Monday, June 22, 2009

In Defense of the TRUE GOSPEL

When the false teachings of someone like Joel Osteen, Tony Jones, or Brian McLaren are exposed to the body of Christ as we test what they teach against God’s absolute truth, we are being obedient to the command of God. Through this, He will preserve His Church and cleanse it of what is evil. We must also be alert to the fact that what we are doing will incur the wrath of our enemy and his seed. He is a liar and an expert deceiver. He has his people spinning lies disguised as prophecies in that they contain some truth, but these are coupled with teachings that tickle itching ears and will never result in their followers being edified or lead into the truth. Instead, they produce followers of men who have created another Jesus and another version of His truth, which is false.

The megachurch model is an example of a spiritual harlot. The Bible makes it clear that true preaching should not be an idolatrous attempt to entice or "schmooze" the sinner into salvation. Harlots are good at enticing. Harlots know how to entice or seduce men, since their survival depends on it. Today's megachurches 'entice' (or seduce) when they seek to conform to the world. They want to offer a gospel which they think the world will like. Megachurch pastors will even go so far as to "tweek" the scriptures in a desperate attempt to please the unrepentant sinner. This kind of compromise has also taken root since there is so much pressure to get the attendance numbers up. High attendance numbers generate more revenue, thus providing a temptation to shrink back into a worldly mindset. But, as the narrow way gets rejected, 'worldly' pastors will often fill their pews with a large number of false converts who fell prey to their own divisive smooth speeches. The smooth speeches sound good, but they do not convict men of their sins. This kind of teaching is contrary to the Bible.

True preaching contends with the world. There is no easy way around it. It is a difficult thing to contend with the world. That is why Jesus said that the way is narrow. It is a narrow path which many forsake since they have been taught that being in God's favor means that they are guaranteed paradise on earth. They are also led to believe that any form of hardship (financial struggle, sickness, or calamity) is always a sign of God's punishment, instead of his refinement. Today's man made formulas have reduced God to a strange idol, similar to an omnipotent Santa Claus, who must always answer us according to our own desires. These man -made formulas reject the notion that God would ever be angry with sin or with the sinner. They are worshipping an idol which resembles nothing more than a waiter in a restaurant, who must answer at their beck and call.

If we look at rebellious Israel, we can see that the people of that time were guilty of the same thing. They wanted all the material blessings, prosperity, and comfort, but none of the sufferings that come with it. They believed that God's favor meant that they were exempt from any kind of hardship. They looked at their material things as an affirmation of God's favor. They were given over to pleasure instead of holiness. This was of the flesh (carnal nature).

I have noticed from the blogs that some still believe that it is better to appease someone if they take pleasure in sin or they fall into error. If you are a blogger, you have probably witnessed some hateful reactions to the true gospel. There are so many different reasons why the unregenerate will justify their sin. They like their sin, so it is not unusual for them to scold you for telling them to give it up. ('Repent' is the best word to say them, even though it can make many enemies) Many unbelievers love their sin, so naturally they will become combative with anyone who tells them it is wrong. You get the typical answer which goes something like this..... "Hey! Who are you to judge?"

The neo-evangelists in our day push their evangelical emphasis to the forefront where it has become the golden calf in their churches. Instead of obeying our Lord to make disciples they seek to multiply their numbers through easy believism. They use shame tactics to get their flocks to bring their friends and relatives to church so they can hear that Jesus wants to come into their lives so they can live abundantly here and now.

If we are abiding in Christ, he will sustain us in the worst circumstances. Hardship is God's way of refining us. As we begin to make our transition from spiritual milk to spiritual meat, he can expose us to some unexpected circumstances. To the regenerate, trials and tribulations are a sign of his ownership. If you have been taught that God can mold Christians without trials and tribulations, then re-examine what you have been taught. God uses persecution and hardship to mold us. Enduring hardship and persecution for the sake of Christ results in patience and humility. Contending in the midst of hardship and persecution results in spiritual maturity.

"I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; and avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive." Romans 16:17-18 (ESV)

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." 2 Timothy 4: 3-5 (ESV)

Those who proclaim the true gospel do not edit it. They do not 'tweek' it either. They know it is inerrant and powerful. They also know that it will not always be welcomed with open arms. Instead, it can bring division and scorn. Jesus, Paul, and John the Baptist all preached the basic fundamentals. They spoke the thing which the world finds offensive...."Repent and believe in Jesus to escape God's wrath against sin." Even today, this kind of message is denounced as being "too offensive" to the unsaved. Proclaiming the untainted gospel of Christ is extremely unpopular because of its nature. This is just the way it is. We should not try to alter it so that we tamper with its nature. If we try to tamper with its nature, then we will be guilty of idolatry. Let the gospel be what it is so that it convicts men of their sins. Anything less than that is not the gospel, but a distortion of the truth, which leads to even more idolatry.

When I watch the videos and read the sermons or comments or interviews with the neo-evangelicals, I do not sense any humility there. Instead, I see arrogance and driven, highly motivated individuals who love their golden calves. These people do not know or understand how poor and filthy they are in God’s sight. Who does God use in His Kingdom? He uses the humble and obedient servants who understand that only God can take a clay pot and transform it into a chosen and useful vessel.

God’s plan for His people is that they become full of knowledge of Him. Knowledge of God is good! That is why we should learn right doctrine. People can have loads of knowledge, but still not be wise. Just look at how well educated many apostates are. People can have knowledge, but lack wisdom. However, there is no wisdom without knowledge. The mind of Christ is the having the knowledge of God in us plus the wisdom of the Holy Spirit leading us into the truth in our walk. When we learn to walk this way we will be those who practice what we learn from God and we will indeed rejoice in the Lord always.

“Giving no offense in any thing, that the ministry may not be blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” 2 Corinthians 6:3-7 (KJV)

The Bible never teaches cost free Christianity. In fact, the Bible says that adversity (fiery trials) can be evidence that we are being molded to the image of Christ. God tries those he loves in order to work on their character. In God’s eyes, a man’s character is worth more than material wealth or worldly standing. It is God’s sovereign right to remove comfort zones in order to keep us from becoming spiritually complacent, ungrateful, or prideful. Throughout our trials, the enemy, Satan, cannot tempt anymore than God will allow. God frequently allows circumstances which we wish he would not.

“To keep me from being conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)

Now ask yourself. Could God have removed the thorn if he had wanted? Of course, but he didn’t. Paul explains why God didn’t remove the thorn in verse 7. Paul explains that the thorn was still there to keep him from being conceited. In plain English, it was there to keep Paul from giving himself credit for the revelations, and from becoming prideful. It was also there because it helped Paul deny himself and learn to accept that God is sovereign in all affairs –whether they are bad or good. Paul certainly learned that God is not someone we can take to court when things don’t go the way we want them to. Our mighty humble Lord is a molder of men who knows how to strip men of their pride.

God is calling us to come out of the world. It is our responsibility to separate ourselves from the false gospel as well. If you are a member of Word-Faith, then I want to encourage you to seek the true gospel. God is indebted to no one, and he cannot be taken to court if he doesn’t make you rich. He will give a man what is according to his will, even though your will may not always be the same as his. For this very reason, we should not always assume that what we want is always what he wants. God can (and will) deny a man of what he desires if those desires are not according to his sovereign will. In every case, God knows what is best for you more than you do, so I would not question his judgment. And even though the molding process may be uncomfortable and sometimes difficult, at least you will be more of what God wants you to be instead of what you think that you should be.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14 (KJV)

God still blesses and redeems, no doubt. He can even surprise you out of no where. Those who know God, and have been walking with him for quite some time, know that he is also a 'last minute' God. Sometimes he purposely waits to show up in the very end in difficult situations in order to strengthen our faith, teach perseverance, instill patience, and to learn respect for him. All of these are demonstrations of God’s sovereignty which must be understood in order to mature spiritually. God is certainly not a genie in a bottle who answers to men’s beck and call.

"Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me. Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Proverb 30:8-9 (KJV)


(Mike Ratliff, Josh Parker, John Piper - Material taken from these individuals - God Bless)

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