“Here’s the world with millions, millions, millions dying. They were dying while you were sleeping last night, while you were fooling around somewhere! God is saying, “Who will go for Us?” “
I set up the PA system and started preaching before I lost my nerve. Within seconds a demon-possessed man manifested and screamed an obscenity at me so bad that I cannot repeat it. Even though I’m regularly verbally abused on the street, I have never been called anything like that before.
Not so much stunned at the man actually, but more that God had let that happen to me just as I had begun to preach. He knew how weak I’d been this morning. He knew I’d needed extra help. I mean, I had asked Him for a special blessing today!
I recovered and kept preaching anyway.
After that incident, the time the two other ladies and I spent there was wonderful. I really loved it. God put two special young guys in my path who, underneath their bravado, were hungry for the truth. We had amazing conversations. I was asked by both of them (separately) :
“With so many religions out there, and so many gods, how do you know which one is the truth?”
It’s when I’m out there that I see that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is so very important. We absolutely need Him when we are out there. Without Him, we literally can do nothing. But with Him we can do all things. It is our real relationship with the LIVING God that counts when we are in the firing-line. Religious platitudes, clichés and one-liners do NOT work. Sinners see right through all that rubbish.
But…if you’ve been with Jesus…well, they can see that too.
Here’s what I learnt today:
I wanted God to make my way easy, I wanted Him to pave the way for me, after all, as I told Him, I was going out there for Him.
But He didn’t do that. He doesn’t always give us what we want, but He does give us what we need. He lets us see the truth of the sinfulness of man; He lets us have confrontations with demons. And in doing so He lets us see ourselves too.
In essence, He lets us see reality.
And that’s where He calls us to go with Him.
“ “I will make the place of my feet glorious”—among the poor, the devil-possessed, the mean, the decrepit, the selfish, the sinful, the misunderstood—that is where Jesus went, and that is exactly where he will take you if you are his disciple”. (Oswald Chambers)
He won’t drop rose petals on our path for us, He won’t pamper us and cater to our self-pity, our comfort, nor our convenience. He lets us be confronted, shocked and disgusted. And then He says:
“Even so….will you still follow Me?”
In view of current events in Syria, two prophecies are worth considering. (There are other scriptures of interest concerning these cities, but will not be referred to in this short post.)
The two scriptures are:
Jeremiah 49: 23-27 (NIV)
“Hamath and Arpad’ are dismayed, for they have heard bad news. They are disheartened, troubled like the restless sea. Damascus has become feeble, she has turned to flee and panic has gripped her; anguish and pain have seized her, pain like that of a woman in labor. 25Why has the city of renown not been abandoned, the town in which I delight? 26Surely, her young men ° will fall in the streets; all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,” declares the lord Almighty
27“I will set fire to the walls of Damascus; it will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad”
Isaiah 17:1 (NIV)
1 An oracle concerning Damascus:
“See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. . . “
Jeremiah’s prophecy is found in an end section of his book where God tells him of the judgments to come against the Nations, as well as some cities specifically mentioned. Right now Hamath and Damascus are the focus of our interest.
Isaiah’s prophecy is found early on in the book. It too occurs in the section dealing with judgment against the Nations and, in this case, where Damascus is specifically mentioned.
It is not our intention here to go into God’s reasons for His judgment against the Nations or cities, but to consider these scriptures in the light of current events. We certainly do not want to make light of these judgments or to “look forward” to their fulfilment. They are severe and final when they take place but, for us, they are important points on the prophetic path God’s has laid out.
(As a word of caution, when considering God reasons for judgment, be careful not to take a current world view which is that if these Nations, or cities, simply followed a democratic process all would be in order. God does not look at democracy. He looks at the actions of mankind in relation to His commandments. Keep in mind that democracy is a flawed man-made system. It has been said, by Churchill amongst others, that democracy is a bad system but it is the best we have.)
Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world and, unlike other cities in the region, including even Jerusalem, it has never been destroyed. In other words, the prophecy in Isaiah has never been fulfilled. Damascus is only a short distance to the north of Israel and is the capital of present-day Syria.
Damascus was part of David’s and Solomon’s kingdom. It was also the city where Paul was headed specifically to persecute Christians. On his way there he was confronted by Jesus and lost his sight. It was in Damascus that Jesus told Ananias to go and lay hands on Paul because Paul was His “chosen instrument” to take the Word to the Gentiles, their kings and the people of Israel. In the house in Straight Street, where Paul was staying, Ananias laid hands on him whereupon his sight was restored and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9: 1-19) NIV.
Straight Street is still there to this day!
So clearly Damascus is a city with an important past, yet God says He will destroy it and it will become “a heap of ruins”.
Hama, which lies some 50 kilometres directly north of Homs, is almost certainly the Biblical city of Hamath, within provincial Hamath. Homs is about 150 kilometres north of Damascus. While Damascus came under David’s and Solomon’s kingdoms, these other two cities did not, although they were both under Solomon’s control. Since at least 1925 Hama has been the source of a number of uprisings, mainly from Islamic fundamentalists.
Currently Syria is in the throes of a violent civil war; the roots of which run deep and which are extremely complicated. We have seen images of the devastation taking place within the country, especially in Homs, Hama and to some extent in Damascus itself. We have heard about the huge numbers killed, well over a hundred thousand now, the two million or more who have fled the country and are living in tents in the desert, often without enough food and other problems. It is a situation so bad that the average person not directly involved is unable to fully comprehend it.
We know that both the Syrian and opposition forces are well armed and have the means to turn Damascus into a “heap of ruins”. Could one or other of these adversaries in a final act of desperation resort to such tactics? And what if Israel is brought into the conflict and needs to defend itself? These are merely possibilities leading to the destruction of Damascus. Certainly there is a lot of pain and suffering going on right now throughout Syria as well as in Damascus, Homs and Hama.
A sobering question!
We do not say it is – although we do urge readers to be aware of Bible prophecy and current events in the Middle East and, above all, to keep their focus on Jesus.
Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in this new series “Bible Prophecy”.
“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.” (William Booth)
This post is part 4 in this series and follows on from Satan’s Tool in the Emergent Church. I had planned to write about the role mysticism and the New Age plays within the Emergent Church but the Holy Spirit stepped in. He has impressed upon me that another step, in this post, is required by Him, before I post on mysticism.
It is my position that when absolute truth is discarded, then logically the next step is the re-emergence of mystical spirituality. However it is necessary to understand how it is that the breakdown of absolute truth leads to the re-emergence of these ancient mystical practices. And so I will concentrate this post on some of the Truths of Christianity which have been recently changed, diluted or rejected. In the last post we looked at how the philosophical theory of de-constructionism has taken hold within the Emergent Church and that its leaders, such as Tony Campolo, Rob Bell, Leonard Sweet and Brian Mclaren, to name a few, are unashamedly using this system to interpret the Bible. Now we will look at some of the results of de-constructionism.
“Stamping out faith in Biblical absolutes is central to this transformation (of the “church”). A mind anchored in God’s Word won’t compromise, but when that anchor is removed, the current of change can carry that mind anywhere. As Jesuit scholastic, Mark Mossa, wrote in his endorsement of Brian McLaren’s latest book: “The Secret Message of Jesus, challenges us to put aside our sterile certainties about Christ and reconsider the imaginative world of Jesus stories, signs and wonders.” (Quote from http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/brianmclaren.htm)
No doctrine is safe when Biblical absolutes of truth are put aside. Here are some examples of the essential doctrines that are now being re-defined by the Emergent Church’s method of “Did God really say?” They are:
- The doctrine of sin.
Tony Campolo says : ““…Isn’t God’s message to sinful humanity that He sees in each of us a divine nature of such worth that He sacrificed His own Son so that our divine potentialities might be realized? … The hymn writer who taught us to sing “Amazing Grace” was all too ready to call himself a “wretch” … Forgetting our divinity and over-identifying with our [Freudian] anal humanity… Erich Fromm, one of the most popular psychoanalysts of our time, recognized the diabolical social consequences that can come about when a person loses sight of his/her own divinity …”
It seems that Mr Campolo has believed the lie of the serpent that “Ye shall be as gods…” This denial of the sinfulness of humanity leads to the distortion of:
- The centrality of Christ’s atoning work on the cross.
Take a look at what Mclaren himself has said:
“”[T]his is one of the huge problems with the traditional understanding of hell, because if the Cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching, then I won’t say the only and I certainly won’t say … or even the primary or a primary meaning of the Cross … is that the Kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of this world by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing voluntary sacrifice right? But in an ironic way the doctrine of hell basically says no, that’s not really true. At the end God gets his way through coercion and violence and intimidation and uh domination just like every other kingdom does. The Cross isn’t the center then, the Cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God.”
The substitutionary atoning work of Christ on the cross is pushed aside in the name of voluntary sacrifice. Of course, dismissing Christ’s atoning work on the cross then leads to the rejection of:
- The doctrine of Hell.
Rob Bell says this about hell in his universalistic book “Love Wins”:
“A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few 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…. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’s message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.”
(Misguided and toxic?…Jesus Himself said to: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” and described hell as a place “where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.”)
Because Jesus Himself said something this “violent” and “elitist”, then naturally the next question would pertain to:
- The person of Jesus Christ Himself, God Incarnate in human flesh, the Son of God.
Tony Campolo writes of his pantheistic beliefs:
““One of the most startling discoveries of my life was the realization that the Jesus that I love, the Jesus who died for me on Calvary, that Jesus, is waiting, mystically and wonderfully, in every person I meet. I find Jesus everywhere. The difference between a Christian and non-Christian is not that Jesus isn’t in the non-Christian–the difference is that the Jesus who is within him is a Jesus to whom he will not surrender his life.”
If Jesus perhaps isn’t really God in the flesh, then of course the next doctrine to question is:
- There is no other name under Heaven by which man can be saved than that of Jesus Christ.
Tony Campolo again: “Jesus is the only Savior, but not everybody who is being saved by Him is aware that He is the one who is doing the saving.”
This doctrine has been undermined by Rick Warren as well as numbers of other Christian leaders having signed the Yale document produced by Muslims leaders called “A Common Word Between Us and You”. This document is in line with the commandment in the Koran which says to “Say: ‘O People of the Scripture! come to a common word as between us and you: that we worship none but God’“.
The Muslim god Allah and the God of the Bible, YahWeh, are NOT the same. These Christian leaders seem to have no idea that they are signing themselves over to Islam and, of course, paving the way for Chrislam. Read the document here: http://www.acommonword.com/the-acw-document/ .
Here is a list of all the Christian leaders who have signed the document: http://www.acommonword.com/christian-signatories/
And so it goes on. As one doctrine is changed, watered-down or rejected the next domino falls, then the next, and so on.
The changing, dismissing or outright rejection of God’s Word by His “church” is not something God takes lightly.
“For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” Psalm 138:2.
“God’s Word is His communication, His promise, the revelation of Himself to His people. It is to be a lamp to our feet in a dark and fallen world, without it we would have no way to know God or how to do God’s will. To disregard God’s Word that is holy, pure and absolutely true is to defame God’s name and character. It is to bring ruin upon our walk. So it becomes the main focus point in our daily walk with Christ.” (taken from Let Us Reason http://www.letusreason.org/Doct42.htm)
The result of de-constructionism in the church is to undermine the authority of the Bible, as the Word of God, to question even the most basic fundamental tenets of Christianity and to “re-define” it to become more relevant to our post-modern society. (see “The “Emergent-cy” of Post-Modernist Christianity“) The Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of truth, will only witness to truth, so when truth is discarded, the Holy Spirit cannot bear witness, becomes grieved as Christ is blasphemed and, then, like a dove, eventually takes flight. In Ezekiel 10 the glory of God departed from the Temple as a result of Israel repeatedly ignoring God’s Word through His prophets. Israel became Ichabod.
And so it is with the Emergent church. What remains is but an empty shell consisting of a mixture of religious platitudes and man’s philosophy. But as “nature abhors a vacuum” something must fill that emptiness. Something ancient and spiritual.
And that “something” is mysticism.
Next post: The Deep, Deep Roots of Emerging Mysticism
- The Re-emergence of ancient mysticism
- The Connection with the New Age
“It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners, as it is in captive nations today. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their terms. It was a deal: we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching; they were happy beating us, so everyone was happy.”
“The following scene happened more times than I can remember. A brother was preaching to the other prisoners when the guards suddenly burst in, surprising him halfway through a phrase. They hauled him down the corridor to their beating room. After what seemed an endless beating, they brought him back and threw him bloody and bruised on the prison floor. Slowly, he picked up his battered body, painfully straightened his clothing and said, ‘Now, brethren, where did I leave off when I was interrupted?’ He continued his gospel message! I have seen beautiful things!” Tortured For Christ
(Two quotes today, because they are both so good I couldn’t choose – blessings!)
This man needs prayer. His name is John Short, an Aussie missionary caught with Christian literature in North Korea. He faces potentially 15 years of hard labour.
What do I see?
I see hands that have
With wood in carpentry.
Hands that have known
A nick, a cut or two
As they moulded
And chipped away,
Making something of use
Scars on His fingers,
My Lord was not afraid
To live in reality.
Hands tanned brown
From being out of doors.
Town to town
Calling sinners to
(For the Kingdom of Heaven
Is at hand)”
Hands that were used to
Cushion His precious head.
Sleeping rough at night,
Seeking the lost sheep,
He had no bed.
In prayer before dawn.
Tears splashed down
On those hands
As the Father’s will
Hands used to touching
What others would not dare
Lepers, the demon-possessed –
Our true condition
Before Him laid bare.
Full of holy life,
And truly living.
Hands that pointed to Truth
That held not back.
These hands were unafraid
To be attacked.
Hands that took
The nails –
He could have resisted.
Hard, cold, real nails
But He, for the Father’s will,
OH Lord, if the Church could only see
How far we are
Your hands and Your feet.
And lifeless our hands hang down
Too afraid of men now
To Call them to repent
From town to town.
Hands white from fear
Of speaking out the Truth.
Keeping them safe
Hands that feel not
A tear drop in prayer
Hands that are only raised
Or in the sporting sphere
Hands kept neatly manicured
We dare not break a nail.
In the Master’s service,
They tremble and flail.
Hands that are neatly folded
Asleep on our comfy beds
Hands that hide and cower
When opposition is met
Wake Up Church!
For if not us His Body –
Then, WHO WOULD?
It is time
It is time
To Speak the Truth again.
Don’t let the devil your hands bind.
Stand in His strength
And point to the Saviour
For all men to find.
Will you let your hands go brown?
Will you let them be of use?
Will you get a nick or two for Him,
Just like Jesus did for you?