by Mike Ratliff
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7 ESV)
When we go through trials and tests I believe we need to do a great deal of self-examination. We should seek the face of our Saviour and as the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this eon, but be transformed in the renewal of your mind, in the trying of yourselves, in what is the good and well-pleasing and perfect will of God! (Apostolic Bible Polyglot) In our tough times we are humbled by our God and as we turn more and more to Him, He changes our entire mind-set. He transforms us according to His perfect will as we respond in obedience and repentance. It is through this that God prepares us to be His servants who can help others who are suffering. However, there is another aspect of this. He also cleanses us of the pollution of compromise. Our spiritual senses become razor sharp. Yes, we do take on more of our Saviour’s character and in this we also are given a level of spiritual perception that can easily spot the counterfeit that is leading so many professing Christians into apostasy.
Of course, this perception is discernment. I pray for wisdom, discernment, direction, and vision every day. This discernment is necessary for us my brethren because we are being bombarded continually by the deceiving work of our enemy as well as that of his seed. Never forget my brethren, the enemy does not come to deceive as one who is easily spotted as such. No, when he came to deceive Eve in the Garden, she was not repulsed nor did she suspect that the father of all lies was working to cause the fall of our race from life unto death. Yesterday, I did something I rarely do. I made a comment on someone else’s blog. A good friend sent me a link to a blog article by Tim Challies about a long visit he had with Rick Warren. She suggested I comment. I prayed about that and was surprised when I was not stopped from doing so. There is only so much one can say in a blog comment, especially since the vast majority of commenters were praising Tim for his “compromise” with one who is obviously, by his handling of the Word of God and the Gospel, showing his apostasy. I basically said that I believed his visit and relaxing of his stand on the these issues after meeting “Rick” was not wise.
I thought a great deal about that afterwards. I have over the last few weeks since my seizures and the death of my nephew really came to believe that God was drawing me to explore the depths of His grace and mercy as He takes us through these things. However, as I read the words of the writers of the New Testament, I see that they not only knew about and experienced these things, but they also were stanch defenders of God’s Truth and did not hesitate to expose false prophets and false religious leaders just as our Lord did. During my morning Bible readings today I read 2 Corinthians 11. The ESV subtitle for this chapter is “Paul and the False Apostles.” As I sat down this evening to seek the will of God for this article I prayed and realized that I needed to go over to Christian Research Network to check on what my brother Ken Silva was writing about. This all came together as I read about the latest nonsense from Tony Jones and Christianity 21, but interestingly, there were several articles dealing with Rick Warren. I pray that you will prayerfully follow all those links and as you read what God’s servants are exposing about that man think of the intense spiritual blindness and deception that surrounds him and his minions. My heart aches for those thousands, or is it millions now, who are blindly following that wide road that only leads to destruction. Our Lord told us not to be fooled by that wide and easy way.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:13-20 ESV)
An exegetical study of this passage revels that the fruit of a prophet is how those teachings and leadership enable its followers to crucify the flesh or not. The fruit of the false prophets have no power or ability to do that. The broad and easy way that leads to destruction is where the large crowds go and they are attracted to those churches such as Saddleback Valley Church because the appeal is to the flesh. The “gospel” offered to them is void of any mention of the fall of man or why each of us is a breaker of God’s Law. Instead, the appeal is a “gospel” to make one’s life better or to enable one to become able to make the world a better place. Never will you hear the real gospel at that church or those copies of it all over the world. The fruits of these places are not the good fruit of a transformed life of repentance, but one of people in the idolatry of religiosity and churchianity. Did you notice that our Lord said that we will recognize them by their fruits? Well we have recognized them and we have exposed them, however, there are huge numbers who have been deceived by these false ministries. Rick Warren is now looked to by Muslims as a spiritual leader. No matter how bizarre Rick and those who copy and follow him become, notice that they still hang onto their titles of “Christians” and “Pastors,” et cetera. Even Tony Jones and the rest of the “emergents” still insist that they are “Jesus followers.”
I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:1-15 ESV)
Carefully read this passage my brethren. The Apostle Paul was dealing with a group of men who were entering the Corinthian Church proclaiming that they were apostles like him, but better. What do the Purpose Driven, emergents, outlaw preachers, et cetera do to attract their large crowds? Don’t they proclaim that they have a superior way of “following Jesus” than their followers are used to? Paul tells us that these “super apostles” are actually leading those they deceive to follow another Jesus with a another gospel. However, they are nothing more than false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. They are agents of Satan himself.
Much of the defense for men like Rick Warren is that they are extremely personable. They present themselves to those they are attempting to dupe as something other than they are. I tired of reading the praise of Tim Challies last night for his defense of Rick Warren because of this very thing. Since when is salesmanship and persuasion markers of authenticity? What I am asking each of you for in this is to prayerfully consider the truth. Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven Church model has done tremendous damage to the Church. I doubt if any of us can calculate how much, but I assure you that God knows. God is Sovereign and has allowed this man and those like him to arise at this time. That does not mean it is right. It is more than likely a move by our enemy to seek to destroy the Church. However, I am convinced that this is not possible. Oh, like the Dark Ages before, we are in a new form of spiritual darkness invading the Church, but our Lord does not break His promises.
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:15-18 ESV)
Never forget this my brethren. Yes, the Church is being invaded and taken over by false prophets, pagans, and outright charlatans, but God always maintains His remnant. Let us pray for another awakening or reformation like that when God caused the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century and the Great Awakening in the 18th Century. Let us pray for God to raise up evangelists like George Whitefield and theologians like Jonathan Edwards again. Those of us who know the truth should dedicate ourselves to praying for this revival and for enemies of God’s truth to be exposed and deposed. Let us seek to obey our Lord in repentance in all we do. God has allowed this evil to overcome much of the visible Church more than likely because of the failure of our Christian leadership over the last 100+ years. God is not weak. God’s arm is not slack and what He wills to happen will happen. Our part is to be the Christians we are called to be and in this I call each of you to repent as God leads.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Copyright 1996 by Charles Van der Pool. Download PDFs or purchase the printed edition at apostolicbible.com