YOU’VE BROKEN FREE FROM THE NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION – NOW WHAT?

By Rick Becker 2 November 2017

God has opened your eyes to the deception in the New Apostolic Reformation and other aberrant teachings such as the word of faith and prosperity gospel.  You have made the necessary, yet painful decision to leave your church.  You are flooded with emotions and fears.  Perhaps you are even regretting your decision as you may find yourself isolated.  Questions arise such as why did God allow this to happen, who can I trust now, what is the alternative?

Reasons why the NAR & CO have such a powerful grip on their followers can be found here .  It can be daunting to leave a church once you have discovered the deception within it. Disillusioned with church and even God can weigh you down.  Your journey into the somewhat unknown comes with it’s own set of challenges.  Here are some simple and practical steps that may be helpful:

1 Deal with the hurts and emotions that inevitably accompany this process

Leaving a church is a painful experience, even for those who leave on amicable terms. Leaving the NAR is usually a messy affair due to the controlling nature of this movement, and few come out unscathed.  Very often just prior to your departure, things may have been heated.  There may have been a certain amount of miscommunication, which added to the confusion and frustration you feel.  False accusations may have been made and  bonds as close as a tightly knit family have been shattered.  Few things are as painful as broken relationships and these words from the book of Psalms may resonate with you:
For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together,
And walked to the house of God in the throng.” Psalm 55:12-14

It’s imperative that you confront your emotions without delay.  The longer you harbor any resentment, and replay events in your mind,  the harder it is going to be for you to move forward.  At this particular junction, it may feel as though you have nothing to lean upon.  You may feel stripped, empty, and a little lost.  Feelings of rejection and self pity are paralyzing, and it is crucial to bring your pain to the cross of Christ.  This is where you will find peace.  Inherent in this movement is the dependence on people and experiences instead of God.  This will be an opportunity to discover that God is able to heal the brokenhearted and bring restoration.  It goes without saying that you need to forgive those who have hurt you, and begin the next chapter of your life.  In time, you will see that you have learnt many invaluable lessons through the whole situation.

2 Why did God allow me to be deceived is a question many ask

You may have forgiven the people who have hurt you, but you may be bitter towards God for allowing you to be deceived.  However, It’s never a case of God deceiving his children – the Holy Spirit leads us into truth, not deception.  Some in the NAR are unbelievers, and will never be saved from the deception because they are not saved. They have rejected truth, and as a result God will send them a strong delusion: “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,  and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.  

So why have some been deceived, albeit temporarily:
• Some are new in the faith and not well versed in scripture.  Due to their lack of knowledge and their inability to discern between truth from error, they believe the lies taught in this movement. 
• Some have been deceived by their own hearts.  The painful truth is that the man centered teachings of the NAR  appealed to self.  It may have been the attraction of guaranteed health and wealth, or perhaps the thought that they would become the next celebrity teacher. The lure of being part of a special new breed of anointed end time revivalists who will usher in the kingdom is just as attractive.  We know how to spiritualize carnal motivations in order to justify what is essentially just appeasing self.
• Some are ensnared by these teachings when looking for solutions to hardships. Sickness, poverty, and other hardships can often blind people to the false teachings of the NAR, as they seek the answers the NAR have on offer.  Those who are suffering in some way are desperately looking for deliverance from their afflictions.  Yet even during trials, we cannot blame God if we look for solutions outside of his word:  “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” James 1:13-14  The desire to be healed, the desire to be free from any form of hardship, can tempt us to compromise on what is clearly written in scripture.

One reason God allows the testing of our faith, is to reveal what is in us.  We are new creatures in Christ, but until we leave this earth we will have to crucify our flesh daily.  The temptation to be our own little god and work miracles appeals to the flesh.  The NAR is a movement that elevates the flesh instead of crucifying it.  What really matters is that God has rescued you from a deceptive movement.  You have not rejected the truth and are not amongst those who stand condemned.  It’s time to be grateful, and learn to rightly divide the scripture in order to grow and be in a position to help those caught up in the NAR.

3 You are not alone.  Find fellowship and encouragement as soon as possible

Once you have left your church, you find yourself in no mans land.  This period of isolation can be the breeding ground to foster bitterness.  You now find yourself in a vacuum, and the best thing to do is fill it with truth.  Finding a new fellowship takes time, and you have now learned not to place your trust in any individual or ministry. If possible, find others who have come out of these movements as they can be a source of encouragement and will identify with what you have been through. They may also be able to point you to resources that are helpful, and even a church to fellowship at. There are many free resources available that will help during this time. Start studying the word of God, use commentaries, listen to podcasts, read books exposing the NAR and their doctrines so that you can understand their error and learn to rightly divide the word.

4 Don’t make the same mistake twice

A hallmark of NAR & CO churches is that they:
• teach topically, using proof texts to substantiate their false doctrines.
• employ eisegesis – they ignore the rules of interpretation and original meaning of the text; instead they subject it to their own interpretation, and narcigesis – a self centered interpretation of a text.
• relate experiences and tell stories which are usually not verifiable and are contrary to scripture.

What you should be looking for in a church is one with a detailed statement of faith so that you know exactly where they stand on various issues.  Don’t be attracted to personalities, the atmosphere during the service, the size of the church, the amount of friends who go there etc.  You have just come out of false teaching, so your primary concern should be good teaching.  Teachings should be primarily expository in nature.  A pastor that rightly divides the word of God (2 Tim 2:15)  will employ the principals of interpretation, something ignored by NAR teachers.  This critical analysis of a text reveals the true interpretation.  This is what’s going to feed you and mature you in the faith.  Some people come out of the NAR and immediately gravitate towards any fellowship that is as far removed from the NAR as possible.  Within months they may find that they are now in another church or movement full of doctrinal error.  On the other hand, some find error in every church and cut themselves off from any form of fellowship.  Keep in mind that there will always be something you disagree with, and not one of us will get to heaven and find that our own theology was perfect.  Differences in non essential doctrines are always going to exist.  What we need to avoid is blatant false teaching as espoused by the NAR & CO, and any other movement/denomination that teach false doctrines.

5 Don’t view the alternative as lacking what you believed was “spirit filled” and exciting.

A typical NAR service is no dull affair.  Lively worship with Hillsong or Jesus Culture music can stir up the emotions.  Gold dust, glory clouds, angel sightings and fantastic stories of encounters with God leave followers drooling in their seats.  After the message,  it is time for the spirit to move and prophecies are given, people are slain in the spirit, impartations and declarations seal the deal.  But now that you have left, there is silence.  What stirred your soul is gone, and you wonder if a dry alternative is all that God has to offer.  What you may not yet have realized is that the “more” you were seeking was actually poison.  People who live on junk food and a high sugar diet live in a state of toxic hunger.  They are perpetually hungry because their bodies are not being fed the nutrients that they are so desperately craving and needing.  Instead they keep giving their bodies what they think it wants, rather than what it truly needs.

In the same way, people who are fed on the NAR teachings are not receiving the nutrition that their spirits need, and so they are in a perpetual state of hunger.  They believe that this is a good hunger, but in fact it’s a sign that they have been poisoned.  Their senses have been stimulated and entertained, yet their spirits are starving.

Each year brings more prophecies of great outpourings, greater breakthroughs, double anointings, more blessing, increase, more outlandish testimonies of encounters with God, trips to heaven etc.  Stadiums are filled, and before the dust has settled, the date for the next life changing meeting is announced.  You need a spiritual detox from this garbage.  We all need to come to the point where it is Christ alone who is sufficient.

• We don’t need Shawn Bolz to tell us our dead relative is happy in heaven – we trust God that his judgement is just.
• We don’t need a global leadership seminar from Willowcreek listening to experts in their business field – experts devoid of the gospel.
• We don’t need an impartation from Patrica King, Kris Vallotton or Bill Johnson because we realise we have an anointing and God is able to fill us when needed.
• We don’t need Todd White to pray for our sore back – we can ask the elders to lay hands on us, and ask God to heal us.
• We don’t need the latest book from T D Jakes, Brian Houston, John Bevere, Beth Moore, Bill Johnson or any other teacher who twists the scriptures.
• We don’t need repetitive worship songs with lyrics devoid of truth

The transition from a feeling based to a faith based walk in Christ is but one of the incredible blessings when you leave this movement.  In the NAR, the word of God has lost it’s power;  the two edged sword has been replaced with a dull blade which is unable to discern between soul and spirit.  The word of God will take on a new meaning as you study it in context – something that rarely happens in a NAR church.  Your false view of the nature of man and of God, will be replaced with the correct view.  The declarations or readings at Bethel church during the offering, are a prime example of the wrong view of the nature of man.  Their narcissistic gospel is shameless:
I am powerful. And what I believe changes the world…I am important….Everywhere I go becomes a perfect-health zone”

Once free from this self elevating gospel, you will discover that the gospel is about God, not you, and that true Christianity is not about your comfort in this world, but about conforming to the image of Christ.  Once again, Bethel confuses the gospel with the American Dream in their offering reading:
“As we receive today’s offering,
We are believing the Lord for:

Jobs and better jobs
Raises and bonuses
Benefits
Sales and commissions
Favorable settlements
Estates and inheritances

Interests and income
Rebates and returns
Checks in the mail
Gifts and surprises
Finding money
Debts paid off
Expenses decrease
Blessing and increase..”

The continual search for impartations, anointings, manifestations and being led by what you feel, is replaced with something far more secure – the word of God.  More from Bethel, a church that flirts with the new age and demonic realm:

“As we receive today’s offering
We are believing You for:

Heaven opened
Earth invaded
Storehouses unlocked
And miracles created
Dreams and visions
Angelic visitations
Declarations
Impartations
And divine manifestations

Anointings, giftings and calls
Positions and promotions”
Source: https://www.bethel.com/offering-readings/

There is nothing new about the New Apostolic Reformation.  It is not a reformation, It’s  a deformation of the truth – repackaged false doctrine.  Thank God that you have come out of this movement that will be part of an ecumenical movement that welcomes the antichrist with open arms.

THE GRIP OF THE CULT-LIKE NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION & CO

By Rick Becker  26 October 2017

You probably have friends and family caught up in New Apostolic Reformation churches (Bethel, Hillsong etc) and you have found it extremely difficult to persuade them they are being deceived.  You may have been accused of having a critical spirit, of being divisive, judgemental, or of being a heresy hunter when warning them of the false doctrines in this movement.  Why is it so difficult for those caught up in the New Apostolic Reformation, word of faith and prosperity gospel movements (NAR & CO) to break free?

These movements have characteristics similar to cults, making it almost equally difficult to come out from their grip and deception. There are reasons why it is so difficult for people to escape from these movements and churches that teach false doctrine. Firstly, we will look at some secondary reasons, and then note the two primary reasons why people struggle to break free from this deception.

A new priesthood has been established within the NAR & CO.  When the likes of Patricia King, Kris Vallotton or Bill Johnson claim to have a revelation for the body of Christ, a new strategy etc, who are you to question when God does not speak to you on such an intimate basis?  Like any cult leader, they claim to have special knowledge, immediately placing them on a level that is admired by their followers.  Leaders claim to have taken trips to heaven, talked with angels, received new downloads and impartations from an open heaven.  Their so called ability to receive new revelation has elevated them above their followers, in clear contradiction of 1 John 2:27: “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.”  There is no difference between the manipulative priests and Popes of the Roman Catholic Church and this new breed of apostles, prophets and pastors.  They interpret scripture on our behalf, and through eisegesis twist the scriptures to promote their false doctrines.  They are rarely challenged by their own followers, and point two reveals why.

Submission induced through an unhealthy fear keeps followers in their place.  Questioning a particular teaching or any form of critical reasoning is frowned upon by the leaders and treated as a mutiny of sorts. Those who obey and submit are duly rewarded with positions in the ministry, mentions by name, and are allowed in the inner circle.  Those who ask legitimate questions concerning doctrine or practices are immediately dealt with.  Usually they will be accused of a number of things: having a rebellious spirit, acting out of personal hurts that they have not dealt with or not being in tune with the Holy Spirit and in doing so grieving him.  Some unfortunate souls will even receive threats in the form of  “prophetic words.”  Finally they will probably be threatened with the go to verse for all manipulative false teachers: “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!” Psalm 105:15. This verse does not mean it’s wrong to question a leader regarding their teachings. This verse meant that it would have been wrong for David to kill king Saul.  David had the opportunity but spared Saul ( 2 Sam 24:10-11) and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe.

Contrary to scripture, the leaders have ulterior motives and rule from their position at the top of their hierarchical structure.  Instead, leaders should: “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;  not for shameful gain, but eagerly;  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” 1 Peter 5:2-3

Pride prevents many from admitting their whole house has been built on the wrong foundation. Its embarrassing to admit much of what you have believed, practiced, and  taught has been based on a lie.  The longer a person has been in these movements the harder it is to break free.

4  People have invested heavily in their churches. Time and money have been spent,  and if they leave, all those spent resources would have been a waste.  What if they are about to receive that long awaited breakthrough?  After tithing faithfully for 15 years, God may be about to catapult their business to the level of success they have always dreamed of. Their leader has been given a prophetic word that this is “a season of suddenlies”  and “major shifts” – they don’t want to lose out!  Perhaps they are on the verge of being offered a leadership position, finally giving them the recognition they deserve.

Friendships are in jeopardy, despite a questionable leader and unsound doctrine, friendships are formed that can be as close as or even supersede family ties and provide a means of emotional support.  Perhaps the thing that they stand to lose the most are the friendships, and that is what makes breaking away so painful.  The thought of losing these friendships and the support they offer is often too much to bear for many, and so they remain, convincing themselves not to throw out the baby out with the bathwater.  But there is no baby in the waters of the NAR & CO –  a little leaven leavens the whole lump.

6  Many are simply too lazy to study the word for themselves, preferring to accept the flawed interpretations of their favorite celebrity teacher.  A Beth Moore or John Bevere bible study is far less work than digging into the word for yourself.  In this digital age there are literally thousands of free resources from commentaries and lexicons that enable us to understand the word in context.  Unfortunately many followers come to the point where they trust their leaders to such an extent that they never question what they are taught.  Those who do concede that there are some questionable teachings, simply shrug off any concerns and assure you that they “eat the meat and spit out the bones.”  This not a biblical text;  instead we are commanded to mark and avoid those who pervert the gospel.

7  It’s all they know.  Many are graciously saved by God despite being in these churches. However, expository preaching and working through actual chapters in context is foreign to them. Topical preaching, motivational messages and story telling are the order of the day.  Followers cannot discern the twisting of scripture through the narcigesis and eisegesis employed by their leaders.  Years of indoctrination have taken their toll.  Attempting to reason or discuss scripture with those caught up in these movements is often futile. Those who are believers, remain in a state of spiritual infancy: “About this 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 need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,  for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.  But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:11-14. 
For more on discernment and sound doctrine, listen to our  podcast

There are two main reasons why people stay in the NAR & CO even after being confronted with truth.:

1  Many are false converts, so don’t expect them to see the light when they are firmly entrenched in the kingdom of darkness and loving it. When Jesus said my sheep hear my voice he did not mean he will give you a new revelation during your quiet time; He meant true believers will hear and obey his voice.  His voice is clear, his voice has spoken, it’s called scripture. These false converts need the true gospel in order to repent and believe, before they can be able to discern the errors of the NAR & CO: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” 1 Corinthians 2:14
Don’t think for a second that many caught up in these movements are not passionate or sincere, but they are sincerely wrong.  Passion, crowds, testimonies, and even signs and wonders do not guarantee that God is involved.  Ultimately, God knows who are his, and what may fool men, never fools God: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’   And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7: 21-23

2  Many are simply feeding their own passions and are getting exactly what they desire – ear tickling messages.  It’s not so much a question of them being deceived by a teacher, but rather them finding a teacher who is as deceived as they are. Its hard to believe the message of the cross over a message that avoids the cross and elevates self – read more on that  here   We are quick to blame false teachers who are leading many astray, but these verses gives us the reason many are deceived:: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,  and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”  2 Timothy 4:3-4
Note the following:
The people will not want sound doctrine
The people already have itching ears
The people are the ones accumulating false teachers
The people are merely catering for their own carnal passions
The people are not interested in the truth

The prophets of the old testament also had to contend with false prophets, and a people who preferred satisfying their passions rather than obeying God:
An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it sobut what will you do when the end comes?” Jeremiah 5: 30-31

For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear
 the instruction of the Lord who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
 and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right;  speak to us smooth things,
 prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”  Isaiah 30: 9-11

Don’t be fooled by those in these movements, who by outward appearances seem to be devoted to God and his kingdom.  They seem so passionate and determined to make a difference in this world; they are bold, unashamed, and eager to spread their message.  Dig a little deeper however, and you will find that ultimately they are the ones who are exalted.  It’s a man centered gospel.  You will leave a legacy, you will usher in God’s kingdom, you will do greater things, you will be a world changer…God needs YOU.

Pray for those you know who are caught up in these movements.  God has graciously saved people in these churches, and that same grace will lead them out.  If you have an opportunity, speak the truth in love, keeping in mind that you were probably deceived by these movements to some degree in the past. The journey of those who have left these movements would have been painful.  The scars remain, but ultimately we have to be faithful to God and his word.

 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Jude 1: 22-23

 

THE LESSER MENTIONED THIEF

By Rick Becker  7 September 2017

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” John 10:10.  We are all familiar with this phrase, usually quoted when referring to Satan.  However, when we examine the context, we see that Jesus is in fact referring to false teachers.

Satan is certainly a liar who is hell bent on destroying God’s sheep by any means, and one way his intentions are carried out is through false teachers.  If we look at the context of this verse, we see a contrast between Jesus – the good shepherd, and the false shepherds of Israel – the Pharisees.  The previous chapter recounts the healing of the man born blind, and how despite this miracle by Jesus, the Pharisees excommunicated the blind man and condemned Jesus – the good shepherd.  Jesus promptly rebukes the Pharisees (John 9:40-41) and Chapter 10 continues in the same vein, with the object of Jesus’ condemnation being the religious leaders of Israel.  Jesus refers to them as “that man” vs 1, “a stranger” vs 5, “all who came before me” vs 8, “a hired hand” vs 12, clearly all references to the religious leaders.

In verse one, we are told: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber” John 10:1.  Jesus is using a parable to contrast a true shepherd, who cares for the flock, as opposed to a hireling, who is ultimately concerned with some sort of selfish gain.  Today we have hirelings in the church: these false shepherds do not fulfil the biblical criteria to minister in the church.  If you have listened to our sermon reviews, you would have noticed that the teachers we reviewed used scripture out of context.  Scripture is clear, one of the qualifications is that those who teach must be able to rightly divide the word of truth:  “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.“  2 Timothy 2:15

These hirelings have not come through the door which is Christ, but as Jude warned have “crept in unnoticed.”  The threat to the spiritual welfare of the church is internal because this is where false teachers operate – within the fold.  You will find these hirelings on stage at a plethora of conferences hosted annually by churches or movements such as Hillsong, Bethel, The Call, IHOP, Willow Creek GLS and others. Some of their common errors include the prosperity gospel, word of faith heresy, and dominion theology as espoused by those in the New Apostolic Reformation.

They have disguised themselves as “apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13).  These false apostles are described as being savage wolves.  Paul warned the Ephesian elders:  “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them… ”  Acts 20:29-30

False teachers come to steal, kill and destroy.  They do this through their teachings and behaviour:  “There will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories.  Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2 Peter 2:1–3).

How exactly do false teachers “steal kill and destroy?”  The passage above reveals some of the ways:

Their false doctrine which is destructive – false teachings present either a distorted view of man or a distorted view of God.  Last weeks blog post revealed the extent to which false teachers have distorted the biblical view of mankind.  It is impossible to mature in the the faith, or at times even be in the faith unless these two views are aligned with scripture.  A distorted view of God is not a foundation to build upon – Os Guiness explains:  “Sometimes when I listen to people who say they have lost their faith, I am far less surprised than they expect.  If their view of God is what they say, then it is only surprising that they did not reject it much earlier.  Other people have a concept of God so fundamentally false that it would be better for them to doubt than to remain devout. The more devout they are, the uglier their faith will become since it is based on a lie. Doubt in such a case is not only highly understandable, it is even a mark of spiritual and intellectual sensitivity to error, for their picture is not of God but an idol. ”
― Os Guinness, God in the Dark.

Their conduct maligns Christianity – scandal after scandal has plagued popular leaders of mega churches (due to their depraved conduct) bringing the name of Christ into disrepute.  Extra marital affairs, plagiarism, covering up a family members pedophilia, stealing church funds, sensual productions on church stages and other indiscretions are regularly witnessed. To make matters worse, there is little accountability, and the perpetrators are usually “restored” to a ministry position they were never qualified for in the first place, after a few months.

Their exploitation of people through their lies.  A good shepherd will protect his sheep at all costs.  False teachers exploit the flock through various manipulative means, justified through their twisting of scripture.  The weak, vulnerable, hurting and naive are preyed upon and abused.  Furthermore, a hireling’s primary concern is the wages he/she will receive at the end of the day.  This brings us to three observations concerning false teachers who come to steal, kill and destroy:

1. They exploit their followers through stealing their money:

  Their ultimate concern is self gratification, monetary reward being one of their motives:  “..they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” Titus 1:11 This means that they want your money as “they have hearts trained in greed” 2 Peter 3:14.  Let’s not lay all the blame on them, because in order to enrich themselves, they appeal to the greed of their followers. Teaching on tithing or the “principle of sowing”  therefore dominates many of their messages.

New Testament believers are never commanded to tithe, but to give in this manner:  “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8

The irony is that tithing did not work for prosperity teachers;  what made them rich are their fabricated stories which tickle ears.

The quote above is from Robert Morris, who is doing the very thing he accuses Satan of – stealing your money.  Morris is possibly one of the worst manipulators when it comes to fleecing the flock.  He teaches that if we don’t tithe, we are under a curse, and open the door to demons. Failure to tithe can bring divorce and other calamity’s according to this wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The apostle Paul did not mince his words when teaching on how we should deal with those who teach false doctrine and are motivated by greed:  “For there are many who are insubordinate,empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.  They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”  This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,” Titus 1: 1 – 13

Don’t be fooled by all the good these teachers do, and you can be certain that they will let you know that they are doing good!  Most of these celebrity teachers and megachurches make sure that they do some charitable work.  Some might point to these works as evidence of good fruit, however,  building Orphanages, christian universities, fighting human trafficking etc can never justify a false gospel.  “You will know them by their fruits” also refers to sound doctrine.  Those who teach what they ought not to, are displaying bad fruits.

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound  words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,  and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” 1 Timothy 6:3-6.

2.  They tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear:

False teachers give you what you want to hear, and in doing so rob you of the truth, and of Christ himself.  What does our carnal nature want to hear about? Self, naturally.  Our destiny, our purpose, our legacy.

Indeed, our day of “being without intelligence” is over, that’s why it’s impossible to believe this quote;  which would be more plausible if it came from the mouth of a gypsy in a caravan with a glass ball.  This is how we should preach:

“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”  2 Timothy 4: 2-4

When last have you heard a sermon by one of these mega church leaders condemning sin, exposing false doctrine, warning of the judgement to come, rebuking, reproving, and contending for the faith?  These are subjects they conveniently ignore as they are too busy catering for the passions of those on the wide road that leads to destruction. The cost of following Christ has been exchanged for the comforts of a relationship with God in which you determine the conditions and rewards – a partnership.

This is not a new scenario; God condemned Israel for seeking out prophets who told them what they wanted to hear: “For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”  Isaiah 30: 9-11. Centuries later, this verse is still applicable to the likes of T D Jakes, Brian Houston, Joel Osteen, Shawn Bolz, Patricia King and Kris Vallotton to name but a few.

What these teachers will offer, is the opposite of self denial and picking up your cross.  Self denial has been replaced with gratification of self:  “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” 2 Timothy 3: 1-4

3 They cause division in the body:

“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.  For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”  Romans 16:17-18

We need to dispel a common misconception regarding this verse. This verse is NOT saying that warning people of smooth talkers and exposing their error is divisive.  This verse IS saying that those who cause cause divisions and obstacles are the smooth talkers who have veered off from the doctrine they had been taught.  These hirelings need to be marked (named) and avoided (a healthy division) as they take advantage of their naive followers.  Their common errors include teachings that place us back under the law (Galatians 2), grace as an excuse to continue in sin (Romans 6), and false philosophy (Colossians 2).  Interestingly, a portion of the following verses describes those caught up in the New Apostolic Reformation:  Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, (intruding into those things which he has not seen), vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,  and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” Colossians 2: 18-19.

Not necessarily worship, but a fascination of angels and the false notion that we should discern their presence or instruct them is what some teach.  Discerning believers would know that Bethel propagates cleverly devised myths and fabricated stories.  There are no boundaries when it comes to Bill Johnson & co.  Their culture of “taking risks” really means that they are prepared to entertain any encounter or manifestation regardless of the source.  These teachers obsessed with the supernatural and manifestations are the ones causing division because they are the ones disconnected from the head.  Bill Johnson is so disconnected from scripture that he utilizes philosophy, mysticism and the new age in his teachings. He makes up his own theology, and his followers love to have it so:

Imagine if this quote was doing the rounds in the early church.  One of the real apostles would have confronted Bill Johnson, rebuked him, and disqualified him from teaching with immediate effect.  Is it divisive to distance oneself from a “pastor” who has trampled scripture into the ground and incorporates mysticism and new age into his teachings?  Is it divisive to point out that smoke and glitter do not constitute a “glory cloud?  Is it divisive to warn those at Bethel that their leaders covet the mantle of deceased false prophet William Branham?  You get the point!

The book of Jude exhorts us to contend for the faith, and then goes on to describe false teachers who have crept into the church.  They are described as shepherds who feed themselves, loud- mouthed boasters who rely on their dreams.  Jude then states that “It is these who cause divisions.”  

It is those who depart from sound doctrine that are causing division: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Acts 20: 29 -30

The dividers are those who twist or ignore scripture.  These are some of the words scripture uses to describe their teachings and methods: myths, cleverly invented stories, fables, relying on dreams, destructive heresies, distort the truth,  empty talkers.  Paul, in his first Epistle to Timothy, reveals the consequences of following false doctrine:O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.” 1 Timothy 6: 20 -21

Paul lamented the ease with which false apostles were accepted in Corinth: “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 2 Corinthians 11:4

Sadly, today is no different, let us heed the words of Charles Spurgeon:

“He who does not hate the false does not love the true; and he to whom it is all the same whether it be God’s word or man’s, is himself unrenewed at heart.  Oh, if some of you were like your fathers you would not have tolerated in this age the wagon loads of trash under which the gospel has been of late buried by ministers of your own choosing.  You would have hurled out of your pulpits the men who are enemies to the fundamental doctrines of your churches, and yet are crafty enough to become your pastors and undermine the faith of a fickle and superficial generation.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENEMIES OF THE CROSS

17 AUGUST 2017

Not only is the cross the only beacon of light for a fallen world, it is also a clarion call for those who claim allegiance to Christ to pick up their own cross and follow in their masters footsteps. There are, however, “enemies of the cross.” Philippians 3: 18 – 19: “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”

Let’s go back 2000 years, when the cross became a reality and Jesus was about to be crucified. Initially, the hopes and aspirations of many Jews was at an all time high. A carpenters son from Nazareth seemed to fulfil the criteria of the long awaited messiah. By the time Christ entered Jerusalem during his final days on earth, crowds spread their cloaks and placed branches on the road praising Jesus as he entered Jeruslam proclaiming: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:19

A short while later, it is highly likely that many of those same people who shouted Hosanna to the Son of David! now shouted crucify him! and chose a criminal by the name of Barabbas to be pardoned over Jesus. (This is a marvelous picture of the gospel; the guilty are freed because an innocent man has been condemned and taken their place)

Many of the Jews thought that Christ had come to seize political power and ease their burden under Roman rule, but Christ’s kingdom is not political, neither is it of this world. Jesus made this clear to Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” John 18:36

Many hoped that this prophet who changed water into wine, fed 5000, walked on water and raised the dead, would take the throne and fulfill their dreams of a restored kingdom. Life in Israel would be far more comfortable after their messiah had freed them from Roman oppression. This was however not the purpose of Christ’s first coming, and dreams were shattered when the Lion of Judah became a Lamb, and was silent when charged, thereby fulfilling Isaiah 53:7: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth”

This was not the time for a crown, but for the cross; it was not the time to restore the kingdom, but for the kingdom to reject him. The Jews expected all the prophecies concerning the messiah to be fulfilled at his first coming. They failed to understand that many prophecies, specifically pertaining to the kingdom, would literally be fulfilled during and after his second coming.

Today we still find enemies of the cross, and many are within the visible church. They are those who teach the prosperity gospel, word of faith heresy, and all the self appointed prophets, pastors and teachers in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The NAR specifically, like the Jews at the time of Christ, are hoping for the kingdom of God to be fleshed out on earth to such an extent that kingdoms will be brought under the messiah’s rule. They are looking for political, social and economical transformation; they are seeking the comfort and security of a world that has been transformed through the “Seven Mountain Mandate.” They make the same mistake as the Jews did in believing that prophecies relating to the millenial reign of Christ on earth can be obtained now, and even worse , they believe that they are able to usher in this new dispensation. For this to take place, God is apparently raising up a new breed of anointed people: they are lifestyle evangelists and revivalists who roam the streets with cameras in tow, recording their so called exploits for God. At times they are probably a few blocks away from hospitals where terminally ill patients who could do with a miracle are conveniently ignored. Far from “bringing heaven to earth” they instead prey on the weak, hurting and ignorant, leaving a trail of false converts or disappointed people in their wake.

This new breed, who are intent on engineering revival, have been activated into what they believe is a supernatural power. Prophetic activations, downgrades and impartations are big business these days and like Simon the sorcerer, passionate yet gullible people are paying to receive impartations from men. Supernatural schools are flourishing as young people from around the globe are attracted to the idea of creating a legacy, as they transform the planet through their supernatural powers. They have been told that their works will make the works of Christ seem ordinary, and with their miracles alone they will spark revivals and transform cities. What they have not been told is that true revival comes when the message of the cross is preached. This is a far cry from the current methodology of revivalists who merely stretch legs and perform subjective miracles and exclude the message of the cross. What they offer is “another gospel” – one that offers a crown instead of a cross, a throne for self in place of a grave for the carnal nature. Furthermore, this culture of “taking risks” when it comes to stepping out in the supernatural opens the door to spirits that are not from God. Manifestations that are clearly demonic or resemble a seizure are seen as the hand of God. There are no boundaries in the NAR when it comes to chasing after the supernatural.

Enemies of the cross have their minds set on earthly things. Peel away the spiritual veneer of these anointed celebrity apostles and prophets and you will find their minds are set on earthly things. Not the blatant sins we can easily condemn, but subtle sins such as seeking honour among people, pride and boasting in their experiences. The revenue they receive from peddling their books, conferences and courses enble them to live in comfort. Every year they come out with a new teaching, a new method, a new prophecy. Like addicts their followers ultimately pay to receive the latest information that promises victory, intimacy with God, assorted impartations etc, yet they are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Compare the lives of these comfortable and sought after modern apostles and prophets to the real biblical ones; there is no comparison whatsoever because the way of the cross is absent.

When we talk of the cross, we must talk of justification by faith alone. The clear message of the cross is that we cannot save oursleves; however we should take a step back and ask ourselves: “Why the cross” in the first place. John Stott reminds us that “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.”This is the part of the gospel that enemies of the cross ignore. They shout “Hosanna” as they perform their exploits on the streets and in packed conferences, but they ignore the Barabbas that dwells in their gullible hearers. A whole new vocabulary has been invented by these peddlers of the gospel, one that excludes biblical words such as sin, repentance, hell and the wrath of God. Sinners are mere victims, basically good people who have “made mistakes” – they deserve better and the false gospel on offer is nothing less than a personal genie in a bottle. They focus on the “positive” – man needs modification they say, when the truth is we need annhilation of self so that Christ may be formed in us. Enemies of the cross offer a substitute cross; one that promises to save, but not to slay. These enemies of the cross appeal to the carnal nature of their hearers; their ear tickling message is all about self: your dreams, your destiny, your legacy, your purpose. The apostle Peter made no such mistake. In his first sermon he accused his hearers by saying “this Jesus … you crucified” Acts 2:23. Perhaps some of them had actually been involved in the crucifixion, other may have chosen Barabbas to be pardoned, but in effect we all put Jesus on the cross. It was our sins that caused the son of God to sacrifice himself in order to redeem us.

Our DNA can be found on the hammer that drove the nails through his hands.

Enemies of the cross are not merely those who think works can save them, or those who partake in the lusts of the flesh or don’t restrain their passions. Those “whose glory is in their shame” are also regarded as enemies of the cross. That is to say, they boast of things of which they ought to be ashamed of.

When artificial smoke and glitter are exchanged for the real glory of God, we are boasting in flesh and robbing God of his glory. Like Jannes and Jambres who opposed the real work of God and were pretenders, we have apostles and prophets in the NAR who teach from their own vain imaginations and glory in lying signs and wonders. They have no shame, because they have rejected the love of the truth and God has given them over to believe a lie. Their followers are raised in a “culture of honour” where they honour their self appointed apostles and prophets and never question their teachings, false prophecies and tall stories. These leaders evade all accountability for their heretical teachings and false prophecies; their followers have been brainwashed into think that being a Bearean and testing their teachings is the equivalent of “touching God’s anointed.” They have their minds set on earthly things, believing that this earth is so good that it is worth saving, whereas Christ himself will come and destroy it. (2 Peter 3) These self appointed prophets and apsotles in the NAR are intent on “bringing heaven to earth” to such an extent that when Christ returns, he will have very little to do. While on the suface the intentions of those who teach this may seem spiritual and even biblical, their faulty exegesis of scripture leads to a man centered theology, a breeding ground for spiritual pride. Who would not want this god-like status on offer where it is possible to decree and declare things into existence?

It is ironical that the very thing that this new breed in the NAR rely on to bring people to Christ – that is miracles – is what Christ himself condemned. Jesus said: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah” Matthew 16:4. Today’s enemies of the cross are trusting in signs and wonders to transform the world, but they neglect THE only sign necessary, which is the death and resurrection of Christ – the cross.  Did Jesus have faith that his own signs and wonders would save people or cities? We find the answer in John 2: 23-25: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” Thousands followed Jesus when he performed signs and wonders, and although they claimed to believe in him, Jesus knew the fickle nature of man. Once again, it is possible that many of those who “believed in his name” due to signs and wonders were among those who shouted “crucify him.”

In the case of those who teach the prosperity gospel and word of faith heresy, you become your own god, creating the world you choose to live in. Health and wealth are guaranteed, and their messages are mere motivational talks that ignore the message of the cross. The cross that offends has been replaced with one that entices the natural man; the stumbling block has been removed and counting the cost of following Christ has been replaced with worldy benefits.

True followers of Christ are not coveting greatness or status in the kingdom of God. They may be momentarily deceived by these false teachers who offer a crown instead of a cross, but at some point the unavoidable will take place – their cup will come. James and John once asked Jesus if they could be at his side when he ruled. Like those in the New Apostolic Reformation, they were looking for honour in a temporal kingdom on earth: “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized,” Mark 10: 35-39

“The cup” refers to suffering, affliction and persecution, and it is inevitable that true believers will partake of this cup. Beware of a gospel that offers a crown instead of a cross – a gospel that does not teach self denial but instead elevates self is a gospel from Satan. Many have been deceived by these eloquent enemies of the cross; they have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. The comfort and power a crown offers will rob you of a resurrected life only the cross will bring. The cross is an instrument of death, and it is only through death to self that the life of Christ is formed in us. Will we follow in our masters footsteps and choose the cross over a crown?