421: The Wicked Witch of Thyatira

421: The Wicked Witch of Thyatira

The Lord said some rather horrific things about the church at Thyatira.  In fact, His words to this sinning church should strike fear in all of us who have leadership positions in our own church.  Consider the following:

“Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.  Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.  I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.  And I will give to each one of you according to your works” (Revelation 2:20-23).


The Sin of Thyatira

So what was the sin of Thyatira?  Was it Jezebel, or the teaching of Jezebel that led God’s people into sin?  Or was it the sin itself?  Was it the sexual immorality and idolatry the church freely embraced?

No, as sobering as it sounds, the sin in Thyatira was not Jezebel.  It was the church, and the leadership of the church, that allowed the teaching of Jezebel into the church.  They were asleep at the wheel.  There was no watchman on the wall.  No guard at the gate of the church.  No protective shepherd watching over the sheep.  Nothing.

So what does this say about our leadership today that allows all sorts of sin and false teaching into the church just to give the appearance of growth or vitality or acceptance by the culture?  What does it say about the prosperity gospel or multi-campus mega-churches or rock concerts disguised as worship experiences?  Where do we fit into all of this?

If you are concerned about how this letter to Thyatira applies to the church of today, then keep listening.

The following is a study on the Lord’s letter to the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

416:  The Church in a Bad Marriage

416: The Church in a Bad Marriage

The word Pergamos comes from a combination of two Greek words that mean “mixed, objectionable” and “marriage.”  Pergamos therefore means a “mixed marriage” that is “objectionable” to God.  Prophetically, it represents the marriage of the church and state where the state elevates the church to a place of acceptance or political correctness at the expense of the church’s devotion to God.

Look at what the Lord had to say about this church:

“But I have a few things against you, because you have there (in the church) those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  Thus you also have those (in the church) who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate” – Revelation 2:14-15.


The Sin of Compromise

The church, although commended by Christ for the fact they have not denied His name under severe trials and suffering (Rev. 2:13), nevertheless dropped the ball and allowed those into the church who were heretics and sought to drive the believers away from God and into sin.  And the church did nothing about it.  Why?  Because, like the church of today, they allowed themselves to compromise with the world and allow all sorts of worldliness into His church.  And they also showed a glaring lack of discernment and church discipline.

Sadly, the same can be said of the church today.  Which raises a couple of questions:

How should we, as His church, respond to compromise and worldliness in the church?
What can we do as a congregation to foster a spirit of holiness in our time together?
What can you, as a member of His body, do to present yourself before Him spotless?
What areas of your life need to be addressed?
And what are you prepared to do about it?

The following is a study on Jesus’ letter to the church at Pergamos, Revelation 2:12-17.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

Jude:  We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

Jude: We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us


We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation,
ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the
only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:4

Churchill once said, borrowing from an old African proverb, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”  While there is much truth to that proverb, the opposite is also true.  “When the enemy is within, the enemies outside can hurt you.”  And they can hurt you bad.  Often permanently.

This was the situation Jude was warning the church about in his letter, and the same situation we find ourselves today.  The enemy has breached our walls and is now inside the camp.  What are we to do?


Who Are These Certain Men?

Jude, after calling believers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), begins to tell us why it’s so imperative to defend our faith.  He says, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed” (Jude 1:4).

There are several words that need further scrutiny.

The first of these is certain.  The Greek word is tis and means “a certain one, some person whom one cannot or does not wish to name.”2  In other words, “It’s one of those guys.  You know who they are.  I don’t even need to call them by name.”

These certain men have crept (pareisdúō) into the church unnoticed, or by stealth.  The word means to “enter in craftily, under cover of darkness, like a thief.”3  They, like a terrorist sleeper cell, blend in with the others waiting for a time to attack from the inside, from the unprotected underbelly of the church.  They are most sinister.

But who are these guys?

Jude describes them as those “who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4).  But we’ll look more into this at a later time.

They are, in effect, pastors void of holiness.

Businessmen, masquerading as pastors, who see the church as their next current startup.

They’re entrepreneurs, building their own product, brand, and empire within the church.

Jesus called them “false prophets”— ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15).

And we don’t seem to care they’re among us, spreading like kudzu.


Bread and Games

We’ve allowed them to take root in the hallowed halls of the church.  We’ve let our guard down, chosen not to make waves, and go along with what feels good for a moment.  We’ve sat idly by and watched our church become a business where we offer a Sunday product of cotton candy to satisfy the sweet cravings of the carnal and uncommitted.  We’ve continually judged our success by how many tickets we sell to our Sunday matinee or how large is the crowd.  And we have no problem changing our preaching to make people feel good in their sin and apathy.  For us, bigger always means better.  But that’s not necessarily true in the kingdom of God.

It’s just like it was in Rome.  “Bread and games to satisfy the masses.”

How did they get in unnoticed?  Where were the watchmen on the wall?4

Pastors, over the years, sought after success defined by the likes of Rick Warren or Bill Hybels, and now Andy Stanley.  They became more concerned with their personal brand than with the gospel of Christ.

And the church bought into this “Bigger Means Better” mantra.  “If it works on Wall Street,” we reasoned, “it should work in the church.”  We hired, not Spirit-filled pastors and Bible teachers to reveal to us the deeper things of God, but Madison Avenue marketing gurus and visionaries, all promising to take our church to the next level.

But the pastor’s job is not to be a visionary.  That’s Jesus’ job.  The pastor is to simply implement the vision of the Lord, our Master, as a faithful slave, or doúlos to Him.5  Even if Andy Stanley says going to a small church is “stinking selfish.”6

Now, it seems, we need multiple campuses all watching our hip, relevant, popular pastor live-streamed on video.  And we call that community or family?  Far from it.


The Need for Watchmen

Remember, the men who’ve entered the church unnoticed, under the cloak of darkness, are defined by Jude as evil men, ungodly men, who long ago were marked out for commendation (Jude 1:4).  These are lost, unregenerate men, traitors to the faith, hidden sleeper cells, that have found a home in the church— much like the birds of the air found a home in the branches of the mustard tree (Matt. 13:32).

What are we to do?

Now it gets personal.

We need watchmen on the walls of the church.  We need those who will strive to keep the body of Christ as a “glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle” and contend earnestly to keep her “holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).

In practical terms, here are a few examples of what you can do.

If your pastor shows R-rated movie clips to illustrate a biblical principal or uses coarse language to seem relevant to the world, you must confront that carnality.  But you must do so with respect for his position as pastor, even if the man is disqualified (Rom. 13:1).  If nothing changes, remove yourself and your family from that gathering and let the Lord direct you to another church.

If the gospel and true biblical preaching is replaced with a sweet tasting, feel good message, have a frank discussion with your pastor and, if nothing changes, remove you and your family from that church.  Don’t worry about where you will go.  The Lord will direct you to a place where you can grow in your faith and understanding of the Scriptures.

And if you church approves of homosexuality, or any sin that is now culturally acceptable, it’s time to find a new church.  Now.  Immediately.  Post haste.

Remember this important warning:

1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

Or, to put it another way, “Bad company corrupts good character” (NIV).

Don’t let yourself be corrupted by certain men (and you know who they are) who have crept into your church unnoticed, or under the cloak of darkness.  Even if these men may be pastors or elders.  Point them out.  Contend earnestly for the faith.  Do all you can with respect and honor.  And if nothing changes:

“Adios amigos.”

big_lines


Notes

1. The title comes from a quote from the syndicated Pogo comic strip that was created by Walt Kelly (1913-
1973). The strip ran from October 4, 1948, until July 20, 1975.
2. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (pp. 1385-1386). Chattanooga,
TN: AMG.
3. Ibid., 1117.
4. See Ezekiel 33.
5. Zodhiates, p. 483.
6. http://www.christianitytoday.com/karl-vaters/2016/march/dear-andy-stanley-please-be-small-churchs-ally-
not-our-enem.html.
7. Spanish for “Goodbye, friends.”

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

Jude:  Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith

Jude: Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith


Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation,
I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jude 1:3

We are engaged in a bloody war.  It’s a war taken to us, laid on our doorsteps— a war we cannot afford to lose.  To the victor goes the heart and mind of the church.

In the past, Satan has attacked the church both outwardly and inwardly with mixed results.  In Acts, for example, the external attacks from the religious establishment were countered by the church speaking “the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).  And the internal attacks only led to “great fear came upon all the church” (Acts 5:11) and increased ministry to others (Acts 6:7).

In each of these, the church only grew stronger.


A Single Voice

In its early history, the church would meet in authoritative councils to define truth or orthodoxy and address heresy.  When a falsehood would arise that became popular among the people and threatened to lead them away from the truth of the gospel, church leaders from all over the world would gather to examine the heresy, compare it to Scripture, and issue a binding statement that would define Christian belief for the church at large.  These binding statements became known as creeds. Some of them, the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed for example, codified for us the doctrines we often take for granted.

But today it’s different.

There’s no authoritative voice for the church and little accountability.  With the internet, pretty much anything goes.  And with most Bible-believing Christians not believing the Bible, the spread of heresy and false doctrine is rampant.


Paganism 2.0

We have heresies today that are promoted by popular ex-pastors, such as Rob Bell, that deny God’s sovereignty in salvation, the reality of hell and the punishment for sin, the atonement of Christ, sanctification, and the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture.  This is repackaged paganism.  Or Paganism 2.0.

Then there’s the growing Prosperity Gospel and the Word of Faith Movement.  This heresy, at its core, claims that mere man has the power to bind our sovereign God by the words we speak and demand He does our bidding even if it’s against His will.  That’s witchcraft with a fresh veneer.  They “claim” and “agree” that God has to bless them with material or financial blessings and He, like their pet genie-in-a-bottle, must give what they demand.

“I mean, doesn’t everyone deserve health, wealth, and prosperity? Isn’t the purpose of our faith to reward us with money and long life and straight teeth?  Didn’t God secure for us, through the death of His Son, Your Best Life Now?”1

No. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

In Hebrews 11, we have what is known as the roll call of faith.  It lists great men and women of faith and how their faith was rewarded.  Look how the chapter closes.  This is not exactly what the prosperity preachers promise as a reward for faith.

Hebrews 11:37-38 – They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword.  They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

Do we believe the saints listed in Hebrews— Moses, Joseph, David, Samuel, and the rest— were less spiritual than those in the church today?  They received anything but health, wealth, and prosperity as the supposed rewards of their faith.  Yet Scripture says they were “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:37).  This is the type of heresy only an opulent, self-satisfied, and narcissistic church could invent.  And that’s what we are.


Once For All

But this is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And it’s certainly not the faith that was once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).  Our faith (pístis), as defined by Hebrews, is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).  It’s the “basis, the underpinning, the foundation of what we confidently expect; and the proof, the assurance of things we cannot see with our own eyes.”2

But in practical terms, faith means trust.  To have faith is to surrender to the Lordship of Christ (Rom. 10:9) and to give life allegiance to the kingdom of God (John 3:3).  And it’s the King of this kingdom that “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13).  It’s the kingdom in which we live and the kingdom of which Christ preached (Mark 1:15).  And it’s faith, or trust, in this kingdom, and its King, that was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).  Our faith is not open to interpretation or change.  It’s a finite, secure, immutable faith.


To Contend for the Faith

To contend or fight earnestly for the faith does not always take place between believers and the world.  More often than not, our striving for truth is against those who have infiltrated the church and seek to draw it away into perversion and heresy.  As politically correct, tolerant Westerners, we’ve opened the big tent and invited every form of sin and deviant teaching into the church.  And it’s only by their fruits, or lack thereof, that we can tell the difference between those who belong to Christ and those who don’t (Matt. 7:15-20).

So it’s our duty and calling to willfully contend for that faith given us at such a precious cost— the blood of our Savior and the blood of His saints.  And it’s our mandate to stand for truth, especially within the walls of the church.  Are you ready?  Are you able to discern the real from the counterfeit?  Do you know the difference between the “broad way that leads to destruction” and the “narrow” gate that “leads to life”? (Matt. 7:13-14).

You need to know.  That knowledge begins with a deep fervency for His Word (Ps. 1:2), a committed life of prayer (1 Thess. 5:17), and fully embracing all the Holy Spirit wants to show you (1 Cor. 2:9-12).

Will you join with me as we put on our spiritual armor and prepare to contend for the faith? (Eph. 6:13).  Will you take your stand with me, first within the walls of the church, and then against the gates of hell? (Matt. 16:18).  Will you choose to shine as “the light of the world”? (Matt. 5:14).  After all, our Lord said:

John 3:19-21 – “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

Be encouraged.  Christ has already defeated the enemy and overcome the world (John 16:33).  And we are secure — our “life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).

It doesn’t get much better than that.

big_lines


Notes

1. Yes, this does refer to Joel Osteen’s bestselling book, Your Best Life Now!
2. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (pp. 1163-1165). Chattanooga,
TN: AMG.

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

Another One Bites the Dust

Another One Bites the Dust

To the Church:

Please  note, Christian musicians and entertainers who have a loud voice and a large platform are not theologians nor, for that matter, pastors, teachers or elders.  They are, as stated, simply musicians and entertainers and not divinely inspired prophets of God.  Trust me, after working for 10 years as a concert promoter for a Christian radio station in Charlotte, I know.  Believe me, I know the spiritual shallowness of many Christian artists.  The Christian music industry and the carnal, Laodicean church may view them as the Pied Piper for cultural relevance and moral tolerance and accommodation, but that does not make them spokesmen for God.  Far from it.

Take for example Dan Haseltine, lead singer for Jars of Clay.  In dealing with the issue of gay marriage he summed up his Biblical knowledge on the subject this way:  “I don’t think Scripture ‘clearly’ states much of anything regarding morality.”  Really?  Are you serious, Dan?  Have you ever read your Bible, Dan?   Do you believe in absolute, finite truth, Dan?  Or do you believe that whatever seem right to you… uh, well… must be right with God?

In fact, over the last couple of days Dan has come out in favor of homosexual marriage.  “How?” you ask.  Simply this.  When you jettison the Word of God and replace it with your own mind, thoughts and feelings, then you become God over God’s Word and will believe and support anything your heart tells you is right.  You become the moral absolute in your life.  You become the final authority over what is right and wrong.  You become the standard that God must adhere to.  You, in effect, become God.

But remember this, Dan (and all others out there who claim to have the mind of Christ yet do not follow His commands), the Scripture has much to say about God’s view of your feelings and logic and opinions and of your heart.  It says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;  Who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).  Did you get that, Dan.  Your heart, as well as mine, is deceitful above all things, above everything, and is desperately, incredibly, unashamedly, incurably wicked.   Dan, this is what the Lord says about your heart.  So if your heart or mind or opinions don’t agree with the Word of God, the problem is with you, with your deceitful, wicked, Laodicean heart, and not with God.

After reading the following article, Dan, I would strongly suggest you drop to your knees and repent for elevating your sinful opinions and skeptic questions higher than the Word of God and then having the arrogant audacity to shake your fist in the face of God and proclaim them publically.  And if I were you, I would repent ASAP.  After all, I think you may have awakened the sleeping giant.

Sad day for you guys, Jars of Clay.  Looks like another one bites the dust.  Oh, remember Rob Bell?  Didn’t think so.

big_lines

Jars of Clay Frontman Comes Out in Support of Homosexual ‘Marriage’

In a series of assertive Tweets yesterday, Dan Haseltine of the popular band Jars of Clay took to his Twitter account and came out in support of homosexual ‘marriage,’ citing that he does not “particularly care about Scripture’s stance on what is ‘wrong.'”

Haseltine, who is the lead singer of Jars of Clay and whose band became famous for its Christian-themed music, posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday: “Not meaning to stir things up BUT… is there a non-speculative or non ‘slippery slope’ reason why gays shouldn’t marry?  I don’t hear one.”

“I’m trying to make sense of the conservative argument.  But it doesn’t hold up to basic scrutiny.  Feels akin to women’s suffrage.  I just don’t see a negative effect to allowing gay marriage.  No societal breakdown, no war on traditional marriage.  Anyone?” he went on to argue.

“I don’t think Scripture ‘clearly’ states much of anything regarding morality,” Haseltine stated.

big_lines

You can read the entire article here.  And, you can read a response to Dans’ views here.

big_lines

        

What happens when false prophets actually deliver?

What happens when false prophets actually deliver?

Good question.  What does happen?  What does it mean when false prophets actually do what they claim they can do?  What does that mean?

What happens when “signs and wonders”— no, real signs and wonders accompany the preaching of a false prophet?  What are we to think?  What does that say about what they are saying?   The implications are mind-boggling.

For example, does it mean that maybe, just maybe, they aren’t false prophets anymore?  Maybe they’ve repented and finally seen the light and God is confirming their ministry with “ooo la la” kind of stuff.  Or maybe we were too judgmental towards them in the first place and had them all wrong.  Worldly logic would conclude, “If God weren’t blessing what they say, then their churches wouldn’t grow so large and they wouldn’t be so popular.”

So, maybe the problem is with us, and not them.  After all, as the mantra of false prophets go: “Touch not the Lord’s anointed!”  Maybe we’re just too blind and deceived and misguided and don’t recognize that God is moving and doing a new thing in our generation.  Or possibly God just lowered His standard of truth so as not to offend the post-modern culture in which we live.  Remember the enlightened by-line of most false prophets, “Doctrine divides, but love unites.”  Maybe the Scriptures are not the standard of truth today and God is using these men to teach us that He is not the same “yesterday, today and forever” but actually changes with the times and adapts, like a divine chameleon, to whatever culture He finds Himself in.  Maybe the false prophets are right.  Maybe God is nothing more than a cosmic genie in a bottle waiting to serve us, bless us, prosper us and make us the “head and not the tail.”  And maybe, just maybe, these men the Scriptures define as false prophets are really God’s pied pipers to the New, and better, 21st Century Christian.

Maybe.  Then again, maybe not.

So, if a false prophet delivers the goods, does it mean that we slide them into the category of “Former False Prophets” or rename them as “Prophets formerly known as False”?

I think not.

Have you ever read the following words from Moses?

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods whom you have not known and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” *

Oh, so it could be a test— a testing from the Lord to see if we love Him more than we love the cool things the false prophets are saying about us, our finances and our future. Looks like another classic battle against our flesh, doesn’t it?

Are you prepared for that battle?  Are you prepared to win?  Because the age of false prophets is upon us.

big_lines