Friday, January 29, 2010

Relativism. On denying God and gravity.

There is an attitude I’ve experienced that I’m having trouble understanding. I think it exposes the depths of human pride and arrogance and is a clear example of the relativism pervading human thought (especially WESTERN thought).

How do I describe it?

Well - it’s the kind of thinking that assumes our own beliefs are what is important and those beliefs make our own reality.

The particular example I have in mind was a discussion with a person who assumed that his non-belief in God excused him from any possible consequences for that non-belief.

There was no recognition of a firm concrete truth that remains firm and concrete regardless of human belief.

Every human on earth could deny God’s existence and that would make absolutely no difference to whether God exists or not.

Likewise, every human could believe strongly in God and that belief would make absolutely no difference to whether God exists or not.

Either he REALLY exists or He doesn't - and it would be foolish to think our own beliefs make a difference to that truth.

I could deny the reality of gravity, but my non-belief would not protect me from the consequences of jumping from a plane without a parachute. Therefore if I intended to jump from a plane I would be wise to check out the validity of my belief before it became too late.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sharks & Jellyfish. Two types of deception

I have participated in a lot of forum discussion about Todd Bentley et al, since the start of the so called Lakeland revival. Despite the very clear warning given through his hurried divorce and remarriage (that started during that so-called revival) thousands will still blindly follow him and the ministries that support him.
Such a situation must surely be seen a clear line in the sand, and only the most immature new believer could have any excuse for getting caught up in the Bentley circus. A clearer indication could not be given – those “ministers” who support and promote Bentley are exposing their own falsehood and those who willing cling to an allegiance to those men and women are wilfully ignoring the blatantly obvious, choosing a lie instead of the truth.

Apart from those who willingly ignore the apostasy of Bentley and his supporters, I see another danger arising from this situation. By concentrating on exposing Bentley and his false gospel other more subtle errors will be overlooked.

In Australia there we have some very real dangers in the ocean. We have the sharks – large predatory fish that mostly, with the right precautions, can be detected and avoided before they present a real threat (my sister is an observer on an aerial shark patrol). We also have some very tiny jellyfish with an extremely toxic sting. They are not as easily noticeable and protection from the danger they present will only come through awareness of their territory.

I see Bentley and his supporters as being like the sharks. They are blatantly obvious to those who are both willing to look for the signs and to listen to the warnings of those in a position to detect the danger. Other false theologies are not so easily recognised. They are well camouflaged and slip through the defences. Like the toxic jelly fish they may have an appearance of being the same as their surroundings and their dangerous presence is not acknowledged or observed.

Ironically many of those who recognise the clear dangers of the likes of Bentley are not so discerning when it comes to more (apparently) subtle theological errors.

I have often read about the lack of discernment among those who follow Bentley. I don’t think that is the problem. It takes NO discernment to recognise the falsehood of his “ministry” and those who promote him.
What is lacking is an understanding of the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ – and even worse than that, a lack of relationship with the TRUE Jesus Christ. These people promote a false gospel and a false saviour.

If we can’t recognise the blatantly false – what hope have we got of recognising genuinely deceptive (more subtle) false teachings and practices?

Friday, January 22, 2010

AUGUSTINE. An article by William Birch

By William Birch (excerpt below).

When one considers the amount of false, and at times heretical, views to which he held, it is truly a wonder how he became such an authority or cherished figure in the Protestant Church. In some circles, to quote Augustine is tantamount to quoting Scripture.

But for the purpose of this post, one thing stands out above his other errors. It is more than merely interesting that Augustine was the first one to introduce the idea that God had unconditionally elected some unto faith and salvation by decree and not others. And this he did not attribute to God's foreknowledge of forseen faith or rejection of Christ, as did his predecessors, but to God's sole prior decision and delight.

Even more shocking, however, in light of his novelty of unconditional election, was his statement, that, "It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some of His own children ~ whom He has regenerated in Christ ~ to whom He has given faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also." One seldom hears the Calvinist quoting this statement from Augustine.


Friday, January 15, 2010

David Pawson sermon links

David Pawson’s ministry has helped me in many ways. In particular his insistence that people should search the scriptures for themselves.
He has preached in some very unlikely places without compromising his message. At times his audience has been less than receptive and at times he has experienced violent vocal objection from his hearers.

Here are a few links that currently give free access to some of his teaching.
(scroll down a little way until you find the heading: “***FREE BIBLE TEACHING BY REV DAVID PAWSON***
(scroll to last two sermons on the list)


HE’s BA-ACK (the attempted return of Bentley’s revival and related abominations)

What is REALLY being brought into the church?

The practices and “Christian” groups mentioned here are the ones to which I was refering in my earlier article: “Thoughts on gifts of snakes and fish”.

by Andrew Strom.

I just saw the video of Rick Joyner announcing that Todd Bentley is back ministering every night at Morningstar in North Carolina and now they have so-called “revival” manifestations eerily similar to Lakeland. They also announced that they are streaming these big meetings every night on their new TV channel – and they are
greatly promoting the whole thing.

Now I am a tongues-speaking Pentecostal myself – but can I ask a simple question here please? What kind of “spirit” was it operating in the Lakeland revival – when the leader and main focal-point of the meetings (Todd Bentley) was having an adulterous
affair behind the scenes? Was it truly the “Holy” Spirit that was anointing something so sensual and unholy? And now that Todd divorced his wife and married his mistress – are we supposed to welcome him back and this “anointing” with him? What is going on here? Rick Joyner has been warned very specifically by high-level ministries not to do what he is doing now – bringing Todd Bentley back into the limelight. And yet it seems he does not care. Apparently the “manifestations” are all that matter.

So what exactly are these ‘manifestations’ if they are seemingly at home in such an unholy environment? Are they from God at all? (I am talking here about the violent “jerking”, uncontrollable laughter, bodily contortions, drunkenness, ‘portals’, strange “angel” encounters, etc.) Why do we not see such an ‘anointing’ in the Bible? Why aren’t Jesus or the apostles promoting these manifestations if they really are true Revival? Why instead do we see these things all the way through the New Age and Hinduism, etc?
Do we not realize that many false religions have their own version of “laying on of hands” that results in these very types of manifestations? This ’spirit’ is not in the Bible – but it is all the way through Kundalini-type Hinduism! Don’t you think this should alarm us?

If you search for Kundalini and Shakti on the Internet, you will findthat multitudes of people in the New Age and Eastern religions still experience these powerful manifestations. Often this is with the help of a Guru, who touches them on the forehead so that they can experience a “Kundalini Awakening”.

As researcher Robert Walker wrote in 1995:
“The meetings which mystic Hindu gurus hold are called ‘Darshan’. At these meetings devotees go forward to receive spiritual experience from a touch by the open palm of the hand, often to the forehead, by the guru in what is known as the Shakti Pat or divine touch. The raising of the spiritual experience is called raising Kundalini…
After a period when the devotee has reached a certain spiritual elevation they begin to shake, jerk, or hop or squirm uncontrollably, sometimes breaking into uncontrolled animal noises or laughter as they reach an ecstatic high. These manifestations are called ‘Kriyas’. Devotees sometimes roar like lions and show all kinds of physical signs during this period. Often devotees move on to higher states of spiritual consciousness and become inert physically and appear to slip into an unconsciousness…”
And as the guru Shri Yogãnandji Mahãrãja wrote:
“When Your body begins trembling, hair stands on roots, you laugh
or begin to weep without your wishing, your tongue begins to utter deformed sounds, you are filled with fear or see frightening visions… the Kundalini Shakti has become active.”

In China there is a popular Kundalini-type movement called ‘Qigong’.
When a Chinese Qigong spiritual master spoke in the USA in 1991, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that many in the crowd began to experience “spontaneous movements”. The master told his audience, “Those who are sensitive might start having some strong physical sensations – or start laughing or crying. Don’t worry. This is quite normal.”
When you see videos of these “kriyas” or other Kundalini-type manifestations, you would often swear that you are watching a modern “Impartation”-type church meeting. (And I say this as someone who believes strongly in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I just don’t believe in “alien” anointings infiltrating the Body of Christ! There is a big difference between Kundalini and the real Holy Spirit).
Since 1993-4, I believe a foreign spirit has been allowed to invade the church – first through Rodney Howard-Browne’s ministry – then Toronto, then the Prophetic movement (which I was part of at the time) and on into Lakeland and many other ministries and movements. I urge people now to “test the spirits” just as we are commanded to in Scripture. Do not let just anyone lay hands on you. This is a powerful spirit and it has the backing of a lot of big-name ministries. In fact, these men and women are the very ones responsible for allowing it to spread right through the body of Christ. And one day they will be answerable to God for doing so.

We are specifically warned in the Bible that the Last Days will be a time of “seducing spirits,” false prophets, ‘lying signs and wonders,’ and that we always need to watch for “angels of light” masquerading as the real thing. Why does the modern church not take these warnings seriously? Aren’t we living in the very days that the Bible warns about?
Right now I need to do something that I have never done in such a way before. I have never before published a list of ministries or movements to watch out for. But this time I have to. This sickness has gone on long enough. I urge you to cut yourself off from the following ministries and their tainted “anointings” my friends.
Even though some of these people say “good things” at times, it is simply not worth having any involvement with them due to the tainted anointing that they endorse or minister in themselves. Here is the list-
1) Todd Bentley.
(2) Rodney Howard Browne – the so-called “Holy Ghost Bartender.”
(2) Rick Joyner or anyone connected with Morningstar Ministries.
(3) John Arnott & any connected with TACF (The “Toronto Blessing”).
(4) Peter Wagner of the ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ who claims to be head of a worldwide network of ‘apostles’ – who publicly endorsed Lakeland and will soon preach at Toronto TACF alongside other “false anointing” advocates.
(5) Mike Bickle and IHOP Kansas City (-I lived nearby for over two years – and know how much they are into all this stuff. Mike Bickle promotes it in his book).
(6) Bob Jones – the Kansas City prophet whose ministry is utterly tainted by it all.
(7) Patricia King and anyone else from ‘Extreme Prophetic.’
(8) John Crowder & anyone connected with “Sloshfest.”
(9) Bill Johnson of Bethel church, Redding – who says some good things but publicly endorsed Lakeland and promotes the “false anointing” very strongly behind the scenes.
(10) Heidi & Rolland Baker of IRIS Ministries – who do good work amongst the poor in Mozambique – but who have also carried and promoted this tainted anointing for years.
(11) Randy Clark, Wes & Stacey Campbell, and other key figures from the “Toronto blessing.”
(12) The Elijah List – and almost anyone featured on it. Of course there are a huge number of lesser-known preachers and ministries who carry or endorse this Kundalini-type “anointing” around the world. But I have concentrated here on the most influential that I know of. It really is an enormous issue in the church. I urge anyone who is a supporter of any of the above ministries to really check them out thoroughly. If you find (as I have) that they carry or endorse this false Kundalini spirit in the church, then please stop supporting them in any way – and whatever you do, don’t let them “lay hands” on you!
I am putting everything on the line to be “naming names” like this.
But I believe it is that serious. How on earth did we get to the point where “kriyas” just like Hinduism are spreading through the church?

Andrew Strom is a student of “Revivals” and has a website

New Atheist Crusaders by Becky Garrison

Here's a link to a review I've written on a book I recently read.

New Atheist Crusaders, by Becky Garrison


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

OSAS & the New Birth

Many have developed an understanding of regeneration/ the new birth in which they believe that the experience makes the regenerated individual immune to the possibility of falling away. They believe that those who are truly born again are new creatures who, according to that new nature, cannot turn from Christ.

This belief will then move further down the path to claim that any who do fall away were never saved anyway but were mistaken in their belief that their relationship with Jesus was ever real.
This is a common excuse used by those supporting ideas of “Once Saved Always Saved”.

It’s not surprising that those who hold to that view also have no hesitation in believing that they themselves ARE truly saved and would never have their faith exposed as being false by some future abandonment of it. But, apart from pride, can any of them be TRULY sure that their faith is genuine enough to last the distance?

"if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!"
1 Cor 10:12

"Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off." Romans 11

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

ONCE SAVE ALWAYS SAVED? – Not according to scripture!

Just as God does not compel anyone to be saved, neither does He compel anyone to remain in His saving grace.
Just as He has given mankind the responsibility of responding to His grace through faith, likewise mankind is given the responsibility of remaining faithful.

Col 1:21-23 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— IF you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.

Note that little word with the big meaning: “IF”.
Reconciliation with God through Christ, being presented to Him as holy, without blemish and free from accusation is CONDITIONAL upon our continuing in our faith, being established and firm, not moving from the hope held out in the gospel. If those conditions aren’t met then the promises associated with those conditions are not applicable.

2Ti 2:11-13 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Again, there are a lot of “IFs” pointing out conditions.
Be aware that these statements are made to a believer and are inclusive of the writer, Paul. He writes “If WE disown Him He will disown US”.
The reference to God’s faithfulness at the end of this excerpt is NOT saying that He will remain faithful to us no matter how unfaithful we may be to Him.
That statement is to warn us that God remains faithful to HIMSELF, (i.e. He will not go back on His word regarding the disowning of those who disown Him).

1Co 10:11-12 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

This is the first of three New Testament warnings that use Israel’s wilderness experience as a warning to believers. God freed Hundreds of thousands from bondage in Egypt, but due to their unfaithfulness, all but two of the freed adults failed to enter the Promised Land. The rest fell away through disobedience and perished in the wilderness.
Warnings using the same example of Israel’s wilderness experience can be found in Hebrews and Jude.
Paul gives a very strong admonition here to those who may be a little too smug about their assumed security: “if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

This is very similar to a warning Paul gives in Romans. Again it relates to the experience of Israel, warning believers that disobedience among believers will lead to the same result as that experienced by the disobedient in Israel.

Ro 11:18-22 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.”
Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.

This also cautions about the arrogance of assuming our security if certain conditions are not being met. Again Israel’s unbelief is referenced. We need to remember that even though they were God’s elect nation they were not secure from the consequences of continued disobedience and unbelief.
With that example, how can anyone have the arrogance to presume that God will keep THEM secure, guaranteeing the salvation of professing believers, if that profession is not accompanied by active and obedient faithfulness?

1Ti 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers

Here Paul points to the importance of both our doctrine and also the way our life is lived in practice, linking them to our own salvation and also that of those who are influenced by us. The example Jesus gave of a millstone around the neck comes to mind here* – as does James’ warning about desiring to be a teacher**. Not only is our own salvation a concern, but also the salvation of those who are influenced by our life and our doctrine.

Heb 6:4-8 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

I don’t know whether anything could be made clearer. This excerpt is explicitly clear about the possibility of falling away and it also describes the very serious consequences of doing so. What stronger reason could we have for ensuring that we remain faithful to Him?
The wording here is quite interesting when it says someone who has fallen away can not “be brought back to repentance” – to my understanding this suggests that the person themselves will no longer respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and therefore can not be brought back to a required repentant state. They have so hardened their heart and seared their conscience that they have become resistant to conviction.

Heb 10:26-31 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think those deserve to be punished who have trampled the Son of God underfoot, who have treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who have insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Again, this is clearly referring to those who HAVE been believers. There is no way of getting around the description of those who “have received the knowledge of the truth” and again, like Paul, the writer to the Hebrews includes himself in the warning. “If WE deliberately keep on sinning after WE have received”… this makes it undeniable that he is writing about those (like himself) who are believers. It should also be undeniable, considering this excerpt, that those who have at one time been believers can fall from the position of grace they once enjoyed.

2Pe 1:10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble

Another admonition for believers to act and live in such a way that their election is made sure – why the need for such a statement (or indeed any of the others I’ve quoted) if a persons election could never be in doubt, that it was totally and permanently secure?

2Pe 2:20-22 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

Here it could not be stated more clearly. Those who “have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” could be none other than Christians. The rest of the sentence is equally clear when it speaks about those who were Christians becoming re-entangled in and overcome by the corruption of the world. How could they be any worse than someone who had never believed and followed Jesus unless they faced a worse eternal outcome than someone who had never followed Jesus?

I can’t see how anyone can see these many clear references and still deny the possibility of a believer forfeiting their salvation. However, scripture goes further than spelling out the possibility and states that it is a certainty that some WILL depart from their faith.

Jesus Himself said:
Mt 24:10-13 At that time many WILL turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved.***

And note the latter part of that quote that says those who stand firm to the end will be saved. It does not say that those who are “saved” will stand firm to the end, which is the view promoted in the term “Once Saved Always Saved”.

Lk 17:1-2 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around your neck than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble

Jas 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

*** The turning away from the faith predicted by Jesus finds additional confirmation form Paul’s correspondence with the Thessalonians in which a falling away (apostasy) is foretold as preceding the revealing of the man of lawlessness (usually known as Antichrist). This falling away and the subsequent events described by Paul match very closely to those predicted by Jesus so Paul is clearly referring to the same time and the same things.

All bible quotes from Today's New International Version. 1099. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 2001, 2005.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Through His Word by His Spirit (100th post!)

This is officially the 100th post to this blog since I created it in August 2005. In the years since the first entry I’ve gone through a lot of changes and have learned a lot. I have shared that journey in the previous 99 contributions.

If there is an overall lesson I have learned it relates to the extent that understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been affected by tradition and by the application of men’s wisdom. And if there is one thing I have great difficulty understanding, it is the inability of so many to accept clear and simple revelation given through scripture.

Many have scoffed and accused me of arrogance, and of thinking I know it all when I have questioned their views. But I’m merely expressing the desire that people would treat the written account of scripture with the same respect that they would (hopefully) treat any other writing and assume it is saying what its clearest and simplest meaning seems to be saying. Don’t go looking for complex meanings until the obvious meaning has been applied.

The approach some people take with scripture often leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. The way they force their doctrine INTO their interpretation of scripture is farcical and it would be easy to laugh if the consequences weren’t so serious. For example, recently I read someone claiming that Romans 11:20-21 (“Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either”) could not be suggesting that believers could possibly lose their salvation because believers can’t lose their salvation. This was a clear case of doctrine coming first and scripture being interpreted according to that doctrine instead of vice versa.

I have also heard well know minister preaching on John 15 using a similar approach. Here Jesus was telling His disciples that He is the vine and they need to remain in the vine (Him) in order to bear fruit. The preacher’s view was that believers ARE in the vine and can do nothing BUT remain in the vine and bear fruit. This man, in attempting to protect his views on Christian security effectively contradicted and undermined the serious point of Jesus’ admonition to His disciples.

Elsewhere on this blog I have addressed other ways in which scripture has been selectively applied so that its application ignores its clearly intended meaning. Ezekiel 36 is a classic case where its relevance to the future of Israel is totally ignored and only a verse or two are taken and applied to the church, as if the church has inherited all of the promises specifically made to Israel (note the PROMISES are adopted, but there’s less eagerness to inherit the curses that come with the package).
In the case of Ezekiel 36 the explicit references to the land and returning to the land of their forefathers makes it totally clear that it is the people of Israel who are being spoken of; that it is the people of Israel who will one day be brought back to the Lord and become the people they were called to be.

But a lot of this is merely recapping what I’ve written in more depth in recent blog entries.

This blog has not only recorded a personal journey it has also been an active part of that journey, helping me along the way, giving me a place to give clarity to some ideas and also providing a means of having those ideas challenged. It has been a journey that has helped me to observe and it has also made me open to be observed. Like any imperfect man I get carried away at times and don’t always respond to others as graciously as I should and I thank Jesus, my God, my Lord and my saviour for His forgiveness, patience and love. I am also grateful for His gift of the Holy Spirit, who teaches and empowers me to move onwards in my new life in Christ.

This blog has covered a period during which some of my basic understanding of the Christian faith has been shaken and tested. So much of what I once took for granted was shown to be built on a false foundation: on the foundation of man’s teachings instead of the revelation given by God through His word and by His Spirit. I thank the Lord for the rebuilding He has been doing in my life over recent years.

I could write a list of the many false doctrines that I have come across during most of the last decade, but I don’t think that is necessary because most of them have received some mention in earlier blog entries. Many of those doctrines seem to have little in common with each other. The extreme charismania demonstrated in the so-called “Toronto Blessing” and the starchy traditionalism of many followers of “Reformed” theology seem to be polar opposites. While the external manifestations of these vastly different traditions are totally at odds – the root cause that led to them is identical: the exaltation of man’s teaching and theology at the expense of the truth revealed through scripture, by the Holy Spirit.

But of course, adherents of both sides will protest loudly and present their favoured proof texts to show how their beliefs are “scriptural” – but it is clear when other parts of scripture are not so favourable that those other parts are either ignored or “interpreted” in a way that the contradiction is negated.
Any belief that needs to take such a creative, integrity-free approach to biblical “interpretation” is definitely on very shaky ground.

May we all be honest and humble enough to evaluate ourselves and our doctrines according to the light God has given in His word by His Spirit.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Thoughts on Gifts of Snakes and Fish

“He would not give me a snake when I’ve asked for a fish…”

How many times have I heard that phrase used to excuse a complacent and careless approach to the Christian life? And yet there is never acknowledgement that God has made us accountable and expects us to heed the many warnings He has given about the need to beware of the dangers of deception.

When I myself think of that statement I now always recall Israel in the wilderness. Among the many complaints they directed towards God was a mention of the lack of fish. And what was God’s response? To send poisonous snakes among the ungrateful nation!
Even when they finally repented and sought deliverance God did not remove the snakes. Instead He provided a “cure” for snake bite. Anyone bitten was required to look upon a metal snake lifted up on a pole, and in doing so the effects of the poison was nullified.

In the context of that most famous verse, John 3:16, a comparison is made between the provision of the snake on a pole with the lifting up of Jesus on the cross. While the poison of sin has not been removed from the world, God in His love provided a way to nullify the effects of its poison, through looking to Jesus and having faith in Him. Those who refuse to look to Jesus and try to overcome sin’s poison in their own strength will fall victim to their own pride and suffer the inevitable death that results from sin.

So now, what about the snake and the fish? Can we sit back and assume that God will bless laziness and complacency? Will He bless a careless attitude that ignores the very means He has undertaken to draw us and keep us close to Himself?

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Reading back over some of the comments on my blog, I came across a question that I directed towards someone who had left a comment

“where did you get [these] beliefs from?
Can you HONESTLY and sincerely say that they came from scripture alone PRIOR to receiving any teaching along those lines from any outside source?”

Unfortunately at the time I missed the significance of his reply:

“As far as your comments regarding why I believe [this] to be true, it is because I heard it taught directly from scripture and it makes sense to me”.


Which is exactly as I suspected. The person came to his beliefs through someone’s teaching (allegedly directly from scripture) – and his judgement of the validity of the teaching was “it makes sense”.

As I have written so many times before, ANYTHING can be taught and supported from scripture. It is easy to pick out select verses to support a teaching – EVERY false religious group claiming to be Christian does it. That is why it is necessary to emulate the Bereans and search the scriptures for ourselves to assess the teaching. We should NOT rely on a teaching making sense. MOST teachings will “make sense” if presented by talented and persuasive teacher.

We cannot afford to put our trust entirely in what a teacher tells us. We have a serious responsibility, and we hold the ultimate accountability, for the things we believe. We also have a degree of accountability for the things that others come to believe through our influence.

This matter is far too serious for us to be complacent.

But how do we “search the scriptures”?

May I offer a few suggestions?

1) Become familiar with the overall content and themes throughout the whole of scripture. The Bereans mentioned in Acts were members of a Jewish synagogue and would therefore already have a good general grounding in the scriptures as all Jews of the time would have. Unfortunately most of us (especially as young Christians) start our search with the disadvantage of not having that kind of background knowledge.

2) Do not limit the search to the verses quoted by the teacher. Make sure that the surrounding verses are also considered to ensure that the teacher used his chosen texts IN THE CORRECT CONTEXT.

3) Seek out other places in scripture that address the same or similar issues being taught. If the teaching is on God’s mercy, find as many references to God’s mercy that you can track down. The same goes with any other matter. And again make sure that context is taken into account when you look through those references.

4) Realise that each biblical book was written for a particular reason and to address a particular readership. This is most evident with the letters in the New Testament. The letter writers were addressing real life situations and real people. They were not writing a mere theological text. They wrote to address particular issues being faced by everyday believers of their time.

5) Scripture comes to us in a variety of different literary forms that were written in their particular way for a particular purpose. For example, the book of Proverbs is a book of Wisdom literature – it is not a book of collected promises. It helps to recognise those different types of literature and understand their application according to their literary type. Something written in poetic form may use exaggeration to express an idea, or it might use symbolism that may cause misunderstanding if taken literally.

Well, I’ve given enough of my own thoughts on searching the scriptures. The most important thing is that we all treat God’s word with respect and integrity and have a desire to receive GOD’S revelation rather than the ideas of man.
As a final note I’ll add that it is good to maintain a healthy scepticism – meaning, don’t be afraid to doubt the things you are taught until you are completely satisfied that it is consistent with the nature and purposes of God. Don’t be too eager or impatient to adopt new “truths”, whether they are taught by others* or whether you discover them for yourself through your own reading of scripture. No matter how right they may seem at first, seek God for confirmation from another (preferably unrelated) source.

The most trustworthy teacher of God’s truth is the Holy Spirit. If you sincerely seek His aid He will not disappoint or mislead. Learn to recognise His voice.


* Additionally do NOT allow yourself to be bullied into accepting anything. Many teachers claim to have a special “anointing” that places them and their teaching above reasonable criticism. If your teacher displays that kind of attitude then do NOT submit yourself to him/her and their teaching under any circumstances.

2010: A Race Idiocy

Some thoughts about the last decade and the "millennial" year that started it.

I recall a film of that title, the sequel to 2001 A Space Odyssey. I think it was made in the mid 1980s and it gave a very “optimistic” outlook for man’s progress as a space travelling species. But then again, in the world Arthur C Clarke created for that series of novels and films, mankind was being helped along by a mysterious alien race represented by a large matte black monolith.

Is it mere irony that a similar featureless block is the focal point of the prayer room in the United Nations building? As members pray to their various gods they kneel or sit facing the block and are able to use it as a representation of the god to whom they are praying. A featureless block intended to be inoffensive to the variety of religions followed by the diverse membership of the UN. In other words it was a compromise solution which showed no favouritism to any of the millions of gods worshipped by man.

2010. A year that was given little if any thought for most of my life. It lacks the mystique of the year 2000, that false millennial year (A C Clarke got the timing right with 2001).
2000 was a year I dreamt of as a child. A year so far away I couldn’t imagine reaching it. After all I would be 42 if the world (and I) survived that long. Be aware that my childhood saw the Vietnam War, the threat of nuclear annihilation, the first seeds of terrorism, with both Islamic groups and the IRA starting their campaigns…
The world didn’t seem such a friendly place and the future seemed… well, unlikely.

But that most anticipated “millennial” year did arrive and I was here to see it. A year celebrated with the Olympic Games literally on my doorstep, the Stadium visible from the street outside my home. People stood in the streets to watch one of the firework displays that have become part of Sydney’s identity. It was the cities second major celebration for that year.
The first was to openly welcome the "millennium".

A whole decade has now passed. 10 years more than my childhood imagination could reach and what has the world learned?

Well, it has learned to change fiction into fact, taking the example of Clarke’s fictional world the leaders of the “real” world also turn to a featureless block for enlightenment. And while their representaives pray to that idol, visitors to the building containing it can see another monument at its entrance. One that speaks of beating swords into ploughshares and about man learning war no more… surely an admirable goal to work towards.

Except: that monument promoting peace has taken its motto from scripture, and it omits the most important part of the scriptural statement. It ignores the ONE responsible for that promised peace and that ONE is NOT an impersonal man-made block.

The One who will bring peace is revealed in the full text that SHOULD have been included on that monument at the UN building. And that peace will only occur when the TRUE “millennium” is established. The only one who will bring peace to this world is Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and He will do it when His earthly reign of 1000 years is established from His throne in Jerusalem.

Many peoples will come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths."
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore

Now THAT is a millennium to get excited about – but the best news is that it will be only a foretaste of even better things to come.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."