A Need for Discernment
(1Th 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.)
Throughout the history of the Christian church there has been great persecution. There have been those against Christianity and those within Christianity that have physically persecuted Christians.
We can read in Fox’s Book of Martyrs, of the men and women that gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many ordinary men and women over the ages and still today in many countries have sacrificed and are still sacrificing their lives because of the truth of the Word of God.
Jesus said Matt 10:22 You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Persecution Will Come.
16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues,
18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.
19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.
20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death,
22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Whilst there is still this kind of persecution going on in the church today and it is certain that it will continue till Christ’s second coming, there is a greater attack on the true church of Jesus Christ and it is not a new attack, it is not from without the church but from within the church itself.
A fifth column attack, that has always been there but has become greater in these last days and will also continue until the second coming of Jesus.
In Mathew 24, Jesus warns of things that will occur during the last days before His return.
Jesus warns about many things that will happen but one thing He warns about more than anything else is false Prophets and false teaching.
Signs of the End of the Age
Mat 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us,
hen shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Mat 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Mat 24:26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
Notice in those few verses, Christ warns of wars and rumours of wars, once.
He warns against nation rising against nation, once.
Kingdom against Kingdom, once.
Famines and pestilence, once.
However, He warns of False Teachers, five times.
Matt 24:11 False Prophets and deceivers.
Matt 24:24 False Christ’s and False Prophets
Matt 24:26 Liars
This is one of the major signs of the end.
There are many false doctrines in the church and they are quite obvious to anyone that knows their Bible. These heresies have been recognised for centuries and are well documented.
However there are more subtle teachings that are entering into the churches that are not that easy to detect, especially to those Christians that do not study their Bibles.
Paul warned that the “time will come when believers will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Many, many Christians have been subtly drawn away, unknowingly following these unsound doctrines, carried away by attractive words from charismatic teachers.
The heresies such as the denial of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the creation, salvation by works are very obvious heretical doctrines.
However the more subtle heresies are not as easy to discern to many Christians.
Heresies such as:
The Prosperity Gospel.
The Deification of man.
Challenge of the Word of God.
Rejection of Hell and Judgement.
The Prosperity teaching and Word faith.
1Ti 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
The people that teach this are people who are out to gain from the Gospel.
They teach that God does not want anyone sick, poor, unemployed or lacking in anything.
They teach that we (Christians) are sons and daughters of a King and if we lack anything, it is because we are not claiming what is available to us.
Their messages teach, “name it and claim it”. If you don’t have it, it is because of your lack of faith.
Very often they teach “seed faith”. Plant a seed by giving money and watch it grow.
They do this with no shame and people fall for this because of greed.
If God has blessed you with money or good health, praise Him. It is not wrong to have riches but it is wrong for riches to have you.
They use scriptures to back up their teaching or should I say misuse scripture. They quote scriptures like,
Luke 6:38. “Give, and it will be given to you” And they quote Paul, who wrote about the financial principles of sowing and reaping.
1Co 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
2Co 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
Php 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
The problem is, there’s more to the story that the carnal prosperity preachers fail to mention:
Jesus warned against storing up treasures on earth. Matt. 6:19-24
Mat 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Luk 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
Jesus emphasized caring for the poor.
Mat 25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Jesus did not die to make us financially wealthy but to save us from our sins.
Mat 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
The carnal prosperity preachers have ignored other biblical warnings, like Paul’s powerful words to Timothy:
1 Tim. 6:9-11 “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness”.
Carnal prosperity preachers encourage God’s people to seek after riches, or to seek after God for the purpose of riches. Often even judging your spirituality by the kind of car you drive. What does that have to do with the gospel of Jesus?
They use false signs and wonders to attract the unwary, they prey on the weak and feeble, they take money from the poor with promises of prosperity.
One day they will receive what is due, when they cry Lord, Lord did we not do mighty works in your name and He shall say, “Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you”
An extension to Word Faith is the New Apostolic Reformation.
These people teach that the Apostles of Christ have been restored to the church and that these apostles have the same ministry as did the early Apostles.
However the major criteria for an Apostle of Jesus Christ, was that they were chosen by Christ Himself and saw Christ. Neither of these is true for these so called modern day apostles.
John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Free to do what?
Rasputin the monk taught that the more sin you commit the more grace of God you experience.
The preachers that preach like this, live in sin and ease their consciences by preaching about a God who is all love and who never condemns, a God who doesn’t judge us by our conduct.
Like the false teachers Jude confronted, Jude 4: they “turn the grace of our God into lewdness”.
Such lewdness is “a license for immorality.”
This is not what Christ set us free to do.
Yes, We are saved by grace and not by works Eph. 2:8-9, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us Rom. 5:6-8, that we are no longer sinners but saints in God’s sight 1 Cor. 1:2, that God’s love for us is not based on our performance Rom. 5:9-10, that having begun in the Spirit we can’t become perfect by human effort Gal. 3:3, that we are now sons and daughters of God, joint heirs with Jesus Rom. 8:15-17.
However we should never use this freedom as a occasion to sin.
Gal 5:13 For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don't use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.
1 Peter 2:16 (Berean Study Bible): Live in freedom, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
We are told how to use the freedom we have in Christ.
Col 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
Jesus has set us free. The problem is, Jesus didn’t set us free to sin; He set us free from sin.
Jesus died for us and broke sin’s power on our lives so that now, by the Spirit, we can live out the righteous requirements of the law Rom. 8:1-4.
Man is a god.
Another heresy rising out of Word Faith is the teaching that we are gods.
Preachers like Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyers, and Kenneth Coupland and many more are teaching this erroneous doctrine that comes from the pit of hell.
Creflo Dollar preaches, Dogs produce dogs, cats produce cats, that all of God’s creation produces after its own kind. He concludes that when God gets together, (the Trinity) what does this produce….. gods.
This is the kind of garbage that is being taught in many churches.
This is the first lie that was ever told.
Gen 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
This lie is directly from the mouth of Satan. A damnable heresy.Kenneth Coupland says, Quote: “When I read where God says “I AM” I just laugh and say “I am too”
This is blasphemy and Christians are swallowing this rubbish.
Kenneth Coupland claims he can control the weather, he claims he once rebuked a hurricane and yet his wife says, “we don’t fly in bad weather”
Challenging the Authority of the Word.
Again this began in the Garden of Eden.
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
The Devil is very subtle and so are His heresies “hath God said” “Did God really say”.
It begins by questioning the truth of the Word, then, the Words are twisted.
Gen 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
This challenge to the Bible is very prevalent in the world today. It is said by Scientists and Authors and even men in the church, Bishops and Archbishops, Popes and priests, that the Bible is a fictitious book, based on hopeless contradictory texts and so it can’t be trusted.
The truth is that the Bible is being eroded by bad translations and paraphrased versions.
Versions that are omitting particular verses or changing words in verses or reducing verses to a footnote.
The truths of scripture are being challenged and what God declares to be wrong in scripture is being taught in colleges and schools and churches, as being right.
Romans 16:17-20 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. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
2 Peter 3:16 As he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
We need discernment in the church, we need to pray for our leaders and teachers that they might see through these erroneous teachings and stamp them out before they take root in the fellowships.
Rejection of Eternal Hell and Judgement.
Nowhere is this questioning of God’s Word seen any more clearly than when it comes to the subject of hell and future punishment. It is an imbalanced gospel, the emphasizing of God’s love and ignoring His wrath and eternal punishment, emphasizing His mercy and ignoring His justice. We no longer have room for hell and future punishment in our theology. The Gospel is being turned into an easy believism, whatever people want to hear.
It is a fact that Jesus in the Gospels talked more about hell and punishment than He did about Heaven.
Matt. 8:12 Weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth.
Matt. 5:29 “it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell”
The Bible is full of scripture relating to eternal damnation or eternal punishment and everlasting destruction.
If there is no hell or punishment for sin, what were we saved from?
If there is no hell, why did Jesus die? To deny this is to deny God’s Word.
Revelation 20:11-15 clearly warns about the coming Great White Throne Judgment.
This is a great error that has been around for a very long time and what it teaches is that everyone will go to heaven eventually.
Whilst some recognise that the scriptures speak about punishment for sin, they cannot accept an eternal punishment or an eternal hell.
Whether there is a period of punishment in a purgatory or there is a series of re incarnations, these people debate about this.
There are those that just cannot accept that one day there will be a great judgement by almighty God.
Some believe that hell is here on earth and that people suffer in this life because of their sin.
Whilst this teaching has been in certain sections of Christendom for many centuries, it is becoming prevalent in the evangelical churches as well. We have noticed that even evangelical preacher like Billy Graham spoke like this in the last years of his life.
Whilst preaching the true Gospel in most of his lifetime, preaching Jesus Christ as the only way for salvation, he stumbled at the end of his life by saying that he was not the judge of any person and that Muslims and Bhuddists are all part of the family of God.
That if they believe in God and live the best they can they will be saved.
This kind of teaching is based on the fact that God is a God of love and no God of love could condemn people to an everlasting punishment.
Universal reconciliation promotes a get-out-of-jail-free mentality, that in the end, everyone will make it into heaven because of Jesus’ death on the cross. In contrast, universalism teaches that all paths lead to God. There may be future suffering, but it will be purging rather than punishment, and ultimately everyone will be saved.
The Roman Catholic church teaches Universal Salvation. Mother Theresa of Calcutta believed that her Gospel was not to convert to Christ but to make Muslims better Muslims or Bhuddists better Bhuddists.
Teachers of universal salvation point to verses that teach that God reconciled Col. 1:20. “all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross”
They point out scriptures like, Rom. 5:12-21 that just “as in Adam all die, in Jesus all be made alive”.
By believing this teaching, we must accept that men such as Nero, Adolf Hitler, Stalin and the numerous mass murderers that have committed evil crimes throughout the years, without repentance and remorse will eventually be in God’s eternal Kingdom.
To believe this teaching of Universal Salvation is to reject the fact that whilst God is a God of love, He is also a just God who cannot tolerate sin.
God will judge the wicked.
There is a mountain of scripture that speaks about God judging the wicked, as was said earlier, Jesus Himself spoke more about Hell than He did about Heaven.
Proverbs 16:4 The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.
Psalm 145:20 The LORD keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy.
Psalm 9:5 You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
Ezekiel 3:18 "When I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.
Psalm 37:28 For the LORD loves justice And does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
Psalm 37:38 But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; The posterity of the wicked will be cut off.
Nahum 1:15 Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace! Celebrate your feasts, O Judah; Pay your vows For never again will the wicked one pass through you; He is cut off completely.
Malachi 4:3 "You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing," says the LORD of hosts.
Job 36:6 "He does not keep the wicked alive, But gives justice to the afflicted.
Psalm 92:7 That when the wicked sprouted up like grass And all who did iniquity flourished, It was only that they might be destroyed forevermore.
Matthew 7:23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'
Luke 13:27 and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.'
Matthew 13:41 "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,
1 Peter 3:12 "FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL."
2 Peter 2:9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,
Job 20:29 "This is the wicked man's portion from God, Even the heritage decreed to him by God."
Job 27:13 "This is the portion of a wicked man from God, And the inheritance which tyrants receive from the Almighty.
Ecclesiastes 2:26 For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God's sight This too is vanity and striving after wind.
Psalm 1:5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous
The truth that is overlooked in this teaching of Universal Salvation is, God does not condemn anyone to hell, they are already condemned.
John 3:18:“HE THAT BELIEVETH ON HIM IS NOT CONDEMNED; BUT HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT IS CONDEMNED ALREADY, BECAUSE HE HATH NOT BELIEVED IN THE NAME OF THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD.”
Acts 13:40:“BEWARE THEREFORE, LEST THAT COME UPON YOU, WHICH IS SPOKEN OF IN THE PROPHETS.”
When Adam sinned, he lost his eternal life, he became separated from God by his sin.
This is the state of everyone that is born into this world.
Eph 2:12 At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
(Romans 5:18)"...through one man's offense (Adam) judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation".
The entire human race has been subjected to the righteous condemnation of God. The sins of mankind have brought the world under the divine judgment of God.
The only exceptions are those who have surrendered to Christ:
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
John 3:18,19" He who believes in Him is NOT CONDEMNED; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the CONDEMNATION, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
Everyone that is born is condemned and on the road to Hell. The fact of the matter is, that God intervenes and by the Holy Spirit convicts people of that sin, through the act of regeneration, God makes it possible for men to repent and turn from their sin and be saved.
It is man’s sin that condemns him to eternal punishment but here is the Gospel.
1 Tim 1:15 This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
So, we need discernment in our churches, our leaders need discernment. In these last days heresies abound and they are becoming more and more subtle.
It is time for the church to wake up and begin studying the scriptures daily.
Like the Bereans, we must search the scriptures daily to see if these things be so.
If the Bible doesn’t teach it, we don’t preach it.