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The Necessity of Change, Part 2

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 22, 2016

My last post was about the necessity of change (repentance) in order to be saved. This post will focus on why we need to continue to be open to changing after we are born again.

When we are first born again, we are essentially blank slates, ready to be written on by God. Our past is forgiven, and we have turned from our old ways, and readied ourselves to learn how to do good as little children (Isa. 1:16-17). God’s law is written upon our hearts, and we now commit to cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, so as to perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1).

Before I go on, it is necessary for me to qualify what God does NOT mean by “perfecting holiness.

He does not mean that after your conversion, you can still be living in open rebellion against God and yet “blameless in His sight.” That idea is deception. I’ve met fornicators, drunks, etc. who have no intention of giving up their sins, who claim they are saved yet “being sanctified gradually,” as if you can gradually give up these willful sins over the space of decades. “God’s not finished with me yet,” they may say. Well, they haven’t even been born into His family unless they’ve ceased from the obvious sins which they know He hates.

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation, which will devour the adversaries. (Heb. 10:26-27)

Or, they may have had an honest conversion followed by a return to their old sins, in which case they are worse off now than before they believed–

For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Pet. 2:21-22)

So, we have established that “perfecting holiness” is not remaining in or returning to old sins. A person who does this is headed for judgment despite his excuses and religious pretenses.

However there is a “perfecting of holiness” that needs to happen in the believer’s life, and this does require constantly being willing to change as God reveals His will. Just as little children do not know everything, but learn gradually as they mature, we need to mature as Christian saints. (Note: little children may not know everything, but they are required to obey those things they do know and are capable of obeying.) Maturing spiritually requires washing our minds with the Word of God and consistently seeking God’s will in every matter of life. It also requires being willing to change our understanding of who God is, what pleases Him, and how we should behave, as we search out His Word and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). It requires being humble and teachable at all times, never assuming that we have arrived and have nothing more to learn.

When I was a newborn believer, I immediately gave up fornication and drunkenness, knowing God was displeased with these sins and required my repentance. I also began to cry out to be delivered from cigarettes, which I overcame by the time I was baptized. I began to study the Bible in order to learn more fully what would please God. I went to church and started putting money in the offering plate, as an act of obedience to what I thought would please Him. At this time, I had no idea the prosperity message was evil, how many false teachers were ruining God’s flock, how much false doctrine I actually believed (having grown up in various churches), that nationalism didn’t please God, that I should dress more modestly (the women in my church were less modest than I was), etc. God fully accepted me in this rough state, because I was a child ready and willing to learn all that He had to teach. He didn’t download everything I needed to learn at once, just like we don’t teach a 3 year old the same things we teach a 17 year old. What God required was ears that hear, and willingness to change old beliefs and patterns of behavior.

Eventually I had figured out alot of true vs. false doctrine, was much more selective in fellowship, dressed more modestly, turned away from things I now recognized as idolatry, made sure my money went to help the poor and evangelize rather than to finance a bigger church building, etc. Even though I was born again and walking with God, I had to repent of many things as I learned they were against God’s will. I was much more mature, but certainly hadn’t arrived.

At this time, I fell in with a certain group of Christians who stressed the need to be holy, but often overlooked carnality among themselves. They were very particular about doctrine, and zealous to evangelize, which is what first attracted me.  But eventually I realized they were no longer willing to examine themselves or find fault with themselves, or…change. They could not hear reproof from anyone. Because of this, they began to give teachings that justified their carnality, instead of repenting.   And I was troubled, seeing that we can be so easily deceived by our past changes and our knowledge.  I began to ask the Father for wisdom concerning this, as I wondered if I was as blind as they seemed to be.

The Lord began to address some issues in my heart that no man could see. He showed me that although this holiness group would accept me based on my dress and my core beliefs, there were things He wanted to change in my heart to make me acceptable to Him. He showed me how these heart issues sometimes spilled over at home with my closest family members, and if I did not change, I could not think I was holy. This was a deep and painful experience that lasted a long time. I had to continually hearken to the Lord’s voice and agree with Him about what He was finding in me. He was also showing me some pitfalls I could avoid if I would be careful to listen to Him rather than following the crowd (not even the holiness crowd should be followed blindly; they too can err.) I had already separated from so many people, I did not want to experience any more separation, yet here it was. I could follow them or follow Him. And I chose to follow Him. These changes were not totally comfortable, but they were necessary. If I had allowed myself to think I’d arrived at the pinnacle of Christianity, I would have deafened myself to the Lord’s instruction.

Have you stagnated in your Christian life because you feel you’ve arrived at all knowledge and cleaned up your flesh? Are you judging yourself by others instead of judging yourself by Christ? Are you patterning yourself after some group you belong to instead of after Christ? Comfortable in their acceptance, and no longer asking Jesus if He is pleased with your direction? Certainly we can learn from others, but we must not let the camaraderie lead us away from Jesus, and it can ever so easily. Not everyone who comes in His Name also comes in His Spirit.

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 7:1)

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I John 3:2-3)

It can be very convenient for us to stop at cleansing ourselves of the filthiness of the flesh, while leaving our spirit contaminated, especially if our fellowship group is also neglecting this. Their spirits can easily contaminate ours (Prov. 13:20). Some have become haughty in their condemnation of those with filthy flesh, while their own spirits remain in need of tremendous changes. The Pharisee who thanked God he wasn’t like other men comes to mind; with such an attitude, how can God show us where we still need to change?

Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. (I Tim. 5:24)

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits. (Prov. 16:2)

We do well to remember that God weighs the spirits of men. While we may have been held up as a Christian example by others, and perhaps even developed a large following; God knows our motives, our thoughts, and any contamination of spirit. (Very often our families at home know some of this also, and they are not impressed with our reputation among other people! If we can’t consistently walk in kindness and mercy toward our family members, we should not deceive ourselves that we are holy.)

David knew God, but didn’t content himself with what he had already accomplished through God. He knew there could be a wicked way in him that he could not yet see–

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psa. 139:23-24)

Dear friends, to walk with God requires ongoing submission to His Word, a teachable spirit, and a readiness to change. Let’s not assume we are more than what we are. Without constant connection to the Vine, our life would dry up and we would be twigs destined for fire just like others. We are the sheep of His pasture, and must follow His leading (sometimes changing direction). We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), not arrogance and pride. It will take consistent diligence in adding good things to our character to make our calling and election sure–

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.  Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. 1:5-11)

But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. (Prov. 4:18)

God bless you as you continually gaze upon Jesus and are changed into His image!

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18)

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The Apostate Church & How We Got Here

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 21, 2014

At one time I attended a church that seemed to me more conservative than most. In time, I realized the pastor was contradicting himself on the issue of obedience to Christ. He would say we must obey and that disobedience was unacceptable. But later he would say disobedience can never cancel grace. (False grace message refuted here.)

This pastor even taught that Samson had committed suicide; therefore we can be sure that some people who commit suicide die saved (a dangerous lie–Samson wanted to die, but left his fate in God’s hands). I confronted the pastor on this teaching, and was quickly labeled a Pharisee. Sadly, a couple years after I left this church, one of the young people committed suicide by purposely laying his head on train tracks.

There was a children’s Sunday School teacher brazenly teaching the children, including my son, that they were “once saved always saved.” When I asked the pastor why this teacher was allowed to teach contrary to official church doctrine, I never got an answer. As far as I know, the false grace teacher continued to teach long after I left. Perhaps he was a good tither.

Recently I saw pictures of the pastor’s daughter, who has grown to adulthood since I left the church. She and the assistant pastor’s daughter both have public pictures of themselves in the most revealing, immodest clothes, complete with pouty lips and seductive poses. How tragically sad, this road that they are on.

I was told by someone, “You can’t blame the church.”

Well, I know that free will plays a huge part in what our kids do. Not every parent or church is to blame for their choices. God Himself is a perfect parent whose children go astray.

Yet I think this is a fair question: What role did the church’s false doctrine play in these kids going astray? A friend of mine has written a good article on this subject entitled “Careless Doctrines Damn.” Read it here.

Did the young man who ended his life on a train track think he was about to be welcomed into heaven–even though he was not enduring to the end of his life in hope?

Could phrases from the pulpit like “You cannot out-sin the grace of God” cause young girls to think that playing with the sins of seduction and immorality will have no real consequences? I say they can.

Incidentally, shortly after I rebuked one of these young ladies for being a poor role-model for younger girls (among other things), another girl from the church–maybe 12 or 13 years old–expressed her approval of the picture. This child has found her Brittany Spears to follow, not on the world’s stage, but in her church. With church “family” like this, who needs the world to lead them astray? Now our kids can all go astray together, take communion on Sunday morning, and think all is well. After all, nobody is correcting their behavior because they are afraid of being called legalists and Pharisees. Keep yourself unspotted from the world?! That’s for religious people. We’re all about relationship here, baby.

But what does Scripture say?–

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. (Eph. 5:3)

There must not be even a hint!! Oh, that Apostle Paul; he was quite the legalist! If only we could throw HIM out of our church and get away with it.

Some say if America doesn’t turn around, America is doomed. They say this quite piously because they go to church and have conservative values like “I disagree with homosexual marriage.” Meanwhile their own kids–sometimes churched and homeschooled–are becoming prostitutes right before their eyes. And that’s just the tip of the noticeable iceberg. Under strong delusion, you don’t realize how big the problem is until your boat starts sinking, and the shock and horror of it all causes your heart to melt. Once the labor pains begin, the unrighteous harvest you’ve been sowing all along is brought forth, ready or not (Isa. 13:6-8). But for now, we are for the most part content to lament the good old days of America, and hope that our church attendance and/or voting records mean something.

Apostate Jerusalem pats herself on the back and says, “Thank God I am not like the Gentiles” even as she herself rejects God’s Word. But I do not speak of the Jews; I speak of the apostate New Testament church, who has followed her older sister down the same careless path. She does not see her paupery, her nakedness or her need for repentance. When her children are destroyed, she laments and asks, “Why?!” But she cannot receive the truthful answer that it is her fault for mishandling the Word and allowing leaven to spread unchecked. She can’t accept the truth–that she is drunk with the world and its ways, and the blood of the true saints who tried in vain to correct her.

Thus the necessity of continuing to blame those rotten liberals for all of her problems.

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We Need to Change

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 18, 2014

Not too long ago, I heard a secular song in a public place, and the repeated words were, “Don’t try to change me.” It struck me how this is the philosophy of the world and its citizens. The sin-corrupted man defies and resists change, insisting that doing what is “right in his own eyes” is the correct path. He doesn’t know he is changing all the time, but for the worse. Sinners have been taken captive by satan, through their own obedience to sin, to do his will. They do not realize they are obeying his will, and the will of his servants, and that their own will is being enslaved. “I will do what I want” is merely slavery dressed up in a costume pretending at freedom on a stage that is destined for destruction.

Even professing Christians resist change, but they should not. If they have truly been converted from rebels to children of God, surely they know they need to change? And not just change on the outside, but in the deeper inward parts from which motives unseen produce noticeable actions. I think those who are consistently resisting change have not been born again. Repentance is, at it’s core, change from rebellion to obedience, and without this fundamental change of heart and direction, one is still in satan’s kingdom.

After that fundamental change from self to God that heads one in the right direction, the life of sanctification that follows is more change and more change and more change. Newborns and toddlers and teenagers don’t know everything in their various stages of growth, and aren’t expected to do all that adults do. But as they learn and become capable of doing more, they are certainly expected to go on to perfection (Heb. 6:1). It is the same with the Christian. As the Spirit reveals what needs changing (something He does regularly if we have ears to hear), we must yield to Him. We must let Him prune our branch that we may bear more fruit. As He says, “I now expect more from you,” we say yes to Him from our hearts. Even if what He expects is difficult. Unless we embrace such a relationship with the Master of the Vineyard, we cannot expect to continue bearing the fruit without which we are destined for the fire.

Believers are commanded to be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2) For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the world, have we not? (I Pet. 4:3) And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (I Jn. 2:17). And whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom. 8:29) And you are His brethren if you do the will of God (Mark. 3:35). Therefore, seek to be changed–repeatedly and entirely–until you look like the Son–not just in the image others see, but in the heart and mind you and God see. We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I Jn. 3:2-3) This verse is speaking of believers. To purify yourself is to change.

Practically then, how can we “purify ourselves”?

It is Christ who purifies for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works (Titus 2:14), but we must submit to and engage in that purifying process, knowing it is for our good. Our minds need to be renewed (purified) by faith in the Word of God over our own imaginations or ideas. If the Word is not studied and adopted as Truth, and if thoughts are not brought into obedience to that Word, those renegade thoughts will lead the soul astray. Though we may have come to see things a certain way, we can begin to see things God’s way if we will trust what He says over what we’ve always believed, or how we feel.

God has also given the saints to tribulation for their perfecting (changing), and we must go through this purifying process to enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). Did Jesus not say a cross and a life of self-denial was appointed to every disciple? He meant it. False doctrines have been created by which men hope to escape this suffering, but Truth is never changed by the manipulations of selfish men. Though they heap up teachers that tell them they can float to heaven on a silver cloud, by refusing the cross, they refuse Christ. By refusing to suffer with Christ, they keep themselves from being glorified with Him also (Rom. 8:17). They are like plants without roots that are blown over by a gust of wind. When tribulation or persecution comes because of the Word, they quickly give up the cross (Matt. 13:21), and eternal life with it, rather than seeking from God’s throne the strength to endure the pain and win the promise.

If Christ is to rule in His temple (our heart), we must be changed, and it isn’t going to feel good when our corruption is exposed, condemned, and killed (all of which must be endured if we are to be resurrected with Christ). “I” (the self) is a deceitful and terrible antichrist, the one we most need to fear. While people speculate on which world leader could be the antichrist, the “I” antichrist is often in their own hearts, enslaving them, and they do not see him or oppose him. When a brother or sister brings a word of correction, they say “Don’t judge me.” What they mean is that they refuse to change. And even if the word of correction is God’s very Word, they would rather silence the messenger than alter their course by a single degree. What can a Shepherd do with such “sheep”? Eventually He wearies of trying to correct them. Why should they be stricken again? They will revolt more and more, so corrupt have they become, and so sure that they don’t need guidance from another.

Some also have cleaned the outside of the cup (forsaking certain obvious sins like drunkenness, fornication, and swearing), but their eyes are closed to God’s desire to root out the unholy from their inner sanctuary. I know men who pride themselves on having a flawless “holiness doctrine” whose faults are obvious to everyone but themselves. While bragging that they never sin, they boldly accuse anyone who disagrees with their doctrine one hair of being children of the devil–not because they are sinful, but because they don’t flatter them by agreeing with every word they say.

While I agree that the believer must not live in willful sin, there is a damning deception at work in the proud man who sees himself as already perfected simply because he has embraced a theological construct and learned how to defend it. What of his character?–Is that too being changed??? Is it being conformed to the image of the Son of God? Does he weep before the Lord about those things the Lord is sure to show the humble man? Or is he not able to see the beam in his eye, so flattered is he by the thought that he is the great exposer of motes?! Is he learning how to be a better spouse, parent, child, neighbor, steward, witness, example of Christ, etc.? Is there no room to improve, no need to look again into that mirror that exposes, no need to be taught? Is the eye so full of its own insight that it despises the organs that try to keep it seeing properly? There is more to change than giving up wild parties and dirty movies. And there is more to change than learning to expose false teaching. These things are good and should be done while not forgetting to be changed in the other ways also. Or do we want to be clanging cymbals and sounding gongs, so delighted by our own “bold” sounds that we can’t tell we are becoming useless to God?

If we, like Peter, refuse to have our own feet washed at the table where innocent flesh and blood had to be broken and spilled to save us, we no longer have a part in Christ.

Paul said we must be careful when we think we stand, lest we fall. He took the careful view that he himself could still be cast away if he did not continually bring his flesh under subjection–this is a continual crucifixion, a life of dying, without which the weakness of our flesh will get the upper hand. And our “flesh” desires much more than the alcohol or drugs of days gone by. It desires glory, it desires to be elevated over others, it desires to be an unrebukable minister, it desires to be seen as gifted over others, it desires to force feed those who aren’t hungry–and more, to be thanked for it. It desires to feel it has reached a safe place where self-examination is no longer needed, and it desires the “fellowship” of only those who give it a constant chorus of amens no matter what or how it speaks. This more subtle “flesh” also must be crucified. If we pride ourselves in having defeated Jericho (which no man has ever done without the Spirit, so there is no room for pride), we may forget that there are still many more enemies to battle if the promise is to be fully realized. The victories over Goliath are great faith-builders, but let not the victor sleep in self-satisfaction while the little foxes spoil the vine.

So even if we have truly repented of willful sin, let us go on to that humility that invites more change, knowing we are still flawed at best. We see in part and prophesy in part. Let us not look into the Word of God merely to be puffed up in knowledge, and to say, “Thank God I’m not like other men,” but in order to be changed some more. Let us seek to be perfected in love–that love that obeys God in the hidden person of the heart where no one else can praise us but Him. Let us embrace the difficulties of life, the betrayals and rejections, the criticisms and loneliness, the pains of going under the Surgeon’s knife yet again–as necessary tribulations that will fit us through the door of the Kingdom. And let us do all this with the fragrant attitude of kindness and mercy and patience, for why should we complain of the very process which purifies us?

In short, let us deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him. This is God’s prescription for change, and change we must.

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:20-21)

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The Commendation of God’s Minister

Posted by israeliteindeed on April 2, 2014

In 2 Cor. 6:3-10, Paul gives a list of attributes that commend a minister of God. Reading through this list, it is not difficult to see a huge contrast between the ministry of Paul and the ministries of today’s “Christian Superstars.” Scripture from this passage will be in italics.

We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. — Rather than using a manipulative “touch not God’s anointed” message to keep people from critiquing his words and behavior, Paul was careful to “give no offense in anything.”

But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God:

in much patience, — Are the leaders in question bearing this vital fruit of the Spirit?

in tribulations, — Few Christian leaders even acknowledge let alone teach that in this world, the saints will have tribulation (John 16:33). Many make for themselves very comfortable lives, and when they are justly condemned for their unrighteousness, they falsely claim they are being persecuted. But this is not true tribulation; they are only receiving the just recompense of their own works. Real believers and leaders will have tribulation in this world, but their hearts and their eyes will be set on the world to come.

in needs, — It is good that the parents (leaders) lay up for the children, rather than the other way around (2 Cor. 12:14). Did Jesus teach His disciples to lord it over others as the world does, or did He teach them to find the humblest position and serve willingly (Matt. 10:25-28)? Paul had learned that in Christ there is power to accept abasement, hunger, and suffering need whenever it became necessary for the good of others (Phil. 4:12).

in distresses, — Paul declared in 2 Cor. 12:10, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, — Like Jesus, Paul gave his back to the smiter, gave up his personal freedom (how many Americans would willingly do that for the sake of the gospel?), and endured contention and slander from those who resisted truth. While he could have been highly respected among the apostate Jews as a “preacher of circumcision,” he traded in the praises of men for the wonder of knowing Christ and being crucified with Him.

in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; — Paul labored with his own hands so as not to be a burden to others, wanting nothing to get in the way of people’s acceptance of the gospel that could save them (I Cor. 4:12; I Thess. 2:9). He testifies in 2 Cor. 11:25-28 that he was beaten, stoned & shipwrecked, in danger from countrymen, false believers and unbelievers alike; very often sleepless and hungry while still having to work, and through it all carrying about the great burden of concern he had for all the churches. This is a man who literally spent himself for others.

by purity, — Read Paul’s writings, and you cannot help but see a purity of heart and intention in the life he led. He was able to say to the Thessalonian church, “You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children.” (I Thess. 2:10-11) How many leaders today can say this? How many even allow themselves to be scrutinized, as Paul did? How many fathers are there among us? Paul said truly, “You do not have many fathers.”(I Cor. 4:15)

by knowledge, — And here I must make a distinction between the knowledge Paul freely shared with others, and the so-called “knowledge” being hawked by so many false teachers today. Paul’s knowledge came from being with Christ, in fellowship with Him, being made conformable to His death. His message was “Christ crucified,” and though in Christ we receive all knowledge and everything we need for life and godliness, there is a simplicity in Christ that cannot be duplicated by false teachers. The life is in Him, and true leaders never try to make themselves the source of life through their “words of wisdom” or whatever else they are selling.

This scenario reminds me of the “weed” (herb) one finds in the field that has the power to nourish his body. The world takes the weed and isolates one component of it, declares its wisdom higher than God’s (because it learned how to isolate one component), turns that component into a pill, and markets it for alot of money. Sick people buy these drugs to medicate themselves rather than using the plants themselves, which generally give life without the side effects, and which freely grow in the field!

Just so, many false teachers claiming to have elevated wisdom market their own spin on God’s Word for profit, making themselves out to be necessary mediators between God and men (antichrists.) The truth is that people would be entirely better off without them, going directly to Christ, whose life will nourish them for free! Paul’s message came with wisdom, but he always pointed to Christ and the crucified life. He poured out his life for his spiritual children, but he stated unequivocally that the apostles had no dominion over the faith of other believers. It was by their own faith in Jesus they would stand (2 Cor. 1:24).

by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, — Consider whether a leader you are questioning is truly longsuffering, kind, and loving. Do they merely appear this way when on stage? Someone has said all the world is a stage, and unfortunately professing Christendom is leavened with hypocrisy. True longsuffering and kindness will be accompanied by humility when a leader is rejected, critiqued, or scorned. He will desire only that the children of God grow up in Christ, with or without himself and his particular ministry. True love for the saints always obeys God’s commands (I Jn. 5:2). A leader who is not obeying God, yet claims to love God and His people, is lying.

Paul exemplified the Holy Spirit-led life. Not simply because he claimed to have the Spirit, but he produced the fruit of the Spirit in all of his ways! Many claim to have the Spirit, and they sell their imaginations in books and visions that supposedly came from the Spirit. But with careful scrutiny, we can see that their character is not like the Spirit of God’s character. And we can see that they have taken God’s Word and twisted it to elevate themselves over others, or to put people on a new path that subtly diverges from the Way of Christ (even though they still use certain Christian buzzwords or Scriptures to justify their wickedness.) Jesus never did this; Paul never did this. The apostles and prophets never did this. All taught loving obedience to God, loving service to others, and uprightness of character. All were humble, and all were willing to perish on behalf of others as priests before God.

by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, — How many of today’s spiritual superstars have been caught lying or twisting the Word of God for financial gain, or to cover their unrighteous tracks? These do not bring the word of truth, nor do they demonstrate the power of God (over sin). They may claim to be bringing others into freedom, but they themselves are still slaves and cannot do so (2 Pet. 2:18-19). Rather than the armor of righteousness on the right and left, they leave a trail of wounded people behind them as they go. Their hypocrisy causes God to be blasphemed among unbelievers (Rom. 2:24).

by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; — Yes, the righteous leaders will be thought of as evil even though they are not evil. Jesus was crucified, Paul was beheaded, and the other apostles all went to tortuous deaths or unjust imprisonment. Those who are chosen out of the world are rejected by the world (John 15:19). So when you see leaders that are accepted in political or other worldly circles, beware. They can only be accepted by the world through compromise. A godly leader of real Christians will likely be the first to perish at the hands of the world. Jesus is our example.

as unknown, and yet well known; How many professing Christians go the wrong way because they want to be known? The pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world (I Jn. 2:16). False teachers on every stage today clap one another on the back and sing one another’s praises. It amazes me when I visit (a virtual mall of false prophecies) how the owner of the website endorses each lying prophet. But of course, at the end of each prophesy is a link where you can buy more of the same. Each person involved in this web of lies gets a cut, no doubt. Yet the Word of the Lord is to be freely given as it is freely received. The Bible can be bought in most dollar stores in America for $1. Tracts can be printed for even less, and sharing everywhere can be done for free, including on this blog. But the lust of being known the world over is a powerful drug for some. Paul did not concern himself with being known, so long as CHRIST WAS KNOWN. He knew that the Father knew him, and that was enough.

as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; — Here we are again, at the crucified life. It is all through Paul’s writings, and indeed he was determined to focus on this one vital thing (I Cor. 2:2). How can a man lead others after Christ unless he himself walks after Christ? And how can any walk after Christ unless they deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him with resolute determination to lose their lives for His sake and the gospel’s? (Lk. 9:23-24) And how many leaders resolutely accept chastening when once they have become leaders? Many think they are above chastening and reproof, and they stumble at this point. Though their ministries may go on, they cease to have the light of Jesus Christ among them; He removes their candlestick.

as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; — knowing that God works all things–including difficulties, tribulations, rejection, poverty, etc.–for the good of those who love Him. There are many smiling false teachers (like Joel Osteen) who seem to be “always rejoicing.” But this is because their riches and earthly life–best life now–supersedes the comforts others have. But Jesus pronounces woe to such, for they have received their consolation in this life (Lk 6:24). Like the rich man who left Lazarus sharing crumbs with stray dogs, his rejoicing will come to an end. James 5:1-6 is a second witness as to the miseries that are coming on those who lived for pleasure on this earth. Paul may have had many sorrows in his life, but he had the joy of knowing–when it came time to die–he had fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith (2 Tim. 4:7) Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all (Psa. 34:19). Therefore, if you suffer, be patient and establish your hearts with steadfast faith, for the Lord will come and make all things right (James 5:7-8). In this knowing, you can rejoice always.

as poor, yet making many rich; — How did Paul enrich others though he was poor? The same way Christ did. He humbled himself and out of his poverty, suffering and weakness, came the strength of God. To this very day we have the effects of the holy life of Paul enriching us (to say nothing of what Christ Himself has done, for it was He who made it all possible!) And so, blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Though they are unknown, though they struggle to make ends meet, though they are treated with contempt, they are accepted in the Beloved. Their hearts are set on pilgrimage as they pass through the valley of Baca (way of weeping), not laying up treasures on earth but seeking the treasures of the heavenly country; and as they travel the hard way, they make it a spring and a place of pools for others (Psa. 84:5-7). They make many rich with eternal riches in Christ Jesus.

as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. Who is richer than the man who possesses Christ?! What man of God sets his heart on this world’s fading trinkets, when there is a manifold God to be known and made manifest to others? What did Paul have as he went at long last to the guillotine? Did he have properties and fame and the praises of his countrymen? Did he have absolute rule over other believers?–He said he did not. What did he have?–a few parchments, a few pieces of clothes with which he would soon part? He couldn’t even say he had married and borne children, yet in Christ his children were many. Paul had the promise that to those who choose what pleases the Lord, God will give them an everlasting place in His house better than sons and daughters (Isa. 56:3-5). How many leaders like this have we known?–So terribly few.

Yet we are called to follow Paul as he followed Christ (I Cor. 11:1). This is not to say we will be apostles, or have an exact calling like Paul’s (a position many power-hungry people covet today), but every true disciple should become a discipler of others. In this sense, we should all strive to be godly leaders–not by seeking titles, recognition, power or position. Not as recognized by institutions, but as recognized and approved by God. Not for a piece of paper that says we have arrived, but for the joy of knowing God’s kingdom is growing, and His people are being nourished up in the Words of life from His mouth (not ours.) Not for financial gain, but for spiritual gain for God and others (this is the pure motive of love.) Not to be thought of as wise, but to show forth the wisdom of God in Christ.

And we cannot do this apart from living the crucified life that Jesus led, that Paul led, that the other apostles and prophets led. The whole list from 2 Cor. 6:3-10 is a picture of the crucified life, by which a minister of God is commended in the eyes of God. My prayer is that we will humbly embrace this life, difficult as it is, for the furtherance of the gospel.

I believe we in America, because of the many lies and comforts we have grown up with for so long, are at a disadvantage. It is hard for us to grasp the true cost of following Jesus because we were not birthed into Him where serious persecution of His followers was a given. But times are changing, and America’s sin will undoubtedly be judged. Judgment must begin in the house of God, and I believe chastisement will be severe as God sifts the wheat from the chaff. Many of us who may think we have done well compared to certain other people, may find that we ourselves are under judgment. Eventually, all nations on earth will attempt to destroy the righteous (Matt. 24:9). Regardless of what comes, we need to have already made a fixed determination to live as Christ lived in this world–with a resolute embrace of the cross. Though satan will be given time to overcome the saints (physically), we will overcome him by the word of our testimony, the blood of the Lamb, and by loving not our own lives to the death. (Rev. 12:11) We must not only overcome him ourselves, but we should want to wisely lead as many as possible to righteousness with us.

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. (Dan. 12:2-3)

God bless you as you seek to bring maximum glory to Jesus Christ.

Posted in Christian Leadership, False Teachers, persecution, Suffering | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Attacking the Scriptures (A Defense Against the Attacks of Jan Boshoff on Scripture)

Posted by israeliteindeed on November 30, 2011

Attacking the Scriptures is pretty common in our day, but it is not so common to hear someone who preaches “Follow Jesus” attack them.

I quote Jan (aka Justice) Boshoff in his writing entitled, “Why the Bible is NOT the Word of God” (all caps and parentheses his)–

 “THE BIBLE CANNOT BE THE WORD OF GOD. There are messages that might be from God, but that is why God sent us the Holy Spirit, the SPIRIT OF TRUTH, to guide us into all truth, to confirm to us WHICH OF THOSE WORDS written by men and spoken by men WERE REALLY FROM GOD. Because not all those words were from God. Everything that Paul wrote and said is not the gospel, they are his own words….So dear friends, this (Bible) is not the Word of God. This is a book, it is just the scriptures and it contains the truth also but it needs to be verified by the Holy Spirit… All of this (Bible) was not spoken by God, it was spoken by men. The words that God spoke will happen the way God spoke them, but all that is written here (Bible) is not the word of God, its the words of men, that have recorded, some words of God sometimes.”

This erroneous teaching leaves everyone open to determine for themselves WHICH of the words in the Bible are REALLY FROM GOD. After all, according to Jan Boshoff, the Bible contains “some words of God sometimes.” This is extremely dangerous because it predisposes men to reject whatever in the Scriptures does not suit them.  It reminds me of the serpent in the garden, asking with subtlety, “Yea, hath God said…?

Jan Boshoff has made many other alarming statements, including the following:

“The Bible has no power.”

“Your Bible cannot help you; it’s a book.”

“Jesus was not Biblical; He did not comply with a book…a disciple of Jesus Christ is also not Biblical.”

“The devil has deceived people into thinking and saying that the Bible is the Word of God. It’s not the word of God, my friends.  It is the word of men…God never wrote, my friend. People write.”

“The Bible is not the Sword of the Spirit. Quoting the Scriptures to deter the devil is witchcraft.”

And perhaps most disturbing of all, he recently shared a dream which he claimed came from God, in which people were dying of poison and that poison was the Bible!  Imagine, the “sincere milk of the word” being called poison! The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. (Jer. 23:28)

Jan Boshoff  is correct that the Spirit of God guides us into all truth, and without His help, we could misinterpret what is written in Scripture.  But Jan is wrong  when he casts doubt on Paul’s  or the other apostles’ teachings, claiming their writings are just words of men, or “just the Scriptures,” as if Scriptures are not to be trusted.

Jesus taught that Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35).  Peter wrote that we ought to take heed to the more sure word of prophecy as to a light shining in a dark place, because the Scriptures were written as men were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Pet 1:19-21).

Jesus never disparaged Scripture, but quoted it as if it was the absolute truth, which it is.  When tempted by the devil, He quoted Scripture, appropriately using TRUTH against LIES.  Even when satan used Scripture in his attack, Jesus simply quoted MORE Scripture–It is ALSO written (Matt. 4:7).  Jan Boshoff has stated that for us to use Scripture in the same fashion when we are battling the devil is witchcraft. I wonder if he realizes he is accusing Jesus Himself of witchcraft. I would not want to charge the King of kings with that, nor even suggest that His perfect example should not be followed.

When the risen Jesus appeared to two confused disciples on the road to Emmaus,  what did He do? Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)   He did not urge them to “just listen to the Spirit” and put the “dead book” aside, but instead He opened to them the Scriptures. (vs 32)  The Scriptures are a treasure to be opened to us by the Lord, not a questionable book to be viewed with suspicion!

When the risen Jesus stood among His disciples and ate fish with them, He also opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45)   He did not tell them the Scriptures were a dead book, He did not forbid them to be Biblical, and He did not rebuke them for witchcraft.  He gave them understanding, which He will do for any sincere disciple who looks into the Scriptures with a heart that desires to understand and follow Him.

Paul taught regularly from the Scriptures (Acts 17:2; Acts 18:28). He testified that whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Rom. 15:4)  What spirit would try to take away the learning and comfort the Scriptures can provide?

J. Boshoff has stated that the early church did not have the Scriptures and did not study the Bible. However, not only did they have the Old Testament Scriptures opened to their understanding by Jesus, but they also continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42).  The teachings and epistles written by the apostles were passed around and copied, and indeed the church of Christ is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus being the cornerstone, and there is no other foundation (Eph. 2:20).  Peter affirmed that although Paul’s epistles were being wrested by some unlearned and unstable men to their own destruction, they were still SCRIPTURES (2 Pet. 3:16). The Scriptures do not cease to be true because ignorant men attempt to twist them.

I do not know J. Boshoff’s motive, but I suspect that someone has compared his teachings or dreams to Scripture one too many times, and he got offended, though Paul did not get offended when the (noble) Bereans did the same thing with his teaching.  A man teaching the truth need not fear when Bereans check all things by the Scriptures.

We are commanded to test the spirits (I Jn. 4:1)–by what should we test the spirits which speak to us?  J. Boshoff says we simply ask the Holy Spirit for His opinion (not test by the Scriptures); then we listen for a voice to give us the answer. One of his followers has BURNED HER BIBLES in obedience to what she thinks is the Holy Spirit’s voice speaking to her. She went public, praising God for delivering her from “that idol.” If only she had studied the Bible first, she would have known that such a command did not come from God.

I testify that when I was born again, I was immediately led by the Lord to study the Scriptures and learn the voice of God and the will of God in its pages.  How good the Lord is, to preserve a testimony for generations to come, that they can seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read. (Isa. 34:16) The Holy Spirit has indeed been guiding me into truth; He has consistently led me to hide the written Word in my heart that I might not sin against God.  I am so thankful for the Scriptures and for the men who died to get them into my hands.

What spirit would tell people that the Bible is poison, as J. Boshoff has stated?  What spirit would tell a woman to burn her Bibles?

Although J. Boshoff teaches faith/obedience to Jesus, his Jesus is suspect, since his Jesus seems dedicated to wresting Biblical Truth from the hands of people who are living in dark times and need all the light they can get.  His Jesus seems to want us back in the Dark Ages, having to trust in human leaders (like Jan) to tell us God’s will. Because if we don’t hear the voice as often as Jan does, we had better look to Jan, since he seems to be hearing the voice all the time and getting guidance in his dreams.   Rightly did Paul warn for three years that also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:30)

The Jesus revealed in Scripture never tried to put distance between His followers and the Scriptures. NEVER.

Babes in Christ are being seduced into thinking it is very spiritual to throw the Bible away and just listen to a voice. They are assured the voice they hear must be the Holy Spirit, and they should just trust it.  This is folly! God’s Spirit is not the only spirit talking today.  There are seducing spirits and doctrines taught by devils that will cause many to depart from the faith (I Tim. 4:1)! This is why Paul urged the young pastor Timothy to give attention to READING (reading what?!), exhortation and doctrine; and to preach the Word both in and out of season (I Tim. 4:2, 13).

Jan continually implies that the Pharisees killed Jesus because they held to the Scriptures.  This is error. It is true that knowledge of Scriptures cannot help you if you do not obey and comply with what is written there.  THIS was the error of the Pharisees–they READ because they were in positions of authority and could read, but they did not OBEY.  They were hypocrites unwilling to repent & come to the very Christ to whom Scripture pointed. They were hearers and not doers, deceiving their own selves.  If they had not been blinded by their love for sin and their refusal to repent at the preaching of John the Baptist, they would have seen that the Old Testament Scriptures all pointed to Jesus, and that He was the Prophet to whom they must listen or be destroyed (Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22-23).

The Scriptures are able to make you wise unto Salvation, and ALL SCRIPTURE was inspired by God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:15-17).  The Pharisees had access to the same Scriptures that Timothy grew up learning, but truth will only profit the one who yields to it’s righteous demands.

Anyone casting doubt upon the more sure word of prophecy–which is inspired by God and given to perfect the saints and equip them for the works God wants them to do–is not the friend of your soul. He may say with great tenderness “My friend, my friend,” but he is not your friend if he causes you to stumble and cast the Word of God behind your back.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

What should we study, if not the Scriptures? What should we rightly divide, if not the Scriptures, so that we can discern and do the will of God?   Is the Holy Spirit of God, who breathed and inspired all the Scriptures, now teaching that the Scriptures are dead, powerless, and poisonous?  I think not. So by what spirit is Jan Boshoff saying these things?

“I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. Give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God!”
― John Wesley

Posted in Christian Leadership, False Teachers, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

The Heart of a True Pastor or Watchman

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 23, 2011

Rachel has posted a wonderful article at Know God’s Word called, “The Under-Shepherd’s Anguish.”

Reading this, I was reminded of the time the still-learning disciples asked the Lord Jesus if they should call down fire to consume those who rejected Him. Jesus turned and rebuked them with the following words–

“Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.  For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:55-56)

Sometimes as men and women take up the Lord’s pleading with sinners to repent, they can allow themselves to become hardened to the plight of those who stand in the valley of decision. May it never be said of us. Let us remember how our Lord was longsuffering toward us, and had mercy on us. Let us remember how He wept over the fate of Jerusalem just before He was crucified there (Luke 19:41-42).

Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? (Joel 2:17)

Click here to go to Rachel’s article.

God bless you!

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