Newsletter for Aug 2012
In last month's letter I shared about the "silent genocide" God told me is taking place in the Body of Christ. To review briefly, this genocide is happening because both Christians and leaders in the Church (pastors, evangelists, etc.) are embracing and teaching "damnable heresies" (2 Peter 2:1-2) which ultimately lead to Christians having their names blotted out of the Book of Life (Revelation 3:1-6). This isn't simply a matter of discouraged Believers leaving their churches; this is happening within the four walls of the church to those who are still attending and are thinking everything is alright between them and God. (If you did not receive last month's letter, please contact us and we will send you a copy.)
At the close of the letter I mentioned that this month I would share more about this growing division within the Body of Christ. I'd like you to read two passages of scripture that almost seem to contradict each other. The first is from Ephesians chapter four,
11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some,
evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For
the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying
of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come in
the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto
a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and
fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of
men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
The second passage is from 2 Thessalonians,
1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2That
ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor
by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3Let
no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except
there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the
son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3)
The phrase "falling away" in the above verses is from the Greek word apostasia, from which we derive our English word "apostasy." This passage has been frequently taught incorrectly as people have said it means lost people are going to drift further and further from God, in spite of the fact they acknowledge there is a God. But in the full context of 2 Thessalonians, these verses are a specific reference to Christians who begin falling away (turning away) from the truth of God's word to embrace teachings and doctrines that have absolutely no foundation in scripture and are, in some cases, utter heresy. This is what some refer to as "the apostate church." (For a more detailed teaching on this passage, listen to my series, "The Judgment Seat of Christ.")
Here is where some people may see a conflict. The passage in Ephesians appears to imply that, through the ministry of the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers, the Body of Christ will eventually come to the place of being in complete, doctrinal unity; fully mature and conformed to the image of Christ. But then, based on what is written in 2 Thessalonians, we are told that many Christians are going to reject doctrinal truth in favor of "doctrines of devils" (2 Timothy 4:1) which could possibly lead to them having their name removed from the Book of Life.
Obviously, both interpretations cannot be true. Therefore, what is really being said?
Without going into extensive detail, here is what those passages are revealing. In Ephesians, God is expressing His desire for the Body of Christ; that which can only take place,
1) if the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers strictly adhere to what God has established in His word, rejecting the error of man's religious traditions;
2) if Christians choose to accept truth while casting down the imaginations of doctrines that have departed from truth, even if those doctrines are coming from their home church or their denomination's headquarters.
On the other hand, what is recorded in 2 Thessalonians is a prophetic revelation of what is going to happen as a result of Christians and Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers creating their own theology based on what seems to make sense to their religious, carnally-based minds.
Essentially, what is happening today is a variation of what happened when Jesus was ministering on the earth. Consider what He said in Matthew 16:5-12,
5And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 1How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
The Pharisees and Sadducees, along with the priests, were highly respected religious leaders among the Jews. When they spoke, the people automatically assumed that what was said was truth coming directly from God. It was common for some Pharisees, Sadducees and priests to travel from city to city and teach in various synagogues.
The Jews had actually come to the place of being fearful of these men, assuming that if you spoke against them, you were speaking against God. Over time, this led to tremendous corruption within their ranks as many of them exercised improper control over the lives of people, even manipulating them for financial gain. Knowing this, we can understand how it may have been a huge shock to the disciples to hear Jesus declare that the doctrine of their religious leaders was filled with error.
If that wasn't enough, Jesus even publicly reprimanded Pharisees, Sadducees and priests for the way they had corrupted God's word,
38And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he
hath sent, him ye believe not. 39Search the
scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they
which testify of me. 40And ye will not come
to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:38-40)
9And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition...13Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. (Mark 7:9, 13)
They had the scriptures which pointed to the coming of Jesus. But when Jesus arrived they denied what had been prophesied, actually directing people away from the One who had come to deliver them from sin. They thought simply having the scriptures was their assurance of eternal life with God.
In spite of the fact they had the word of God in their hands, they refused to submit to its authority. Instead, they twisted its words, added their own words, and created doctrines that fit their personal desires. At the same time, they were faithful to honor the Sabbath, attend synagogue services, offer all the sacrifices and offerings required by the Law, and maintain they were part of God's specially chosen; the children of promise, innocent of all wrongdoing, favored and blessed of God, and on their way to Heaven. But in His lengthy, scathing rebuke of them recorded in Matthew 23, Jesus let them know that they were not right with God and not headed for Heaven as they thought,
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea
and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold
more the child of hell than yourselves. (Matthew 23:15)
Not only had they corrupted themselves and the Jews they to whom they taught this error, but they also corrupted those who had converted to Judaism. The Pharisees, Sadducees and priests presented the Law of Moses to the new converts, but then led people away from God through their traditions which they presented as being ordained of God and equal to His word.
The parallels between what happened then and what is happening now are uncanny. Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers all have access to the Bible. But instead of adhering to what God has established as truth, many have twisted God's word, added their own words, created doctrine that cannot be supported with scripture, then they preach this reinvention of truth as being "thus sayeth the Lord." You could almost call it "revisionist scripture."
God never intended for His Church to live in utter dependence on Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Teachers. He gave those ministry gifts to the Church so they could teach Believers to be utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit as their final Authority on all matters of truth and scripture. The Apostle Paul told Christians to follow him as he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). In other words, he was telling them to spend time with the Holy Spirit so they would be able to discern that he was following Christ; after all, if you can't discern whether or not a person is truly following the Lord, how will you know the direction you are being led?
There are pastors of churches where salvation through faith in Jesus is taught, yet have essentially told their members to leave their Bibles at home when they come to church. The reason, they declare, is because they, the pastors, will tell the people all they need to know. This is a perfect formula for error and deception, even though these pastors fully believe they are doing right by God and their congregation.
Someone might ask how so many Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers could end up so wrong in their doctrine, yet be so convinced they are teaching truth. Consider the following:
The common denominator in this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I have been in church almost all my life. I have attended two different denominational churches and one non-denominational church. Additionally, I have visited other churches and spoken with innumerable people who attend a wide variety of churches. To sum it up, my experience has been that very, very few churches are teaching their people to develop a dependency on God the Holy Spirit.
Considering the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the church when it comes to establishing and teaching truth, it should go without saying that all Christians should learn to seek His presence and fellowship with Him. Failure to do this means we are looking to man as our source for confirmation of what we believe. This is precisely how so many Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers have gone astray in much of what they teach. This is also not an accident; it is Satan's ongoing plan to divert Christians away from the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit.
John wrote about the Holy Spirit's anointing and how it helps protect us from deception. He explained that it is by this anointing that He teaches us all things. Additionally, it is because of this anointing that we do not have to rely exclusively on man to be our teachers. (1 John 2:18-28) However, the Holy Spirit does not automatically release this anointing into Believers; if He did, no one would be teaching error. Interacting with the Holy Spirit so this anointing can be released comes through praying in the Spirit. But even at that, if you do not remain teachable you can still resist what the Holy Spirit shows you.
The closer we get to the return of Jesus, the more deception in the Church is going to increase (1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:1-4). I encourage you: Do not ignore the anointing the Holy Spirit desires to pour into your life. The ministries of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers are vital for us all; but the ministry of the Holy Spirit is even more vital.
If you would like to have my series "How the Holy Spirit Teaches Us," please indicate below. It will be sent to you on an MP3 CD. Or, you can access the series from our website (www.jmmgrace.com) in the Teachings section.
May every day of your life be filled with His joy!
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