Posted in discernment, theology

Alistair Begg and the Preaching Conference

By Elizabeth Prata

The inaugural National Preaching Conference is scheduled at First Baptist Church in Waco Nov. 19-21. The synopsis of this new conference says in part,

We hope you will join us for these uplifting days when the shepherds can be shepherded and the feeders can be fed. This occasion will echo the best of yesterday’s traditions and resound with the needs of tomorrow’s church.

Interesting. Perhaps some of the pastors who can’t make it all the way to California to attend a more established preacher’s conference such as the Shepherd’s Conference can make it to Texas instead. Continue reading “Alistair Begg and the Preaching Conference”

Posted in discernment, theology

The train is still coming down the tracks

By Elizabeth Prata

train coming 2

 

Growing up in my town in the 1960s, there was a train track running along the shoreline. Behind the tracks there was a busy wharf with fishermen, moorings for recreational boaters, and shoreside homes and their children running about. There were a lot of train crossings, and many of them weren’t guarded by automatic gates and warning signals.

Sadly, we frequently read in our local paper of crossing fatalities, both vehicular and pedestrian. To my impressionable ears it seems like almost a weekly occurrence. It wasn’t that frequent but I do remember my father, who was on the town Zoning Committee for a time, talking about the Town Council’s plans to automate and/or close some of the crossings to reduce potential for fatalities. Continue reading “The train is still coming down the tracks”

Posted in discernment, theology

Are hordes of Muslims coming to Christ though dreams of Isa?

By Elizabeth Prata

 

dreams

I wrote about the Muslim Dream conversion stories issue in 2011. At that time I investigated and my conclusion was a big NO.

Are Massive Numbers of Muslims Coming to Christ?

I wrote again in 2018 when unfortunately, IMB President David Platt affirmed these dreams and second hand stories, and worse, blasphemously called The Messiah Isa. This was during his International Mission Board report in June 2018. Again I said a big NO.

Blasphemy: Isa is not Jesus and Jesus is not Isa.

Again in 2019 the issue comes up. Here is Justin Peters dispelling these stories with a good dose of truth, in a minute and a half video. He said he receives this question all the time, continuing to be raised after the issue first surfaced 8 or 9 years ago. The question and the answer is important because the method that is related by these spurious testimonies degrades the sufficiency of scripture. (Just like any extra biblical revelation, whether dream or vision.)

Evaluating claims of salvation in light of the sufficiency of scripture

Posted in discernment, theology

Book Review & Discernment lesson: Supernatural Childbirth

By Elizabeth Prata

baby

A reader contacted me about the book Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize. She said that the author promises a pain-free childbirth using name it and claim it techniques.

This reader is expecting her first child and is understandably concerned with the issue of childbirth. Friends were excitedly pushing the book on her, yet she understood that pain-free childbirth was not a biblical stance. She asked me to look into the book and review it.

Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize was originally published in 1993, and was again published in 2018. The book apparently is enjoying a resurgence. This is a shame, because Mize said “In my heart I knew there was a way to have a baby without pain and without fear.” (page 23). This inner heart-prompting was confirmed when she attended a Kenneth Copeland meeting where Copeland uttered a prophecy allegedly from the Lord promising no pain in labor to women who were expecting. Voila, a personal craving met a false prophecy and a word-faith book was born. Pun intended.

Here is a screen shot of page 21 where Mize said she first heard ‘Brother’ Copeland prophesy. He said ‘The Lord says’ which I found terrifying to read.

One Amazon reviewer of Supernatural Childbirth said that she failed in the approach to pain-free childbirth because she didn’t “have enough faith” and had “allowed fear in.” For the reviewer’s second pregnancy she had “built up her relationship with God” and she “knew He wouldn’t let her down.” Indeed, she said “I got exactly what I had asked for.”

Another reviewer gave the book one-star on the basis of being too charismatic, but then says she disagrees with the book because it IS normal for God to speak directly to you and tell you “where He wants you to have the baby.”

With confusing reviews like these that vastly misunderstand the basics of the faith, it is no wonder many become deceived and fall into a sphere like Kenneth Copeland’s name it-claim it milieu. I agreed with the reader who was troubled by claims made in this book based on just the scant information so far. I dug deeper.

Far from Name It/Claim It being a dead doctrine, the prosperity preachers are alive and well, and multiplying. As the sin of the world increases, it tags people who want more of what God can give materially than what He gives spiritually. These teachers are successful because they twist the word. People with unmortified personal cravings, lusts, desires cling to these statements and the false prosperity preachers gain followers.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (2 Timothy 4:3).

So what IS the prosperity gospel?

In their book, When Helping Hurts, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert note,

In other words, wealth and holiness are intrinsically and linearly connected: the more holy you are, the richer you will be.

At its core, the health-and-wealth gospel teaches that God rewards increasing levels of faith with greater amounts of wealth. Source

And not only wealth, but ease, healing, and trouble free living. In effect, they promise a King Midas touch, where with enough faith, everything one touches turns to gold.

The Pharisees are good examples of this theology. It was thought in the Old Testament that the holier a person was the more God blessed Him. It’s why Job’s friends were so insistent that Job must have committed a sin in order for him to have been so cursed by God. (Job 4:8). Unaware of the coming Gospel, they thought that visible blessing was a manifestation of internal holiness. The Pharisees of Jesus’ time took this philosophy of reaping and sowing to another level, even boasting in their holiness as the self-satisfied Pharisee who thanked God that he wasn’t like the poor tax collector over there. (Luke 18:9-14).

In the first place, one should never read a book based on any prosperity gospel or name-it claim it theology. This kind of theology is also known as Word Faith. Kenneth Copeland is not a brother and nothing he says should ever be taken seriously for even a moment. His ‘prophecies’ supposedly directly from the Lord are debunked here. By the Bible’s own standard, a failed prophet is no prophet of God.

As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the LORD has truly sent. (Jeremiah 28:9).

Of course none of Copeland’s prophecies have come to pass. The Bible explains when that happens, they were not of God-

And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’— 22when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:22).

There were false prophets back in the OT times and there are now. (Ezekiel 13:6, 2 Peter 2:1). We are to be watchful and careful about whose teaching we choose to absorb. Unfortunately, the Prosperity Gospel promoted by the seemingly long-lasting Kenneth Copeland is still going strong. Resist it and turn away from it.

Back to Mize’s book. She began with a heart-craving for release from pain in childbirth, heard Copeland supposedly confirm this fact in a spurious prophecy, and then went to the Bible to find proofs. She arrives at her false conclusions by cherry picking words like blessing and rescue and applying them to her theme, which she brought with her to the text. Hers is typical eisegesis. Eisegesis- when you bring a thought with you to the word of God and then find verses which support it. Exegesis is when you impartially go to the text to discover its meaning and draw it out (the ex– in exegesis).

In this book women are led to believe they have total control over their bodies and can command female body parts to obey their declarations (Word of Faith). Their failure in succumbing to pain in childbirth is “fear and lack of knowledge” according to the author. (page 32). I believe the pain is due to a very large object being expelled through a very small opening, and no accumulation of ‘knowledge’ is going to change that.

In direct contradiction to Mize, we see in scripture that we do not have control over our bodies. It is God who opens and closes wombs-

Eve in Genesis 4:1 declaring her son Abel was born ‘with the help of the LORD’
Hannah’s womb was closed by the LORD, 1 Samuel 1:5
Leah- God opened her womb Genesis 29:31
God opened Rachel’s womb, Genesis 30:22
The Lord enables Ruth to conceive by Boaz, Ruth 4:13
The LORD closed then opened the wombs of all the women in Abimelech’s house, Genesis 20:17,18

It is pride to say that we have control over our own bodies when the LORD clearly as Creator ordains these things. It causes blame and shame for women to be told that their labor pain is due to ignorance or lack of faith.

Mize’s proof-texting of the Bible revealed the following false interpretations. Early on in her book she states that the Hebrew women of Exodus 1 were giving birth easily and quickly, unlike the Egyptian women, because they are in covenant with God and quick and easy childbirth is part of the package of being covenant people. Yet, the text in Exodus 1:15 says nothing about pain free. Only quick. We also know from history that in succeeding generations Hebrew women travailed mightily in childbirth. Jesus notes this in John 16:21. It’s stated again in 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Isaiah compares persecution to a woman in labor, (Isaiah 13:8) and Micah uses the word anguish for a woman in labor. (Micah 4:9).

Mize also rejects the notion that the Egyptian midwives were lying about the Hebrew women delivering so quickly, as an excuse as to why the male babies had not been killed. Mize rejects the concept that they were lying but offers no proof. John MacArthur and RC Sproul both believe that the women were lying, but suffered no condemnation because they feared the LORD, as did Rahab, who lied also and received no condemnation.

Mize goes on to use 1 Timothy 2:15 as another proof text to support her unbiblical pain-free childbirth position,

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Mize defines the word ‘saved’ in the above verse as kept safe and sound, which is pretty close to the Strong’s definition of the Greek, I save, heal, preserve, rescue. So does it means that women in childbearing will always be kept safe and sound leading to a painless childbirth? It can’t, women die in childbirth all the time. Matriarch Rachel, married to Jacob AKA Israel, herself had an extremely painful labor (Genesis 35:17) and died in childbirth. (Genesis 35:18). Was this proof then she was not a covenant women? Does it mean Rachel had not claimed her painless birth by demonstrating enough faith?

The word saved in the verse above is indeed sozo, and it is commonly used throughout the NT to mean rescued, saved, healed, to preserve safe and unharmed. But in context, and context is everything, the entire verse in its passage actually is interpreted to mean that-

though a woman precipitated the Fall and women bear that responsibility, yet they may be preserved through that stigma through childbearing. The rescue, delivery, the freeing of women from the stigma of having led the race into sin happens when they bring up a righteous seed. ~The MacArthur New Testament Commentary

We see this same interpretation echoed in Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible 250 years earlier, (1830s)-

Notwithstanding she shall be saved – The promise in this verse is designed to alleviate the apparent severity of the remarks just made about the condition of woman, and of the allusion to the painful facts of her early history. What the apostle had just said would carry the mind back to the period in which woman introduced sin into the world, and by an obvious and easy association, to the sentence which had been passed on her in consequence of her transgression, and to the burden of sorrows which she was doomed to bear.

So no, indeed it is not true that women will have an easy or painless childbirth. But you see how it can be that if you engage in eisegesis and cherry pick one word out of context, and/or rely on one verse, you can easily make the case for any notion you have a desire to.

Let us get to the main verse before this becomes too long. Speaking of the Fall and the consequences women are to bear from it, in Genesis 3:16 God cursed women with a painful childbirth. Mize’s book would seem to say that if we are powerful enough in our faith, that we can overthrow God’s words and enjoy a pain free experience when delivering a child. Here is what God said-

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16).

How on earth can this be explained away? How can my faith override the spoken declaration of God that was supposed to be for all time?

Mize here quotes the King James Version which uses the word sorrow instead of pain. All other translations use the word pain, and Strong’s in the Lexicon also uses the Hebrew word pain, too.

In this case, Mize used the word as it appeared in only one translation and ignored the definition of the word in Hebrew, explaining its meaning in English (sorrow). However, in a previous example (sozo=saved through childbearing) she used the word in Greek and the definition to make her case.  Inconsistency in interpretive methods is typical of eisegesis. Proper hermeneutics calls for consistency in applying our interpretive methods.

The purpose of biblical hermeneutics is to protect us from misapplying Scripture or allowing bias to color our understanding of truth. GotQuestions: What is biblical hermenutics?

Yet the author blames the Church for misapplying the word in God’s curse to Eve as pain.

“The church has always wanted it to mean pain for Eve. Well, it doesn’t mean pain, it means what it says, sorrow, grief. My God didn’t put pain on them.” page 90

She is including Adam here too, in God’s curse to bring forth fruit of the land in toil and pain. The first rule of proper hermeneutics (science of interpretation) is to interpret the word literally. It means what it says in its plain meaning. God said that Eve will bring forth children in pain, and that is what it means. The following verses also mention that women have pain, agony, or anguish in childbirth-

Romans 8:22
Hosea 13:13
Galatians 4:19
Genesis 35:17
Isaiah 42:14
Micah 4:9
Psalm 48:6
Micah 4:10
Galatians 4:27
Revelation 12:2
Isaiah 21:3
Jeremiah 50:43

It is hubris to be a lone woman purporting to correct thousands of years of previous Church interpretation. It is dangerous to re-interpret what God has said. It is unwise to blame the church for faulty reasoning. It is foolish to contravene thousands of years of experience of every woman who has ever given birth. Labor is painful. That’s how it is and will be until we enter the eternal state and all curses are reversed and there will be no more marriage or childbirth.

The author in her book relates visions that God has supposedly supplied her with and credits Him with speaking directly to her, putting His alleged words in quotes.

Mize admits that her delivery was not pain free, but better than the first. Her own admission is that the technique failed, but she still recommends the book wholeheartedly. I believe this is called ‘a blind spot.’

I’d advise women to steer clear of this book, which arrives at unwieldy conclusions, is riddled with charismania, (Mize recounts visions the Lord supposedly gave her) is inspired by a false prophet and rests on unstable foundations. (2 Peter 3:16). Not recommended.

I hope this review was also a discernment lesson in how people twist the word of God to make it say things it doesn’t. I’ve included some resources down below about proper interpretation, and also some books for expectant mothers more on the solid side.*

Proper Biblical Interpretation

How Should We Interpret the Bible, Part 1: Principles for Understanding God’s Word

Practical Principles of Biblical Interpretation

Justin Peters carefully, graciously, and biblically deconstructs the Word Faith movement in his series, Clouds Without Water. I recommend it. (Also on Youtube).

*I am not a mom and I am not very familiar with these authors below. I searched to the best of my ability on their stances and associations, and feel somewhat comfortable offering their books to you. If you know otherwise, please tell me. Also, as always, use your own discernment before making any choices.

Labor with Hope: Gospel Meditations on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood, by Gloria Furman

Praying Through Your Pregnancy: A Week-by-Week Guide, by Jennifer Polimino

Waiting in Wonder: Growing in Faith While You’re Expecting by Catherine Claire Larson

 

Posted in discernment, theology

In 10+ years of blogging and ten million views, some more of the popular essays

By Elizabeth Prata

Sunday marked the day when the counter on my blog showed 10 million views. Ten million times eyes have passed over something written here. Over ten years of daily essay publishing (4,955 of them) and now 10 million views. I feel the weight of responsibility to readers and especially to the glory of Jesus.

Some of the more popular posts have stood out, and always surprise me with what becomes popular. I’ll be posting the popularly viewed essays this celebration week. I’ll also be posting some of my personal favorites that didn’t receive so many views. The top was the Sideways cross necklace, and in the top ten was the Ghost Horse of Tahrir Square.

1. Sideways Cross Necklace

2. Ghost Horse of Tahrir Square

For 8 solid years, I’ve been blogging against Beth Moore’s ministry and teaching. Since 2011 when I became aware of her mode of living, her method of study, and her manner of delivery, I have loudly and constantly decried all that she is about. In the early years, really until 2018, it’s been a slog. In the early years, there were precious few fellow bloggers warning about her danger to women and the church. The push-back I received of this deeply embedded minister of satan was pitched and sometimes virulent. Hence the comment from a reader that she was surprised that the top viewed essay wasn’t one of my discernment lessons on Beth Moore. I was too.

Below is the only mention of Beth Moore in my top ten all-time viewed, from August 2014. It was partly about Moore, but also about the difficulty in determining the moment that a person, or a church, should make the decision that a certain teacher is no longer to be trusted or followed in their teaching.

In the case of this essay, it was the moment when Moore partnered with heretic Joyce Meyer. Moore appeared on Meyer’s TV show. In a bitter irony, the topic was “Unity.” Moore praised Meyer as a sister and gushed about how happy she was to be on her show.

It had been easy for followers, the less mature, and the undiscerning to ignore Moore’s profligate lifestyle of wealth and feminism, her preaching to men in flagrant violation of 1 Timothy 2:12-13, her terrible eisegesis, her self-centeredness, but this photo shook many out of their slumber. It was hard to ignore the meaning:

So I wrote the following:

At what point does one declare a teacher like Beth Moore false?

If you have a discerning person in your church, please understand they are there to employ a gift from the Spirit, not a harassment to torture you in your love for certain teachers.

Author Dan Phillips wrote a helpful list of warning signs of false teachers called Red lights. I recommend it.

It occurred to me that many might be served if we offered warning-signs of (at worst) false or (at best) unreliable teachers. Here are a number of such indicators. Some are instantly obvious; others only over the passage of time (cf. 1 Tim. 5:24).

As always, thank you for reading!

 

Posted in discernment, theology

Throwback Thursday plus new info, “On Discerning Ravi Zacharias: It’s time to say what needs to be said”

By Elizabeth Prata

Three years ago I wrote a review of Ravi Zacharias’ ministry. I wrote a follow up 6 months later. Mr Zacharias is a roving apologist who speaks at conferences or singly in various venues around the world.

Zacharias is an Indian-born, Canadian-American whose ministry is called Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. (RZIM)

I have heard him speak in person. I have listened to or watched his speeches online. My main concern with his approach to apologetics is that he seems to speak more of philosophy than straight Bible, dancing around the edges of the Gospel rather than being direct about our sin and our need for Christ. He tells lots of personal, experiential anecdotes rather than authoritative Bible stories.

There were some credibility issues also, which I recounted. Finally, on his website and in person when asked, there is a hesitation to declare issues biblically, such as pronouncing the Catholic Church anathema, coming down on one side or another on evolution, and a refusal to discuss Reformed Doctrines. Also troublesome was his partnering with Mormons, his appearing on Joyce Meyer’s television program where he called her ‘a great Bible teacher’, declaring Rick Warren’s Saddleback church “one of the great churches, and including what appears to be dishonest credentials on his resume.

All these are re-posted below below the fold.

In my first piece I’d concluded of Mr Zacharias,

If you listen to enough of Zacharias you notice he uses mostly rhetorical contrivances, philosophy, and looong anecdotes but not a whole lot of Bible. He is an ecumenical philosopher, not a solid apologist.

Yesterday I was listening to the most recent discussion between Phil Johnson and Todd Friel on ‘Too Wretched for Radio’ and the subject of Ravi Zacharias arose. Their discussion Mr Zacharias comprised the first ten minutes of the show.

Too Wretched for Radio 9/16/2019

Phil summed up his own notion of Mr Zacharias’ approach to apologetics very similarly to the conclusion I’d come to in 2016. I’m glad. I don’t want to be a single outlier but instead am pleased when I seem to be on the right track. Mr Johnson said of Zacharias’ approach,

He sees it as a philosophical issue. The approach to faith seems to be that the groundwork needs to be laid first with rational arguments and then scripture can come in. But first a platform needs to be built for scripture to come in so that people can be persuaded by it.

———————–

Repost “On Discerning Ravi Zacharias: It’s time to say what needs to be said

Ravi Zacharias is an Indian born,  Canadian-American Christian whose ministry is apologetics. Zacharias speaks at large gatherings, conferences, and events on the topics of Christianity and defending the faith. He also has a radio program, “Let My People Think.” He is well known for being intelligent, philosophical, and an excellent speaker in his command of the English language.

Even though there are some towering men of the faith, we must continue to do our duty and test all things against scripture. No one is immune from error or sin. Let us examine Mr Zacharias.

The link below brings you to an essay written in 2008. Since that time Ravi has descended further into questionable associations. At one point he praised Catholic Mystic Henry Nouwen, in addition to compromising on Mormon theology as you will read in the link below of that, and other compromises.

Ravi’s slide downward

Though Ravi later retracted his endorsement of Nouwen and Merton here

But let’s take a look at his activity and statements over time, and compare to scripture.

2009: Ravi signed the ecumenical document called the Manhattan Declaration which calls for Catholics and Protestants to partner on moral issues (source). This is a violation of 2 Corinthians 6:14 and Ephesians 5:11.

2012: Ravi appears on Joyce Meyer Today, and says to Meyer, “God has used you” and calls her a ‘great Bible teacher’ (youtube clip). This is a violation of one of the qualifications of elders, that they protect the sheep and remain in sound doctrine according to the biblical qualifications of teaching elders as per 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. His endorsement of Meyer was also a violation of the advice on Proverbs which says leaders use their wisdom to guide and lead. (Prov. 11:14; 24:6).

Ravi Zacharias calls false teacher Joyce Meyer a great teacher?

2014: Ravi waffles on age of earth, Ken Ham has response. This denies the clear and straightforward text of Genesis and is a setting aside of Romans 15:4.

2015: Credible allegations were made that Ravi has allegedly inflated/exaggerated/misrepresented his scholarly credentials. Proverbs 19:9 says he who breathes out lies will perish. When the allegations surfaced, certain information was immediately removed from the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) website. The allegations claimed,

-He was not a visiting scholar at Cambridge.
-He refers to himself as Dr Zacharias yet has no earned doctoral degree, they are all conferred.
-He claims to have lectured at the world’s most prestigious universities.
-He claims to be a scholar yet has published nothing in scholarly journals and does not have peer reviewed research.

Next, sadly, from the RZIM FAQ page,
Ravi Zacharias Ministry holds no official theological position on:

Creation: “RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the age of the earth. The focus of RZIM is apologetics and evangelism, and thus we do not address particular questions about creation…”

Calvinism v. Arminianism: “RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the doctrines of Calvinism or Arminianism, and we have staff members holding to a variety of views in both of these doctrinal traditions.” (PS you’ll notice errors in their explanation of Calvinism on the linked page)

Eschatology: “Dr. Zacharias has not spoken on matters relating to the end times, nor does RZIM endorse any official view on matters of eschatology.”

Catholicism: “RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the doctrines of the Catholic tradition; RZIM focuses its ministry on evangelism and apologetics and strives to stay true to that vision. Some of Ravi Zacharias’s favorite authors are Catholic (namely G.K. Chesterton and Malcolm Muggeridge), yet he recognizes that there are significant doctrinal differences between Protestants and Catholics.” [doctrinal differences?]

Erm, kind of hard to engage in solid apologetics without an official position on many of the Bible’s doctrines.

2016: In April 2015, Ravi Zacharias was part of a conference which was set to scrutinize The New Apostolic Reformation, during the Worldview Apologetics Conference held at Antioch Bible Church in Redmond. The co-authors of two books outing the NAR (R. Douglas Gievett, professor of philosophy in the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, and Holly Pivec, journalist) wrote the following at their blog:

My co-author, Doug Geivett, will speak alongside other high-profile evangelicals–including Ravi Zacharias, Norman Geisler, and Calvin Beisner–who will present on other important topics. Doug will give two presentations on the NAR, titled “The New Apostolic Reformation: What You Need to Know” and “God’s Super-Apostles: Where They Fall Short.”

And yet in January 2016 Ravi will partnered with Domininist/NAR teachers at a conference called Synergize, the very movement a previous conference which Ravi attended that had sessions exposing these people as false teachers.

Finally, the smooth talk. If you listen to enough of Zacharias you notice he uses mostly rhetorical contrivances, philosophy, and looong anecdotes but not a whole lot of Bible. He is an ecumenical philosopher, not a solid apologist. The reason he uses fine sounding arguments and rhetorical tricks is that he is the kind of man Paul is describing being the opposite of himself, in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5,

and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, (like Ravi) but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, (Ravi again) but on the power of God. (as Paul does).

I also personally attended a Ravi Zacharias speech in Athens GA and I enjoyed it mainly because he is a smooth talking man who uses language so well.

I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. (Colossians 2:4)

What does everyone say when they mention Ravi Zacharias? “The Spirit is powerfully using Ravi!” No, but they do say, “Ravi’s so smart!” What would people say if they had heard Paul preach, who is just as smart as Ravi if not smarter? “Paul’s so smart!” or would they say, “Paul preaches in the power of the Spirit of God!” They would say the latter, and they did (1 Corinthians 2:4).

THINK about it.

philosophy

Posted in discernment, theology

Are you drifting toward only wanting your ears tickled?

By Elizabeth Prata

This essay first appeared on The End Time in November 2010.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…” (2 Timothy 4:3)

Do you notice that word “endure”? The verse does not say “they will not like sound doctrine…” It does not say “they will not enjoy sound doctrine…” It doesn’t even say “they will not accept sound doctrine.” It uses the word endure. When you endure something, you writhe. You wish you were not there in the midst of it. If anyone has ever undergone physical therapy, you know that you have to endure it but if you could you would shoot out of the gym so fast you’d be like a speeding bullet. If anyone has ever had to get a root canal, you know that you endure it. You do not seek it, you do not like it, and if you could, you go away from it.

That is the process by which lukewarm Christians, fake Christians, and unholy pastors feel about the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. To be sure, the true Gospel of the Risen Savior is full of warm fuzzies. He loves us. (John 13:1). He prospers us. (2 Corinthians 9:8). He sends angels to us. (Hebrews 1:14). But the True Gospel is also full of truth, the unpalatable truth that the iniquitous lawless cannot endure: we are sinners. (Psalm 51:5). Rejection of the remedy for your sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) means you will spend eternity in torment, apart from God. That there is nothing good in us. (Mark 10:18). That we are fallen, craven, and deserve judgment. No, they will not endure that. So they don’t.

Instead they seek teachers to tempt us with what the devil has always tempted us with, and tempted Jesus too: health, wealth, fame. (Luke 4:1-13). They may find it in some “preachers” and in some “churches”, but it is for a season. Hebrews 11:25). Most do not find prosperity in health, wealth and fame. The only ones becoming famous and rich are the false pastors who urge the hapless and desperate to send money.

In his series, “Toxic Television: Unmasking the Prosperity Gospel part 1” Bible teacher John MacArthur spends a few minutes below of his one-hour sermon (linked above) explaining why Joel Osteen is false, dangerous, and unholy. He also spends time explaining why the Trinity Broadcast Network is also false, dangerous and unholy. MacArthur says, Osteen “is a quasi-pantheist where Jesus is a footnote that satisfies his critics and deceives his followers.” As for Osteen’s book, MacArthur says ‘Your Best Life Now’, the title, is a dead giveaway. The only way you can have your best life now is if you’re going to hell.”

Toxic Television: Unmasking the Prosperity Gospel part 1

A watered down gospel removes the book-end to the parts that they seek love and only ‘love’. The missing book-end is judgment. They will not endure sound teaching of His holiness involving love but also including righteous judgment.

“I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
“They will say of Me, ‘Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.’
Men will come to Him,
And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. (Isaiah 45:23-24)

A watered down gospel that removes the other book-end is less filling but it tastes great. The Bible shows us that the True Gospel tastes great, and also the watered down false Gospel tastes great. In the verses telling us of Ezekiel’s commission,

Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.” (Ez 3:1-3).

The true word absorbed by submissive believers is sweet. But it is also sometimes accompanied by a bitterness felt by even the most beloved of followers, even the most obedient of disciples. Sometimes the true word is hard to hear and bitter even for believers, because it reveals to us the true state of our sinfulness, our sorrow over our sin, and the fate of those who refuse His hand, those mockers and scorners whom we mourn over-

I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.” (Rev 10:10)

The only way to endure the knowledge of judgment that is coming is to rest on His truth and His promises. Those who do not rest in that truth, bitter as it sometimes is, do not endure it. Not only have they stopped asking the Spirit for wisdom, but they simply stop ingesting the sweet Words of the LORD and they flee away, being unstable in all they do.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8)

But we do endure! Paul said to in 2 Tim 2:3, 10. Peter said to in 1 Peter 2:20. The writer in Hebrews 12:7 advised us to endure. Endure what? Hardship. Beatings. Wrongdoing. Life. Hardship. Persecution. And there are those today who cannot sit still in a chair or a pew and ‘endure’ the Word of the Living God who loves them. They seek tickling instead. They are gaining the world only to lose their lives forever.

Has solid preaching become an endurance test for you? Or are the hard but truthful words uplifting to you and filling in every way? If you have recently changed churches because the pastor is “a little too Bible thumping for my taste”, or have drifted away from regular worship lately because the sermons are too long, too convicting, or demand endurance on the part of your deceitful heart, then ask yourself if you are really just trying to accumulate a teacher in accordance with your own desires, and are wanting your ears tickled with a less filling but great tasting sermon. If so, you may be at risk.

Why at risk? Because we all live forever in eternity in one of two places. The day will come when the eternity you are beginning will either not have the word endure associated with it, which is heaven, or it will have the word endure associated with it, for an eternity!

You may try to avoid enduring a convicting sermon from a ticklish teacher today, but the end result will be that you will have to endure an eternity separated from Him in torment. O, faithful one, let it not be so!

 

Posted in discernment, theology

Don’t be fooled!

By Elizabeth Prata

Judas, exhibiting false righteous indignation, said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” John 12:5. Proof that apostates & hypocrites say & do say things that sound pious but hide an evil heart. He sounded pious. It seemed appropriate. But Judas the treasurer didn’t say that because he cared about the poor. had they sold the perfume, Judas was a thief privately mourning the list revenue he could have pinched from the common purse. (John 12:6).

Don’t listen to friends who urge you, against your better discernment, to listen to that teacher or this one by caving in to their pleas such as, “But s/he talks about Jesus!” Or, “S/He uses the Bible!”

False teachers will always try to fool you with pious sounding speeches and fine flatteries. They specialize in manipulation so it’s no wonder that they can match their speech to what we expect. The disciples would expect a disciple as close to Jesus as Judas was, with his responsibility of keeping the money as Treasurer, to care for the poor and to want 300 denarii to serve those less fortunate. But the Bible tells us outright that Judas did not care for the poor at all.

Judas fooled the other disciples! He did not fool Jesus though. No one can. If we pray for discernment, keep in the Word, and ask the Spirit to reveal to us those whose hearts are far from Him, He will. He will alert you to anomalies and inconsistencies in the person’s behavior and theology.

Don’t let false teachers fool you. Test them!

Real Denarii

Top row left to right: 157 BC Roman Republic, AD 73 Vespasian, AD 161 Marcus Aurelius, AD 194 Septimius Severus; Second row left to right: AD 199 Caracalla, AD 200 Julia Domna, AD 219 Elagabalus, AD 236 Maximinus Thrax
Source public domain Wikipedia

Counterfeit denarius
Tiberius Denarius – Biblical Tribute Penny 14-37 AD

 

Posted in discernment, theology

How to Do Discernment: Partnering

By Elizabeth Prata

The issue covered in this essay today concerns participating with folks who might not be the most solid. Concerns were raised when John MacArthur participated in the Sing! Getty Music Worship Conference last month where also slated to speak were Anne Graham Lotz, Jackie Hill Perry, Conrad Mbewe, and in 2018, Tim Keller on video, Ravi Zacharias, and so on. There were over 30 speakers slated to speak at the conference.

Discernment isn’t cookie cutter nor is it dot to dot. Making decisions upon what one notices discernment-wise rests on the individual’s maturity, depth of study, conscience, and ability to apply scripture. It’s a process rather than a snapshot.

There were many people who became distressed when it came out that Jackie Hill Perry had partnered with the Christine Caine crowd at Caine’s Propel Activate Women’s conferences for the last few years, and more distressed when she declared Jenn Johnson of Bethel Church a friend and a sister. Many also became alarmed when Beth Moore did the same with Joyce Meyer, appearing on Meyer’s interview show and declared each other friends & spiritual sisters.

If one is partnering with known heretics, then they are not brothers and one should not partner with them. Nor should one definitively declare them in the faith. If a person does, that is cause for concern over their own discernment.

If one is participating in a conference and someone else is participating that promotes some doctrines that you disagree with but they can’t definitively be declared a heretic, then it’s up to the individual’s conscience to make that decision whether to participate and we should leave it to trust them to make it well.

Phil Johnson and Todd Friel discussed this issue in the following podcast “Degrees of separation and where to draw the line.

Gerhard Woest also made the following comment on Facebook about partnerships. Sometimes people  who claim to be discernment teachers use these issues to purposely confuse people and divide. Their own intents are not good and their activities certainly aren’t discernment but are discontent and stirring up strife.

JOHN MACARTHUR’S PARTICIPATION IN “SING 2019” by Gerhard Woest-

A lot of rumours are going around about John MacArthur sharing the stage with some “heretics” at the Sing 2019 conference. 

And to be honest, although I have the utmost respect for John MacArthur, after I saw this ad I also became concerned and asked myself, “What on earth is John MacArthur doing there?” 

Well, the Bible teaches us to judge fairly, but it also says “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” I therefore decided to look a little deeper into the matter and discovered that John MacArthur also participated in the Sing 2018 conference! 

My next step was to watch the video (8 minutes) and it then became clear to me that he used his time as an opportunity to glorify God. There was nothing Charismatic or “strange” about it. As a matter of fact, I believe his motives for attending is right – most probably to open some eyes.

People like Servus Christi (Joshua Chavez) are so quick to run with a skewed sensational video and sadly, we often buy into these ungodly types of ministries so easily. –end Gerhard Woest

Todd Friel spoke to that issue in this short clip, “Rules of Discernment”

John MacArthur at Sing! 2019-

You will want to make your own decisions when you see a person participating with wonky folks but do so with good intent, thinking the best of the person first, exhibiting patience, and watching them over time. A one-time stumble isn’t enough to dispense with an other wise solid brother or sister who had for decades or years demonstrated their trustworthiness.