False Doctrine and the Church
To the Church at Laodiceaby Chuck Missler
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
- Name Meaning
- Laodicea means “rule of the people.”
- Historical Church Identity
- Laodicea is the wealthy, self-absorbed church of compromise.
About 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia, and just a few miles north of Colossae, stood the large and prosperous city of Laodicea. It rested luxuriously on the banks of the river Lycus, a tributary of the Meander. Laodicea didn’t have a good location for military defense, so it survived by compromise. It was an old city, dating to 2000 B.C. Its name was changed from Diospolis to Rhoas by the Lydians, and when Antiochus II captured and rebuilt the town in 250 B.C., he named it after his wife Laodice.
Laodicea was a successful commercial and financial center in central Asia Minor, and the remains of its theater, aqueducts, baths, gymnasium and stadium all testify to the wealth it enjoyed in its heyday. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, Laodicea was able to restore itself after a major earthquake without aid from Rome. Cicero held court in Laodicea and did his banking there. Laodicea was known for producing textiles made from high quality black wool and for its famous school of medicine which produced a particular eye salve called “collyrium.”
Six miles east of Laodicea stood the city of Hierapolis, which was renowned for its hot springs. Though Laodicea was built on the Lycus, it depended on water piped in from nearby cities Hierapolis and Colossae. The hot springs water from Hierapolis had cooled to a tepid temperature by the time it reached Laodicea, and the cold water from Colossae had warmed to a tepid temperature as it traveled through the aqueduct in the sun, so Laodicea was a city that truly understood lukewarm water.
The church of Laodicea was likely founded by Paul’s friend and coworker Epaphras, who also ministered to the people of Colossae. Colossians 2:1 indicates that neither Colossae nor Laodicea were visited by Paul himself, although he certainly joined Epaphras in his zealous prayers for Colossae and Laodicea and Hierapolis.
Paul also wrote Laodicea an epistle, which the people of Colossae were instructed to read, even as the people of Laodicea were to read Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. Thirty years before Revelation, Paul warned Archippus in Colossians 4:17 to be diligent in the work of the ministry that God had given him to do. There is a tradition that Archippus became the bishop of Laodicea. It may have been his weakness which contributed to the poor spiritual condition of the church there.
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
He is the Amen, the solid and trustworthy One, perfect and perfected, faithful and true.
The phrase “beginning of the creation of God” can be confusing terminology, as though Christ is merely a created being. That’s clearly not His intention, because we know from several verses that Jesus was in the beginning with God the Father and that the worlds were created through Him. When Paul uses the same kind of terminology in Colossians 1:15-16, he refers to Christ as “…the firstborn of every creature,” in one breath while declaring in the next, “For by him were all things created…” We need to understand that the word translated “beginning” is arche from which we get words like archangel and archenemy. It means “highest” or “chief” or “ruler.” Jesus is the chief or ruler of the creation of God. His role as the firstborn also places Him in the highest position. He’s the one with the authority.
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
The Laodiceans were tepid, just like their water. It’s natural to enjoy a drink of chilled water, especially on a hot day. These days we have the convenience of water sanitation and freezers full of ice, but in the ancient days, cold water meant safe water. Icy water from a deep well meant water more likely to be clean and safe to drink. The warm water in Laodicea had traveled through aqueducts, but in that day warm water often meant standing water that had the opportunity to bear bacterial cultures and amoebas and insect larvae. Hot water is good and cold water is good, but lukewarm water at just the right temperature can be used to induce vomiting.
Jesus does not want us lukewarm. He does not want us half-hearted about our faith or our walk with Him. If we’re spiritually cold, there’s a remedy. If we’re spiritually hot, then praise God. However, if we’re lukewarm, then we think we’re all right, but we’re really in a bad place.
When sharp evangelists go onto college campuses, they work to convert the radicals first. Why? Because when radicals come to recognize who Jesus really is, then they fire up the whole campus. Closet nerds need to be saved too, but the passionate radical will quickly reach more people than the shy souls who hide in their rooms. We should all be full of the fire of God, passionate about loving this world in Christ’s name.
Laodicea was named after the wife of Syria’s Antiochus II, but the name has a meaning of its own: “rule of the people.” In other words, this particular church is not looking to Jesus Christ as its leader. It’s ruled by popular opinion. This is the user friendly church that compromised to please the culture.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
The church in Laodicea thought they were doing okay, because they had money. They were wealthy, and we humans easily make the mistake of assuming that having money means having the blessing of God on our lives. Al Capone had money too, remember. The Pharisees and Sadducees had money. It’s great that certain churches are wealthy and able to develop a wide range of church programs. That’s great. But, money doesn’t represent God’s stamp of approval. The church of Laodicea felt at ease because they had their physical needs met, not realizing that they were spiritually wretched. They weren’t dead like the church of Sardis, but they were doing badly enough.
Every one of the seven churches had a surprising report card, but probably none greater than the Laodiceans. They thought they had it made. They were the social church, and their membership included all the top executives of the community. Senators and congressmen attended. The heads of corporations provided large tax deductible donations. They didn’t understand that Jesus looked at them through a completely different lens.
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Jesus offers hope to the Laodiceans. It’s not over. They have a chance to fix this thing. It’s interesting that Jesus consistently uses metaphors that these churches understand. The Laodiceans knew all about gold and rich raiment and eye salve. These were strengths they had; textile manufacture and banking made the city prosperous. Their doctors had developed a renowned eye ointment. Jesus contrasts their versions with His own, however. They specialized in black woolens, and Jesus offers them pure white spiritual raiment. They produced ointment, but He offers them something better than physical sight – He offers the ability to see the truth.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Jesus doesn’t hate the Laodiceans. He loves them, and that’s why He’s sending them this letter to rebuke them. He’s giving them a chance to change before it’s too late. After His rebuke, He gives them this beautiful picture. He’s standing at the door and knocking! He’s not hiding from them or driving them like cattle. He offers them this kind and personal promise. If they just open the door to Him, He will come in and enjoy a meal with them. For a lukewarm church, that’s a warm and intimate offer from the King of Creation.
Notice something, however. Jesus is not already inside the church of the Laodiceans. He’s standing outside, knocking on the door, waiting to be let in. They need to open the door so that He can join them. It’s certain that He was once a part of their congregation, but over the years they must have shut Him out – as they chose instead to be ruled by the opinions of the people.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
We have a great High Priest who passed through the heavens and dwelt with us, taking on the form of a human and living life here with us. He was tempted in all ways just as we are, yet without sin. This gives us great freedom to fall boldly at His throne to seek help in times of need, because He understands exactly what we’re going through. He knows. He’s been there Himself. He overcame, and that’s the greatest news of eternity. Jesus Christ overcame. He conquered!
As we read through these promises to the overcomer, we remember how it is we overcome. We are overcomers through His victory – and His victory in our lives.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
There is an inscription on a cathedral in Lubeck, Germany that I’d like to present here. As we read these letters, we remember that they are written to churches that existed nearly two millennia ago, but they apply to every one of us. We can agree the churches are historical and we can see their prophetic links to churches of the Church Age, but these churches also represent us personally.
- Thus speaketh Christ our Lord to us:
- Ye call Me Master and obey Me not.
- Ye call Me Light and see Me not.
- Ye call Me Way and walk Me not.
- Ye call Me Life and choose Me not.
- Ye call Me Wise and follow Me not.
- Ye call Me Fair and love Me not.
- Ye call Me Rich and ask Me not.
- Ye call Me Eternal and seek Me not.
- Ye call Me Noble and serve Me not.
- Ye call Me Gracious and trust Me not.
- Ye call Me Might and honor Me not.
- Ye call Me Just and fear Me not.
- If I condemn you, blame Me not.
That gets the point across.
We believe in liberty in our culture, but it’s gotten out of control. There’s a point at which we need to agree with God, “No. That’s wrong. We don’t do that.” The world will do what the world does. However, in our churches do we let the culture tell us what to think, or do we follow the Word of God?
Sin is an uncomfortable subject in our times. Our culture no longer believes in sin. Yet, without a recognition of our own personal failure, a recognition that we deserve to be punished, there’s no reason for us to seek a Savior. Jesus did not come to condemn us, but to save us. However, without the conviction of our sin, we have no understanding that we need to be saved. We think we can get to Heaven by being “good,” and we don’t think anybody really goes to Hell – except maybe Hitler and Stalin. We fail to recognize that we are all lost, every one of us, until Jesus Christ’s blood washes us clean.
One of the questions we might want to ask is whether our churches have fallen into a worldly mentality toward sin. Do our churches recognize the world is filled with lost people destined for Hell without Jesus Christ? Do our churches offer us salvation through Jesus Christ alone – the good news that God loves us and sent Christ to die for us? We need to speak the truth in love, or people will die with no appreciation for their true predicament. We cannot preach the user friendly message of “You’re okay. I’m okay.” We need to say, “Hey! We’re all in trouble! The earth is falling out from under us and we’re all going to die! But good news! God has made a bridge to the other side of the canyon! Take it!”
We are a lukewarm culture, and for too long we’ve allowed the world to tell us what to think. We need to be fire-hot Christians, filled with true, longsuffering and devoted love for our fellow humans. If we open ourselves to the guidance of His Word and His love through His Spirit, I think we’ll be astounded where the Lord takes us.
In previous sessions of “The Age of Deceit,” we identified Satan’s attack strategies of Contradiction, Condescension, and Deconstruction in Part-2, Disinformation in Part 3, and Infiltration and Accommodation in Part 4. In this session, we will expose what happens when deception comes through indoctrination.
Deception by Indoctrination
The Cambridge Dictionary defines the term indoctrination as “the process of repeating an idea or belief to someone until they accept it without criticism or question.” In the twentieth century, we saw two prime examples of the power of propaganda as it preyed on the innocent minds of the youth.
The Holocaust Encyclopedia tells us:
“From the 1920s onwards, the Nazi Party targeted German youth as a special audience for its propaganda messages. These messages emphasized that the Party was a movement of youth: dynamic, resilient, forward-looking, and hopeful. Millions of German young people were won over to Nazism in the classroom and through extracurricular activities. In January 1933, the Hitler Youth had approximately 100,000 members, but by the end of the year, this figure had increased to more than 2 million. By 1937 membership in the Hitler Youth increased to 5.4 million before it became mandatory in 1939.
The German authorities then prohibited or dissolved all competing youth organizations. The original purpose of the Hitler Youth was to train boys to enter the SA (Storm Troopers), a Nazi Party paramilitary formation. After 1933, however, youth leaders sought to integrate boys into the Nazi national community and to prepare them for service as soldiers in the armed forces or, later, in the Elite SS.”
The Soviet leader Lenin stated, “We need that generation of young people who began to reach political maturity in the midst of a disciplined and desperate struggle against the bourgeoisie. In this struggle, that generation is training genuine Communists; it must subordinate to this struggle, and link up with it, each step in its studies, education, and training.” It is important to note that the term “bourgeoisie” is a French word that Russian revolutionary Karl Marx popularized in an attempt to vilify the enemy of Communist ideals. “It means “the middle class, typically with reference to its perceived materialistic values or conventional attitudes.” Therefore, a bourgeoisie is a person with social behavior and political views held to be influenced by private property interest. In other words, a Capitalist.
Deception by indoctrination is not limited to despotic institutions.
Sadly, there are many examples of brainwashing within religious groups. Many people use an expression like “drink the Kool-Aid” and vaguely know it means to surrender one’s free will and believe whatever they are told to do. This expression comes from the 1978 tragedy of Jonestown, in the South American nation of Guyana, where over 900 people were massacred as they followed their leader Jim Jones in a communal suicide pact. Among the dead were more than 300 children who “drank the Kool-Aid” laced with deadly cyanide poison, thereby demonstrating the power of mind control. These devotees of the Peoples Temple were programmed to do whatever Jones told them to do as they widely believed him to be God’s authority on earth. There are many more examples that could be offered in this account but suffice it to say that many have been led away like sheep to the slaughter by these “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
How Does Indoctrination Happen?
I submit for your consideration three key components to achieving widespread indoctrination, otherwise known as brainwashing.
- Indoctrination begins with Isolation. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (or U.SSR) surrounded their empire with what British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the Iron Curtain. “Churchill used it to refer specifically to the political, military, and ideological barrier created by the U.S.S.R.” According to U.S.S.R. historians, it was created as a veil of protection following World War II to prevent open contact between itself and the West. Like the 2,500-year-old Great Wall of China with its border fortifications stretching over 4,000 Kilometers (2,500 miles), the pretense of protection has the downside of preventing integration with the advancements being made around you.
- Indoctrination is established by Deprivation. Manufactured scarcity is a powerful weapon when attempting to control the masses. This is done by making everyone dependent on the benevolence of the Elite. In both the Nazi and Soviet Youth Camps, food, shelter, and social acceptance were doled out in meager portions in order to maintain the attention of the children. This would then cultivate loyalty through reward for submission. Dressed in the party-approved uniform, these young disciples were molded into the image preestablished by the ruling Elite.
- Indoctrination is maintained by Repetition. The substance of this brainwashing is constructed by the Elite, who rule over the majority of the ignorant. It often masquerades as education. There is a fundamental and important difference between education and indoctrination. Education involves a broad investigation into what is true and what is not true. Indoctrination is solely focused on influencing the hearer to believe in a narrow narrative without being able to back up these newfound “truths” with anything other than their own opinion. It offers cold monologue over constructive dialogue.
It limits all crosschecking or independent validation. Ultimately this leads to the villainization of the “outsiders,” closing down the mind of the child so it can be filled up with carefully constructed propaganda.
Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany, has been credited as saying, “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” Again he said,
“If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.” Concerning the mass media, he stated, “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”
Force and fear make up the foundation for all successful indoctrination. Force is expressed as the overwhelming power to subdue all adversaries. This power is not necessarily one of mere military might alone but often reveals itself as the irresistible tsunami of public opinion. Feeding fear leads to spiritual blindness that yields the fruit of hate. When hate takes hold of a human heart, it is amazing what terrible things it can produce. Today we see the pervasive power of the special-interest cartels who are seeking of control over what is to be considered as the acceptable societal narrative.
The media call it the Cancel Culture. Philosophically the Cancel Culture is deemed necessary in order to prevent the spread of racist, violent, and insurrectionary incitement. To its devotees, to be “Woke” is to be awake to the systemic injustices of society and, by extension, the rest of Western civilization. Their thoughts are that this current civilization is part of a long line of oppression and genocide that must be torn down in its entirety. To impose this idea on others, the Woke use the tactics of mob harassment, public penance, hysterical denunciation, and most of all, the weaponization of cancel culture to deprive people of their platforms, livelihoods, and reputation. Unlike the Iron Curtain erected by the leaders of the Communist Party to solidify their power base, these Woke Warriors are attempting to erect an Ideological Curtain that will encircle the whole globe in which they will be the embodiment of the “Thought Police” from the dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” Given the current state of affairs, it would appear that the Orwellian fictional idea of “Thoughtcrime” is being implemented here and now by the Woke Elite.
Breaking the Stronghold of Indoctrination
There is a way of breaking the Stronghold of Indoctrination.
In 1865, following the American Civil War, which saw more than 600,000 deaths, the American poet William Ross Wallace wrote a poem that praised motherhood. Here within, he created one power phrase that has been quoted out of context for decades, which states, “For the hand that rocks the cradle, Is the hand that rules the world.” When you read it in its context, you will find a powerful revelation of his original intent.
“The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Is the Hand That Rules the World.”
Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
Infancy’s the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother’s first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow-
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky-
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
The Bible tells us that we can counteract the darkness of societal indoctrination with the Light of the Truth. Deuteronomy 4:4-9 tell us,
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Remember the encouragement of Solomon when he says,
3 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished. 4 By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honor, and life. 5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them. 6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Pro 22:3-6 KJV
(This article was originally printed in June, 2009.)
By Frances Swaggart –
J. Swaggart Ministry
Just recently, I received a letter from a pastor who was upset because of what I had written in my article in the May Issue of our Evangelist Magazine. I was pointing out how the ministers of today have no problem misusing Passages of Scripture to support their own agendas. I am alarmed at how loosely preachers treat Scripture today. There seems to be no fear or concern as to whether or not the Scripture verses used remain true to the original context of the Bible. Many times preachers try to use Passages that do not relate at all to the point of their writings and messages, so they will exegete the passage in such a way to make it appear to say one thing when it really says something else. Modern ministers have actually become quite adept at this, twisting and perverting Scripture to the point that the original meaning is totally lost! Instead of making their message line up with the Word, they attempt to make the Word line up with their message. Yet, if anyone speaks out about such abuse of the Scripture he is harshly judged and attacked on a personal level. Nobody wants to evaluate content anymore to find out if Scripture is being misused, perverted, or twisted by the preacher quoting it. Instead, they would rather attack, and often viciously, the person that speaks up and says that a particular Scripture is not being used accurately! Too many would rather defend a preacher than God’s Holy Word.
Romans 2:1 is always used in an attempt to silence those who speak out: “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whosoever you are who judges (presents this segment as directed to the Jews): for wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself (in effect, says that God judges one who judges another in the same manner in which he himself has judged, hence, ‘condemning himself’ [Mat. 7:1-2]); for you who judge do the same things (in effect, says that the Jews were no better than the Gentiles, whom they constantly berated).” But, does Romans 2:1 mean that we are never to judge? Does Romans 2:1 mean that we are to ignore blatant mistreatment of God’s Word? Of course not, because John 7:24 states, or I should say commands, that we are to judge righteous judgment, which is judgment based upon the Word of God: “Judge not according to the appearance, (in effect, says, ‘if you think you have not violated the Sabbath in Circumcision, then how can you think I broke the Sabbath when I healed one of you who had been helpless for thirty-eight years?’), but judge righteous judgment (says that judgment must be rendered according to the whole Word of God, and not merely by taking a part and perverting it to one’s own satisfaction).”
Only when judgment is made in another way, a way other than by the standard of God’s Word, is it a violation of Matthew 7:1, which states: “Judge not, that you be not judged (this statement made by Christ harks back to Verses 25 through 34 of the previous Chapter; the idea is, God may permit poverty to test His Child, but fellow Believers are not to err, as Job’s friends did, and believe the trial to be a judgment for secret sin; as well, the word, ‘judging,’ as used here, covers every aspect of dealing with our fellowman).”
A faithful Christian must always discern (a word not often used in the modern church). It is one of the Gifts of the Spirit. “Discernment” means to discern whether or not what you are hearing is the Spirit of God, human spirits, or evil spirits. Example after example of discernment is given in the Bible. In this very same Chapter, which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged,” Verse 15 goes on to say: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (‘beware of false prophets’ is said in the sternest of measures! there will be and are false prophets, and are some of Satan’s greatest weapons).” So, you see, we are actually instructed to discern and judge. How else would we know a false prophet from a true man of God? We must judge every minister by the Word of God, and if he is misquoting, misusing, perverting, or setting his doctrine apart from what the Scripture says for his own advantage, then he is a false prophet. How do we know we have judged them according to Scripture? The answer is right there in the same Passage. Remember, every Scripture Verse must be read in its context if we are to properly understand the true meaning.
Verses 2 and 3 of Matthew 7 say: “For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged (whatever motive we ascribe to others, such motive will ultimately be ascribed to us): and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again (a double emphasis is given here in order to proclaim the seriousness of the Words of our Lord; when we judge others, we are judging ourselves). And why do you behold the mote that is in your brother’s eye (the Believer is not to be looking for fault or wrongdoing in the lives of fellow Believers), but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? (We have plenty in our own lives that needs eliminating, without looking for faults in others. The ‘mote’ and ‘beam’ are contrasted! The constant judging of others portrays the fact that we are much worse off than the one we are judging.)”
Going on to Verse 4: “Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye (the seriousness of setting ourselves up as Judge, Jury, and Executioner); and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? (Once again draws attention to the fact that the person doing the judging is in far worse spiritual condition than the one being judged.)” Now, it is becoming more evident that Verse 1 refers to hypocritical judgment. A person who has a beam in his own eye is certainly not capable of judging another who may have a mote in his eye. The total lesson of these verses is plain; you cannot accurately judge one for his sin while you have sin dominating your own life. Verse 5 of Matthew 7 goes on to tell you what the Lord says about the person that judges in this way: “You hypocrite (aptly describes such a person), first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then you shall see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother’s eye (the very fact that we do not address ourselves, but rather others, portrays the truth that our personal situation is worse; when we properly analyze ourselves, then, and only then, can we ‘see clearly’; this is speaking of character assassination and not the correction of doctrine).”
The letter I received from this minister said, and I quote, “I was greatly disappointed when I read how Mrs. Swaggart referred to Joel Osteen as false teaching. Saying he misquoted scriptures, etc. I have known Joel Osteen since he was 10 years old . . . took him fishing; know him very well. I know of no more humble and loving man. He and I both are amazed at the favor God has given him. She may say she was only attacking his teaching, but I saw it as an attack on him personally.” This minister quotes Romans 2:1 (as mentioned earlier), and then he quotes Ephesians 4:29 which says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may Minister Grace unto the hearers.” Now, the truth is that this man is judging me personally, while at the same time quoting Romans 2:1 to me. See the double standard? He first says we are not to judge, but then he turns right around and judges me, saying I am attacking someone on a personal level when I am not. I am only pointing out the error in his teaching. In this minister’s letter, not once does he mention the verse of Scripture that was being perverted and whether I was right or wrong in what I had said in my article about it. So, the minister does not even himself discern the true meaning of the verse. Instead, he quoted another verse of Scripture to me (Eph. 4:29), which, again, had nothing to do with the statement I made in my article. Ephesians 4:29 refers to slander. I, in no way, slandered anyone in my article.
PLEASING MEN OR PLEASING GOD
Besides, how can Grace be ministered if Scripture is misquoted? It is only when the Word of God is properly used that Grace and Healing can be ministered. If God’s Word is distorted, it will do nothing for any individual. He then closes out his letter with this statement: “This article did not edify me nor did it minister grace to me.” If he felt that way about my article, he should have pointed out to me where I had misused or twisted Scripture, but he didn’t because I didn’t misuse any Scriptures. It was Joel Osteen who failed to minister Grace to his people with his improper use of Scripture, not me when I used Biblical discernment. I would say this to this pastor: “For do I now persuade men, or God? (In essence, Paul is saying, ‘do I preach man’s doctrine, or God’s?’) or do I seek to please men? (This is what false apostles do.) for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the Servant of Christ (one cannot please both men and God at the same time)” (Gal. 1:10). In fact, the whole First Chapter of Galatians would be beneficial to read.
Another point I want to make pertains to his feelings for Joel Osteen. Certainly, it is only right and normal to love our friends, and it is only right to not want to see them misrepresented in any way. But, whether someone is humble and loving or whether he is the opposite is not the issue here. The issue is: was Scripture misused or misrepresented? If it was, then we cannot protect our friends no matter how nice his personality. We have to love God and His Word more than we love our friends.
If our friends err in their use of Scripture, then we must obey II Thessalonians 3:6 which states: “Now we command you, Brethren, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Apostle is saying that what he is telling the people is ‘the Word of God,’ and must be heeded!), that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks disorderly (literally means, ‘to walk out of the ranks of the Word of God’; in abbreviated form, it means we should withdraw fellowship from those who teach something other than the Cross; it does not speak of excommunication), and not after the tradition which he received of us (after the teaching which Paul had given, which was definitely from the Lord; ‘tradition,’ as it is used here, does not mean ‘unwritten doctrines,’ as this word normally means; the Apostle is referring to what the Lord had given him, which he had faithfully taught to the people).”
If we really and truly love our brothers, then we must stand true and faithful to the Word of God, because ultimately it is the pure Word of God that will bring them blessing as well! II Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the Word (refers to the whole body of revealed Truth, which means the entirety of the Word of God); be instant in season, out of season (presents the idea of the Preacher holding himself in constant readiness to proclaim the Word); reprove (the Preacher is to deal with sin, both in the lives of his unsaved hearers and in those of the Saints to whom he Ministers, and he is to do so in no uncertain tones and terms), rebuke (a suggestion in some cases of impending penalty); exhort with all longsuffering and Doctrine. (This tells us that the ‘reproving’ and the ‘rebuking’ must be done with gentleness. As well, the ‘longsuffering’ refers to a gentleness that continues even when the Message is met with rejection. However, the ‘Doctrine’ is not to change, even though it is rejected.)”
PERVERTING THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST
Paul warned the Galatians about those who “pervert the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6 through 9 says, “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him (the Holy Spirit) Who called you into the Grace of Christ (made possible by the Cross) unto another gospel (anything which doesn’t have the Cross as its Object of Faith): Which is not another (presents the fact that Satan’s aim is not so much to deny the Gospel, which he can little do, as to corrupt it); but there be some who trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ (once again, to make the object of Faith something other than the Cross). But though we (Paul and his associates), or an Angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you (Jesus Christ and Him Crucified), let him be accursed (eternally condemned; the Holy Spirit speaks this through Paul, making this very serious). As we said before, so say I now again (at sometime past, he had said the same thing to them, making their defection even more serious), If any man preach any other gospel unto you (anything other than the Cross) than that you have received (which Saved your souls), let him be accursed (‘eternally condemned,’ which means the loss of the soul).”
EXPOSING FALSE DOCTRINE
It is sad to say that today’s modern church is preaching a perverted gospel. We are told that we must cooperate with such modern teachers in Evangelism and other Christian works, but the Bible teaches, instead, that we must expose the false prophets. If we do not, we have betrayed Christ and His Gospel! The entirety of the Bible abounds with examples of false prophets who are named and exposed. All of this modern talk about “love” is used as an excuse for not exposing error, but such is not really Biblical Love at all. Biblical Love tells the Truth. Hebrews 5:14 says, “But strong meat belongs to them who are of full age (refers to those who are mature in the Lord), even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Such a person is walking after the Spirit. This refers to placing one’s Faith in the Cross and not after the flesh, the flesh refers to depending on other things [Rom. 8:1-2, 11]).” A person who is able to discern between good and evil has at least one of the major marks of Spiritual Maturity. Vine’s Expository Dictionary says that the meaning of “discern” is to examine, scrutinize, question, determine, decide, test, or prove. Judging is translated “discerning” of spirits, judging by evidence whether evil or good. Those who are unwilling or incapable of discerning and/or judging between good and evil are revealing either their disobedience or their immaturity in the things of God.
The second condition that will result in the Christian’s worthiness to be included in the Rapture is that of watchfulness. The Apostle Paul said:
“Let us WATCH” (I Thess. 5:6).
There are four words used in the New Testament for “watch” that are used in relation to Christ’s return. Incidentally, these four words are used also in Passages dealing with moral and ethical conduct.
Two of these words—gregoreo and agrupneo—mean “to be on the alert, to be wide awake spiritually.” The force of these words is to point up the urgency of the situation.
If we do not set an eternal vigilance on the Return of Christ, we are in danger of missing out. The Apostle Peter’s thinking went along the same lines as the Apostle Paul’s when he warned:
“Be sober, be VIGILANT [gregoreo]; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8).
Let us turn to the Gospel of Mark to illustrate the use of these two most significant words of warning to the Christians concerning watchfulness.
“But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the Angels which are in Heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
“TAKE YOU HEED, WATCH AND PRAY: FOR YOU KNOW NOT WHEN THE TIME IS.
“For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, Who left His House, and gave authority to His Servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to WATCH.
“WATCH you therefore: for you know not when the Master of the house comes, at evening, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
“LEST COMING SUDDENLY HE FIND YOU SLEEPING.
“And what I say unto you I say unto all, WATCH” (Mk. 13:32-37).
This Parable illustrates the necessity of watchfulness. The word “watch” is used in this Parable four times. Let us look at each use of this word “watch.”
In Verse 33 Jesus said:
“Take you heed, WATCH.”
The word here means “to chase sleep, to be sleepless,” and expresses not mere wakefulness but a watchfulness of those who are intent upon doing anything.
Verse 35 begins with “watch” and again the urgency of watching is emphasized.
“You know not when the Master of the house comes”
… so be watching. Again, the warning in Verse 36:
“Lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.”
In Verse 37 the last use of the word is capitalized emphasizing the force of the word—the urgency of the hour.
“For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, Who left His House” (Vs. 34)
… and does not say when He will return. But He said, considering the urgency of it:
“What I say unto you I say unto all, WATCH.”
When a person is going on a long-sought-after vacation, he usually spends a restless, uncomfortable night in anticipation of the upcoming departure. For the true Christian it is hard to rest comfortably in the world when he is anticipating something so much better.
We have often seen the picture of the restless, sleepless mother and father, looking down the trail waiting for the long-lost prodigal to return.
The helmsman of a ship fights back sleep to maintain his bearing, knowing that the mightiest wave will slide under the heel if the prow of the ship meets it head-on. Our Captain says, “Take heed, be watchful,” just as a sea captain says, “Mind your helm.”
Notice again in the Parable that the Son of Man …
“commanded the porter to WATCH” (Vs. 34).
Here, as in Verse 35, the Apostles are compared to doorkeepers (porters); as the captain of the guard made his rounds at night through the Temple, the guards were to rise and salute him. Any guard found asleep on duty was beaten or his garments set on fire.
It is self-evident that under that severe penalty not many guards would drowse off to sleep. This use of the word was mentioned again by Jesus as He spoke to the Apostle John:
“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he who WATCHES, and KEEPS HIS GARMENTS, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (Rev 16:15).
What a warning! What an incentive to alertness!
One lexicon says that the word gregoreo comes from a root word meaning “collecting our faculties.” In the light of the soon Return of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should be “collecting our faculties,” lest we lose our garments and “walk naked” and ashamed.
The Christian who drowses away at his Christianity is imperiling his Salvation. All too many Christians count on God to keep them alert. They feel it is God’s duty to warn them as each new wave approaches. Unfortunately, it is not the duty of the captain of the ship to stand the wheel watch; it is the person at the helm who must maintain constant vigilance if he is to see the voyage to a successful conclusion. The helmsman who falls asleep and endangers the ship is eligible for grave and disciplinary action. Christians who fail to maintain their vigilance can expect no better. There are consequences for our every action. Spiritual consequences are no less real than worldly ones.
This is the reason the Apostle Paul said:
“I die daily” (I Cor. 15:31).
The great Apostle of Christ brought his body …
… every waking day …
“lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Cor. 9:27).
And if such a magnificent man of God found it necessary to remain ever vigilant (lest he fall by the wayside), who are we to become overconfident?
Yet Christians are becoming smug. Christian attention is wandering. Clergy and laity are becoming immersed in this world. It is a new day in which we live. The old Scriptures no longer count. Practices that would have been denounced a short time ago are accepted now. Everyone is doing it. It is a new day.…
But is it?
King Solomon wrote:
“There is no new thing under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9).
Satan knows there is nothing new under the sun. The modern morals and the new permissiveness are nothing new to him. He has promoted the same things in Greece, in Rome, in Sodom and Gomorrah, and in Babylon.
“Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it has been already of old time, which was before us” (Eccl. 1:10).
The new morality is new to us only because we were not alive in ancient days to see the old morality. And if we fall for the new morality now, the same consequences that befell Greece, Rome, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Babylon will befall our civilization.
Satan is breaking through the doors of our once moral and Spiritual Strongholds. Today he is bombarding our mind through pornographic movies which come right into our living rooms, billboards, magazines, indecent dress, public scenes that once would have caused people to blush. Many Christians sit through these movies, laugh at the openly obscene jokes, and then wonder why their relationship with God is not what it used to be.
These Christians have been lulled to sleep. They have been put under a hypnotic trance by Satan because they have not watched. They do not WATCH what they see, where they go, and what they say—and all of this despite the fact that the Holy Spirit has enjoined them to WATCH. Not to watch and pray is to prove oneself unworthy to be included in the Rapture.
Sometime after the rise of Adolf Hitler to power in Germany, many Germans perceived the real intent of Hitler that was hidden behind his rhetoric to put a Volkswagen in every German carport. After organizing a door-to-door campaign to warn the German people of what lay ahead, they were met by a complacent, self-satisfied public that slammed the door on them for disturbing their peace.
It is with this in mind that we study the Apostle Paul’s warning to the Thessalonians that professing Christians, who are asleep spiritually, are living in danger of missing the Rapture.
The Greek word that the Apostle Paul used for “sleep” (I Thess. 5:6) is the Greek word katheudo, and means “to repose oneself in sleep.” The same Greek word is used in Matthew 25:5 to describe the faithless, careless, indifferent virgins.
However, context determines the Biblical meaning that the Holy Spirit intends. In I Thessalonians 5:6, therefore, katheudo is used metaphorically as “carnal insensibility to Divine things involving conformity to the world.” The Apostle Paul contrasted spiritual sleep (Vs. 6) with the natural sleep that comes at night and with the drunkenness that dulls a person’s senses (Vs. 7).
Another Greek word for “sleep” may be mentioned here that carries the same connotation as katheudo, but with a little different slant. This word is found in Romans 13:11.
“And that, knowing the time, and now it is high time to AWAKE out of SLEEP: for now is our Salvation nearer than when we believed.
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
“Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
“But put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:11-14).
The Greek word for “sleep” that we are exhorted to “awake out of” is hypnou, from the root word hypnos. It is the same word from which our word “hypnosis” is derived. “Hypnosis” is a “state that resembles sleep, but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject.”
Think of that! What better definition could we have of Spiritual Sleep than that of listening to the voice of the Devil (induced by a person) who suggests that we turn our eyes from the Lord and toward those things that direct our attention to the world?
Paul’s warning in the light of the imminent Return of the Lord Jesus Christ is to awake us out of our Spiritual Conformity to the world and to “put on Christ”; that is, our sole interest in life must be the same as that of our Lord to enter into His Views, His Thinking, and to imitate Him in all things. Why? Because, as the Apostle Peter said:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8).
No sooner had the Children of God come out of Egyptian bondage than they became disenchanted and disillusioned and began to turn back to the beggarly elements of the world. The Christian experience is similar. When people are first Saved and begin their Christian walk, they are usually on a mountaintop high. For a time they continue bouncing from mountaintop to mountaintop, or, as King Solomon described it …
“leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills” (Song of Sol. 2:8).
But sooner or later the season wears on. The petals fall in the rose garden until the thorns begin to show. The cherry bowl begins to display more pits than cherries.…
Unfortunately, most Christians believe their Christian gardens will never become invaded by weeds. They are taught by overzealous teachers and misguided preachers that a Christian’s walk should never come down from the mountaintops, but it always does. Why? Because it is only during these periods that we are able to stand back, evaluate our Christian Growth, and recognize the areas where we need more work.
Faith that has never been tested is a Faith that can never be quite certain. That is the reason that our reactions during these periods of “valley” Christianity determine the outcome of our Christian walk. Every moon walk has its reentry, and every spiritual high has its return to Earth. A solid enduring relationship with God is something to be arrived at only with hard work, sweat, and tears.
Too many Christians become indifferent with the passage of time. Living for Christ, in Christ, and like Christ becomes a bore. Attending church can become an inconvenience. If we fail to work at it and fail continually to renew our commitment and review our Blessings, it is possible for us to fall by the wayside.
It is always more fun to talk about the Blessings and the highs and the glory and the grandeur. But a farm would soon fall into disrepair and ruin if the chores were not done every day. If the cows were not milked twice a day, they would soon stop giving milk. If they were not fed daily and their stalls cleaned, they would soon sicken and die.
Chores keep the world turning. And if we neglect our Spiritual Chores, our eternal farm is going to wreck and ruin. We should spend more time on the chores of our Spiritual Walk rather than spending so much time lifting our eyes to the glories above.
We like to gather a crowd on a hill and point out the absolute beauty of the well-tended farm spread out below us. But, unfortunately, we do not give equal time to the cultivation that produced those tended fields.
A Christian has to make a conscious decision to walk in the Ways of God. Our human, carnal nature is such that we crave constant stimulation. We are easily drawn off into the world. But excitement and stimulation can come from the enemy. A Christian who wishes to be truly “in Christ”—to be an overcomer—must decide first whether he is willing to dedicate himself to this and every waking moment of his life.
We must constantly decide we are going to do these things necessary to grow as Christians—things that require energy and effort. Jesus said:
“He who is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Lk. 16:10).
These daily chores are the basis of the Christian life. Let us never lose sight of one fact: we do not do these things to earn Salvation or to win favor with God. No one earns anything from God. Everything we have from God comes to us by Grace. We are the ones who need the maturity that is the outgrowth of a daily consistent Christian walk. God can get along with or without our “works”; we cannot.
Just as a dedicated farmer does not fall asleep as he rushes from one chore to another, the Christian who spends each day exercising his Spiritual Gifts is neither blind nor prey to Satan’s devices. The problem comes when the Christian decides to take a break. He becomes bored, takes a few days off to refresh himself with an excursion into the world. Then, he becomes vulnerable to Satan’s serene song and soon falls prey to his hypnotic lures.
How many times have you been present among gatherings of “Christians,” where you mentioned revival, and no one perked up? You tried to get a conversation going about some Bible Passage, and then someone brought up the Super Bowl or the latest movie. What happened? Everyone was suddenly interested. These are Christians who are asleep in Christ and awake to the things of the world.
What elicits responses in your own heart? What excites you? What gets you out of your chair and heading for some activity?
The true answer may come as a shock to you. It is almost as though the world has taken a spiritual sedative. We are asleep at the wheel. Church services are a bore. Living for God has become a bore. God’s Word just is not as exciting as it used to be.
Or is it? Are we the ones who are out of step? A great percentage of the Christian segment of the world’s population has been lulled to sleep by Satan’s hypnotic lures. We believe when the Holy Spirit gave the words to the Apostle Paul, He was putting them there for Christians in this day as well.
Wake up, Christian world! Sleeping Christians are not going to have an alarm clock just before the Rapture.
Religion is that which is conceived by man, birthed by man, instituted by man, and carried out by man, in order to reach God, or else to better oneself in some way. Anything of this capacity conceived by man, is unacceptable to God. This means that anything and everything that’s not strictly according to the Word of God is unacceptable.
Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Shintoism, modern Judaism, Mormonism, Catholicism, etc., all and without exception, come under the heading of religion.
Biblical Christianity is not a religion, but rather a relationship, and that with a Man, the Man Christ Jesus. And yet, much of modern Christianity has been divorced from the Bible, meaning that it is perverted and twisted and, therefore, corrupt. It too must come under the heading of religion. Perhaps the simple phrase, “Jesus Christ and Him Crucified,” would come closer to explaining Biblical Christianity than anything else. Concerning this, the Apostle Paul said:
“Now the Spirit (Holy Spirit) speaks expressly (pointedly), that in the latter times (the times in which we now live, the last of the last days, which begin the fulfillment of Endtime Prophecies) some shall depart from the Faith (anytime Paul uses the term ‘the Faith,’ in short he is referring to the Cross; so, we are told here that some will depart from the Cross as the Means of Salvation and Victory), giving heed to seducing spirits (evil spirits, i.e., ‘religious spirits,’ making something seem like what it isn’t), and doctrines of devils (should have been translated, ‘Doctrines of Demons’; the ‘seducing spirits’ entice Believers away from the true Faith, causing them to believe ‘Doctrines inspired by Demon Spirits’)” (I Tim. 4:1).
While the words “religious” and “religion” appear in James 1:26–27, the Greek words originally used would have been better translated “spiritual,” and “spirituality,” making it read, “If any man among you seems to be spiritual …” and “Pure spirituality.…”
The Great Whore
The Holy Spirit, even as we shall see, takes a very dim view of religion, which, in fact, has been the nemesis of the Lord from the very beginning of time. We see religion at work in the case of Cain and Abel, the offspring of the First Family. The Lord had given instructions as to how communion with Him should be carried out, plus forgiveness of sins. It would be by the means of the slain lamb, offered up in sacrifice, which would be a symbol of the coming Redeemer. Abel offered up his sacrifice accordingly, and was accepted by God.
Conversely, his brother, Cain, refused to offer up that which God demanded, instead, offering up the fruit of his own hands, whatever that may have been. Please understand, Cain did not deny there was a God, and did not deny the need for a sacrifice, but rather that he offer a sacrifice of his own choosing, which God would not accept and, in fact, could not accept (Gen., Chpt. 4). Cain’s unacceptable offering was the first evidence of “religion.”
We know what the Lord thinks of religion, by what He said in the Book of Revelation:
“And there came one of the seven Angels which had the seven Vials, and talked with me (probably is the seventh Angel; however, we actually have no way of truly knowing), saying unto me, come hither; I will show unto you the judgment of the great whore who sits upon many waters (the ‘great whore’ refers to all the religions of the world that ever have been, which are devised by men as a substitute for ‘Jesus Christ and Him Crucified’; God’s Way is Christ and Him Crucified Alone; as well, the ‘many waters’ are a symbol for multitudes of people):
“With whom (the great whore, i.e., all type of religions) the kings of the Earth (from the very beginning, most nations have been ruled by some type of religion) have committed fornication (all religions devised by men, and even the parts of Christianity that have been corrupted, are labeled by the Lord as ‘spiritual fornication’ [Rom. 7:1–4]), and the inhabitants of the Earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication (proclaims the addiction of religion; the doing of religion is the most powerful narcotic there is)” (Rev. 17:1–2).
All of this means that all religion is devised either by demon spirits, or men, or a combination of both. In any case, as stated, it is unacceptable to God. Religion is Satan’s substitute for the reality of Christ.
To describe religion, the Holy Spirit used one of the most base, descriptive phrases (the great whore) that could be used. He did this for purpose.
The simple meaning of the word is that it pertains to a woman who practices promiscuous sexual intercourse for hire. It also means, “to pursue a faithless, unworthy, or idolatrous desire.”
Used in the spiritual sense, “it pertains to religious favors offered for a price.” As well, it will stoop to any level, strike any bargain, and go to any length, to attain its devious ends.
The Religion of Islam
I think I can say without fear of contradiction, that the most destructive religion that’s ever been birthed in the heart of evil man, is the religion of Islam. In one overwhelming sense of the word, it is very much akin to the religion of Baal worship in Old Testament times. This form of worship majored in human sacrifice, and I think it is overly obvious that the religion of Islam follows suit.
This religion made its debut in A.D. 622. It began with Muhammad of the tribe of Quraysh in Mecca. He claimed to have received a revelation that God (Allah) was “one” and that he (Muhammad) was to be Allah’s messenger of that truth.
He began this religion by making converts of some of his family members and close friends. Due to opposition, he left Mecca and went to the town of Medina, both in present day Saudi Arabia. This particular episode, his flight from Mecca to Medina, is now viewed as year “one” in the Islamic calendar. But actually it was the year 622 A.D.
In Medina, Muhammad came into contact with a large Jewish community. Evidently his dealings with them resulted in him being influenced in that he adopted some of the Jewish practices. For example, at least at this particular time, he taught that faithful Muslims should pray facing Jerusalem. The Jews did the same thing and, in fact, had been doing the same thing for some 1,500 years. When the Jews rejected the message of Islam, which they did unequivocally, only then did he change his method of praying, by directing prayers toward Mecca.
He also taught his followers to fast on the tenth day of Tishri, the same day as the Jewish fast of Yom Kippur. This was later expanded to include the entire month of Ramadan.
In his so-called revelation, he also demanded that his followers abstain from pork and, as well, that all little Muslim boys be circumcised, which as most know, are standard Jewish practices.
He also claimed to accept the Jewish Prophets of Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. He also included Adam in this list, as well as the “Prophet Jesus.” And yet, he strongly rejected the idea of the Deity of Christ. So, it’s difficult to understand how that he could claim that Jesus was a great Prophet, while at the same time being a liar, considering how much our Lord affirmed His Personal Deity.
Muhammad claimed that he was personally “the seal of Prophecy,” meaning that he was God’s final messenger. While he accepted some of the Scriptures of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, still, he always perverted the Text. At any rate, his “revelations,” embodied in the Koran, became the authoritative “scriptures” for his faithful followers. These followers were called and are called “Muslims,” from the Arabic word “Islam,” meaning “submission” to the one God.
Due to his acceptance of some of the Jewish practices, he felt surely that the Jews would accept his message of “one God.” He found to his dismay, that the Jewish Rabbis gave him no credence whatsoever, ridiculing his illiteracy, and especially his confusion of Biblical traditions. But above all, the Jewish people could not even remotely accept a non-Israelite as God’s “seal of Prophecy.”
In a rage because of the rejection of the Jews, he initiated a policy of extermination that resulted in thousands of Jews being massacred, with thousands of others being evicted from their homes and, in fact, from Northern Arabia.
The Arab-Israeli Conflict
To understand the Arab-Israeli conflict, we must try to understand the attitude of Islam toward the Jewish people.
The land that we presently refer to as “Israel,” or “Palestine,” was conquered and ruled by the Muslims from the Seventh Century to the Twentieth Century.
There was one interruption during this period of time, and that was when the “Christian” crusaders ruled the land for less than 100 years. Islam presently finds it unacceptable that this land, originally conquered for Allah by his followers, to now be ruled by the Jews, a people who they considered to be inferior and subservient. At least that is the way it is pictured in the Koran.
The Muslims find it impossible to acknowledge the historic reality that the land of Israel, according to the Bible, which they do not consider to be the Word of God, but rather the Koran, belongs to the Jews. This is the real key to understanding the impasse that exists in Israel presently. The Arab countries, predominantly Muslim, refuse to accept a foreign, Jewish presence in a land that is supposed to be, according to them, a part of the “world of Islam.”
~J. Swaggart Ministries
What is the Relationship of Islam to the Bible?
In truth, none!
While the Muslims have misquoted the Bible, falsely interpreted the Bible, misapplied the Bible, and even changed the Bible, the truth is, Islam has absolutely no part in the Word of God. While the Koran contains illustrations from the Bible, generally those illustrations are twisted and perverted. In fact, while many religions have borrowed somewhat from the Bible, the Bible, the oldest Book in the world, has not borrowed from anything.
The Muslims claim that Ishmael is the promised seed, and not Isaac.
The Bible portrays Ishmael as a work of the flesh, and that he, along with his mother Hagar, were driven out of the household of Abraham.
The Scriptures say, and I quote from THE EXPOSITOR’S STUDY BIBLE: “And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as He had spoken (despite all of Satan’s hindrances, Isaac, the progenitor and Type of the Messiah, is born).
“For Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. (Referring back to the past Chapter, if it be objected that this whole occurrence is incredible, because no heathen prince would desire to marry a woman upwards of 90 years of age, or to conceive such a passion for her that to secure her, he would murder her husband—the very fate which Abraham feared for himself—it may be replied that God must have miraculously renewed her youth, so that she became sufficiently youthful in appearance to suitably be desirable. Three times in these first two verses, the clause points to the supernatural character of Isaac’s birth.)
“And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. (The name means ‘laughter.’ It speaks of blessing, increase, healing, life, and well-being [Jn. 10:10]. As Isaac was a Type of Christ, it would not be wrong to say that one of the names of Christ is ‘laughter.’)
“And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him (this was a sign of the Covenant that God would ultimately send a Redeemer into this world).
“And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him (this verse is placed in the Text so that all may know that Isaac’s birth was indeed miraculous).
“And Sarah said, God has made me to laugh, so that all who hear will laugh with me. (The mention of Sarah’s name some five times thus far in this Chapter is done for purpose and reason; the Holy Spirit is impressing the fact that Sarah was in truth the very mother of this miraculous child. Sarah had once laughed in unbelief; she now laughs in Faith, a laughter incidentally expressing joy, which will never end. It all pointed to Christ. Because of Christ, untold millions have laughed for joy.)
“And she said, who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? For I have born him a son in his old age (this is a poem, and could very well have been a song, and probably was).
“And the child grew, and was weaned (the custom in those days was to nurse children for two to three years before they were weaned; however, there is some indication that Isaac was approximately five years old when he was weaned): and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned (at this time, the boy was turned over to his father for training, at which time his education began).
“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar (Ishmael) the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. (The effect of the birth of Isaac, a work of the Spirit was to make manifest the character of Ishmael, a work of the flesh. The end result of the ‘mocking’ was that Ishmael actually desired to murder Isaac [Gal. 4:29]. Ishmael was probably eighteen to twenty years old at this time, and Isaac was probably about five years old.)
“Wherefore she said unto Abraham, cast out this bondwoman and her son: (Isaac and Ishmael symbolized the new and the old natures in the Believer. Hagar and Sarah typified the two Covenants of works and Grace, of bondage and liberty [Gal., Chpt. 4]. The birth of the new nature demands the expulsion of the old. It is impossible to improve the old nature. How foolish, therefore, appears the doctrine of moral evolution!) For the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. (Allowed to remain, Ishmael would murder Isaac; allowed to remain, the flesh will murder the Spirit. The Divine way of holiness is to ‘put off the old man,’ just as Abraham ‘put off’ Ishmael. Man’s way of holiness is to improve the old man, that is, to improve Ishmael. The effort is both foolish and hopeless.)
“And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. (It is always a struggle to cast out this element of bondage, that is, salvation by works, of which this is a type. For legalism is dear to the heart. Ishmael was the fruit, and, to Abraham, the fair fruit of his own energy and planning, which God can never accept.)
“And God said unto Abraham, let it not be grievous in your sight because of the lad, and because of your bondwoman; and all that Sarah has said unto you, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall your seed be called. (It is labor lost to seek to make a crooked thing straight. Hence, all efforts after the improvement of nature are utterly futile, so far as God is concerned. The ‘flesh’ must go, which typifies the personal ability, strength, and efforts of the Believer. The Faith of the Believer must be entirely in Christ and what Christ has done at the Cross. Then, and then alone, can the Holy Spirit have latitude to work in our lives, bringing forth perpetual victory [Rom. 6:14]. It must ever be understood, ‘in Isaac [in Christ] shall your seed be called.’
“And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is your seed (out of this ‘work of the flesh’ ultimately came the religion of Islam, which claims that Ishmael is the promised seed, and not Isaac)” (Gen. 21:1–13).
God’s Promise Concerning Ishmael
Some years before, Hagar, the bondwoman, and her son, Ishmael, were cast out of the home of Abraham, actually just before Isaac was born, the Lord said unto Abraham: “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai (‘my princess,’ referring to the fact that she was Abraham’s princess alone), but Sarah shall her name be (simply means ‘princess;’ the idea is, whereas she was formerly Abraham’s princess only, she will now be recognized as a princess generally, and, in fact, in a sense, could be referred to as the ‘mother of the Church’).
“And I will bless her, and give you a son also of her (this is the first time in all of God’s dealings with Abraham that He had mentioned the fact that the promised son would be of Sarah): yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her (her ‘blessing’ spoke of increase, which includes even the Church and, in a sense, the Lord Jesus Christ).
“Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, shall a child be born unto me who is an hundred years old (Abraham’s laughter was that of joy [Jn. 8:56]? and shall Sarah who is ninety years old bear (Paul said of him: ‘He considered not the deadness of Sarah’s womb’)?” (Rom. 4:19).
“And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before You! (Abraham asked the Lord that Ishmael might have some place, and not be completely left out.)
“And God said, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son indeed; and you shall call his name Isaac (the name Isaac means ‘laughter’): and I will establish My Covenant with him for an Everlasting Covenant, and with his seed after him. (The Covenant is to be established with Isaac and not Ishmael. This completely shoots down the contention of the Muslims that Ishmael was the chosen one, unless you don’t believe the Bible. Through Isaac, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, would ultimately come.)
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard you, behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly (the Lord would bless Ishmael, but not as it regards the Covenant); twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation (the blessing here pronounced was not because of Ishmael, but because of Abraham, and Abraham alone).
“But My Covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto you at this set time in the next year (so now they knew when the child would be born).
“And He (the Lord) left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. (Communion with the Lord is the most profitable exercise there is)” (Gen. 17:15–22).
We mean by the Rapture (Resurrection) of the Church, the catching up of all true Believers in Christ to meet the Lord in the air. This event is simply and clearly predicted in Luke 21:34–36; John 14:1–3; I Corinthians 15:23, 51–58; Philippians 3:20–21; Colossians 3:4; I Thessalonians 4:13–17.
If one carefully reads I Thessalonians 4:16–17, there is no room for misunderstanding. So it is obvious that if one does not believe in the Rapture (Resurrection) it is because he does not believe the Bible. In fact, if one believes in the Resurrection, one must believe in the Rapture, for they are one and the same.
THE COMING OF THE LORD
The Rapture of the Church is called the “Coming of the Lord” but never the Second Coming of Christ. At the Rapture, Christ does not appear visibly to those on the Earth, but He comes in the air above the Earth to catch up or Rapture the dead and living Saints who rise together to meet Him in the air.
There are many different ideas about these two Comings of Christ, which have made it difficult to distinguish one Coming from the other. There are so many Scriptures that have been misapplied to the one or the other Coming that one might readily see why many have found themselves involved in difficulties from which they are unable to clear themselves.
The Rapture is purely a New Testament Doctrine and was first revealed to Paul as a special revelation (I Cor. 15:51–58), while the Second Coming of Christ is not only a New Testament Doctrine, but is one of the chief themes of the Old Testament as well.
THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE CHURCH
The Old Testament Prophets never saw the New Testament Church, much less the Rapture of the Church. The Rapture should never be called the Second Coming or Second Advent of Christ, for He does not come to the Earth at that time. Also, it should never be referred to as one stage or phase of the Second Coming of Christ for the two will be separated by at least seven years, and possibly longer.
The Rapture is a distinct Coming in itself, not to the Earth, but in the air where Christ meets the Saints and then takes them back to Heaven to present them blameless before God (Jn. 14:1–3; I Thess. 3:13; 4:16–17).
THE DIFFERENCE IN THE TWO COMINGS
1. The Rapture takes place several years before the literal Advent of Christ to the Earth.
2. The Saints are in Heaven before God, from the time of the Rapture to their coming again with Christ to reign as kings and priests (Zech. 14:5; Jude vs. 14; Rev. 19:14). This seems clear from the facts that the Saints are judged, are given their rewards, and partake of the Marriage Supper in Heaven, immediately before the Second Coming (II Cor. 5:9–10; Rev. 19:1–10).
4. At the Rapture, the Lord comes from Heaven as far as the air above the Earth, and the Saints will be caught up to meet Him in the air. At the Second Coming, the Saints are already in Heaven, and will come back with the Lord to the Earth together.
5. The Rapture (Resurrection) takes place before the coming Great Tribulation, whereas the Second Advent takes place after the coming Great Tribulation.
6. The Rapture could occur at any moment. The Second Advent cannot occur until certain things happen such as the rise of the Antichrist, etc. (II Thess. Chpt. 2).
1 Corinthians 15:24
(24) “THEN COMETH THE END, WHEN HE SHALL HAVE DELIVERED UP THE KINGDOM TO GOD, EVEN THE FATHER; WHEN HE SHALL HAVE PUT DOWN ALL RULE AND ALL AUTHORITY AND POWER.”
The phrase, “Then cometh the end,” does not refer to the time immediately following the Rapture or even the Second Coming, but when all satanic rule, authority, and power will have been put down, which will take place at the conclusion of the Millennial Reign (Rev. Chpt. 20). The final conclusion will actually be Satan loosed out of his prison for a short period of time, which will take place at the end of the Millennial Reign, when the Lord will make short order of this last attempt by the Evil One, with him being “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone … and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:7–10).
The phrase, “When He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father,” tells us what happens when the “end” comes.
END OF WHAT?
The phrase, “When He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power,” refers to every last vestige of evil and wickedness under the auspices of Satan and his minions, which actually began with Satan’s rebellion against God and is described by both Isaiah and Ezekiel (Isa. 14:12–15; Ezek. 28:11–19). This began long before the episode in the Garden of Eden.
As a result of this rebellion, in which a third of the angels threw in their lot with Lucifer (Rev. 12:4), untold sorrow and heartache have come to the Earth, with possibly much more elsewhere.
JESUS THE VICTOR
It is Jesus Who will “deliver up the Kingdom to God,” a Kingdom incidentally, that will then be free of all Satanic “rule,” “authority,” and “power.”
Jesus defeated Satan at Calvary and the Resurrection.
The idea is, that the Lord Jesus has received or been entrusted with an important power or office as Mediator; that He has executed the purpose implied in that trust or commission; and, that He is now rendering that to God (or will in that day) the Office and Authority which He had received at God’s Hands.
As the work has been accomplished which had been contemplated in His Design; as there would be no further necessity for mediation when Redemption should have been made, and His Church recovered from sin and brought to Glory, there would be no further need for that peculiar arrangement which had been implied in the Work of Redemption, and, of course, all the entrustment of Power involved in that which will now be restored to the Hands of God.
~J. Swaggart Ministry 1 Corinthians 15
As we discussed in last month’s article, the church has moved away from all forms and exercises of Biblical discernment and righteous judgment. Therefore, it should not surprise us to see that, from the outside, the modern “church” appears to be a super-kind and loving place where no one is ever criticized and where all variance of opinion can be accepted through friendly dialogue. Happy church-goers rest in fleshly affirmations from their leaders, as these leaders receive all their creative ideas, philosophies, and sciences, throwing them all into one big melting pot. Yet, in this all-encompassing and seemingly tolerant witches’ brew of spiritual heresy, there are overlying goals and plans to which all members are blindly conforming. In fact, as we will see, Christians are being specially bred to further these goals. Through leadership training, primarily designed for church growth, the church has embarked upon this new spiritual breeding project. By sporting slogans, such as “every believer a leader,” we have recently seen a widespread movement in the church world to incorporate programs like “mentoring,” “discipling,” “fathering,” “shepherding,” “coaching,” etc. In each of these, we find that believers are quickly taught to obey leaders, slyly grabbing hold of their obedience to the Holy Spirit. This is why Biblical discernment does not seem to be necessary to believers in such churches. Why would believers be concerned with correct doctrine when they are being trained like foot soldiers? It is not the soldier’s job to worry about the ideologies behind the war; he simply executes the streamlined protocols of his commanding officers. But what is even more chilling is that not only does this leadership training give someone bodily governance over others in his church, it actually causes a spiritual change in him as well.
It seems as though mad scientists have entered the church today. We hear them speaking of “spiritual DNA” which must be spread through believers and multiplied in their churches. There is a kind of religious eugenics plan taking place in which the next evolutionary advancement depends on having the right DNA. This special breeding process, which occurs through principles of leadership, often begins within small groups, frequently called “cells.” Rick Warren gives us a great example with his “Purpose-Driven DNA.” In an on-line article explaining which churches should receive “Purpose Driven Health Awards,” Warren states, “They form small groups on purpose: Purpose Driven DNA is implanted in every cell (group) of the congregation. Each small group helps the members fulfill each of the five purposes in their lives. The goal is to help every believer live a purpose driven life.” The DNA implementation process is basically the same in all churches; it is just that particular churches have particular brands such as “purpose-driven,” “G-12,” etc. The process closely resembles a multi-level marketing pyramid and may go something like this: “Identify, select and ‘mentor’ a core group of young men… Send out these core leaders in designated directions, like arrows shot into the culture… Assist them in ‘replicating their DNA’ by creating downline networked systems of transitioning churches that follow their particular rendition of the overall model… Now let’s suppose that there were four major directions that the core group leadership of Emergent/emerging took as they were sent out. Each stream would only differ on the externals and nonessentials, but the main agenda would still be emergent transformation.” The plan is to entirely transform the Christian Church!
One ministry purports: “When the people of God begin to realize that the purpose of Jesus on the earth was to birth a new breed of people who would carry the DNA of God within them and bring heaven to earth daily, we will begin to live with purpose. When the people of God begin to realize their identity as the very offspring of God and that as He is right now, so are we in this world, the church will begin to shake the nations with the power of God.” Some have even tried to say that this model began with Jesus and His Disciples: “This follows the model of Jesus and his disciples, or Paul and the men he mentored during the days recorded in Acts. Those men went deep into relationships to make a radical change in their identities and their spiritual DNA.” The idea is that God used “deep relationship” to make “radical change in their identities” is blasphemous. It is Faith in Christ alone which can change the heart of man. Furthermore, we readily find that small group relationships are actually a control tactic used in cults and secret societies. This is precisely where new “spiritual DNA” may be implanted to exert a spiritual control upon a person. In fact, the entire cell multiplication system is motivated by a cult-like spirit! Unfortunately, this only produces a phony Christian who tries to sell Christianity rather than preach the Gospel. Social psychology uses the term “social cohesion,” which has shown that people who see their group as exclusive and meet in relaxed settings become more loyal to one another. Members are, then, more likely to listen to each other and reach compromise when critical decisions are made.
THE NEW APOSTOLIC BREED
Thus, a new apostolic breed is coming, and make no mistake about it, anyone who fails to accept the new DNA will quickly be shunned from this elite “Christian” clique and uncover the stinging wrath which lies in wait within what otherwise seem to be extremely loving leaders. In fact, the idea has already been suggested that those who do not have the right DNA must be eliminated due to their “reptilian brain!” Doesn’t this sound a whole lot more like Darwinian atheists than preachers? And who are some of the gurus at the top of this unholy pyramid? Headed by Bob Buford, the Leadership Network has played a key role in building and training a generation of “pastoral” leaders. Not surprisingly, Buford himself had a mentor, a businessman named Peter Drucker. It also should not surprise us that these principles actually originated outside the church, and Drucker’s philosophies are particularly scary. Having been influenced by esoteric German philosophy during the 1800s, his ideas are actually the same ones that gave rise to the totalitarian governments of the Twentieth Century, which were utilitarian in nature, designed to manage people on earth. These governments required humans to perform under an oppressive system of accountability. Therefore, the Leadership Network spread, not Biblical principles, but Nazi-like disciplines. “…like leaven, the thoughts and ideas of Drucker have permeated throughout the evangelical world. Buford’s role has been to add sugar to the starter, making sure that the leaven could rapidly fill the whole lump.”
THE LEADERSHIP NETWORK
The Leadership Network is also connected with what is called the New Apostolic Reformation, headed by C. Peter Wagner. In a 1999 publication of the Leadership Network called Next, Wagner wrote an article entitled, “Another New Wineskin… The New Apostolic Reformation.” Connected with the New Apostolic Reformation we find more big wigs like Bill Hybels, Robert Schuller, and Rick Warren. Smaller congregations across the country model their own churches after the “successful” churches of these men. In his book, Churchquake: How the New Apostolic Reformation is Shaking up the Church as we Know It, Wagner identifies both Hybels and Warren as New Apostolic pastors. Wagner even oversaw Rick Warren’s doctrinal thesis at Fuller Theological Seminary, which later became his first book, The Purpose-Driven Church. Actually, Robert Schuller, who has been influenced by many New Age teachers as he promoted ideas like “positive thinking” and “unlimited human potential,” has played a large role in Warren’s, Hybels’, and Wagner’s lives. A September 8, 1989 “Christianity Today” showed a picture of Hybels with Dr. Robert Schuller and C. Peter Wagner at Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. And, Schuller’s influence upon Rick Warren has been so obvious, Warren has been accused by plagiary. It is a fact that Warren did attend many of Schuller’s pastoral training courses before his own ministry took off.
Starting with the term “mentor,” let’s look at the original origins of some of these leadership terms and practices. Like Buford’s leadership principles, “mentoring” first became popular in today’s New Age business world. Over the past 25 years, business gurus and leadership training workshops have endorsed mentoring principles to build their businesses. Mentoring has spread throughout all aspects of society including the corporate world, education, social work, community clubs, various religions, etc., and somehow it has even become an integral part of pop culture, just as hip as personalized cyberspaces and café lattes. So, of course, worldly-minded “pastors” had to have a piece of this universally appealing pie to help grow their congregations. A movement known as Promise Keepers played a large role in this. True Biblical discipling means to teach the Word of God so that a person may grow in his personal relationship with Christ. But, mentoring brings forth the idea of role modeling so that others may imitate certain behaviors, attitudes, characteristics, etc. It has been said that “imitation is the highest form of flattery”, so it is obvious that this system idolizes men while taking the focus away from Jesus and His Word. The Church was not meant to be a place for cloning and copying one another. It is a place for entirely new creations in Christ to be grown and nurtured in the Ways of the Lord. Nonetheless, Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox (Issue #286) included several links to secular websites which give tons of helpful hints for the advancement of mentoring programs. Apparently, the modern church needs advice from the secular business world, since mentoring is nowhere to be found in the Bible.
Today “mentor” generally refers to a title or position. A mentor has the position of guiding or instructing another. However, in times past, “Mentor” was used as an actual name, both the name of a man and the name of a spirit! Yes, a channeled demonic spirit! An entranced medium may allow a “state possession” by “an invisible operator” also called a “guide” to “deliver direct or relayed messages.” So in the occult world, “mentor”< clearly denotes the idea of a “spirit guide,” often accessed through demonic possession. Seeing that mentorship is widely used from the occult to the modern commercial enterprises, there is clearly something captivating about the concept. So, the question must be asked: just exactly what spirit or spirits is the modern church passing down to the next generation? A famous psychic medium named Stainton Moses was “the charge [ channeler, ed.] of an organized band of 49 spirits” who asserted “that a missionary effort to uplift the human race was being made in the spirit realms.” “Mentor,” in fact, was said to be the name of one of these 49 spirits. Remember, Adolf Hitler also had a plan to “uplift” the human race and produce a special breed of men; he wanted to spawn a supreme Arian race. Now, if a man does indeed pass-on or “impart” (another leadership buzzword to watch out for) a spirit to another man it is not the Holy Spirit, but another spirit. This includes all thoughts of passing on one’s own spirit, a spiritual gift, a spiritual anointing, or in worst case scenario, a disembodied spirit which may temporarily possess a man.
“Impartation” can be defined as the transmission of information or communication by means of transmitted signals. The spiritual impartation used in churches today follows this exactly thought, but the information transferred is spiritual in nature. One pastor of a cell-group oriented church recently told his congregation: “Today, I want to talk about what it means to be spiritually reproducing yourself or to multiply the Christ in you over into another person… spiritual reproduction is the impartation and transfer of one’s own values and skills to another person or generation.” But, neither the Holy Spirit nor any part of the Holy Spirit can be passed from one person to another. The Holy Spirit is a Person Himself: He is God. HE does not separate and distribute Himself through humanity. Any Work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life can only be generated through that individual’s Faith in Christ and Him Crucified. In this way alone can the person of Christ live within a man. Any other “life” imparted is dead while it lives; it is demonic.
Concerning his name as a human personality, Mentor was actually a character in Greek mythology. When he left for the Trojan War, Odysseus left Mentor to protect and teach his son, Telemachus. The first recorded modern use of the term in 1699, comes from a book entitled, “Les Adventures de Telemaque”, by French mystic, religious writer and educator, Francois Fenelon. Here is a quote from page 136 in this book: “Oh happy Telemachus! You will never be bewildered as I have been bewildered as I have been bewildered, while you have such a guide and instructor! Mentor, you are the master!” Interestingly, the Bible warns of the philosophy and wisdom of the Greeks. Perhaps the biggest problem here is the simple fact that a person may learn to rely on a mentor rather than Christ. Sure, the mentor will often claim that he points to Christ, but when the student has a question, who does he run to first – his mentor or Jesus? Slowly but surely, a mentor can become a living idol, an all-knowing spiritual advisor and trusted friend. Even after a mentor dies, one could find himself seeking his mentor’s advice as he, perhaps even subconsciously, invokes his mentor’s spirit to comfort and counsel him along life’s perplexing path. “‘I’ve long since ceased trying to determine what thoughts are mine and which come from Peter,’ says Mr. Buford…” The Devil’s tricks are often very subtle. Jesus is the trusted Friend and Counselor you need. Satan will try to substitute many in His place.
“The best of them is a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of your watchmen and your visitation comes; now shall be their perplexity. Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lies in your bosom. For the son dishonours the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house. Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me” (Mic. 7:4-7).
“…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).
“That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There has not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man” (Judg. 16:17).
Samson’s remarkable strength came as a direct result of his consecration to the Lord. The term “Nazarite” comes from the Hebrew word “nazir” meaning “consecrated” or “separated.” The Nazarite Vow required a man or woman not to cut one’s hair, to abstain from the fruit of the vine (wine), and not to touch a dead body (as death portrayed the Fall of man, while the Nazarite was to epitomize Life). In such, the Lord made it clear how important separation from the world would be for those He would use in the Works and Callings of His Kingdom. John the Baptist was also a Nazarite: “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Lk. 1:15).
Samson kept the Nazarite Vow until he found a part of the world upon which he began to set his affections. His love for Delilah (Delilah being a type of the world) caused Samson to relinquish his Vow of Separation to God. The cutting of his hair was the outward sign of his heart’s betrayal. As a result, he lost his strength! The Philistines overtook him; they even took his sight. This should be a tremendous lesson to Believers today. The Lord views affection toward the world as spiritual adultery committed against Him. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I Jn. 2:15). Under the New Covenant, however, Believers do not need to take the Nazarite Vow, because we rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit to separate and distinguish us from the world.
Separation is an inherent part of the very purpose of the Church, her purpose being the proclamation of the Gospel! It is a vital part of our witness/our testimony to demonstrate that we have been Saved and changed! One renowned preacher, G. Campbell Morgan, said, “. . . the Church of God needs to remember that fellowship with God necessitates separation from all who fail to fulfill the responsibilities of fellowship in light or in love.” The Lord requires separateness of Believers over and over again in the Scriptures – in both the Old and New Testaments. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (II Cor. 6:17). And notice this particular verse is speaking of separation from the apostate church as well. Just as there is no fellowship with the world, there is no fellowship with a backslidden church. Regarding what he referred to as “secondary separation,” Charles Spurgeon once said, “I have preached God’s truth, so far as I know it, and I have not been ashamed of its peculiarities. That I might not stultify my testimony, I have cut myself clear of those who err from the faith and even from those who associate with them.” 
So, why is it so important to the Lord to have His People remain separate and distinct from the world? Why does this give the Lord glory? Because this present world is actually ruled by Satan. Since the Fall, Satan has been able to influence man in all his actions and endeavors, so the ways of unredeemed man actually reflect the will of the enemy, not the Lord’s. One pastor recently asked, “Is there any Scriptural directive calling us to renovate the Land of the Lost into a facade of faith so that it will appear to be Christian owned and operated when our Lord returns, even though it is clearly stated four times in Scripture that Satan is the ‘prince of this world’?” You see, Biblical separation is separation from Satan and from the antichrist system he is presently establishing. Christians are considered foreigners in an evil kingdom, which is why it is so important for the Child of God to develop discernment as he grows. “But strong meat belongs to them who are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14). Satan will even disguise his followers as professing Believers to cause confusion. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I Jn. 4:1).
THE WAY OUT
God allows His people to remain in Satan’s territory for one purpose — to show others the Way out! This is the only reason we remain on Earth after we are Saved, so we must remain “in” it without being “of ” it! “No man who wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him Who has chosen him to be a soldier” (II Tim. 2:4). Of course, the Devil is not pleased with our inhabitance, and he will try everything in his power to pull us back into fellowship with his fellows! He even offered Christ the kingdoms of this Earth: “And the Devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, showed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the Devil said unto Him, All this power will I give You, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If You therefore will worship me, all shall be Yours. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind Me, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Lk. 4:5-8).
It is also interesting to note that during the time of Samson, men with long hair were viewed as weak, yet it was one of the requirements of the Nazarite Vow. Certainly it was a humbling position to be in, but it actually spoke volumes regarding the Source of Samson’s strength. It gave God the glory. It is the same today. Separation may put a Believer in a position of weakness in the eyes of the world. For instance, a particular Believer may refuse to partner in business with a nonbeliever, possibly lessening his/her potential to make a greater financial income. But, it is just such a Believer whom the Lord delights in strengthening and supplying by His Power! It is when a man humbles himself to the guiding of the Spirit that the Lord may use him the most mightily! “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Cor. 12:10). Likewise, the Church as a whole is always strengthened when she remains separate. Again, this is God’s way of demonstrating His Own Strength! When the Church intermingles with the world and/or takes on the methods and ways of the world, the Lord is not glorified as He should be. The Work Jesus did at Calvary is distinct and exclusive, and Faith in it always begins to distinguish you from the world. If you deny this separation, you deny the Cross!
Yet, this is the precise sin of the modern church. The modern church is preaching unity rather than separation! Preachers today seem to think there is “strength in numbers,” but this is a false strength that will ultimately break down in the face of adversity. It is the Lord’s Power Alone that can defeat the enemy’s schemes, which is why Satan constantly tries to get the Church to look for strength in anything other than Christ and Him Crucified! Believers must understand that the Lord wants His Church to be different! But, the modern church strives to appeal to, work with, and unify with the world and/or other apostate churches. Remember what happened when Samson chose to love Delilah in this manner? She eventually caused him to betray his First Love. But nonetheless, the modern church has invented a new “Do-Good Gospel.” In other words, they say in “doing-good” together and “loving” one another despite our differences, people will begin to “experience” God on an individual basis. While it is true that “good works” can produce a spiritual “experience,” the spirit felt is not necessarily the Lord. Rather “good works” produce a religious spirit (when done apart from proper Faith). This is quite disturbing because churches quickly fill up with religious people rather than Saved people. People who are simply religious cannot tell the difference in true and false doctrine, so their criteria for knowing about the Lord becomes “experience.” Some Protestants have even converted back to Roman Catholicism simply because of the spiritual “experiences” they have had with mystic Catholic rituals, no matter that these are completely unbiblical and ungodly. The Emergent Church is one of the greatest promoters of this road back to Rome as they emphasize and promote unbiblical spiritual attractions such as prayer stations, statues, incense, liturgy, candles, icons, and the sacraments including the Eucharist.
Another way the Lord admonishes Believers to remain separate is by requiring us not to be unequally yoked. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has Righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? (II Cor. 6:14). The yoke is quite a powerful symbol in Scripture! It referred to the cattle yoke which bound animals to a plow so that they can work in unison. Old Testament law forbade even an ox and donkey to plow together (Deut. 22:10). The yoke was also used figuratively to refer to bondage and the burden born by slaves (Ex. 6:6-7; I Tim. 6:1). Jesus would later tell us, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Mat. 11:30). When a person is Saved, he has a newfound yoke with Jesus which has freed him from all the enslaving yokes of the enemy. So, while it is perfectly fine for Christians to participate in society, they should not join in common cause with it. Christ cannot be joined to a fallen world. Those who walk by Faith can never walk with those who walk by the flesh and self-will. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). God even forbade Israel from making international alliances for defensive and economic purposes — even though the practice was common among other nations (Ex. 23:32; Josh. 23:12). The primary reason for this was spiritual, seeing that treaty relationships would involve contact with pagan religions and, thereby, call for toleration of pagan practices. This is exactly what happened when Solomon got involved in international alliances. When Jehoshaphat made a trade alliance with Israel’s wicked king, Ahaziah, a prophet came to him and announced, “. . . Because you have joined yourself with Ahaziah, the LORD has broken your works . . .”
(II Chron. 20:37).
Sadly, these are just the types of alliances that are going on in the modern church. Pastors like Rick Warren are teaming-up with globalist/communist leaders to work toward common goals, but all this is really a guise for the Antichrist to bring about his one-world order. “Rick Warren was invited by the U.N. and accepted, to come to the U.N. Interfaith Prayer Meeting which was attended by leaders of Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism and every other faith. Since most of these religions don’t believe in Christ, it is clear this was not a Christian prayer meeting but was a guise to have a globalist political conference. The U.N. believes that religions must be pacified and brought into its fold in order to have world peace. The U.N.’s plan is to synthesize all religions into one, and Rick Warren seems to be the point man to facilitate this. That is why Rick Warren said, ‘The man of peace can even be a Moslem.’”  False preachers try to impose a guilt trip on Christians if they will not sacrifice their personal needs for the needs of the community. But, remember the word “communism” actually comes from the word “community,” and ultimately the church will lose her freedom to a religious dictatorship if she refuses to remain separate from the governmental affairs of this world. This country has stood on the principle of the separation of church and state for a reason!
SEPARATION NOT ISOLATION
The point should also be made that in the Church some have confused the idea of separation with isolation. For instance, we have seen monks and/or nuns of many religions isolate themselves throughout history, but this is not what God meant by separation. Jesus ate with sinners without compromising. “Actually, Jesus contemplated that His people would have such intercourse with the world, and that in it they would do good. But in none of this is there to be any compromise of principle; in none to be any yielding to the opinions and practices that are contrary to the Word of God. As we have already stated, if we isolate ourselves, we cannot let our light shine. . . . As well, ‘separation’ must be that which is guided and directed by the Holy Spirit and not legalism.” “Nevertheless, having said that, one can be certain that the Holy Spirit is not going to place a seal of approval upon that which is obviously wrong.”5If the Holy Spirit is telling you to separate and be different in any area of your life, do it! Even if other professing Believers do not, you must obey for yourself, because what you are sensing is actually the beginnings of an eternal separation. Remember, only the Lord knows who is truly Saved and who is not. God’s Word tells us that “the wheat and the tares” will reside together, but that the Lord will separate them in the end (Mat., Chpt. 13). So Believer, rejoice and obey the Lord, because what you are sensing is simply His Spirit beginning this work in the hearts of those who are truly His! You are wheat, and it is your destiny to be separate from the tares!
~J. Swaggart Ministries