Friday, April 15, 2016

Doctrines of Demons Part II; Is there really safety in numbers?

If you read the last post "Doctrines of Demons" this is a follow-up. If not, you can read it here. Either way, I want to ask/pose this question; "is there really safety in numbers?" Let's look at biblical history to answer this question. In looking at the scripture, I would simply say this to you; ask Noah, ask Abraham, ask Jacob, ask Joseph, ask Moses, ask Joshua, ask David, ask Isaiah, ask Jeremiah, ask Amos, ask Elijah, ask all the prophets, ask John the Baptist, ask Jesus, ask the twelve apostles, ask Peter or John, ask Paul, ask the first century martyrs, ask Martin Luther.... I could go on and on but surely you are getting the point. All significant movements in Christian History in fact suggest that one could not believe that there is safety in numbers.

So then, why are so many evangelical Christians so complacently content with the status quo, and safety in numbers. All the time I hear people ask the question, surely all the theologians could not possibly get it wrong could they? Or they will say, if you want to be safe, just stick with orthodoxy. Really? The fact is that most evangelicals revel in the idea that there is safety in numbers. I feel that I have personally been rejected by pastors and ministers many times because they feel that safety in numbers is a better way to go.

The truth is that humans in general are unsettled by change. I hear people say that change is scary. Yet, I cannot help but think of the words of Dr. Phil, "Oh, and how's that workin' for ya?" The fact is that many evangelicals have set up for themselves sure heart ache and failure. They believe in a standard of ethical behavior, that while it is an admirable goal, most fail to achieve it. And, when they do fail, they are judged, shunned, and humiliated. They end up thinking that for some reason, they alone cannot attain the standard; that there is something inherently wrong with them. They fail to realize that almost ALL people have the same struggles. The reason for this is that pastors and ministers set themselves up on a pedestal afraid that any admission of their own frailty will give an excuse to the rest of the congregation to stop trying to attain. Sadly, the reality is that the gospel of Christ/God is not  centered on human ethics. Of course, it would be a better world if more people, or if all people strove to be more ethical. But that was NEVER the point of the gospel.

There is a big difference between being ethical and being loving. Some of the most ethical people I have met are likewise cold, calculating and lack any sense of love for humanity. Let's face it, read and do theology reduces one to being obedient or not. Unfortunately, the standard is to the scripture from a legal constitutional perspective. Further, some of the most obedient Christians from the legal constitutional perspective are likewise some of the cruelest, unforgiving people, when it comes to deviation from the legal constitutional perspective. It is sad that I have proven over and over again in blog post after blog post that the legal constitutional reading of scripture is just flat wrong... it's ERROR! Still for the most part I am ignored. I cannot get people to even follow the legal constitutional edict "come let us reason together."

Let me make this clear. If the legal, constitutional reading of scripture is really what Jesus and the first century apostles demanded then, those who fear that things have gotten way out of whack in Christianity are right. But the overwhelming fact is that it was not the priority of Jesus and the first century Christians. If one cannot understand nuance, and the transition that was happening within the writings of the first century, then it may be easy to believe that current evangelical doctrine is right. However, the nuance and the transition is the most important part of the first century writings. Therefore, just like all the biblical history figures that I mention in the first paragraph, those who did not feel that there was safety in numbers, but rather were willing to listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we today should not be so smug as to believe that there is now safety in numbers. Because of this, the evangelical church entertains way too many doctrines of demons.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Doctrines of Demons

1Ti 4:1-5 NLT  Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.  (2)  These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.  (3)  They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth.  (4)  Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.  (5)  For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.

Unfortunately, this prophecy came true in the late first and early second century. But more than that, these doctrines of demons, of which there are many, were brought forth into orthodoxy. So let's identify within Christian History this prophecy. They forbid marriage and eating certain foods. Interestingly, Roman Catholic Priests were forbidden to marry, and fish was the only meat that could be eaten on Friday's and throughout Lent. I mention this because it merely frames the times when doctrines of demons would be brought into orthodoxy. How is this turning away from the true faith? It is merely an example of making rules and regulations, having a legal constitutional reading of scripture, and moving away from the solely redemptive purpose that was taught by Jesus and the first century apostles.

Paul makes a similar claim in 2Co 11:13-15 KJV  "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  (14)  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  (15)  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." Here is a prophecy that definitely declares that Satan will be able to influence ministers. Isn't it interesting that today that most pastors and ministers are so concerned with self-righteousness. They may say they are primarily talking about imputed righteousness, but their sermons, actions, and demands betray them. They do not understand the catalyst for true righteousness and holiness is the gospel of grace, and imputed righteousness.

The point of this is that the doctrine of devils, the leaven of the Pharisees, and the deception of Satan over ministers is clearly prophesied. The most pernicious doctrine that has infiltrated the church is the demand for self righteousness. Many will argue that the Spirit enables people to live righteously and cite that as the reason for demanding read and do righteousness. All I can say is (buzzer sound) False! It is actually imputed righteousness APART from the demand for personal righteousness that will over time be the catalyst for real true righteousness. That is how the Holy Spirit aids the believer to attain righteousness. It it is from the love generated by having imputed righteousness without the demand for personal read and do righteousness, that brings about true love for God and true love for God is what generates righteous living.

Yet, there are so few congregations that believe this that the real true righteousness is never birthed. Rather self righteousness is imposed out of fear based upon the erroneous legal constitutional reading of scripture. Of all the doctrine of devils that has permeated church doctrine, this one is the most spiritually damaging. It is so clear that Jesus and his first century followers changed the hermeneutic to be solely redemptive, redefined the phrase word of God to mean gospel rather than scripture, and meant for GRACE ALONE to be the catalyst for righteousness. Still millions of Christ followers are in bondage to the doctrine of devils.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Holding down the truth in unrighteousness: Many Pastors are guilty of this.

Rom 1:16-18 NASB:  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  (17)  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."  (18)  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

What does it mean to suppress the truth in unrighteousness? Well, let's look at this passage from Romans to see if we can get a clue. First of all, in verse 16 Paul is stating the fact that he is not ashamed of the gospel. Why would one need to be ashamed of the gospel? Well, it would have to be that the good news, was such good news, such unbelievably good news, that it would make the person proclaiming it to seem foolish. Isn't it interesting that Paul in 1 Corinthians stated that the gospel was foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the religious. And so it remains today, the true gospel, the real message of the death, burial, and resurrection is still foolishness to those outside of Christ and a stumbling block to those with a religious bent.

I have had pastors look me in the eye and tell me. Yes, I know how gracious God is but if I let my people know that message they will abuse it. They will sin more, they will not pay enough offerings, they will be given a license to sin. What they really mean is they will be difficult to control. These pastors are suppressing (holding down) the truth in unrighteousness. There is but one righteousness. It is the righteousness of God imputed because of faith. It is best stated in this passage: Rom 1:5 NASB "through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake," The only obedience that matters to God is believing the report.

Now while the current understanding has those suppressing the truth in unrighteousness as being the so called world, unbelievers that is clearly not Paul's intent in this passage. There is a very interesting phrase in verse 22. It simply says, "professing to become wise they became fools." This is a direct reference to humanity gaining the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge of good and evil does not give a clue as to the nature of the righteousness of God. If it did, religion would have figured out that God was gracious from the very beginning. After all in Gen 1:31, after creating male and female God said it was very good. That is the first place in the scripture that God declares man righteous because he said so.

Yes, it is hard to believe that God imputes righteousness for faith. Yes, it is hard to believe that one is righteous simply because God has said it. Still that is the gospel (good news.) So, every-time any minister knows about the grace of God, and does not proclaim it loud and clear, he/she is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. This is what the Jews of the first century were doing in Jesus time. They were suppressing the truth in unrighteousness when they denied the gospel and did not believe the report. Think about it. There is no way that those who do not believe the gospel, who are members of the so-called world are suppressing the truth. They are not even thinking about the truth. The do not know the truth, and therefore cannot suppress it. 

Only the religious mind that was born of the knowledge of good and evil can suppress the truth. They are the only ones interested in suppressing the truth of the gospel. It is for the fear that some might sin. It is a religious phenomenon and it has unfortunately crept into the church by the leaven of the Pharisees. Pastors, ministers, I implore you. Stop suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

Majoring in Minor Things

Not too long ago I heard a sermon where a preacher said that the Lord had recently told him that the saints were majoring in minors. What he...