Posted in doubt, IF:Gathering, rob bell, satan, schemes, skeptic

Sincere doubt versus dishonest skepticism

And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ —Matthew 4:3

Did satan not know Jesus is the Son of God? Of course satan knew. We see that he and his demons knew this in Luke 4:41,

And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

And we see that the demons knew that Jesus is the Son of God in Mark 5:7,

And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”

And James 2:19 says even the demons believe, and shudder!

Throughout scripture we read that satan knows full well who Jesus is. So why would satan begin his temptation by saying, “IF you are the Son of God…”?

Because he wanted to get Jesus to doubt. Ergo, satan’s is a deceptive skepticism.

Satan himself has no doubt whatsoever that Jesus is the Son of God. However, satan’s issue is that he thinks he can beat Jesus in a contest of wills. Satan believes he can usurp Jesus from His position as King of KINGS and Lord of LORDS. We know satan knows that God is highest, and we read satan’s conviction that God won’t be God on his throne forever, that satan himself will usurp Him. These are the five “I wills” of satan in Isaiah 14:13-15. Satan doesn’t doubt a thing.

Satan isn’t skeptical of God’s existence nor is satan skeptical of who God is. Satan’s scheme is to get US to doubt.

Scripture warns us repeatedly about deception-

fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock… (Acts 20:29)

We picture a fierce wolf with fur standing up and fangs bared. But that is how they are inwardly. If we saw the fierceness in the wolf, we would know he was a wolf. What we see in false teachers is a pleasant demeanor, smiles, apparently helpful and meek. A Joel Osteen, not a Hulk Hogan. The false ones are disguised.

false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13)

What they bring, however, is philosophy and empty deceit (Colossians 2:8)

Their disguise and pleasant demeanor hides a purposeful destruction-

false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1).

We see the philosophy and empty deceit in the tactic satan used with Christ, “IF you are the Son of God…”

Sowing doubt is an age-old tactic of satan, and why not? It works. However there has been a shift from false sowers who sow doubt about God’s word, (like Rob Bell) to those who claim to be Christian but sow doubt about God’s existence. (Like the IF:Gathering). It is a significant shift.

Ten years ago Rob Bell made headlines. He was a self-proclaimed ‘Evangelical’ who sowed doubt about the inerrancy of scripture as God’s perfect word. Bell was the perfect ‘Hath God said?’ guy. His method was to ask questions under the guise of sincerely seeking truth but what he was doing was actually sowing doubt and using dishonest skepticism to do it. The following are actual Rob Bell questions from his book Velvet Elvis-

What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and…

“But what if, as you study the origin of the word ‘virgin’ you discover that the word ‘virgin’ in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word ‘virgin’ could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being ‘born of a virgin’ also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?”

 And these questions are from his book doubting the existence of hell, Love Wins,

What if heaven is open to all, rather than a select few?

What if hell doesn’t exist at all? 

The women of the IF:Gathering, a subject on which I’ve written a three-part series, questions the existence of God. No, these women are not atheists. They are not Wiccans believing in goddess power. They claim to be Christians, and claim to study God’s word, IF He exists, that is. This screen shot is from the latest bible study:

Doubt in a believer happens occasionally. Doubting one’s salvation temporarily is natural. Doubting an interpretation of a doctrine is all right. Doubting that Jesus is the Christ was something even John the Baptist pondered. John the Baptist didn’t doubt the scriptures’ promise that Messiah will come. He doubted for a moment that Jesus was the promised Messiah that had arrived. There is a difference. 

No, this is the ignoble doubt of God’s existence. Ignoble because God has shown Himself to all people and those who fail to accept His existence are suppressing that truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18-19)

There is nothing noble about that. It is satan’s assault on our own faith and the baseline truth it rests on: God is One and there is no other. He is real. Believers don’t doubt God’s existence. If you doubt He is real, you’re not a believer. It is not a faith question, then, but a problem of deliberate suppression of the truth that brings wrath.

Believers are held responsible even for sincere or temporary doubts. Elderly Zechariah was rendered mute because of the doubt he voiced when the angel foretold that he and Elizabeth would bear a son. (Luke 1:18-20). And Zechariah was just doubting a one-time prophecy, not God’s existence entirely.

Jesus rebukes us for our doubts, even when they are honest, sincere, and soul-searching. Either harshly as in Matthew 14:31 to Peter, or gently, as in John 20:27-29 to Thomas.

We are told that when we ask for wisdom,

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6)

We must not doubt. (Mark 11:23, James 5:15, 1 John 5:14-16).

Dishonest skepticism is not doubt. Don’t confuse the two. Dishonest skepticism emanates from a false worker of iniquity. It is a satanic tactic designed to get you to doubt what you know and thus diminish your faith. Learn the difference and avoid any person, teacher, or organization that institutionalizes either skepticism or doubt.

Posted in atonement, cross, jay bakker, rob bell

Harlem Shake is dead but at least questioning the atonement is still cool

It’s a little rough but gets the point across:

The Harlem Shake is the latest “craze” to sweep churches that preach an emergent, soft, different Gospel. Those churches engage in social justice on weekdays and re-gather on Sundays to have rock concerts, share what dreams and revelations Jesus sent them whilst sipping cappuccino and admiring the gauge in their nose. You get the idea. There is more here from CNN about the Harlem Shake from a secular point of view, but make no mistake, the shake is sweeping churches. They have to stay relevant you know.

What was encouraging was that the Node ‘Last Shake’ video was posted to Facebook by 19-year old friend of mine. Not all youths are under the sway of the cool pastors in skinny jeans! Hallelujah!

At the blog A Twisted Crown of Thorns this is posted: “These relentless overtures to make the church more hip or more culturally savvy are in themselves a danger to any church. They downgrade the gospel, make people seek excitements as vehicles for their silliness and pander after entertainment instead of seeking Christ as a Savior for their sins. These excitements are a judgement to any church. Believers come seeking for bread and to be fed and you offer them stones! Oh brood of vipers, and you call yourselves Christ-ian (Christ-like)!”

I’m studying for the Sunday School lesson, it is from John Stott’s “The Cross of Christ.” Pretty inspiring stuff. The cross never gets old, ya know?

Except when it does. I believe the study contained in our Sunday School quarterly is timely. The cross and Jesus as the substitutionary atonement, punished by taking the wrath of God for our sins, shedding His blood, is a doctrine that’s increasingly being denied.

Just last week Jay Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Faye) denied the atonement in his book “Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I’ve Crossed” following up his doubt about the atonement in an interview with The Christian Post. When CP asked him to clarify, Bakker said, “Yes I am definitely questioning the atonement.” (And yes, that thing on his lip is a honkin’ lip ring.)

One would think that there would be SOME hard and fast doctrines that people would not mess with. Like, Jesus as God. Or the Virgin Birth. Or, the Atonement. But these are exactly the ones that are under attack in the last few years. The atonement is being questioned and denied with increasing momentum. Besides Bakker, other notable people who question or deny the atonement these last 5 years have been people such as Reverend Jeffrey John, a Bishop of the Church of England, who called the doctrine “repulsive.” (Rev. John is gay, by the way).  Giles Fraser, a priest of the Church of England in London,  quickly followed up on John’s assertion by saying, “No, Jesus is not a blood sacrifice to appease a vicious God.”

On this side of the pond, in 2011 Rob Bell denied the atonement in his book “Love Wins,” itself a denial of hell. In case you are wont to say ‘Oh that’s just Rob Bell, some guy who doesn’t affect me,’ think again. Time magazine named him to its annual list of 100 most influential people in the world, after making him the cover story in April 2011. Bell founded Mars Hill church in Michigan and it was considered one of the fastest growing churches in America.

William P. Young denies the atonement. Who is he, you ask? He wrote “The Shack,” a book which spent two years on the NY Times bestseller list AND was given the Diamond Award of sales over 10 million copies by the Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association!

Still think that the doctrine of the atonement is solid at your church? The influence of these men who deny it is pervasive. Did you read The Shack? You were affected by the denial of the atonement. Think on how many people you knew were reading it, offered it to you, or commented about how good it was. Another influence on denying the atonement. Think you’re unaffected by the likes of Bell or Bakker?  They have large congregations, who are media savvy and have or produce their own television shows. They spawn other men who become pastors. They have congregants who go out into the community and speak of the these ideas. They have members who move and take these ideas with them. They and their ideas are poison chaff, blowing in the wind and landing at your threshold.

Be warned: the doctrine of the atonement is being chipped away at from all compass points and no doubt in your sphere too.

Speaking of Bakker, he announced last week he is leaving Revolution Church NYC “to pursue other opportunities.” And in other exciting news, he wrote a book that is being published this week. He wrote on his website-

“In the coming months, after 6 years in Brooklyn, I will be moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have some exciting opportunities there and decided it was time for a fresh start. … [Sad that after only 6 years he feels stale…] My co-pastor, Vince Anderson, will remain on staff in his role as pastoral care minister and will continue to serve as a resource to the online community. He will be meeting with the local members here in Brooklyn, to determine how they would like to proceed. We believe that this time of transition will make for a more dynamic Revolution Church, and will help us focus and expand our scope and mission. Through this time, we ask for your continued support. Donations can be sent to our Brooklyn office, or online through Paypal. To support Revolution Church click HERE. On another note, my new book, “Faith, Doubt and Other Lines I’ve Crossed” is now out.”

I’ll sum it up: ‘I am restless, bored, and moving on, need time to tour for my book and make merchandise of you, don’t worry, the online stuff is still there because we have diluted worship to the point where ‘connecting’ in Jesus’ name means ‘liking’ the podcast, and don’t forget to DONATE DONATE DONATE. See ya, bye.’

He is going to start a Revolution church in MN. In case you don’t think that Revolution church, with its gay marriage affirming, atonement denying, liberal teachings is a big deal, there is a Revolution Church in Tuscon, Long Beach, Wilmington NC, Gainesville GA, Atlanta GA, NYC, Canton GA, Oakland TN…and the list goes on.

Anyway, the cross. The cross is central. Stott wrote, “Yet the enemies of the Gospel neither did nor do share this perspective. There is no greater cleavage between faith and unbelief than in their respective attitudes to the cross. … Why do we ‘cling to the old rugged cross’ and insist on its centrality, refusing to let it be pushed to the circumference of our message? Why must we proclaim the scandalous, and glory in the shameful? The answer lies in the single word integrity.  Christian integrity consists partly in a resolve to unmask the caricatures, but mostly in a personal loyalty to Jesus in whose mind the saving cross was central.”

Are you loyal to Jesus? Then you are loyal to the cross. Stay that way.

Posted in false teachers, merchandise, priscilla shirer, prophecy, rob bell

Peter’s prophecy fulfilled: False teachers who make merchandise of you

Here is a prophecy in 2 Peter 2:3 that has recently come to my attention. Read it in different translations:

“In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” (NIV)

“And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (ESV)

And my favorite translation of the verse;

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (KJV)

Looking at the verse in context, Peter is warning about false teachers to come. The ESV’s heading for the entire chapter is called “False Prophets and Teachers” and the chapter goes on to describe all the qualities of false teachers and prophets who are prophesied to come. Peter opens with chapter 1 in reminding the brethren that our salvation is sure, and that Christ’s word in the prophetic is glorious. He tells us in chapter 2 about those prophecies, namely focusing on the false teachers and prophets, and then continues the thought in chapter 3, reminding the brethren to think on these things and be duly warned. He then reassures the church that the Day of the Lord will come, and all the false teachers and prophets will be dealt with in due time.

We are told in His word that what will happen is that false teachers will make the Word a merchandise and they will exploit the believers. They do this because they are greedy. When it happens it will not be because they made a mistake, or briefly had a period of a wayward interpretations, or due to Christian immaturity. The bible says they do it on purpose and they do because they want money.

So back to the verse. Are the brethren exploited? Is the word being merchandised? Yes.

The consumerism in current Christianity bothered me when I attended the Beth Moore live weekend “bible study” at the Time Warner Arena. The slickness of the extravaganza was shocking, and the prices of food the vendors were charging really made me think of the moneylenders in the temple.

When the Fireproof movie came out I was struck by the push to buy the DVD, the books, the “Love Dare” diary. I mentioned that in another blog post, that fads in Christianity seem to come with their own cottage industry or marketing and merchandising of trinkets.

Same with the Courageous merchandise. You can buy a pack, complete with The Resolution For Men Book, the Resolution Certificate print (as seen in the movie) and the FREE Bonus I Resolve/I Will wristband. Hurry while supplies last.

Then I read of all these mega-church pastors who quit their post at a church to go on book tours.

There is nothing wrong with a pastor writing a book. Nothing. What the prophecy says is that they will be false, they will write false things, and make merchandise out of the false words and they will exploit the people who support them. And that, my brethren, is exactly what is happening today.

Rob Bell, founder of Mars Hill Bible Church in MI, recently released the heretical book, Love Wins. Love Wins impugns the character of God by saying that hell is not real.

After the book was a runaway success, Bell resigned the ministry and went on a tour. An article in Crosswalk noted, “Bell’s resignation makes him the latest in a string a celebrity pastors who have said goodbye to weekly sermons, potluck dinners and other staples of church life. “A New Kind of Christianity” author Brian McLaren, “Crazy Love” author Francis Chan, “Deep Church” author Jim Belcher and the popular British Bible scholar N.T. Wright have all left their church leadership positions in recent years.”

Bell left his church “to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities.”

The article states, “For pastors with ambitions to reach huge audiences, there’s often no better platform than the megachurch, which has given rise to powerhouse media empires from T.D. Jakes to Max Lucado to Joel Osteen and many others. But some high-profile pastors are opting to leave congregational ministry altogether to pursue publishing and other media ventures full time.”

Media empires is right. And the article correctly noted that the mega-church has become a ‘platform’ from which to launch that media empire, make a lot of money, and go on tour, leaving the picked-over flock behind.

Speaking of cottage industry, never mind the packets, kits, trinkets, and books, there are new businesses springing up to support the business of Christianity. For example, Alive Communications is a Colorado Springs, Colo., literary agency that represents megachurch pastors. Now pastors need agents? Apparently so.

Even the woman are getting in on it. Priscilla Shirer, daughter of popular preacher Tony Evans, is also her own cottage industry. “Conservative Bible teachers like Shirer have built a new paradigm for feminine preaching, an ingenious blend of traditional revivalism, modern therapeutic culture and the gabby intimacy of Oprah. … This theology has spawned a subculture of Bible studies, conferences, ministries, religious retreats and literature ranging from Christian fitness books to Christian romance novels, all produced by and for evangelical women.” (source)

Above, Priscilla Shirer, source

For the women who go on tour, this cottage industry is at the expense of biblical womanhood. The article notes that Mr Shirer spends much of the day negotiating Priscilla’s speaking invitations and her book contracts. In the afternoon it’s often Mr Shirer who collects the boys from school. Back home, Priscilla and Jerry divide chores and child care equally. “Jerry quit his job to run his wife’s ministry. Priscilla now accepts about 20 out of some 300 speaking invitations each year, and she publishes a stream of Bible studies, workbooks and corresponding DVDs intended for women to read and watch with their girlfriends from church. Jerry does his share of housework and child care so that Priscilla can study and write. He travels with his wife everywhere. Whenever possible, they take their sons along on her speaking trips, but they often deposit the boys with Jerry’s mother.”

And don’t forget to pick up your Shirer “I Am Resolved” tee shirt on your way out.

After Rob Bell left in a cloud of dust for his book and speaking tour, the remaining pastor at Mars Hill shortly decided to leave also. Shane Hipps said he enjoys “serving the broader church” by speaking and writing. The ‘broader church’ is code for, well, the world. Hipps worried that if he accepted the new role as main teacher after Rob Bell’s departure to serve the world, (they don’t call them preachers at Mars Hill), “I would have to dramatically reduce my service to the broader church which is an integral part of my sense of call.” Translation: I will have to be accountable to the elders and I’d have to curtail my book tours. Ix-nay on the teaching-ay. Who wants to be stuck at a podium preaching week after week when you can be a media darling and start an empire? Good bye Mars Hill, hello new book, “Selling Water by the River: A book about the Life Jesus Promised and the Religion that Gets in the Way.”

This writer below in the next article asks a good question, many good questions as a matter of fact. Who decided that these particular teachers speak for the local church?

None dare Call It Marketing: Lifeway, Beth Moore and the conspiracy to take over your church

“The idea of a celebrity Bible teacher, a teacher who teaches thousands and thousands of people through media, isn’t antithetical to the Bible’s presentation of discipleship, but it certainly isn’t normative. It’s not what the Bible has in mind. And one of the reasons is this: The ministry of the “celebrity” Bible teacher tends to undermine the ministry of the local church pastor.” … “What I will ask, however, is whether my fellow Christians have the courage to admit that Beth Moore and Rick Warren and the next publishing superstars are, in large part, promoted by Lifeway for profits? Not chosen by God, but chosen by Lifeway and other publishers for potential book sales? Lifeway would say chosen and promoted for the good of my church. Well, if it’s profitable. If you can’t see that, you’re naive.” … I’m distressed that Christian media’s capitalistic agenda has become the source of an unquestioned spiritual authority in so many churches.”

Me too.

John MacArthur exposits the Peter verse, “The operating motive, the underlying cause. Verse 3, “And in greed they will exploit you with false words.” Here’s another component that you need to know about. What drives them on the inside to do what they do? Listen very carefully. They’re not driven by immorality. They’re not driven by aselgeia, sexual immorality. You can do that by yourself. That’s not going to make you a false teacher. You can be immoral all alone in your own little world with just the people you choose to be immoral with, you don’t need to be a false teacher to be immoral. And if all they wanted to do was fulfill their sensual desire, they wouldn’t need to be a false teacher. But there’s another component. What is it? Greed…greed.”

“The driving force of their enterprise to be teachers is not the love of the truth, it’s not submission to the Lord, it’s not even sexual immorality, they can do that in the pew. The driving force is money. The word pleonexiameans uncontrolled greed. They’re expert at it. They’re in it to accumulate money. And watch them, they do. Verse 14 of the same chapter, “Their eyes are full of adultery…obviously…they never cease from sin, they never submit to lordship, they entice unstable souls…why do they do that?…because their hearts…boy, this is really graphic..are trained in…what?…greed.” They’re experts at it. They can con money out of anybody. They want money. They want money. They want your money. They want anybody’s money.’ … “They exploit you, they get rich off you with false words.”

Now you might deduce that I am offended at Christian merchandising of God’s word. That I am concerned with women who have their own cottage industries of tours of ‘bible studies” and products at the expense of their children, their husbands and their husbands’ jobs. But this next bit really gets me.

“Bell’s 2009 project, Drops Like Stars, explores the links between creativity and suffering. Drops Like Stars was an international tour and a book, initially handwritten by Bell, with photographs. The title of the project comes from a young child’s view of raindrops on a window at night. Rather than focusing on the conundrum of why an all-powerful God would allow suffering, Bell instead looks at the creativity, empathy, new connections, and growth that can spring from suffering. When asked in an interview how he had become interested in suffering, Bell replied that as a pastor he had been given a front row seat in the most poignant moment’s of people’s lives. At the same time he was doing lectures on creativity and realized, “There was a connection between these two halves of my life – all these connections between suffering and art-making.” (source)

He had a ‘front row seat’ to people’s spiritual and emotional pain, and decided to make money off it. This right there is a fulfillment of the worst kind of the prophecy Peter warned us about.

Though Bell’s book is a sad instance of the merchandising of God’s word and exploitation of His people, this one is just plain silly and ridiculous:

Pastors, at a loss for how to lead your church? Call Will Mancini, Clarity Evangelist. He will help you discover a unique vision for your church, and sell you a Unique Vision Kit, to boot.

Your church’s Unique Vision Kit
CHURCH UNIQUE BOOK: (1) Written to help you find your Church Unique and live a vision that creates a stunningly unique, movement-oriented church. (The Church Unique Vision Kit includes one copy of the book.)
LEADERS GUIDE: (1) Step by step instructions for the leader of the Church Unique Vision Pathway process. Everything you need to lead 8 vision clarifying team sessions.
DVD: (1) Video teaching from Will Mancini provides insight, encouragement, and inspiration.
PARTICIPANT GUIDE: (9) Map, journal, and sketch book to help each team member participate effectively in the vision clarification process. (Pick up your own 3 ring binders at your favorite office supply retailer.)
VISION DECK: (1) 52 optional exercises to inspire visionary teams.
JOE GROW: (9) Bendable figure empowers teams to explore the impact of vision on real people.
COMPASS KEY CHAIN: (9) Take home object lesson for team members.
COLLABORATION CUBES: (9) Table top team interaction style reminders for team members.
VISION FRAMES: (9) Customizable frame for team participants to record the vision outcomes.
ALIGNMENT RING: (1) Illustrates the power of a unified vision and momentum.
ROLE CARDS: (9) One laminated role card with key responsibilities for each team member.
MISSION CARDS: (9) One wallet sized card for each person to record your unique mission.
WALL CHARTS: (18) Posters that illustrate key concepts in the Vision Pathway Process as well as charts to capture your unique vision. (Pick up additional flip charts or blank sheets of newsprint to record ideas at your favorite office supply retailer.)

The 2 Peter 2:3 verse says “they will exploit you” or “they will make merchandise of you” and the Greek word for exploit is emporeusontai, from which we get the English word emporium. Emporium is a term used for a store selling a wide variety of goods, and for marketplaces or trading centers.

Making money is no problem. Writing a book is no problem. Having money is no problem. Being a megachurch pastor is not a problem (usually). But false teachers will come in, and not sparing the flock, they will exploit the Word and the people for their greedy purposes. I believe it is clear that it is happening to a high degree today. All I can say is,

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

Posted in bible, jesus, judgment, rob bell, satan

Back to Basics: Who is Satan?

Satan is real.

He was God’s covering cherub, the highest of the high, and the most beautiful. (Ezekiel 28:14-17). This means he is an angel and therefore a created being under God’s sovereignty. The eternal clash between good and evil is not one of equal opposites, but one of rebellion of a created being against an uncreated, holy God. (Isaiah 14:13-14)

We hear satan’s actual voice three times in the bible. Once in Genesis 3:1-5 when he is talking with Eve in the Garden of Eden. There, he insinuated to Eve that God is not good enough to her by not letting her have all the fruit of the Garden. The second time we hear him speak, it’s in heaven to God about Job. (Job 1:7-11). There, he told God that God was being too good to Job. The third time is when satan tempts Jesus. (Luke 4:1-12). In that scene, he used several the schemes in his arsenal (temptation of the body, temptation of power, temptation of testing God) and when he failed, he went away until another opportune time. (Luke 4:13).

These scenes tell us that satan has many schemes in his bag of tricks, he is not hesitant to use them against people, or Jesus or even GOD, and that he never quits.

Satan is mentioned in the Gospels twenty-nine times. And twenty-five of those times, Jesus is the one talking about Satan. Satan is mentioned in seven Old Testament books and every New Testament book.

Satan is a real person. He is not allegory, a metaphor or a figment. If you believe he is an allegory or figment or just an evil force, then you destroy the integrity and truthfulness of every NT book, each Gospel, a quarter of the Old Testament, and the character of Jesus. It is not possible to disbelieve satan is real but also believe the rest of the bible is truthful, historical, prophetic, and the word of God.

Satan is not in hell. He is not the ruler of hell. So where is he? He is roaming up and down upon the earth. (Job 1:7, Job 2:2; 1 Peter 5:8). Satan is the prince of the air. (Ephesians 2:2). Satan is in heaven accusing the brethren. (Revelation 12:10; Job 1:6). God has granted limited and temporary sovereignty to satan, for he is the god of this world. (2 Corinthians 4:4). From this we see that satan has been granted much latitude by God on earth, the air and in heaven.

Satan is busy! He is accusing the brethren, roaming the earth, fighting the holy angels, sowing tares among the wheat, polluting the doctrine. He is wreaking devastation and destruction. (John 10:10). And much more!

What is satan’s destiny? When satan rebelled in the primordial past, God prepared hell for satan and his angels. (Matthew 25:41). There will be no offer to repent and no opportunity to come to salvation. The devil and his angels’ futures are fixed. (John 16:11). Meanwhile, God uses their evil for His good and glory.

During the time since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden, satan has been allowed latitude in each of the three spheres of earth, air and heaven. However, midway through the Tribulation, he will be thrown out of heaven and access will no longer be granted to him or his angels. Perhaps satan thought he would be able to go on like this forever. God’s patience is longsuffering, but it does have an end, and satan gets tossed. He and his angels will be furious and will wreak that fury on the population of the earth. Woe to them! (Revelation 12:7-17).

At the conclusion of the Tribulation, satan will be thrown into the abyss and locked up for 1000 years. When 1000 years is over, he will be let out for a little while to foment one last, short, rebellion. (Revelation 20:3; 8). After that time he will be thrown into the lake of fire, the place prepared for him in the primordial past. His angels will be thrown there too, (Revelation 20:10) along with every person who followed him. (Revelation 20:15).

To all the precious brethren, fighting and strong or struggling and weak: he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. We need not fear satan, but we do need to appreciate his capabilities and thus rely on the Holy Spirit more than ever. And to the lost: make no mistake, satan is real.

Rob Bell casts aspersions on the Holy Word. In his infamous book, “Love Wins“, Bell wrote about hell and by definition, satan,

“‘A staggering number of people have been taught that a few select Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.’ “

Oh, woe to those who disbelieve Jesus’s words about future judgment for sin and His word to John in Revelation about the Book of Life. If your name is not written in it, you will be thrown into the Lake of Fire to be tormented forever.

Mr Bell believes love wins: and he is right, it does. Look at the cross! God’s love of humanity- expressed through Jesus-  triumphed over evil and sin and death! (Colossians 2:13-15). However, Mr Bell believes love and holiness are mutually exclusive. They are not. Holiness wins too. (John 9:39). All one needs to do is look at the lake of fire- the place prepared for the devil and his angels, and all those who follow satan. (Matthew 12:30-32). Unless you believe in Jesus, you are actually following satan by default. When you die, you will follow satan right into the Lake of Fire.

Now for some encouragement to the brethren:

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

“Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31).

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Thanks be to God for Jesus!

Those are a few facts about satan. As always, read the word for yourselves to see if these things are true.

Posted in absolute truths, bible, jesus, pharisee, rob bell, sadducee, wider mercy

The danger of "Let’s not put God in a box" thinking

I’m tired of that old chestnut, “think outside the box,” aren’t you? Good ole Wikipedia defines thinking outside the box as “to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking. This is related to the process of lateral thought. The catchphrase, or cliché, has become widely used in business environments, especially by management consultants and executive coaches, and has spawned a number of advertising slogans. To think outside the box is to look further and to try not thinking of the obvious things, but to try thinking beyond them.”

Here is the proverbial box:

Here is the proverbial task: “The “nine dots” puzzle. The goal of the puzzle is to link all 9 dots using four straight lines or fewer, without lifting the pen and without tracing the same line more than once. One solution appears below.”

Here is one of the solutions:

Here is the solution described: “One of many solutions to the puzzle at the beginning of this article is to go beyond the boundaries to link all dots in 4 straight lines.”

See? The pencil drew lines outside of where the mind had applied a limit beyond the dot.

Jesus told the disciples to beware the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducee. (Matthew 16:16). Leaven is yeast, and it only needs a little bit to permeate through the whole loaf. Now, the Pharisees and Sadducees were polar opposites. The Pharisees were the traditionalists, legalists, and conservatives of the day. They were popular, and often were the famous men in town who ran things. The Sadducees were the liberals, free-thinkers, rationalists. They were not as popular but were still part of the Sanhedrin. Caiaphas was a Sadducee.

Pharisees applied extra traditions above the Law as delivered to Moses via God. These traditions strangled faith. The Sadducees were on the other end of the spectrum, questioning everything. They doubted the resurrection, angels, Spirit… They were asking questions all the time, and were never on firm, dogmatic ground. They seemed to be extra-intellectual but also appeared humble when asking their questions. All they were really doing was instilling doubt. They were the ones who asked Jesus who the woman with 7 husbands will be married to in heaven. (Matthew 22:23-30).

Why did Jesus say to beware the leaven of these two groups, if He knew that both groups would cease to exist within 70 years? Because these two groups are still around. Today, Rob Bell would be a Sadducee. Here is one example of a Sadducee questioning tactic: “Bell “articulates his ‘questions’ using rhetorical flourishes that seem purposefully designed to twist truths he knows to be communicated in scripture and that hold those truths up for public ridicule.” As in this example: “Will only a few select people make it to heaven and will billions of people burn forever in hell?” (source)

Yes. The bible clearly teaches that. Satan said to Eve, “Hath God said…?” (Genesis 3:1)

Any Prosperity Gospel teacher, like Jentezen Franklin for example, would be a Pharisee. You have to fast to get a blessing, you have to give seed money, you have to, you got to, do this, do that.

So all these centuries later, we must still heed the warning to beware the leaven of the Sadducees and Pharisees. Men’s hearts do not change and these false yeasts are still here too. Jesus said to beware and so we must. (Source for the above, JC Ryle ” Warnings to the Church“)

Now to the box. I agree that God is majestic. I know His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways. I know He is so much higher than I am. (Isaiah 55:8-9). I know He cannot be contained in a box and He is outside it. Sort of.

People say “Let’s not put God in a box.” I disagree with this, or, at least, in part. What they are really saying when they say that is “Let’s release God from the box so that I can have my own free-thinking ways.” While God is above the box, what He revealed to us for our own edification, teaching, and reproof in His word is IN the box!

God gave us the box and that is His word. Going outside it, as demonstrated in the dots puzzle, means going outside His authority.

I mentioned above that Sadducees appeared to be intellectual but humble because they posed their heresies in the form of a question. This tactic today is encapsulated in a false doctrine MacArthur calls “The Hermeneutics of Humility. This approach maintains that because God is SO high, we cannot with any certainty or clarity make any dogmatic statements about what He said in His word. Interpreting His word must be approached with a humble, seeking questioning attitude. Instead of “Thus saith the LORD,” the Sadducees claim, “Hath God said? Let’s have a conversation about it. My puny brain is too humble to say for sure. Making a certain claim would be too arrogant.”

MacArthur explains it this way: “A new movement is now arising in evangelical circles. Apparently, the main object of attack will be the perspicuity [clarity] of Scripture. Influenced by postmodern notions about language, meaning, subjectivity, and truth, many younger evangelicals are questioning whether the Word of God is clear enough to justify certainty or dogmatism on points of doctrine.”

The warning is: As long as I am not clear and don’t speak in any absolutes, then I am not under the authority of what it says. If we can’t interpret it fully then we can’t obey it fully.

Not that asking questions about scripture is bad. I ask questions all the time. ‘Ye must be salt and light’. I ask, OK, why salt? Why not pepper? What is it about salt that Jesus used that word He wanted to know and apply? How will this edify me? I don’t ask, “Did God really say salt? Is salt the only seasoning? Can I use pepper?”

You see one set of questions affirms scriptural truth while seeking to go deeper within its box, and the other set seeks to tear down the cardboard walls that exist to keep us within His authority to wander outside it.

Let’s change what Satan asked Eve. If he had approached it this way: “God said not to touch the fruit. So are you going to touch the fruit?” It would have been easy for Eve to say, “No.” The box’s walls are clear, and going outside would have been a deliberate disobedience.

So satan went about it this way “Hath God said?” This causes a person to examine and re-examine what was said and subtly at the same time undermines it by the very fact that it CAN be questioned.

When I was approaching the cross in advance of my salvation, I knew a person who used this approach. I am not talking of scriptural truth, because I wasn’t saved yet. But I was an investigative reporter and I had to question everything, but also in good conscience, at the same time I had to examine everything to sort wheat from chaff, before reporting on it. What is solidly true and what is not? This guy used to ask constant questions, always sending me off on rabbit trails, dead ends, and clouding my mind with extraneous information. Just as I arrived at a conclusion, he would ask another set of questions and I’d go off again. It was exhausting. In my journal I wrote, “I am tired of this guy making me doubt what I know.”

One thing I know is that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. He said so very clearly. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

Yet in this Sadducee way of thinking of ‘Let’s take God out of the box’, we now have the Wider Mercy doctrine. This is a doctrine in which people may indeed go to heaven not having known Jesus nor having heard the Gospel. Because, you know, God is not in a box. He just might surprise us and apply salvation to some faithful in deepest Africa who are pretty sincere. He could do that, you know, goes the outside the box thinking.

God CAN do anything. God WILL not contradict His word. He made promises and one of them was to send His son to die for our sins. Therefore Jesus is the only way. If God went around Jesus, the universe would collapse, because it is through Him that all things hold together. (Col 1:17).

God is not in a box. But we are. Let’s stay there.