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Posts Tagged ‘gospel’

Well folks, I guess I’m going to get political in this post …. with all the biased reporting going on in the media, I felt the need to register  my support for Israel and the truth.  I’m really glad to see that the voices that are pro-Israel are getting louder in the continuing conflict . However, I’m also grieved when naive and uninformed christians condemn Israel on the say-so of  Islam.  Anti-semitism is in full flow again it seems.

The media in general and the BBC in particular have always shown their dislike of Israel. For years now Jeremy Bowen has been demonising Israel in his reporting. And apparently the BBC among others will be broadcasting an appeal by DEC  [Disasters Emergency Committee ] for Gaza today, having previously refused to do so.  Today the BBC stated ” The BBC will continue to report impartially in our coverage of the story in the Middle East”   – are they kidding?  Their idea [or deceit] of unbiased reporting is to show one-sided graphic images and distressing scenes from sometimes ‘staged’ events together with voice- overs giving statistics, comparing casualty numbers as if that all proves Israel is the aggressor and guilty party- deliberately terrorising the innocent.  In the interests of ‘balance’ and BBC non-partisanship , a token Israeli family or govt. spokesperson is tacked onto the end or beginning of the reports.  No real, serious attempt is made to understand or report accurately the true situation. it is all taken at face value, which suits Hamas just  fine.

The world is ‘up in arms’, ironically, because of the reported loss of innocent lives and the appalling suffering of women and children. But has the media been fair and honest in it’s reporting? An Israel Defense Forces[IDF] spokesman says of the casualty figures: ” the UN numbers being reported are by and large based on the Gaza Health Ministry – run by Hamas”  and ” when militants are brought to hospital, they are brought in civilian clothing, obscuring terrorist affiliations”.  There also appears to be video evidence on youtube of ‘staged’ dead body scenarios by Hamas – so who would we rather trust?  Mosab Hassan Yousef, now a Christian, said in an interview :” They don’t care about the lives of Palestinians, or of Israelis or of Americans – they don’t care about their own lives”

Before I ever became a Christian , I too used to believe what the media said about the State of Israel and it’s supposed oppression of the Palestinian people. I always wondered why Israel, themselves so terribly terrorised and persecuted ,would act in the same way towards others – they of all people should show compassion shouldn’t they?  But, like the rest of the world I never understood the absolute deception that engulfs the world and the satanic influence behind it all.  Why would a tiny democratic country like Israel command such hatred ?  Why is the world anti-Israel and not anti-terrorist? Who is the true attacker or defender here?  Has Israel not the right that every country has to defend itself against attack?

Hypocrisy is at it’s height when we make one rule for ourselves and another for Israel!  Would we expect our own govt. to take appropriate action if another country bombarded us with rocket fire or would we just sit back and let rockets fall where they will?  Did we do that when Germany attacked us?  Israel would be very foolish if she ignored the situation – it would be suicide !

Now, the US President is authorising air strikes on Iraq – but hey, that’s ok isn’t it – because ISIS could threaten US interests and Personnel in that country ….  BUT – the US wouldn’t intervene in Syria, even though the ‘red line of using chemical weapons’  had been crossed.  So – self interest is the crossing line after all then? US assets etc must be protected at all costs.

It is well documented that Islam seeks the destruction of Israel, but they also want to build an Islamic Caliphate everywhere in the world – hence Muslims entrench themselves in democratic countries that they really despise. Where they gain local political power their aim is to impose Sharia law for all. They would force all people to become Muslim if they could. And why were they allowed to block the Blackwall tunnel with their Gaza protests? And Tower Hamlets seems to be a Muslim enclave these days….

Israel is a tiny democracy in the Middle East and poses no threat to anyone – she is in a land historically given to her by Jehovah God [ see my previous Post], the God of the Bible, Jews and Christians. Islam follows the ‘god’ Allah  and the religion of Islam where love and mercy do not exist.

Our country’s collaboration with the madness of political correctness reared it’s ugly head again recently with the arrest of Paul Weston, [Liberty GB] because he publicly quoted from Winston Churchill’s book, The River War, published in 1899. It set out Churchill’s views on Islam and it’s threats to societies. How times have changed eh?  I daresay eventually quoting from the Bible will be banned , because it speaks truth and is far removed from ‘political correctness’.  But then , the Christian gospel has always been an offense to those who have no love of the truth.

I admire those who are of a high public profile who are willing to speak out in defense of Israel’s position eg Melanie Phillips and I’m so pleased to see that Rev.TV is  making a stand too – good on ’em I say!

Although I haven’t put any specific links here – an appropriate google search will find most of what I’ve stated if you want to check anything out.

Thank God we know the end of the story and evil will not triumph over Israel … primarily because God will fulfill His own purposes and bring glory to His name with the return of Christ.

May God bless and keep you in these troubled times,    Eileen

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The ‘church’ keeps changing and metamorphosing into something else – as fast as I think I’ve got a handle on what’s happening – it changes again , to go along with the latest fad. It’s scary that so many are now following church growth patterns [ all under the supposed guidance of the Holy Spirit] without even bothering to question or compare it all with the early Church pattern.

Rick Warren’s philosophy has invaded the church at large now , traditional, reformed or evangelical – it makes no difference, so that whereas at one time you could at least separate false doctrine from true, it has become almost too much to unravel ,  a mish-mash of influences that are affecting the very preaching of the Gospel itself.

I’ve known for some years about Marxism and what is called the Dialectic Process, but always associated it with politics, as I suspect most folks do. But I’m prone to search out the truth of a matter when faced with teachings/happenings that come across my path. I don’t like being in a fog [how well I remember being in those good old London, thick pea-soupers!] and the mental ones are even worse…..

So it is that I was able to learn more about the Dialectic Process [Diaprax] and it’s infiltration of the Church – hence everything has to change as the old ways are discredited and the new is in. The old sin- convicting Gospel has gone – enter the new Social Gospel. Even the faithful [to the Word], legitimate Churches seem to feel shamed into being more socially and politically active in the world, afraid maybe of being thought too ‘narrow?  The focus  is on ‘relationships’ with each other and the world – ultimately leading to another Jesus of course. 2 Cor 11:4

For a good understanding of what is going on, please take the time to visit the web site of Dean Gotcher  http://www.authorityresearch.com  He is also on You Tube, and Berit Kjos’  web site  http://www.crossroad.to/articles  for insights into the machinations of the UN.

I know there will be many Christians who will find it too burdensome to investigate for themselves, but it’s good to get into the habit of checking out things you hear or read with a little personal Bible study – especially if you have that little nagging doubt that something isn’t quite right.   It’s imperative that we become lovers of the Truth of God’s word – how else will we know if we’re being deceived?

Some will say – the Gospel is simple and following the Lord Jesus Christ and living in harmony with sincere fellow believers is all that God requires of us – he wants us to be as little children.

That is true initially – but God also requires that we mature and grow in our understanding and obedience of His word. [although 1 Cor 14:20 is said in the context of ‘tongues’ , I believe it applies to all spiritual things …]

The Lord gave Ministry gifts to the Church – Eph 4: 11-15  so that we needn’t be children who are tossed about by the false doctrines of cunning men. Sadly, today those Ministers are often failing us in that they tend not to want to be ‘negative’ and believe the Scriptural warnings are for others, not them – after all, don’t they pray to be led by the Holy Spirit ? Haven’t they done many wonderful things in His Name? mmm ….

I always try to approach my re-search with an open mind. I do not want to be prejudiced against any ministry or preacher because of what I’ve read or heard. This has been my position since the very earliest days of my Christian walk. I listened to what the JWs and Mormons had to say and read the literature they gave me, some of which sounded legitimate until I investigated further. I often discovered that the rank and file members , had the truth about their Leaders and origins hidden  from them. BUT – these enthusiastic cult members enjoyed the love and fellowship they had with each other and were convinced their respective Leaders could do no wrong, plus – all their thinking was done for them and even false prophecies didn’t appear  to bother them. {sounds a familiar pattern doesn’t it?}

Later, I came across an ad. by the Catholic Enquiry Bureau for anyone interested in finding out about their beliefs to sign up for a series of booklets – which I promptly did.  Again, my interest was in not wanting to dismiss them on hearsay.  Well, as you can imagine – it was even worse than I’d thought because the authority of the Pope and the church superseded anything the Scriptures might say, so they felt free to add all sorts of false ideas and commandments. Now I had it from the horse’s mouth.

It’s much easier and quicker these days to use the internet to look up the Horses’ Mouths web sites and You Tube videos of actual preaching. Plus of course the enormously helpful discernment ministries articles.

The huge deceptions that have arisen within  Christian churches are, I believe, the result of a lack of trust in and obedience to the Bible as the inerrant and  infallible word of God, together with a faulty view of eschatology [end time things]. I will enlarge on this in my next Post.

see you soon,   Maranatha!

 

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I’ve been reading through the Book of Acts lately , mainly in order to compare todays methods of evangelism with what the early church did. Among other things, I couldn’t help noticing that wherever the Apostle Paul preached the gospel, he started right from the beginning of the story – demonstrating Christ in the Old Testament scriptures. Stephen too, prior to his martyrdom , had taken the Jews back over their history.

In our own day and age, with widespread ignorance about God and the wholesale acceptance of evolution as fact, there is a need when preaching the gospel, or witnessing to individual unbelievers, to be able to present the truth about our origins in a knowledgeable and convincing way. We can then go on to present the gospel of Christ as a needful thing .If people don’t believe in God or are agnostic, they won’t see their need of a Saviour. We have to go back to the beginning to present the root of the problem.

The Apostle Paul started where people were at. When he preached to the Jews there was no need for him to convince them of God’s existence, so he went to the heart of the matter after first reminding them of their history. When he preached to gentiles who worshipped many gods, he didn’t have to convince them of a supernatural world.

Why then is the Creation/Evolution debate so neglected in our churches, when it seems such a key to reaching today’s unsaved masses? Why is it regarded  merely as a secondary issue and nothing to do with the gospel?

Of course I understand and know we are saved simply by believing that Christ died for our sins – that faith evidenced by being born again, but we first have to believe that there is a God who made us!

There are a growing number of [misguided] Christians , known as Theistic evolutionists, who believe God ‘used’ evolution as His method of creation  – but if that were the case, then He surely would have told us so?  It amounts to a lie if the account in Genesis says it took God six days but He really took eons of time. Apart from which, the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles believed and taught  Genesis literally.

Theistic evolutionists have a huge problem when it comes to the question of sin, simply because God states categorically that all that He created was ‘good’.  There was a moment in time when the curse of sin entered our world, bringing death with it. With evolution however the bad has always been here and death is accepted as a ‘natural’ thing.

But the truth is that it is the most un-natural thing – death is mankinds’ last and greatest enemy – and the norm is to do everything we possibly can to stay alive!   Why do we grieve so when our loved ones die if it’s so natural? Every fibre of our being shouts out ‘NO’ !

Let me tell you here and now that in all the years I was an atheist, I wasn’t happy to be one ….  in spite of being very happy in my personal life, with a husband who was my soul-mate and two lovely children. And even though our first-born son had spina-bifida and hydrocephalous, it had drawn us even closer together as we faced our difficulties.

But the material world was all there was and I had to face reality and  accept that fact. – after all, Science had proved we came from apes.  I certainly wasn’t aware of any counter arguments to say otherwise. I wasn’t interested in the dream world of wishful thinking that religious people lived in, however comforting that would be. I wanted Truth, and no Scientist believed in God did they??

Leaving aside for a moment, the mysterious workings of a Sovereign God, I might have found that truth sooner had  church people been educated by their Leaders to know the arguments for and against evolution/creation. But how can they defend what they don’t know? Back then [in the 60s] ignorance I suppose could be forgiven – but today, thankfully, there are several excellent Ministries championing the  truth of God’s word and the Creation cause.

But I can’t help feeling really disappointed at the dearth of churches taking regular advantage of the offers of speakers from the likes of CMI for instance. What golden opportunities are missed to equip believers and reach out to the atheist/agnostic with the whole gospel. It could be the first step to their salvation.

In these days of deception, churches would rather follow the way of ‘socialising’ to reach the unsaved. It’s so much easier to invite someone to a picnic or ‘love’ them into the Kingdom. Of course I’m not saying that people can’t be saved that way – it’s just not the scriptural method is it? Why have so many become ashamed of presenting the Gospel truth when it is the power of God to everyone who believes? Romans 1:16

I am a ‘nobody’ when it comes to authority and I’m in no position to tell anyone to do anything whatsoever, all I know is , I am passionate for God’s truth and I love to write about it, in the hope that the Lord may use it to help fellow believers to get better equipped  in these deceptive days. So this is a plea to please take advantage of the information available on creation web sites.

You can receive Creation Ministries International’s [ CMI.uk here] daily email Infobytes, or subscribe to their superb Creation Magazine. They have speakers who will do presentations in your church [Philip Bell/ Dominic Statham/Phil Robinson].

I live in West Sussex [UK] and there is an excellent ministry, The Creation Science Movement, based in Portsmouth [www.csm.org.uk]. You can subscribe to receive their Journal by post . It’s the oldest creation ministry anywhere I believe, founded in 1932.  They have recently re-opened their permanent, free exhibition called ‘The Genesis Expo’ [contact them for opening times]. I would love to visit it myself but I need to rope somebody in for a lift!

There are others too eg Answers in Genesis

with many blessings to everyone,   Eileen

 

 

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I don’t like to think that I am being overly critical and seeing error where there is none, but in the course of researching the obvious questionable teachings and practices in the current church scene, I come across what appear to be genuine, sincere ministries, committed to the gospel and to the Bible , and I have to re-examine myself and the scriptures to see if I’m wrong after all, because on the surface all seems well …..  they don’t appear to be following or part of any extreme groups.

These churches’ websites show they are very active in evangelism and almost all are proclaiming great blessings, over-flowing congregations, together with prophecies, visions and the like telling of revival in their midst and spreading throughout the whole world.  Undergirding all this is a huge desire for change – as one ministry puts it  – ‘to turn the tide of anti-christian pollution in our society’.     So why – instead of rejoicing with them – do I get an uneasiness that compels me to dig a bit deeper and look behind the scenes so to speak?

This uneasiness is usually triggered by noticing what a high opinion they tend to have of themselves. There is certainly no lack of ‘self-esteem’. Of course, I suppose you could say that their confidence comes from the belief that God is ‘showing up’ at their meetings and in answer to their prayers, sometimes over many years of lean results.  I can so easily find myself confounded in the face of so many testimonies of wonderful changed lives and miraculous moves of God,  which seem to be the proof that God is indeed at work. BUT – I have to return time and again to the solid ground of God’s word and it’s warnings of deception by seducing spirits.

Church growth seems to be what it’s all really about. They may disassociate themselves from the teachings of Rick Warren, but they nevertheless pick up on his ideas, consciously or unconsciously.

The mission these days seems to be less about saving individual souls, than ‘impacting’ and making a difference in your locality and christianising the world. The main aim is to show non-churched people how loving and friendly we are as God’s family and what better way than via a social gospel that will meet their emotional needs.

To that end also, we have to break down the old denominational barriers to achieve unity and co-operate in our common cause  –  no separation from the world for the truths sake allowed here!

Don’t they know the Church needs to be doctrinally sound to be in God’s will?  The Holy Spirit led the Apostles and the early Church into all truth and as we follow their New Testament example, so we will be led too. It’s just as important to follow the right practices and methods of evangelism too.

There is much targeting of young people – they are much easier to manipulate and influence – especially if music is made the attraction. Disturbingly, I came across this quote by James Ryles who had a dream in 1989 : ‘ And I remember the dream thinking to myself, wow – this is like the Beatles music was new. The Lord spoke to me and said, ” What you saw in the Beatles – the gifting and that sound that they had – was from me. It did not belong to them. It belongeth to me. it was my purpose to bring forth through music a world-wide revival that would usher in the move of my spirit in bringing men and women to Christ” [ Harvest Conference, Denver 1990]        I can see no Biblical precedent for using music in preaching the gospel , or ‘worship’ as a means of evangelising the lost, or    for entertaining anyone!

I don’t know when the title ‘Worship Leader’ crept into the church , but it has always made me cringe.  It misuses the word worship and in actuality is simply a ‘churchy’ name for a Musical Director.    I always thought that worship was something from the individual, redeemed heart to his/her Saviour and Creator. My Bible tells me that is the only true worship that God will accept.  ‘ But the hour comes and is now, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in TRUTH: for the Father seeks  such to worship Him.  God is a Spirit and they that worship Him MUST worship Him in spirit and in TRUTH’. John 4:23,24

        Christians are told to  ‘be filled with the Spirit; speaking to YOURSELVES in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord’. Eph:5:18

        The gospel of Christ needs no extra trappings to make it more palatable – the gospel itself is the power of God to save. ‘ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek’. Rom 1:16    Genuine gospel preaching will produce genuine conversions and teaching the truth of God’s word will produce true disciples.

           What are all these new converts taught I wonder?  Most likely that they must submit to their Leaders , attend as many church meetings as possible, find their ‘ministry’ in the Lord [ what an asset if they are a musician!] ; but will they be taught to check everything out with scripture? will they be warned to treat any ‘leadings’ with caution? will they be warned of false prophets and teachers and deception in the church? Probably not – we don’t want to be too negative do we??

          So – if todays prophetic utterances are correct and God is moving by His spirit , bringing great revival to the whole earth, in answer to  all the dedicated ‘prayer ministries’ and spiritual warfare activity – then logically, we cannot be in the Last Days – for we are told of a great falling away of the church before the Lord’s return.  And yet – the world is certainly fitting the pattern of ‘as in the days of Noah’ and it is getting increasingly difficult to live as a Christian in our sin-sick world.

           I have known great anxieties and fears in my life and some very stressful situations over the years that have almost overwhelmed me  – but it has always been the word of God that I’ve turned to and it has kept and sustained me.  Christians have been taught to run to other Christians for help, but they are not always the answer and some will let you down. Don’t live your Christian life off the faith of somebody else  – be strong in the Lord. It is the Lord and His word that we need. It is only through the scriptures that we know His will, how to follow Him, how to keep from deception and how to pray.

        I have been fortunate in having to deal with cults and aberrant Christian teachings from the beginning of my Christian walk, so I have been aware, by God’s grace ,when things haven’t been right scripturally. And now that the church at large is falling away , in spite of my own temporary doubts and sometimes confusion  – I have to be true to my own convictions and my prayer to the Lord, as always, is that in His grace and mercy He will use what I write to help others  – just as I myself have been helped by the many articles written by other concerned believers. Their insights and experiences have been of enormous value, often simply confirming what I’d only suspected.

May God bless and keep you,      Eileen

 

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Before getting into specifics about William Branham I will give a bit of general background to my own experience.

It seems to me that one of the easiest ways for a Christian to be led away from Bible truth is when their admiration for or interest in a particular preacher, ministry or place becomes their main focus.  Add to that the erroneous belief that a true Christian cannot be deceived and you have the potential for a shipwreck ahead – hopefully not permanent!

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that when my husband and I were very young in the faith, we joined the local Elim church and were taken under the wing of a very nice man, David, who came regularly to our home to teach us from the Bible.

We were enthralled as he related stories to show us that God  was still doing miraculous things , just as He did in the early church, in the ministries of the great healing Evangelists around at that time [late 60s -70s]. He explained that God was restoring the five-fold ministries [Eph 4:11] to the church and fulfilling Joel’s prophecy as on the Day of Pentecost in Acts.

We were not sufficiently knowledgeable in the scriptures ourselves at the time to question, nor did we see the need to challenge anything we were being taught. He was a lovely Christian man, we got on well with him and he knew his Bible inside out [it seemed to us] –  so what could possibly be wrong? It was years later that we learned these were the heretical teachings of the Latter Rain movement. He also was a member of the Full Gospel Business Mens Fellowship who also believe the same.

Well –  the Pastor of our church did not approve and forbade David to meet with us anymore. There was no explanation why , so the inevitable happened and we eventually departed the Elim church and became a small house fellowship. We later met in a small building as our numbers grew.

Then – I think through David – we began to have connections with a church community in Chard, Somerset,  which everyone got very excited about because of the wonderful things that were happening there.

A preacher came from Chard specifically to teach and encourage us all in the gifts of the Spirit. But something he said set the alarm bells ringing. His words were: ” If the [first] voice you hear isn’t the Holy Spirit – then who are you being led by?”  This seemed very unwise counsel to my husband and I – especially as no mention was made of the need for conformity to the scriptures.

Needless to say, things began to happen in the meetings , including being ‘slain’ in the Spirit, as discernment and caution flew out the window in this newfound confidence and freedom.

When we tried to voice our concerns we were faced with anger and the general caution was not to ‘quench the Spirit’ because this was all part of God’s end time outpouring and restoration of signs and wonders to His church.

During our association with David the name of William Branham cropped up regularly. He was much admired and held in almost reverential awe by his followers. We were impressed by the ministry God had given him. We were completely ignorant about him and listened in wonder to the accounts of miraculous healings by this great ‘man of God’.

I am always willing to be objective about people and not to simply accept what may be personal prejudices about anyone , so to that end I read accounts both for and against. I am amazed now at the true picture that emerges from some of those who were close to him and  that William Branham was so accepted [and still is] in pentecostal/charismatic circles without question. There are some enlightening and very interesting videos and articles on line and I’ll put links at the end of this post.

One of the first things I came across was a video by Ed Byskal[?] . It’s titled ‘I Am A Witness’ and begins with a quote from Luke’s opening words to his gospel account. So – you would think it’s a witness to the Lord Jesus Christ wouldn’t you? But NO – it’s his witness to William Branham!

A young looking Ed B. explains that he wants to share his personal experiences so that “you may know with certainty the things of which I am a witness” Luke 1:4   So, the whole video is a defence of and excuses for WB’s many false prophecies and heretical teachings. It seems WB was a humble servant of God with faults and failings, but so exalted and blessed by God with the miraculous, that it made any false teachings and prophecies of no account!  EB , tragically seems to have made it his life’s calling to defend WB – unless of course the selective videos are giving me an unfair picture.

WB had psychic phenomena happening at his birth and throughout his childhood. These included voices, visions and angel visitations, which always frightened him .  This is not surprising when you read that his extremely young parents were not Christians and believed in  fortune telling.

If WB’s followers were/are aware of all this – it doesn’t seem to phase or bother them because they place God’s ‘anointing ‘ above His word. I came across this quote from the FGBMF  ‘Voice’ mag 1961. ‘In Bible days, there were men of God who were Prophets and Seers. But in all the sacred records, none of these had a greater ministry than that of William Branham.

I will end with a concerned appeal to those who think that Christians cannot be deceived – you are in a danger zone if your focus and admiration is on a particular person, ministry or ‘revival’ location  – however spectacular the signs and wonders and however humble and sincere they may be.  Your focus must always be on the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle’s teachings as they are revealed in the Bible.  ‘Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ Psalm 119:105

And don’t let yourself be put off, if, when you think something is wrong and unscriptural, you are told not to ‘judge’, not to ‘touch God’s anointed’, ‘not everything God does is in the Bible’, ‘you have a critical spirit’, or that Bible believers ‘worship’ the Bible or are legalistic.

These are just fear tactics [probably because they are in fear themselves] to keep you quiet and in bondage to their authority.  Don’t be afraid to follow up your doubts and be a good Bible searching Berean.  Read everything in context and get an overall view of what verses are actually saying and don’t let others do your thinking for you. 2 Tim 2:15 and 2 Tim 3:16,17  seem appropriate here.

NB:

For articles on William Branham I would recommend http://www.Letusreason.org.  If you go to the left side bar on their home page you will be able to scroll down to Latter Rain and click to see them.

A You Tube search will find Ed Byskal’s video titled I Am a Witness. There are several other interesting and informative videos there too.

Another ministry that concerns me is The Healing Rooms  and John G Lake.  Let Us Reason has some excellent articles on him too.

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Some Christians seem to think that walking in the Spirit means to excercise the gifts or be led in their daily walk with God via supernatural means, or to read their Bible a lot or be much in prayer. But to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh, according to the Apostle Paul [Gal 5:16-25]  is to show forth love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness,  and temperance.  If we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfil the desires of the flesh. If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under law.

How often have we had really strong feelings about something that has turned out to be wrong?  The[ fallen] human mind is a strange and powerful thing and can certainly lead us astray and the Bible has a lot to say about the vain imaginations of the heart.

I wouldn’t pretend to understand or know how and when God moves by His Spirit [see John 3:8] but all too often Christians claim that God is guiding them in specific ways and directing them. I’ve always been extremely wary of those who say – ‘the Lord told me this or that’ because very often they are mistaking their own very strong feelings or impressions for the voice of the Holy Spirit, thinking that because they are a child of God it must be His voice.  When events prove them wrong they are very reluctant to admit they were wrong and will provide other explanations.

When the Lord has clearly shown us something in His word – is it then right to spend much time in ‘seeking His will’ for us ? Are we putting our feelings before everything else? For instance – if we see from scripture that our church is digressing from the path of truth – we obviously should defend the faith. If it’s set on its path then we must ‘come out of her’  – if only for our own spiritual welfare, let alone the Bible tells us to.  It is our fleshly feelings that don’t want to rock the boat or think how much we will miss our friends [or even family] and their fellowship, or even the wonderful music, plus the relative safety of staying.  Our feelings may tell us that the ‘time is not right’ and we hope and pray the church will change …. but eventually it dawns on us that it won’t.

It becomes more serious however when Christians experience visions, dreams, near death experiences or angel visitations and bring little or no scriptural discernment to bear.  Indeed, ‘ discernment’ becomes simply a matter of their own feelings again – it feels right  so it must be right – irrespective of what the Bible says.

From whence come false teachings? Well – from these very ‘supernatural’ sources. All Cults stem from them and unfortunately more and more genuine Bible- believing churches are following mystical experiences and ‘signs and wonders’ – believing them to be from God.

For the Born again Christian, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, a straightforward reading of the Bible and a genuine love for the truth will keep you on the straight and narrow. But as sure as eggs is eggs, if you have a separate source of teaching or revelation eg angelic, or prophecy [your own or someone else’s] telling you God is doing a new thing or ‘revival’ is on the way,  then the warning bells should be ringing loud and clear – no matter how trusted, famous, admired or important the ‘channel’ might be.

It is the job of seducing spirits to lure believers away from the Word of God and what better or more effective way than through a paranormal experience?  In our day, whole denominations are falling under their influence as Leaders and followers trust their feelings and experiences over and above God’s Word.

Almost every church website I’ve had occasion to look up, display the same ‘visionary’ message and use the same buzz words/slogans/ religious ‘in words’ and usually present the same evangelistic theme.  All this ‘unity’ would be excellent if it were centered on the true Gospel, but sadly it is encased in the social gospel of Dominionism.

Even those churches who may not have embraced false teachings completely, still show their  influence by the language and methods they use for church growth and evangelism  – probably without even being aware they are. It’s become a mixture of a little bit of Dominionism, a little bit of Latter rain, a little bit of Kingdom Now, a little bit of Word of Faith, a little bit of Shepherding, a little bit of  New Apostolic Restoration, with a little bit of Mysticism and Emerging thrown in. The list of ingredients in this mix is endless!

Oh dear –  this all sounds very gloom and doom I know – but it is undeniably happening and is an important sign of living in the Last days.  The Apostle Paul couples it with the rise of the Antichrist in 2 Thess 2:1-12  BUT – he goes on to say verses 13-17:

But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning  chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.  Whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught , whether by word or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, who has loved us and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and stablish you in every word and work.

What a wonderful God and Saviour we have …. His word is so precious !

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Matt 23:8-12      But be not called Rabbi, for one is your Master, even Christ and you are all brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth, for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant, and whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

       At the outset, let me clarify that I am not advocating disrespect or lack of honour towards those who serve the church – I am simply questioning the way our church hierarchical systems are accepted as scriptural, when they clearly are not.

So, having mentioned in my previous post my thoughts and observations of the divisions that exist between ‘Leaders’ and ‘Laity’, it led me to wondering about the title and leadership role of the Pastor and how it became an office raised above that of Elders and how did the Elders become raised above ‘ordinary’ church members?

I’ve been wrestling with this Leadership and authority in the church thing and trying to get what the scriptures actually teach about it –  I hope and pray with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

As I’ve found so often with other subjects eg the Rapture, there are times when I’ve had to step back from the ‘given’  teachings and look at the scriptures afresh – forgetting all that’s already been taught to me by others.

I’ve found it very helpfull sometimes, when there appears to be a contradiction or conflict, to temporarily set aside a particular verse[s] to try to get an overall picture in a very general way of how the early church viewed things – what they actually practised and taught.

For example – when faced for the first time with the ‘Gap Theory’ for the Genesis account of creation – it was very useful to see if it was in harmony with what the Lord Himself taught and the early church believed.

In the same way – when it comes to the scriptures used by Pastors and Leaders to enforce their authoritative rule over their respective churches [usually as a last resort to shut up dissension]  – Hebrews 13:17 – if we step back to get an overall view of the Lord’s and the Apostles’ teachings and practise – we see that this verse cannot be understood in the   way wordly ideas and hierarchical systems are.  According to Matt 10:25-28 it is to be the exact opposite !

The pattern for the early church is found in Eph 4:1-16 which shows that the church leaders became leaders by virtue of their functions in the Body of Christ via the gifts of God. They are God’s gifts to the Church:  apostles, prophets, pastors teachers, evangelists. They are there as Ministers [Servants] to all the members – themselves included. Nobody is to have the pre-eminence under Christ – He is the only Head. Indeed Diotrephes is singled out for his bad example.  And Paul has much to say about exalting and following particular men in the church. 1 Cor 3:1-11 & 21-23.

In overseeing the church – it must be by mutual submission – functioning for the benefit and welfare [physical and spiritual] of all. There is no authoritative Hierarchy in sight!

So, how come the Pastor in particular has become so elevated to ‘lead’ the church? It simply seems to be a left-over from the priestly systems of the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions – themselves a left-over from the old Jewish sacrificial system. This was originally instigated by God of course for the sins of the people, but replaced by the Mystery of God in Christ and His once for all time sacrifice – fulfilling  the old covenant and bringing in the new. We are all now priests with direct access to God and we answer to no-one else but Christ our Head.

The church is now to be led by Elders, recognised by their God-given gifts ,  no-one thinking too highly of themselves , submitting and serving one another . What they preach or teach is to be judged by the members and nothing is to be kept secret or hidden.

The fact is that almost all Pastors are the head and in almost total control of their church. Yes- he may consult with and listen to the Elders and Deacons, but his is the ultimate authority and voice in any decisions – right or wrong. There is always that fear of going against God’s wishes by not ‘submitting ‘ to him.

Ironically, there can be a strange supposed humility in showing one’s submission and in some cases even one’s conscience is put in subservience.

Further up the hierarchical ladder is the denomination or power group the individual church is affiliated to, so in his turn, the Pastor and his church come under what has become known as ‘covering’.

In many cases, all this means is that the Pastor will always be supported or backed up should any dispute arise at church level. Covering in other instances becomes something much more sinister and causes all sorts of fear and superstitions. The practise is totally unscriptural as far as I can see. Christ is surely the only covering a believer needs!

Because of this hierarchical system many ‘ordinary’ church members’ God- given gifts lie unrecognised and so the church doesn’t function to its full calling.

By accident I came across a web site for church Leaders and I was truly appalled by the wordly advice it was giving. This should not be so if we are truly following the Lord and being led by His Spirit into all truth.

I am indebted to the many web sites and Blogs that have enlightened me with their insights and obvious concerns about the current state of the church – often confirming the vague suspicions I’ve  had when things haven’t seemed quite ‘right’ to me.

I think the Lord is graciously  forgiving and opening many a believers eye , showing we are not as alone as we sometimes think we are. There are many bad things that invade the internet – but it can be [and is] such a wonderful resource for the truth seeker.

As always, I hope what I’ve written will help and re-assure people. I do not claim to be an expert and this blog is purely my own musings – so please excercise your own God-given judgement and discernment in the scriptures to put me right where you think I am wrong.

Many blessings,    Eileen

PS    I know there are many good, faithful and conscientious Pastors out there. I am in no way doubting their integrity – I’m simply questioning the system they are part of and take for granted.

 

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