Beware of False Teachers and Counterfeit Christs – part 2

In part one, we looked at an author who was attempting to secularize Christ. Now, let’s look at (yet another Huffington Post offering) an article by one Keith Augustus Burton, who is the ‘Director of the Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations at Oakwood University.’

Mr. Burton’s bio tells us that he has received accolades for his ‘successful bridge building initiatives between Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities.’ In addition, it states that he teaches at the ‘School of Religion.’ Sounds impressive; yet the title of his article we’ll examine gives me pause: The Bible Has No Place In Modern American Society: Sobering Lessons from Donald Trump and Kim Burrell. His bio does not specifically state his particular theological beliefs, but some book titles he’s authored suggests a Christian perspective. We’ll see…

His article begins with his personal assessments of the Bible and of the so-called damage that it wreaks: ‘…many of the bigoted and outdated teachings have no place in our enlightened society.’ ‘…its content is seriously out of place with modern American values.’ and ‘…its teachings are a most meddlesome inconvenience that if embraced will place them (the followers) in a permanent state of cognitive dissonance.’

We can see then where Mr. Burton’s mindset is, by his own admissions. As we move into the body of his article, he presents his talking points:

1. The Bible is a relic of a Superstitious Past

His ‘proof’(?) consists of his assertion that because presidents have done bad things after placing their hands on a Bible during their inauguration, that the word of God has no power. In truth, his discursive prose consists only of a political rant at best. Nothing here that connects the Bible with a superstitious past.

2. The Bible is a Convenient Political Prop

This discussion is nothing more than a hate-filled pontification against our present president, the vice president, the ‘gullible masses who are still beguiled by the myth of a “Christian” America’, and ‘the cold-hearted “evangelicals” ‘ that voted for the present administration and their policies. Not anything of value about the Bible itself so far.

I’m beginning to feel that perhaps Mr. Burton has a grudge and that the mention of the Bible in his title is but an attempt to try to catch readers so that he can advance his agenda by political bashing.

3. The Bible is an Obstacle to American Freedom

Wow! his opening salvo demonstrates his true discriminations: ‘Whereas the conservatives’ repulsion to the Bible is guarded by a conniving cloak of acceptance, progressives are more honest. As far as they are concerned, the socially liberating sections of so-called “scripture” are not enough to redeem its bigoted and outdated parts.’ Who’s the bigot here? Again, no discussion of the Bible, just hurling hate against people whom he perceives thwart his beliefs.

Mr. Burton, your article purports to be about the Bible first. Your political candidate lost. Give it a rest. You’ll get a chance to change this in four years.

He doesn’t let up, finally getting around to attacking the Bible: ‘It is a dangerous book…that must be delegitimized…’

He then sounds off against marriage defined by the union of a man and a woman.  Why? Because in his opinion, the 21st century mores and the Supreme Court defines it differently. (Thus, they are the greater authority?) Well, we see that Mr. Burton’s temple is constructed around himself.

4. The Bible informs “Personal” Belief and Behavior

In this, his last ‘talking point,’ Mr. Burton never really pinpoints what he means by this subtitle. What he expounds upon is that people should love and accept other people who have beliefs that are ‘contrary’ to the Bible, even if thy promote sex between men and boys. But according to him, most don’t because they are ‘ideological bigots.’

Pardon me, but I don’t see anywhere where the author makes his case for ostracizing the Bible from ‘modern society.’

What I would have you notice is not what Mr. Burton is saying specifically, but what he is lecturing about in general: he is a perfect example of those who denigrate the word of God because what God says does not suit them and their agenda. I daresay as well, that perhaps some of their bellicosity is rooted in a guilt from an inner conviction of their self-righteousness regarding their willful and knowing rebellion against God:

I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts… Jer. 31:33 NKJV

But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may obey it. Dt. 30:14 AMP

The trouble is that many people don’t follow their hearts; thus, they can’t understand the message:

But that natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them for they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. 2:14 NKJV

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor. 1:18 NKJV

And that is the main point, isn’t it? We must endure and cling to our faith. We are called to evangelize everyone, even those who are presently following another drummer. Regardless of their bluster*, we must try to present the word, opening ourselves up to the Holy Spirit to do the talking:

*(The words of his mouth begin with foolishness, and the end of his talk is raving madness. Eccl. 10:13 NKJV)

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word [as an official messenger]; be ready when the time is right and even when it is not [keep your sense of urgency, whether the opportunity seems favorable or unfavorable, whether convenient or inconvenient, whether welcome or unwelcome]; correct [those who err in doctrine or behavior], warn [those who sin], exhort and encourage [those who are growing toward spiritual maturity], with inexhaustible patience and [faithful] teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves [many] teachers [one after another, chosen] to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold, and will turn their ears away from the truth and will wander off into myths and man-made fictions [and will accept the unacceptable]. 2 Tim. 4:1- 4. AMP

It is true that Jesus calls us to love our ‘enemy.’ And who are our enemies but God’s people who have gone astray due to unfavorable circumstances. Many parts of the world and the people in it are victims of poverty, cruelty and ignorance, who are desperately seeking relief from their misery. Many times, that search leads to self-defeating and destructive behavior. As followers of Christ, we must love them but not their aberrant practices. We must do our best to show them the way to salvation so that they can abandon the false teachers and counterfeit Christs:

“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you (unbelievers) and obey you rather than God, you must judge [for yourselves; for we on our part, cannot stop telling [people] about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19, 20. AMP

But when that enemy rejects us with spite, hatred and disregard, we are to turn the other cheek and place our efforts to spread the kingdom elsewhere:

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pears before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” Mt. 7:6 NKJV

Remember that we are entering the closing times. The devil knows his time is short, and he will drive his minions mercilessly to attempt to bring God’s kingdom down:

“…you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another…And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures till the end shall be saved.” Mt. 24:9, 10 & 12. NKJV

How do we endure? We do it by clinging to the Bible, the word of God, having faith in it and staying in line with it. That can only be done if we stand behind its purity:

You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord our God which I command you. Dt. 4:2 NKJV

We can put our full faith in His undiluted word:

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. 1 Sam. 22:31 NKJV

You can stand upon it because it does not change:

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Is. 40:8 NKJV

Things don’t bode well for those who don’t follow God’s word:

“Cursed is the man who does not obey the words of this covenant…” Jer. 11:3 NKJV

“But if you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself,” says the LORD, “that this house shall become a desolation.” Jer. 22:5 NKJV

Just what are those bad parts of the scriptures that Mr. Burton attests to?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness… 2 Tim. 3:16 NKJV

Hmmm. Seems like there are no bad parts. Indeed, Christ seemed to think that all the parts were important:

“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Mt. 4:4 NKJ

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Mt. 24:35 NKJV

So, detractors (e.g. Mr. Burton) will sometimes say that Christ was okay, but the rest of the Bible is superstition. I invite them to meditate upon Jesus’ words:

“Do not think that I came to do away with or undo the Law [of Moses] or the [writings of the] Prophets; I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you and most solemnly say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke [of the pen] will pass from the Law until all things [which it foreshadows] are accomplished.” Mt. 5:17, 18. AMP

Goodnight and God bless.

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April 08 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Beware of False Teachers and Counterfeit Christs

The apostle Peter warns us extensively about the coming of ‘false teachers,’ first, by qualifying why he and Christ’s other apostles could present the truth about the gospel:

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were witnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Pt. 1:16 – 21. ESV

The apostles were with Jesus, they heard God coronate Him, and they recognized that all Scripture is a product of Holy Spirit-inspired writers.

Next, Peter tells us of the destruction that false teachers will bring:

…there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 Pt. 2:1 NKJV

Many will follow in their shameful ways, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned. And in their greed they will exploit you with false arguments and twisted doctrine. Their sentence [of condemnation which God has decreed] from a long time ago is not idle [but is still in force], and their destruction and deepening misery is not asleep [but is on its way]. 2 Pt. 2:2, 3. AMP

But these [false teachers], like unreasoning animals, [mere] creatures of instinct, born to be captured and destroyed, reviling things they do not understand, will also perish in their own corruption [in their destroying, they will be destroyed]… 2 Pt. 2:12. AMP

For uttering arrogant words of vanity [pompous words disguised to sound scholarly or profound, but meaning nothing and containing no spiritual truth], they beguile and lure using lustful desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error. They promise them liberty, when they themselves are the slaves of depravity… 2 Pt. 2:18, 19. AMP

Jesus also warns us of the same:

…for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will provide you signs and wonders in order to deceive, if [such a thing were] possible, even the elect [those God has chosen for Himself]. But be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance. Mk. 13:22, 23. AMP

If you are a follower of Christ, these folks are not a lot you want to throw yourselves in with. In their ignorance and / or rebellion, they lay down seeds of corruption (lies) amongst the blossoms of your salvation. And yet, as one who walks in salvation, you can see that these false teachers need the understanding of salvation more than anyone.

We know that there are people out there right now, distorting the word of God.

Sweeping political affiliations aside, (your choice, and nobody else’s business), I find that the Huffington Post is a sweeping platform for many of these false teachers who preach legalized infanticide, denigrate God’s biological designs and express great disdain for all things biblical.

One such article I came across was entitled What it means to be a “secular” Jesus follower, designed to promote the author’s (Tom Krattenmaker) new book: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower, Finding Answers In Jesus For Those Who Don’t Believe.

He begins by stating that he is not a religious person, that he is inspired by Jesus, but not a Christian. Mr. Krattenmaker defines a ‘secular Jesus follower’ as one who “is pursuing the aspects of Jesus that do not involve his religious utterances and behaviors or claims of his divine status.”

His ‘Jesus application’ as it were, is expressed thusly, “…Jesus can be a source of inspiration, insight, and ethical input that is powerfully applicable and transformative today, wherever we are on the theological spectrum. Whether the issue is our anxiety, our racism, our violence, our sexual exploitation, or our self-centeredness, I contend that as we examine and implement the insights of Jesus, we deepen our lives and begin to make the world a fairer, more loving, more peaceful, and more compassionate place.”

You cannot argue with this portion of his opinion. It’s absolutely correct. The danger is (especially for those who are ignorant about who Jesus is), the twisted message he may be unintentionally(?) delivering to others or himself. He is cherry-picking the scriptures to suit his own purpose and justify his deviation from them.

Indeed, he admits that secular folks do not seek ‘church acceptance’ and leave by the wayside the gospel parts that include ‘the supernatural – the miracles, the resurrection, salvation, teachings about God – or as I prefer to do, we can “translate” them into words and concepts that make sense to a secular mind.’

In essence then, the author is only paying attention to the Scriptures that he likes; and if he doesn’t, he ‘translates’ (modifies, corrupts, twists, distorts) them until he does. The problem with that is it makes him a ‘false teacher,’ luring other people (and himself) away from what is a life or death situation.

Let’s first address the issue of cherry-picking scripture:

Every word of God is pure…Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you… Pr. 30:5, 6. NKJV

“You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Mt. 22:29 NKJV

[The Scriptures Opened] Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” Lk. 24:44 NKJV

For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Rm. 10:11 NKJV

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:16, 17. NKJV

I testify and warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book [its predictions, consolations, and admonitions]: if anyone adds [anything] to them, God will add to him the plagues (afflictions, calamities) which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from or distorts the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away [from that one] his share from the tree of life and from the holy city (New Jerusalem), which are written in this book. Rv. 22:18, 19. AMP

Thus, you cannot even apply Scripture correctly unless you have a God-connection. All Scriptures point to Christ and to be able to follow Him, you must understand who He really is. You must apply them all to be able to live as God would have you live – in a godly fashion that fulfills and transcends Mr. Krattenmaker’s ‘Jesus application.’ Finally, having the audacity to re-write the word of God brings about a final demise of that would-be author.

Moreover, let’s look at the issue of siding with the authentic Christ as well – from His mouth:

…everyone who acknowledges Me before men and confesses Me [out of a state of oneness with Me], I will also acknowledge him before My Father Who is in heaven and confess [that I am abiding in] him. But whoever denies and disowns Me before Men, I will also deny and disown him before My Father Who is in heaven. Mt. 10:32, 33. AMP

“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Jn. 5:22, 23. NASB

“He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” Mt. 12:30 NKJV

“…you will die [unforgiven and condemned] in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am the One [I claim to be], you will die in your sins.” Jn. 8:24 AMP

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jn. 14:6 NKJV

We don’t get to say who Christ is; we profess who Jesus says that He is. If we don’t believe in that, don’t follow His primary purpose, (which is to help gather others into the kingdom), don’t honor Jesus by obeying Him and believing in His divine stature, we will be left behind to perish with this version of the earth.

God bless Mr. Krattenmaker, but we cannot afford to follow his misinformed quest or his counterfeit christ.

Our lives depend upon the truth. Stick with the Source.

Goodnight and God bless.

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April 02 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Finishing The Race For Jesus: The Book of 2 Peter

In the mid 60s A.D., there was a fire in Rome; and the emperor at that time (Nero) blamed the Christians. Subsequently, he launched a murderous campaign against them.

The apostle Peter writes a letter during this time, to the same churches in Asia minor where he had sent his previous one (now known as 1 Peter). This new letter has come to be known today as the biblical book of 2 Peter. In it, Peter intimates that he is imprisoned yet again, and that he is certain he is about to be executed. Indeed, this would be his last letter.

Yet, Peter is finishing his race for Jesus in full steam – writing now to encourage the church to stay committed to godly ways, and to resist any false teachers who try to distort the pure doctrine of the church of Christ.

Peter begins by describing some of the gifts that God bestows upon His children to help them reach that godliness: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Pet. 1:2 – 4. NASB

God empowers us, through Christ, to be able to live a godly life; and we advance that empowerment when we continue to walk in the word of God – becoming more Christ-like daily.

Peter then tells us how to hang on to our divine gifts:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Pet. 1:5 – 8. ESV

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Pet. 1:10, 11. NKJV

Peter is asking us to run our race for Jesus until we take our last breath, or until He returns, whichever comes first. Jesus will be waving the checkered flag, congratulating you, saying ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’

Peter continues to encourage his audience by reminding them that Christ Himself conferred apostolic authority and the wisdom of God upon him. So, they can take everything that Peter says right to the bank:

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Pet. 1:16 – 21. NKJV

We can see then that all of the authors of the books of the Bible were Holy Spirit-inspired, so that they could receive and reveal the pure, unadulterated word of God…

At this point in his letter, just like the apostle Paul, Peter warns the church about satanically driven false teachers, who will try to destroy it. This will be a continual battle that will be fought right up until Jesus returns:

But also [in those days] there arose false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among yourselves, who will subtly and stealthily introduce heretical doctrines (destructive heresies), even denying and disowning the Master Who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

And many will follow their immoral and lascivious doings; because of them the true Way will be maligned and defamed. 2 Pet. 2:1, 2. AMP

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. For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment…making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly…then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment…for them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.  2 Pet. 2:3, 4, 6, 9 & 17. ESV

Peter is saying that we must always be alert, discerning the godly from the ungodly – following God’s righteous path so that we do not fall prey to the darkness that awaits the sons and daughters of disobedience. Regardless of what they may spew from themselves, we are to stay firm in the true hope of Christ’s return:

…you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 2 Pet. 3:3 – 4. NASB

Nevertheless, do not let this one fact escape you, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should return to repentance. 2 Pet. 3:8, 9. AMP

God has a plan; and He promises that all of it will come to pass. It will be fulfilled when He decides that it is time for time to run out, and not a second earlier. God is not stretching out the time for your heavenly transition because He’s sadistic. He does so because of His great love for the human race. God wants everyone to have a chance to latch onto his or her salvation.

God made that promise over two thousand years ago. However, if you look at how old the universe is, (believed to be over sixteen billion years), 2000 years is just a flash in the pan.

God is a promise keeper. He will send His Son for us. How will that look?

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works upon it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation. 2 Pet. 3:10 – 15. ESV

You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Pet. 3:17, 18. NKJV

When Christ returns, He’s going to help His Father do a major universal re-do; and it will be a wonderful, marvelous new beginning for the children of God – who have been doing their best to live holy lives, rejoicing in the fact that Jesus makes up the difference when they have fallen short. Hallelujah!

Good night and God bless.

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March 01 2014 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »