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“But speak  the things which become sound doctrine” Titus 2:1

“Holding fast the faithful word, as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers – for there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers ….” Titus 1:9,10

In my previous post I mentioned my belief that so much deception has been allowed to invade the church because of a lack of trust in and obedience to the Word of God. Of course, I recognise that church Leaders would not agree with that suggestion because they all , without exception, say they use and take their authority from the Bible  –  but the question is – which one?

I think, as a result of all the many different versions [and paraphrases] now in use, the green light has been given for preachers and teachers to make the Word of God mean just about anything they want it to mean. Who’s to say anything is truly right or wrong when what it all comes down to is a simple matter of man’s interpretation?

I write this as a lay person with no authority or qualifications – it is just my humble opinion, drawn from my own observations, experience and research. My contention being that we need to have the utmost confidence that the Bible we read is indeed the infallible, inerrant Word of God, preserved and protected by Him and not a hit and miss exercise of translation and interpretation.

If we don’t have that confidence, it inevitably de-stabilises our firm foundation, so that we then turn to other sources for our spiritual security. Our ‘leadings’, experiences and trust in personal prophecies become on a par with and even supersede Scripture in our daily walk…..   it’s miraculous, it feels right – so it must be right.  The danger is that we can then be led by seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. 1Timothy 4:1

I was first alerted to a ‘problem’ with the Bible when I began to hear preachers throwing out casual comments that a certain word or passage in the KJB was a ‘mistake’  – it either was translated wrong or it shouldn’t be there at all.  It bothered me then and it bothers me now that the reliable Word of God wasn’t so reliable after all!

So, gradually, the KJB has fallen out of favour, not simply because its language is now considered [wrongly I believe] archaic and hard for people to understand, but because its accuracy has been discredited [ironic when you consider the errors and cumbersome language in the other versions].  So -it’s goodbye King James – welcome The Message ! [For a Defense of the King James Bible see my Blog archive.]

Add to this the sentimental/mystical RC inspired tv series ‘The Bible’ and the latest portrayal of Christ in the film Son of God [not to mention The Passion of Christ] and the vain imaginations of man are complete. Naive and gullible Christians fall for it hook,line and sinker!

Anyway – I digress …..    To illustrate what I mean by preachers making the Bible say what they want it to say, I will give just three examples of what I came across, almost incidentally, while looking up other things.   I have named the last one as he is so well known.

The first was a sermon on Healing by a young visiting preacher on an Australian AoG church web site.  He claims the Holy Spirit is his friend and quoting from the Message Bible, apparently when Jesus returned to Heaven after his resurrection ‘ the Holy Spirit greets Him with ‘Great job!’ and Jesus replies ‘Now it’s your turn’ and gives Him a ‘high five’![my summary]

He relates [correctly] how in a certain place Jesus could do no miraculous works because of their unbelief, but then goes on to advocate prayer and taking authority over that unbelief to ‘break’ it. But where did Jesus ever do that?

Regarding Jesus telling some people he healed not to tell anyone, he seems to impute manipulation on the Lord’s part by likening it to when God said to Eve – ‘Don’t eat that’ – she went ahead and ate !  In other words – Jesus knew what people are like and that they would do the exact opposite to what He told them, so He could be certain of  their publicity ….   How much of that idea this young preacher got from The Message , I don’t know, not having read it myself. Maybe I should enlighten myself ….

Anyway – as I see it in John 2: 23-25  the reason the Lord told people not to publicise their healings was because he knew men’s hearts and that they were just seeking after ‘signs’ and not commitment to Him.

My next example happens to be another AoG preacher – this time a young woman. Her sermon was titled ‘The Great Involvement’  – immediately changing the commission for the church to preach the gospel of repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ into ” go to hurting humanity” – a Humanist Social Gospel.

She relates the story of Paul and Silas [Acts 16] , quoting from The Message Bible and using the ‘visual aid’ of a young lady from the audience and wrapping a rope around her.  She says Paul ‘bumped into’ the slave girl but chose to ignore her. So ” this chick says, ‘ok – you’re gonna ignore me, so I’ll follow you. Not only that  – in her messed up state she yells out: ‘ He knows the way’ –  I’d like him to help me find my way – but – he knows the way!”

She goes on to say – ” This went on for several days. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around that. Paul – do you not see that this girl is troubled, she is possessed, she’s messed up, she needs someone to involve with her? But Paul went about his way”

She continues – ” after following them around for several days – finally- fed up with her [ruining his nice, polished sermon] – I love it – it wasn’t even spiritual!  The fact is – God doesn’t care how you get there – just get there! He doesn’t care.

After saying a few words about us getting involved in other people’s lives, she refers to ” a few verses earlier, when Paul came across a woman called Lydia, who asked him if he’d stop, get involved and come to her house, Paul said ‘yes’ to Lydia, but ‘no’ to the slave girl. Lydia was a wealthy woman and didn’t look as messy as the girl. She had a nice home and food she could give to Paul- she had benefits attached. Sometimes we have selective involvement. If I involve with you there’s a benefit here for me. There was no benefit with the slave girl”

Well, I hope you are as appalled as I am at this imputed partiality of the Apostle Paul – what a hypocrite she makes him out to be!! She also appears to rejoice at his supposed lack of ‘spirituality’!  Her complete lack of understanding is aided and abetted by her use of The Message.

My last example is notorious Mark Driscoll. He claims his ‘Resurgence’ movement is anchored by a theological foundation of

1.  Jesus -centred  Theology  2. Jesus – modelled Leadership  3. Jesus – empowered living  4: Jesus’ Mission

Sounds impressive doesn’t it? Till you hear his preaching…..  I won’t go into detail here but would direct anyone  interested in his treatment of the Scriptures to visit http://www.driscollcontroversy.com  where you can read his take on Gideon and Noah. Talk about turning the truth into a lie!!

must sign off now – please – if you see any mistakes, inaccuracies , untruths , I would welcome your correction. If you simply want to comment or add anything else relevant – feel free to do so.  God bless …. Maranatha!

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I am not keen to write this post as it is specifically addressing issues I have with the church I’ve been [loosely] attending for roughly 3 years now.

I have often said that truth is very important to me and that is why I invite comment and correction when I get things wrong.

Well – it appears I have got things wrong and caused great offense by associating the Pastor with the false teachings and practices of the AoG, thereby harming his and the local church’s good doctrinal standing publicly [even though I did not identify them by name].  Of course , I am truly sorry if that is the case.

In a face to face meeting, the Pastor assured me that he has spoken out and written articles many times against the path that AoG UK are on and that I was too eager and hasty in writing what I did, without checking the facts.

In my defense, I have to ask why he didn’t enlighten me during our prior email exchanges and give me refs/links ? and why didn’t he immediately correct my blog? It was his silence that led me to assume what I did. Anyway – the bulk of my post was about AoG  not about him and the church.

The fact remains that he and the church are still affiliated with and pay subs to the AoG – so what is one to think?

This whole episode was triggered by two sermons the Pastor gave on ‘Church Membership'[ which he deemed important and invited our comments on] coupled with my viewing of  the AoG website.  This led to my assumptions of their influence …..

Up until this point , I had never been pressed on ‘ membership’ by the Pastor, but now an official eye was going to be kept on who was an actual  member and who wasn’t. They are currently deciding whether this will include signed up or verbal ‘commitment’.

Whether the Pastor realises it or not , [he says nothing has changed]  it is part of a church-wide emphasis nowadays  that says you have to prove your commitment to the church and each other by this covenant, [although the Pastor insists he doesn’t believe in such], and by your attendance at all church meetings unless you have good reason not to be there.

Congregations must be persuaded this is what God requires of them as part of the church ‘family’ with an outward show to the world of how much they love each other. All very noble sounding and scriptural of course . But what of those who, on scriptural grounds , don’t agree with this organised and manufactured unity of love and submission? Well – you have placed yourself outside of the collective haven’t you? You are no longer ‘pastorable’ – if there is such a word.

There seems to also be an unhealthy separation between Leaders and Laity, as their inner circles keep any church problems secret and hidden. What happened to openness and accountability?  Are they not supposed to be servants to the church?

There is a false idea about what constitutes ‘gossip’ , so nothing is discussed and dealt with as it should be. Along with this is the false idea that ‘judging righteously ‘ is mere criticism, so it simply ends up in a pretense of being humble by keeping quiet about issues.

Submission to Leaders is surely done willingly and in good conscience – you cannot be made to submit to something you believe is wrong just because the Leader tells you it’s scriptural to do so because he’s called by God to his office.

I despair when I see/hear Leaders manipulate people into an outward show of loving one another by telling them to hug each other or say ‘I love you’ to the person sitting next to them, or getting them to shout a loud response to their cheer-leading exhortations…..  they are kept perpetual babes in Christ and nothing is taught about scriptural discernment. They are treated as school children and not the mature adults they should be.

Well – I am truly sorry if this post is regarded as negative and pessimistic.  I am hopeful that individual born again believers will see the need to examine everything and seek after the truth that will set them free – free from man’s ways  and the bondage it brings.  The Lord  is teaching us in these last days to rely on Him more as our churches fail us.  He is faithful to His word to keep us in His care as we seek Him through  that very Word.

Maranatha!

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When I first started to go along to my little New Life church, I knew that it had previously been known locally as the Assemblies of God. In my ignorance – and I should have known better – I’d thought the name change was because they’d maybe separated. But only recently did I discover that all AOG churches had the same name change. I’ve never liked the modern desire to rename churches -because ,at least when they had denominational names you knew where they stood doctrinally.

But that’s ok – what’s in a name? After all I knew AOG and my Pastor were doctrinally sound and I never thought it necessary to check what they believed…..   until now that is.

Changes seem to be afoot – particularly in the area of emphasizing Membership and expanding the church building in order to prepare for growth. I won’t go into details here as it is church ‘business’ and I’m in email correspondence with my Pastor about it.  But – what I can do is voice my concerns about AOG in general.

I’d been aware of criticism about the AOG in America through the Lighthouse Trails web site. As this was concern about the Emerging church influence I didn’t pay much attention to it because I know Emerging , at the moment is much more rife there. AOG in the UK had been very strict about dealing with ‘heresy’ in the past so I’d no reason to think they wouldn’t be now.

A friend alerted me to the UK web site , which I’d honestly never thought to visit before. Oh boy – was I dismayed!  I was rather perturbed to see the words ’emerging leaders’ and the marketing and growth language and buzz words, slogans and the like too.

As with a lot of churches and christian groupings – it’s becoming very hard to pin them down – as someone said – it’s like trying to nail jelly to the wall to try to categorise them or separate them now. Things overlap a lot.

There’s a tendency to treat them as periphery things that don’t really matter as long as the core doctrines are right eg Trinity, Virgin Birth etc.  At one time I believed this too, but as time has gone by and this attitude prevails , the errors increase and become accepted as truth because Leaders have become so reluctant to speak out against anything. The mixture proliferates and God hates mixture.[ Jacob Prasch has an excellent article about this on his web site].

The thing is ,they all claim to be Bible-based and Gospel preaching, but what we find in practise  is that they use methods and have ‘visions’ or goals that are definitely alien to the Bible and the Gospel, and the focus is for Church Growth and prestige .

On the web site there is an invitation to the Leaders conference in 2014  and in the words of the National Leader, John Partington it will be “…. bigger and better than ever before! In the middle of our journey together to transform this nation …. We’re passionate about building leaders to build churches that are going to have a massive and influential impact  on their community and their world ….  you’ll be treated to world class preaching and teaching designed to get right inside the mind of leadership ….”

Can you imagine what the Apostle Paul would have said about this? Didn’t he say he came in fear and trembling, not using man’s wisdom and clever speech, but in dependence on the Holy Spirit in his weakness?

But no – the old way is no longer good enough as the church rushes to join the world in opening their doors to the marketing and management methods currently dominating every area of our lives , in Government, Education, Business, NHS , Charities etc etc.

Is church growth really dependent on our own methods and whipped up enthusiasm to succeed ? Every church, Pastor and member must ‘ be connected’  and have it’s shared vision to meet the needs of and be relevant to, their local community.

Excuse me?  Am I hearing right? I thought it was the Lord’s job to build His church by means of the preaching of the Gospel. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ -for  it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes ….

Instead of sorrowing, the church today is forever excited about forecast growth, success, influence and impact  in the world. Isn’t it wonderful what God is doing with us?

Mmm – the preaching of the Gospel antagonises and alienates the majority. We can’t manufacture what isn’t there, however much human effort , ‘prayer’  and ‘claiming’ we may do.  The true church can’t be manipulated and whipped into shape however motivational and charismatic the Leaders may be. WHY DON’T THEY KNOW THIS??

Could it be that God has given them over to the Lie they want to believe while the church goes on it’s merry way?   It’s never too late for the individual christian, by God’s grace , to stop, reflect and return to Bible truth.

I pray that there may be people out there who this will help …. may the Lord bless and keep you.

Footnote

It can be a traumatic thing to realise the truth and then be rejected by people for declaring it. They usually turn the tables so that it is you who have pride, bitterness etc. Yes – and if you’re anything like me , you re-examine yourself  and things go around in your brain … but love for the truth will out and God is faithful to His word.

What will happen in my little church remains to be seen as it depends on the Pastors response to me I guess. From my experiences in the past, the direction is already set and won’t change, but I live in hope.

As always – please feel free to comment or correct me on anything.

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