prohibition is doing something FOR God
3) It is believed and promoted that the practice PLEASES God.
4) It is believed and promoted that failure to comply with the practice is sinful and DISPLEASES God.

While the specific example of the fridge light may seem minor, it needs to be recognised that the association of light switches with fire starting is a REINTERPRETATION of scripture, and not an actual directive from scripture. And many problems arise when scripture is liberally re-interpreted to mean something other than what is actually written.

Adding extra conditions to Sabbath observance effectively CHANGES the significance and purpose of the Sabbath. In some cases, those conditions actually contravene the Sabbath, where observing man’s tradition DECREASES the rest from work that the Sabbath was supposed to provide. (I’ve heard of people climbing several flights of stairs rather than take the elevator, due to the same view of using electric switches.)

A choice to observe the Sabbath BIBLICALLY can lead to difficulties for some because scripture doesn’t go into great detail about how it should be done. There aren’t long lists of directions and procedures to follow. The instruction that IS given can more or less be condensed to two main aspects: 1) rest from work and 2) devote the day to God. But for some reason man DOES love to create, follow and enforce religious procedure and ritual.

The significance of a day of rest from work can be found by looking at WHEN the command to observe the Sabbath was first given, and TO WHOM that command was given. The following reference gives a clue:

“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:15)

The Sabbath was given to Israel – a nation brought out of a life of slavery where there was no respite from work. The Sabbath was given to bless them with freedom from work for one day out of seven. It was not intended that they should be slaves to the Sabbath, and especially NOT slaves to man-made traditions that would increase work. This is what Jesus meant when He spoke of the Sabbath being made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
The Sabbath was intended to be a blessing, not a burden.

01
Oct
14

The Only Way to the Father (God)?

wayI’m coming across more and more people who are ignoring what scripture clearly says and creating meanings totally different to what is plainly written on the page.

 They will appeal to “Spiritual insight” and present a “prophetic” interpretation of what is written OR they claim some kind of special knowledge gained through tradition/education/cultural awareness. Both cases require the average believer to submit to the understanding presented by those with that special knowledge, because we (apparently) haven’t got a hope of understanding scripture for ourselves when we read it.

 

Recently I’ve seen some imaginative claims about the following statement from Jesus:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

To me that is a straight forward statement about Jesus and His importance.

 The latter part makes clear the exclusivity of access to the Father (God) through Jesus. And yet the imagination of man can work overtime to reinterpret such a simple statement to make it fit with their own personal theological agenda.

 A few weeks ago I saw video of Oprah Winfrey interviewing Joel Osteen. When Oprah pressed Osteen on the claimed exclusivity of Christianity – Osteen gave a reply something along the lines that Jesus is the only way to God, but there are many ways to Jesus.

In today’s relativist and syncretistic world it’s a popular idea that all religions lead to God, that none has a monopoly on truth (regardless of Jesus’ statement that HE is the Truth).

Osteen tried to put a Christian-friendly spin onto that idea. He made sure he presented Jesus as the sole means of access to God (so he wouldn’t alienate his Christian supporters) but not wanting to distance himself from Oprah, inferred that other religions are merely another way to Jesus.

More recently I’ve seen another approach to Jesus’ claim. Pushing aside what Jesus actually said, a blog commenter (a claimed Messianic Jew) suggested that Jesus REALLY meant that the Torah is the Way the Truth and the Life.

While I find it disturbing that someone would need to make such a claim to support a chosen belief system, (which I don’t think is held by most Messianic Jews), I wasn’t really surprised because I’ve had previous disagreements with him regarding the divinity of Jesus. This example seems to be merely another case of diminishing Jesus’ importance.

 There are clearly MULTIPLE ways of changing the clear and simple message of scripture into something more esoteric and each of those ways takes the “average” believer away from the truth, creating a distance between God’s word and the “average” believer that makes it necessary for an intermediary to bridge the gap.

An intermediary between man and God?

Wait a minute – doesn’t scripture tell Jesus is that intermediary? That HE is the only means of access to the Father? At least it does if we are simple enough to accept scripture at face value instead of looking for reasons why the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says.




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