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"˜I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; (Rev. 2:2)
For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. (2 Co. 10:12)
We live at a time when there are not only an alarmingly large number of individuals who insist on being addressed as "Apostle", but an entire organization which claims worldwide membership of more than 500 apostles. The most visible leader of this movement is C. Peter Wagner and the activities associated with these people is often called "The New Apostolic Reformation". In a YouTube video titled "", you can see many of the more prominent "apostles" of this movement formally anointing Todd Bentley into their ranks. This is all to say that while studying 2 Corinthians recently, when I came across Paul's description listed above about the character of false apostles, I instantly fixated not just on that video, but the whole of what I have seen in the actions of both Wagner and this movement. If you watch it again after reading 2 Corinthians 10:12, it is impossible not to see how "they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves". One of the hallmarks of false apostles is their mutual admiration society.
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (2 Thessalonians 2:1"“2)
These verses provide an opening to a larger teaching about the final person of the Antichrist to come, but if we rush past too quickly we might not appreciate the valuable gem of insight Paul provides. The overwhelming, repeated characteristic about the Antichrist and those who operate in the character and likeness of Satan is deception. It started with Satan as the serpent in the Garden with Eve and it continues throughout the whole of Scripture until the anticipated Last Days when deception multiplies to a level never before experienced. But notice that Paul provides us with the contents of the basic deception toolkit: "a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us". All deception embraces one or more of these approaches.
Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:11"“14)
A few months back in the article "The Problem with "˜Discernment'" we looked at how the word "discernment" is used in order to understand what differentiates the gift of discernment from the general biblical admonition for all Believers to be discerning. Specifically we focused on the fact that in Philippians 1:9-11 where Paul encourages "that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment", the underlying Greek word for "discernment" is "aisthesis", whereas in 1 Corinthians 12:10 in Paul's list of the gifts of the Spirit, what many translations render as the gift of discernment he uses "diakrisis", a completely different Greek word which the NASB renders as "distinguishing". Whereas "aisthesis" is defined as perceiving with the senses as well as the mind "“ a process involving knowledge based on experience, "diakrisis" is the ability to distinguish the spiritual nature of something to determine whether it truly comes from God, from Satan, or the flesh. It is therefore quite interesting to note that the author of Hebrews speaks of the spiritually mature as having attained "diakrisis" not as the result of a supernatural gift, but as a natural by-product of a maturing faith.
"Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold." ( Mt. 24:12)
It does not matter what our former life was like or how buried in evil and sin our background may have been, but there is a common crossroads of crisis at which every Believer eventually arrives. At some point we find ourselves staring into God's Word knowing that we have fallen short. We have to face the fact that Scripture plainly reveals that some aspect of our life or behavior is incontrovertibly in conflict with God's Word and ways, and it is usually that one thing which is the absolute most difficult personal issue, the sin which we are the most hesitant to even acknowledge because it has become such a basic part of our character that we can hardly imagine changing it. I arrived at one of these intersections when it came to certain relationships. I knew that what God commanded in His Word and how I lived and behaved in regard to this issue was at the very least a contradiction, and if I were totally honest, was in actuality hypocrisy.
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thessalonians 4:1"“8)
Depending on your choice of Bible translation, the word "sanctify" and all of its related variations appear throughout Scripture approximately 65 times. The specific variant "sanctification", however, appears only 8 times, 3 of which are clustered together in these few verses where Paul connects it with the exhortation, ""¦how you ought to walk and please God". Do churches still preach and teach about sanctification? Because if they do, I am finding it difficult to believe that they are emphasizing the biblical aspect of pursuing sexual morality. In the past 20 years studies have repeatedly proven there is no longer a statistical difference on any issue of sexual immorality ranging from divorce to adultery to homosexuality between those who say they regularly attend church and those who do not. Who, exactly, is still in pursuit of biblical sanctification?
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; (1 Th. 5:1"“5)
This is not a rhetorical question nor am I being derisive or sardonic, but can someone explain to me why the timing and structure of the End Times was no mystery to the Early Church and yet we seem to hold endless conferences and publish untold numbers of books and websites on the subject? In all fairness, perhaps I need to re-frame the issue. It actually seems that the problem does not pertain so much to the thirst for knowledge about the fulfillment of God's plans as the day of the Lord approaches, but how to live in the shadow of that knowledge. It might be the age old issue of the positioning of the cart relative to the horse. It seems that there are some who believe if they can just obtain enough information it will inspire them to live as they should in the shadow of the Last Days; Paul teaches we already have enough information so that we should be doing nothing BUT living as we should in the shadow of the Last Days.
But they acted treacherously against the God of their fathers and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, even the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away into exile...to this day. "” 1 Chronicles 5:25"“26a (NASB)
"As I live," declares the LORD, "even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; and I will give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. "” Jeremiah 22:24"“25 (NASB)
I have crossed some sort of emotional line recently. I don't know whether to weep and mourn or scream and kick. There is a group of self-described "watchmen" and/or "discernment" ministries which are just driving me to distraction not because what they are saying is crazy and nonsensical, but because their following is growing. Yes, I understand the occasional visit to the carnival freak show, but when the whole venue comes to be filled with nothing but frauds and hoaxes put on display? That is what we are getting with a group of individuals whose popularity is increasing who say that they are End Times watchmen sounding an alarm to the Church whose chief weapon of so-called insight is nothing more than conspiracy theories. Why is it that non-believers can so easily laugh and dismiss them and saved Christians cannot?
"But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase."
"“ Daniel 12:4
"I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
"“ Luke 18:8
For most people studying the book of Daniel, the emphasis would be on the visions, the miracles, and perhaps unraveling the various numbers provided which describe the timing of the unfolding of God's prophetic plan. In other words, the quest is often to determine the meaning of those things which, as of Daniel's time at least, were sealed up. But Jesus offers what at first blush is a contrast to the quest for knowledge in stating that the important character trait He will be looking for at His Second Coming is faith. (Lk. 18:8) I would offer that if we were to study the book of Daniel looking for what we as believers are to personally apply just like any other portion of Scripture, we will accomplish both goals simultaneously. In other words, the greater treasure provided in the book of Daniel is that biblical insight and understanding is promised not as a gift to a privileged few granted a superior intellect, but to anyone attaining to greater faithfulness by putting God's Word and ways into practice.
Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."
"” John 20:27"“29
I do not want to provide even the appearance of ungratefulness. It is truly difficult to express the personal comfort and sheer joy I feel when a professing Christian caught up in error is spiritually rescued and returns like the Prodigal Son to the Father. One such prominent brother was at one time involved with some of the most notorious false signs and wonders movements of recent history only to realize how ultimately unbiblical they were, came out, and is now a very effective and vocal critic of same. But while he presently seems to accurately and passionately debunk these activities, at the same time I have read statements from him which essentially say, "What the church needs is a real signs and wonders movement". Really? That is what we need? With all due respect, that is completely contrary to what Jesus taught in the midst of what was the most intense period of signs and wonders in the whole of human history.
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
"” Philippians 1:9-11 (NASB)
These are the verses we selected at Walk with the Word as our theme. They are prominently displayed at the top of the home page of our website with the exact emphasis provided here. To us these verses are an important application of how the truth of God's Word needs to be incorporated into our life so that we can possess biblical love which knows how to reject the ways of the world in favor of God's. But there are many ministries whose websites quote these verses with the aim of promoting just one single word contained within: "discernment".