""˜Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.'"
"” Matthew 24:11"“12
Something that has burdened my heart for more than 20 years now is why so few followers of biblically false personalities claiming to be "Christian" divorce themselves from that figure when it is proved that that such are false either by their fraudulent activities, when they prophesy something in the name of the Lord which fails to come true, and/or their own teaching laid side-by-side with God's Word is proven to be nothing short of heresy. For example:
- The local hospital holds a press conference to confirm that contrary to Todd Bentley's claims, there was not a single confirmation that any of the so-called miracles performed were true, directly contradicting his assertions to the contrary. On top of that he leaves his wife and children for the proverbial church secretary and yet none of these things persuade his followers of the truth about this heretic.
- You can print out entire websites devoted to documenting the false prophecies uttered by Benny Hinn for the last 15 years. (The really short list is comprised of those which came true.) No one leaves; he is bigger than ever.
- The public exposure of Ted Haggard's secret life of sex and drugs should have come as no surprise after the years of discernment ministries documenting his false teachings. Nobody in his following slapped their head, repented, and saw this as evidence to change their ways on either count. Like a recurring movie monster who simply makes another sequel, people are once again flocking in significant numbers to him.
With the huge number of "discernment ministries" filling cyberspace who daily document and warn about these and an embarrassingly large host of others, why is it that the truth rarely seems to work? Remember"¦I am not talking about the unsaved outside the church; this is a phenomenon limited to those within the church.
"But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." (Matthew 23:8-12)
And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called "˜Benefactors.' But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves." (Luke 22:24-27)
It was not that long ago when we could purchase the "Benny Hinn Olive Oil" in exchange for a $200 donation which not only netted a bottle of extra virgin olive oil with Benny's portrait prominently displayed on the label, but a promise to plant an olive tree in our name in Israel. But not to worry if you missed out on the olive oil. A quick glance at Mr. Hinn's website reveals quite a number of products which are readily available. For instance we are offered the "Holy Land Candle Lantern" which is "accompanied by a scroll with a special message from Pastor Benny" and is "filled with the fragrance of frankincense". Then there is the "Sword of the Word Letter Opener" purported to be "perfect for your home office or workplace". And let us not forget the "Ten Commandments Tablet Paperweight" which is "perfect in time for holiday gift-giving". I only selected three from many pages of items for sale through his website. But taken together with the activities of his ministry and teachings which are a matter of public record, not to mention his millionaire lifestyle of mansions and private jets, can you seriously look me in the eye and state with confidence that he meets the biblical criteria which Jesus Christ Himself set forth for spiritual leaders? Does the purveyor of Christian knick-knacks embody what you would call a "servant"?
Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: "May your peace abound! It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.
"How great are His signs
And how mighty are His wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
And His dominion is from generation to generation. (Daniel 4:1-3)
To have a Gentile write in Scripture about his coming to faith in the One True God is an attention grabber in and of itself, but whereas so many people throughout Scripture are documented as remaining unchanged spiritually after witnessing a sign or wonder, here we have someone who actually testifies to being changed by them. But if you just flopped open your Bible and began reading Daniel 4 you would probably think Nebuchadnezzar is referring to the signs and wonders connected to the events in this chapter and miss the fact that these are actually the culmination of a series of signs and wonders. Yes, Nebuchadnezzar witnessed some very amazing signs and wonders recorded previously in Daniel 2 and 3 but the fact is that he did not allow them to change his heart. No, having missed the greater application of what God was teaching through those other signs and wonders, Nebuchadnezzar's testimony here is that after one final round of signs and wonders he finally "gets it".
"Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean." (Ezekiel 44:23)
In Ezekiel 41-43 God provides the specifications for what will be the construction of the perfect Temple which all the former earthly iterations were only a veiled copy. All the previous ones were desecrated or misused in some way, but the final one will not give rise to those imperfections brought about by human frailty and failure to keep the whole of God's Word concerning service to the One True God. In the latter half of Ezekiel 44 is described what will be the equally perfect service of the Levitical priests who serve directly in God's very sanctuary before His very presence. But in addition there are some requirements pertaining to their responsibilities to the people as well. I cannot help but wonder that if every member of the New Testament church is now designated a priest (1 Pe. 2:5) if this might also be alluding to something we are supposed to do. I would argue in earnest that in fact this is something once common in the church which has all but disappeared today: teaching "the difference between the holy and the profane" and "the clean and unclean".
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (John 13:34)
A "commandment" is a very special thing within Scripture. I know that we sort of treat everything within Scripture as a commandment in view of the fact that all of God's Word must be obeyed, but in reality a commandment is a very specialized thing. A commandment is something God has specifically ascribed as a responsibility we must maintain in order to live in a covenant relationship with Him. In the Old Testament a covenant relationship not only meant keeping the core Ten Commandments initially given by the very hand of God Himself, but Jewish scholars will quickly point out that the Torah actually contains a total of 613 commandments which must all be maintained. Jesus summarized them all as loving God with all one's heart and loving one's neighbor as their self: "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets". (Matthew 22:40) So how do we know for sure that Jesus was not merely giving us commandment number 614? Because from this point on, no one ever again quotes from the commandments of the first tablet; they only quote this new commandment as the fulfillment of the whole Law.
"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. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment." (Hebrews 5:12-6:2)
While recently studying Hebrews this particular passage was in no small way deeply disturbing. The writer of Hebrews provides a specific list described as "elementary principles" and "elementary teaching" for which he admonishes Christians, telling them they are falling far short of the "solid food" needed to attain spiritual maturity in Christ. This list disturbs me because so many Christians' exposure to God's Word has been so greatly minimized today that I would be elated if they actually knew these basics.
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven"”
A time to love and a time to hate...
"” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8a
We seem to live at a time where the world's notion of political correctness has been embraced to a large degree even by mainstream Evangelical Christianity. Like all deception it masquerades the simple biblical truth by over-emphasizing what might be a truth in and of itself to the point that the whole thing is actually a lie. Political correctness loves to deploy the facade of "love", "tolerance", and "kindness" to an extreme where anything it deems to be encroaching on these noble attributes is evidence of an unloving, intolerable, unkind spirit. But just as we must embrace God's Word to the degree that we no longer love according to the world's definition but according to the way God defines love, so too we must understand, "There is a time to love and a time to hate" "“ not as the world defines "hate", but according to how and what we are taught to hate in alignment with God's Word.