Is This Wise Counsel?

by Mike Ratliff

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1 ESV)

I have been contacted from two separate readers with information about something Dr. James MacDonald is promoting in his Walk in the Word Ministry called The Elephant Room. Here is the invite to the event:

If you’ve heard about the Elephant Room but haven’t made a decision on whether or not to attend, I want to get your ear for just a minute – because this event is for you! As a listener of Walk in the Word, I know you are interested in truth and battling for truth is what the Elephant Room is all about. So think of this as my personal invitation.

Listen to why I am fired up about this event and why I want you to be part of the conversation.

James Macdonald

Well, I and most of you, are most certainly interested in truth and battling for truth. He states that the “conversation” at this event will be all about that. He also states that he is “fired up about it” and wants all who received that invitation to not only be part of the conversation, but (not included in my excerpt) was hints to send the invite to others via other media, et cetera. If you clicked on that link for The Elephant Room then you already know who those men are that are going to be part of the conversation and I doubt very seriously if any solid Biblical truth will be at the core of that. 

One of my friends responded to this by saying, “It’s all about ya-hewwwwwwww.” Another friend told me that she was unsubscribing from Walk in the Word because of this. I’ve already wasted enough time and posts talking about the likes of Steven Furtick and company. Each of those men are unique in their ministries to be sure, but there is one commonality. They are temporally focused and, therefore, their ministries are geared to be man-centered rather than God-centered. Carefully read John’s admonishment in the passage I placed at the top of this post. Here is that passage in context.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 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. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6 ESV)

Dr. MacDonald chose that lineup of men because they are “influential” in the visible church. So what? As we have been studying for months my brethren, the visible church must never be confused with the real or invisible church. Just calling oneself a Christian does mean that he or she is one. Here in this very passage John warns us to be very careful about false teachers. Why? There are many out there in the world professing to be of God, but they are not because they are of the world. Notice also that those that are of the world, the world listens to. Think of how popular Rick Warren is even by those who are not professing Christians. What is John’s criterion for being a real or true prophet of God as opposed to these false prophets? Real prophets of God listen to the Apostles teachings, which came directly from Christ. Those who refuse to submit to these truths, insisting on their own interpretation of everything, like Rob Bell and his unbiblical interpretation of Hell, prove that they are not of God because they are not subject to what God’s Word clearly teaches.

Those who insist on their own interpretation, man-focused theology, are of the spirit of error. Those who submit to Sola Scriptura, never changing anything, are God-focused in their theology and are of the Spirit of truth.

Now, think of that upcoming conversation in the Elephant Room. I won’t be listening, but if you do, I am pretty sure that the it won’t stay focused on the Sovereignty of God, the Lordship of Christ and the fact that all in Christ are His slaves by grace if it ever gets there at all. That is quite sad, but unsurprising for, after all, those fellas’ are just doing this to sell more books and get more popular and become more influential in the visible church. Is this wise counsel or something else?

Soli Deo Gloria!

33 thoughts on “Is This Wise Counsel?

  1. Thank you for this Mike; I recently read David Platt’s book ‘Radical’ at the recommendation of afellow brother in Christ and thought the book was pretty good…I now must reconsider that thought. You are a tremendous help to me, to God be the glory!
    Lyn

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  2. You are welcome Lyn. I’m not saying all those guys are as far off the wall as some of the others, but it is not a wise thing and shows a lack of discernment to be involved in a “conversation” like this.

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  3. He also is having Driscoll over to talk about his love life, and there’s another program “become a healthier you.” Looks like another one bites the dust unfortunately.

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  4. I only had to get to “Elephant Room” to know whatever it was, was likely trash relevance fail. It’s the same tired method of catchy phrase combined with questionable, at best material.

    Then of course it’s also about the “let’s put ourselves on display” and somehow say its a “God Thing”, raise our pedestals, and promote yet another “conference.

    Thanks for the post.

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  5. The deception is going to be so subtle, if you do not have the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ you will be sucked into the mainstream.
    I especially liked this quote:
    “Those who insist on their own interpretation, man-focused theology, are of the spirit of error. Those who submit to Sola Scriptura, never changing anything, are God-focused in their theology and are of the Spirit of truth.”
    Thanks for being a watchman on the wall.

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  6. Mike,
    I read your postings @ Christian Research Net whenever I see them, and usually follow you back to your blog. For me, discernment is a major part of walking, I must watch where I’m going. I’ve never had to put any ‘invisible fence’ flags around anything you’ve written. I can also say that about what I’ve read and heard of James MacDonald, though you are scripture based and his flows from experience. My discernment ‘gut’ tells me that he is not jumping into fellowship with these other guys, but instead getting all the cards out on the table face up, so to speak…so we can see where we need to establish our ‘invisible fence.’

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  7. Thanks for that Paula and for the email. I got from all of that that here is another one on that slippery slope of seeking “worldly or social relevance” regardless of the true cost. Yes, another one bites the dust unfortunately…

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  8. Thanks for posting this, Mike. I left Harvest Bible Chapel about a year and a half ago for various reasons. It was taking on a definite market-driven mentality and was operating more and more like a business rather than a church. Sermons were becoming more about Pastor MacDonald than about the Word of God, and there were some things taught in those sermons that required serious questioning. Most didn’t want to hear my concerns, which didn’t surprise me. I am not saying that Harvest is as of yet totally off the deep end, but we definitely need to be looking at it with more and more discernment.

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  9. Yay, another big, hyped-up event where you can go and listen to what the bigshots think about everything…

    This basically sums up just about everything that I have against the “institutional” church system…. Should we go to the Word of God ourselves, and seek His will directly through prayer?

    No… Just sign up for our event (for as little $99!), and we’ll impart all our collective, pastoral wisdom for the benefit of the confused masses…

    “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’ ; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ ”

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  10. Thank you for bringing this out, Mike. Fortunately, Paul told the early church they were in the last days! As I listened to this sermon from Pastor Bill Klein, BTE Ministries, http://www.masteringthebible.org, he mentioned, and I would agree, we are in the “last seconds” before the Lord’s return!
    God’s is manifesting who is “of us” and who is “not of us”. 1John 2:18,19.

    1 JOHN 2:18,19

    Today our focus will be on verses 18,19. I have related to these two verses in the past. They are very powerful verses in God’s writings.

    Verse 18, “Little children”…Now remember in verses 12-14 he listed the various phases and stages of Christian maturity. We looked at two words that were translated “little children”. The first one, in verse 12, the word means “born ones”. This mean everybody that has been born of the Spirit of God. The second word, “paidia”, which is this word here in verse 18, means “school age“, or “grade school age children”, who need to be disciplined to learn. This is to say, they don’t grasp things by teaching them by instruction, but they also need discipline in order to learn the lessons. He’s saying, “Little children”, grade school age, so he’s reaching down to the next to the last phase of Christian growth. Basically, he is saying, those of you who really have a desire for the Word, you really don’t follow the instruction of God’s Word, but you also need God’s discipline to do it. He says, I want to tell you something….It is the last hour…
    Well, If, in Paul’s day, it is the “last hour”, we must be down to the last “second”!
    But, John says, ….And according as you heard that the antichrist is coming,….
    In the King James Version, the translation comes from the Textus Receptus. That Greek text has the definite article, “the”. THE antichrist is coming. In some of the older manuscripts, the definite article, “the” is not there. That also is significant. It would indicate that John is not talking about THE antichrist, the one and only, that the Book of Revelation is speaking of, but a “spirit” of antichrist. He goes on to say, ….and now many antichrists have come, from which we know that it is the last hour.
    Verse 19, They went out from us but they were not from out of us (as a source) for if they were from out of us (as a source) they would have continued with us, but in order that they might be manifest that they are not all from out of us, that is why they left.
    Verse 20, And you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.
    Verse 21, I did not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it….

    We are in a section which we will discuss next week, which are “The Characteristics of the Believer”.

    They have an “anointing”. They know the truth, and because every lie is not from out of the truth.
    Verse 22, Who is the liar? except the one denying, by saying that Jesus is not the Christ? This one is the antichrist, the one denying the Father and the Son.
    Verse 23, Everyone denying the Son, neither does he have the Father. The one confessing the Son also has the Father.
    Verse 24, You therefore, what you heard from the beginning, let it abide in you. If it should abide in you, (that is, what you’ve heard from the beginning) you also are abiding in the Son and in the Father.
    Verse 25, And this is the promise, which He Himself promised to us, eternal life.
    Verse 26, These things I wrote to you, concerning the ones who are leading you astray.
    Verse 27, And you, the anointing which you received from Him, is dwelling in you, and you have no need, in order that anyone should teach you. But, as the same anointing is teaching you, concerning all things, and is true and is not a lie, and according as it taught you (past tense), abide in Him.
    Verse 28, And now, little children, abide in Him, in order that He should be manifested, we might have confidence, and we might not shrink back from Him in His coming.
    Verse 29, If you had known that He is righteous, you know that everyone practicing righteousness has been born from out of Him.

    These are very powerful statements. John is providing a test. A test, for those who with their mouth, profess, or confess to be Christians. Yet in reality of their life, they are not following the Spirit of God. In fact, they do not exhibit the indwelling of God’s Spirit. That was a problem in the early church. It is a problem today as well. There is much emphasis placed on what a person says, not who a person is, or what a person does. That if you “profess” that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, then you’re “saved”. John says in the first test, that God is Light, but if you say that you are walking in the Light, yet you are walking in darkness, you are lying! You are deceived! It is not the truth! What you say doesn’t match your life. Not just your “lifestyle”, but the life of Christ that lives within.
    Secondly, in Chapter 2:3-6, the person who is “of Christ” and has Christ dwelling in them, will “keep” the Word of God and the commandments of God. The word “keep” is a word of “attitude”. It is not a word of “doing” or “performance”. We “cherish” God’s Word. We “guard” God’s Word, to make sure nothing interferes with either listening to God’s Word, studying God’s Word, or even having its “effects”. As Jesus said in the Parable of the Sower, we can leave from here, get involved with the cares of this world, and it can choke out the influence of the Word. It can’t choke out the Word. We can entertain other things in our mind without taking it, meditating on it, studying it, or praying about it. We are supposed to take the information and teaching that we are given and go with it, talk to the Lord about it, involving ourselves with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, over the things that we are hearing. We can leave and be so busy and so troubled during the week, that the influence and effects of it is gone!
    John says, the one who knows Christ, keeps God’s Word. Not that he does this in performance, but he “guards” it. It is precious to him. He knows the importance of it.
    In Chapter 2:5, he said, the reason why, and what motivates him to keep God’s Word, is “love”. It is the Love of God, not the “love” of man.
    We have studied before, the noun form, “agape”, is distinct in the New Testament to relate only and solely to God. The verb form can go either way. People practiced the “love” of the world, before the New Testament was even written! So, the verb form can go either way. You can have “agapao”, the love for the world, or you can have “agapao” for the things of the Lord. All that word emphasizes, is that you love something so much, you are willing to sacrifice yourself for it. You care and are very sensitive to “performing” in order to make it happen. We can see how this relates to the world, because that is what happens…We find a career, we find a position, we have something we want very badly, we are willing to sacrifice for it. We are very sensitive to anything interfering with us achieving that goal to get what we want!
    When it has to do with the things of Christ, it has to do with being sensitive to what pleases the Lord, and how my “action” influences my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is to the point that I “sacrifice” myself for that very thing. What I want doesn’t matter anymore.
    John says, the one who keeps the Word of God, is the person who has the love of God in him. It is that love that motivates him to keep the Word of God. The one who has the Love of God, John says, Love has been “perfected” or “established” in him. It is a perfect tense verb, that means, it has already happened. The Love of God has been established in us.
    John says, That Love will produce a love for His Word. Secondly, that Love will produce a “care” and a “concern” for ones brothers and sisters in Christ.
    He says, If you hate your brother, “miseo”, meaning to “care less”, a comparison to “love”. Love cares! “Miseo” means, I don’t care how my life affects anybody! Indifference.
    A person who has the Love of God in him, wrestles with the care and concern that God’s Love places in his heart for his brother.
    We have “love” that produces a care for the Word of God. We have “love” producing a care for the Brethren, the Body of Christ.
    There is also a negative command.
    Do not love the world, neither the things in the world. Everything that is in the world, the desire of the eyes, the desire of the flesh and the pride of life, is not from out of God, as a source, but is from out of the world.
    And everything that is in the world is passing away, and all of its desires.

    Verse 18, The Characteristics of False Teaching
    Verse 19, The Characteristics of a False “Christian”
    Verse 20 The Characteristics of the Believer

    Today’s verse 18,
    Little children, it is the last hour….Sometimes I think we get so tired of hearing “it is the last hour” and “Christ could come any day”, we’ve become so used to it that it doesn’t affect our approach to life anymore. Doctrinally, we might, but look at Paul’s day. If it was the “last hour”, today it must be the “last second”! How do we know this?
    …according as you heard, that antichrist is coming…We all know from the Book of Revelation, there is a man coming, called THE Antichrist. What John is making reference to here in verse 18, is the fact that there is a “spirit” of antichrist that is coming in the world today. He says, You’ve heard that it is coming.
    He says, But now, many antichrists have come, from which we know, that it is the last hour. In Paul’s day, many antichrists had come! The word “antichrist” is made up of two words, “anti”, of course, meaning “against”, means to be “against” something that would take its place. 2 Thessalonians 2 tells us, When the antichrist comes on the scene, he will present himself as being God. He’s not going to say, Hi, I’m the Antichrist, here I am! He will perform signs and wonders! He will do those things that people say that perhaps Messiah will do when He comes. The spirit of Antichrist not only opposes Jesus Christ, but opposes Him by taking His place. Satan isn’t on the outside of the Church opposing Jesus Christ, but according to Paul in 2Corinthians 11, he’s on the inside of the Church opposing Christ. He’s taking His place! The biblical word that John has coined in his own writings means that there is a spirit in the world that opposes Jesus Christ. That spirit in the world won’t oppose Him from the outside, but will opposes Him from the inside. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11, Satan himself appears and presents himself as an “angel of light”, but those who are Satan’s disciples are also in the Church preaching from the Word of God. BUT, they are not teaching correctly. Right words is the number one priority. Correct words. “Rightly dividing the word of truth” 2Timothy 2:15, is the number one priority in the Church, and for pastors. There are many antichrists that came in Paul’s day. Not just THE Antichrist, but “many” came and opposed Christ, even by taking His place. This is why Paul commanded in Verse 15, Stop loving the world and the things in the world.
    The world system is motivated by and run by the spirit of Antichrist. Its allurement is to draw us in, taking us away from the things of Christ, mentally and emotionally. These things seem harmless and don’t seem as if there is anything wrong with them, except that the spirit that is involved is “antichrist“. For that very reason, we should take Paul’s heed to stop loving the world to the point that you are sacrificing your time and your life to achieve it. You’re sacrificing yourself for something that is temporary and that Satan is trying to dupe you into taking Christ’s place in your life. We need to understand that the world system is antichrist. It’s not just a no-no for a Christian. It’s not just a command in the Bible. The spirit of Satan behind the world system is antichrist. What God wants me to consider is, Do I want to leave my close intimate relationship and fellowship with Jesus Christ to partake and give myself over to something that is energized by a spirit that opposes Jesus Christ my Lord? Of course, the answer is “no”. Sometimes we don’t see it that way.
    I would like to mention something that I believe is one of the great deceptions that has come over the church in these last days. The great deception is that because, as they say, is “our founding fathers” founded this nation (the United States) in the Declaration of Independence, that our nation is founded on “christian” principles, and because of that we are a “christian” nation. That is one of the biggest lies there is! You see, the world system, as we know it, hedonistic society, in which we live, the culture in which we live, is “of the world”, not of the “kingdom of God”.
    Many are saying we need to fight to get prayer back into our schools. My response…They are not our schools! Those school systems belong to the world! They are not “christian”! The institutions of our culture and society are not in the “kingdom of God”. They are “of the world”. They might have kicked prayer out of our schools or kicked mention of God out, but this is a system that rejects Jesus Christ. The people of the world are going to reject Him. They are not our schools! The schools are their schools. Because they live in the United States, we tend to want to make, or believe that every single American is “christian”! Then we attempt to deal with America or the American society just like God did with the nation Israel! Nation and nation. Here is where you begin to slip into Replacement Theology. Those holding to this theology believe that our system and all the people that live in the United States are just like Israel, so we’ve got to call on America to repent! It is wrong to approach the unbelievers of the world and tell them that they have to reform to God’s ways. We can’t reform non-believers! We can’t reform the world system to God’s ways! If a person is not re-born or re-generated, they can’t be saved! But we keep fighting for our “rights”, as if the world is part of the kingdom of God! It isn’t! There are Christians that live in the United States of America! There might have been Christians that began our nation, based upon the Declaration of Independence. BUT, does our Judicial system rule according to God’s Word?! The laws according to God’s Word?! Go out into the public and see if those people are living and their business are being run according to the Word of God! What will they tell you?! Get lost! It is because even our society and culture is of the system of antichrist! You cannot reform people to do things God’s way. You’ve got to preach the gospel and pray that God’s Spirit saves them. You see, we have been saved from “out of the world”. We cannot come to the world system and force our ideals and even Biblical truths on them, saying “This is our nation”! “Those are our schools”! “Those are our corporations”! “It’s ours”! “What have you unbelievers done with that which is ours!” It’s not ours! It never has been! It never will be! It is the system of antichrist. Satan himself is and has been, for a long time, duping Christians to try to reform non-believers to reform a world system to the things of God. It will never happen! We are wasting our time!
    As Paul told Timothy, They are godless empty words that only spread disease. It never brings anyone to repentence. We can protest all we want to. Someone once preached on the subject of “abortions” in America. “Look what we are doing and how God is judging us”! Church isn’t performing abortions! The world is. The world system is killing the babies. There are preachers that tour the country and put all the blame on the Christians. They claim, God is allowing it to happen because His people have not repented! They make no difference between believers and non-believers, and the system of the world and the kingdom of God. They make no difference, as though we are all one. That is false! Stop loving the world and the things of the world! WHY? Because, It is antichrist! He opposes Christ by taking His place. The characteristics of false teaching will be Satan in the church, calling upon Christians to change the world, not by receiving Christ, but by calling upon the world to be reformed to God’s Word. Teachings will be the application to the flesh. Teachings will be the application to the world. The world is not my system, and the world is not my home. I love my country, but it is not Israel!
    Verse 19, The Characteristics of a False Christian.
    Notice the first couple of words…
    They went out from us….Who is the “they”? The many antichrists! Notice where the “antichrists” came out from. The church!
    They went out from us, because they were not from out of us (as a source).
    I talked to a man who was going door to door, representing the Watchtower Society and Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was a former Baptist pastor who believed the Watchtower Society has the true version of the Gospel. With great confidence and arrogance, he said to me, They took a poll from within their church, (universal, I guess) and found almost 80% of those who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, have come from a church background, Fundamentalist, Pentacostal, Charismatic. They were raised within the church. Now they feel like they found something better.
    John is saying, They went out from us but they were really not from out of us, as a source, but they did leave us.
    For if they were from out of us, as a source, they would have remained with us. But…here’s the purpose for them leaving…We get so upset when people leave the things of Christ.
    But, in order that they might be manifest, that they are not all from out of us. They left!
    Please take note of verse 19. It is God’s designed way to show “in the church“, who is of Christ and who is not. It sounds like a contradiction! Who “In the church”? but you would think they would all be Christians in the church! Not so! There are two divisions that take place. When the gospel is preached, non-believers receive Christ, and they are separated. They are brought into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. So you have division. There is the possibility that someone would be in the church as a “christian” and that person really not be saved, because they have not come in through the Holy Spirit. Because there is a possibility of many unsaved people in the churches, there has to be division in the church. We think there is just “us” and “them”. We have responded to Christ and we have received Christ, so there is “us” and there is “them”. We don’t take into account that God is saying, Not all the people that make up “us” are really “us”! Not everybody who professes to know Christ, knows Christ! Preaching causes division in the world! Teaching causes division in the church! The Bible teaches that it is necessary for there to be divisions in the church.
    Verse 19 tells us, In order that God might manifest that these people are not from us, as a source, they left! They started following different teachings.
    1Corinthians 11:17 There are statements here that many churches don’t like to read. They are very interesting.
    “Now while commanding this, I do not praise you. You do not gather together for the better, but for the worse.”
    How can this be? Have you ever gone to church and spiritually left in worse shape than when you went in? He’s telling the Christians in Corinth, When you go to church, you don’t gather for the better, but for the worse.
    For when you gather together, in the church, I hear that there are divisions that exist amongst you.
    The word “divisions” is “schisma”, where we get the word “schematic” from. “Schisms” in the church.
    And in part, I believe it, for it is necessary that there be heresies in the church.
    That is a literal translation.
    The purpose…In order that those who are approved among you might become manifest.
    He says it is necessary for heresy to be in the church! We say, It’s all messed up! I don’t know what to believe! What about all these different teachings that are going around?
    Because it is necessary! There has to be division in the church. This is so God can show those who are approved among you.
    Well, everything is dealing with God’s Word. If you preach the Truth, people get saved. If you teach the Truth, God’s people are growing.
    But, when you begin to teach the Word of God and there are people in the church that don’t like it, they would rather be entertained or have programs. Then the church has to change its ways to try to please everybody. We don’t realize that we are trying to please the believer AND the non-believer, who are in the church.
    Please notice from 1Corinthians 11:19 and 1John 2:19, It is God’s designed way for Him to manifest who is of Him and who isn’t. By the Truth of God’s Word. We say, Well, everybody says they are following the Truth! Yes, but you can take God’s Word and see what is true and what isn’t. Not every church, nor every ministry within a church, is of the Lord. The cults like to point that out and show their unity amongst all of their “churches” and how much disunity there is in what we call the Body of Christ. They say, How can it be of God? Look, there are 150 churches in town and each one of them says, everyone else is wrong! There is no agreement in teaching!
    This is so that God can make manifest who is of Him and who isn’t. Oh, no! Wait a minute! She or He has got to be a Christian! They diligently sweep the floors and vacuum the rugs every week! They are in church services all the time! How do we know unless we preach the gospel? How do we know unless we teach the gospel? It will be the person who is in church or in fellowship with the believers, that when you begin to teach, all of a sudden they will realize they don’t want to hear that! They don’t want to hear it! They will leave! Or they will complain! If there is nothing done about it, then they will leave! God is manifesting!
    The characteristics of a false christian: They will not love the Word. They will be influenced by the spirit of antichrist. They will bring the world into the church, by saying, We don’t want to hear the Word of God. We don’t want to study the Word of God, but we’d like to have a little more music, a little more drama, plays, programs.
    I mentioned before about a big church movement that began in Illinois. Churches were struggling with only a few people, because they were ministering God’s Word. Someone decided that the best way to build up a church is to go through the neighborhood taking a survey! One of the questions was, Why don’t you go to church? Secondly, What must a church do in their church services to get you to go? The biggest complain was, Church is boring! And the people teach and preach the Scriptures! They said they would come if they did away with the teaching and the preaching, but had more drama, plays and music! They would come to a local pastor who only has a few people in church and say, Do you want more people in church? Here’s what you have to do…
    The churches that change their schedule to attract the community began to grow in numbers! They realized people don’t want to be preached to. They don’t want to be taught the Word of God! That’s good! That is why they are not there! If they don’t come because they don’t want to be preached at and don’t want to be taught, then they don’t belong in the church! We’ve changed our ways to try to attract people to the church. What have we done! THEY have brought the world in with them! The world system is of antichrist. It is Satan’s plan to get within the church. He preaches from the Bible and represents Jesus Christ. Remember, THE Antichrist is going to present himself as God! He will perform signs and wonders. The spirit of antichrist is in the world, not to get in the church to attack it, but by coming in and diverting and distracting Christians to a different direction, while in the church. He wants to take their focus away from Jesus Christ and His Word. It is happening today! In Paul’s day, if it is “the last hour”, in our day, it is “the last second”. How did John, in this particular section, point to it? Not by the events happening in the world, but by what’s happening in the church. In Paul’s day, many antichrists had come. He wrestled with many that were associated with the fellowship of the churches in these various towns. We talked about Hymenaes and Philetus of Ephesus. There is always “one or two” or “some people” who feel that they are sent or called by God. But their presentation of the gospel is not right words. They are not “rightly dividing the Word of God”. It’s the distraction that takes people away from Christ, not drawing them to Him.
    These are two heavy verses. We are to not love the world. Why? Because, the spirit of antichrist runs the world. I don’t know if you want to deal with somebody like that. What the world offers might be innocent in and of itself, but where does it come from??
    Secondly, it is God’s designed plan that people leave the church, the Body of Christ. There are people that go from church to church, continually being rejected because they are not teaching the Truth, but continue to go. Not in submission to anyone, not in association with any other believers. There is something wrong! It is God’s designed way! God has given every believer a way to study and to know God’s Word. Like Paul says, If some people come in amongst you, compare them to us. As we take God’s Word and somebody says whatever they have to say, we compare that to God’s Word. We do some studying to determine whether it is true or whether it is not true. God said, It is with the Truth that you discern who is who in the Body of Christ. We need to start thinking a new philosophy and a new approach to the church. We think that everybody sitting in church and everybody participating in church is saved! They aren’t! We should not be surprised. We should rather embrace the fact that God has a way of showing me who is and who isn’t, with His Word. The antichrists go out from the church. They get some kind of training, they participate…you never know who they are! Look at Judas Iscariot! He betrayed Jesus! After three years Jesus made the announcement to the group, One of you will betray Me! They didn’t know who it was! They didn’t know it was Judas, because Judas acted like all the rest of them! There was no difference! They couldn’t tell that he was of Satan from the beginning! This is why we need to stay close to God’s Word, to God’s Spirit. It is God’s designed way of bringing division.

    Our Heavenly Father, thank you for this entire morning of showing us and emphasizing to us how rightly dividing the Word of Truth is so important. We all don’t understand it correctly all the time, but the desire is there to rightly divide the Word of Truth. Only then will your Spirit minister and bless and heal to give understanding and direction. It’s not just the Bible, in and of itself, words on a page…The truth, the concepts, the teaching that those words represent. They must be the Truth. Help us to see how important it is that we understand your Word from Genesis to Revelation, that we understand the Word of God, that we are not deceived, tricked, that we can test all spirits, all teachings by your Word. We pray that by your Spirit, you would reveal to us the importance of these things and give us understanding. We pray in Jesus Name. Amen.

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  11. Whoa… That sermon excerpt from Bill Klein is powerful, and sums up so many things that I have been feeling convicted about for years now…

    One thing that stuck out to me though, was how he throws out that mention of “replacement theology” in the middle of talking about America is a part of the antichrist system (just like every other worldly institution…)

    Thing struck me, because I keep coming up against preachers/teachers who rail against “replacement theology”, but now this sermon has prompted me to wonder if it THIS concept (the overall system that Klein is describing) that they are meaning to denounce? In this sense, when someone like Klein is denouncing “replacement theology”, are they not in actuality more taking a stand against “dominionist theology”, or at least the same type of concept? It seems to me that possibly the two things get intertwined, when personally I don’t see how that needs to be the case…

    I ask this (and please, Mike or anyone else, jump in and give me your input here…), because for some time now I have really wrestled with theological/eschatological positions which argue that as Christians we are called to support the current political entity known as “Israel”. It is claimed that this is totally biblical, that they are God’s “chosen people”, that God promised the land to them in the Abrahamic Covenant, that the military victories Israel has had since 1948 are evidence of God’s divine protection, etc., etc….

    The problem is that when I actually open up the Bible, and read what the New Testament says about these things, I reach a very different conclusion… When I read the book of Hebrews, for example, it seems to be extremely clear that the “Abrahamic Covenant” was a promise made to those “who have the faith of Abraham”… I also see Jesus speaking to the Pharisees telling them “Abraham is not your father”, and “I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham”…

    I guess it just really confuses me how there could essentially be this “dualistic” interpretation of the Abrahamic Covenant, where it has one fulfillment that applies to ethnic Jews and promises them the political right to live in the Land “forever”, but simultaneously has a fulfillment for people who believe in Christ, and also promises them the Land “forever”….

    What I’m trying to say, is that it seems that perhaps a large part of the “disconnect” in the whole debate is that most theologians approach the topic from a strictly “institutional” perspective, and so naturally would interpret any attempts to explain that “all who believe in Jesus are the true Israel” to mean that the institutional church has now replaced institutional (i.e. political) Israel… But I have never believed such a thing. I do not believe that the institutional church comprises the “true Israel” anymore than the historical/political/ethnic Israel was the “true Israel”…

    I am very interested in your thoughts on this matter as a whole… Thx.

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  12. I tend toward the way you are going Daniel. I think that was why the whole FV thing sorta took me by surprise that so many would be so caught up in the institutional church when the Bible is very clear that the real Church is not that, but is made up only by those who have the faith of Abraham as you said. That is also why I have such a problem with Dominionist and Postmillennial thinking for they are so keyed to the “institutional church” and the “nation of Israel” etc. That is also why I have abandoned all those views of Eschatology that make us look for signs via the physical nation of Israel. Well, I am no expert on any of this but I do know it is wrong to look at “The Church” as anything other than those bought by the blood of Christ and these are the ones saved by Grace and have believed the Gospel being baptized into the Body of Christ. Only they are the True Church. These are not to be all about reclaiming the world, et cetera, but about proclaiming the Good News as ordered in the Great Commission until Christ comes. Any other way of thinking and doing forces us into a temporal focus rather than an eternal focus. It gets ours vision or focus on self rather than on God and His glory. Sorry, if I didn’t answer your question exactly, but that is how I see things.

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  13. No, I think you definitely answered my questions (I know I didn’t really articulat the question that clearly to begin with…)

    I guess it just kinda baffles me, how so many otherwise solid bible teachers then turn and try and make this point that somehow we as Christians are called to support this militaristic take-back of Palestine… This is so bizarre, because essentially it would mean that the Early Church and the apostles should’ve been calling for the same thing in their day (the land of Israel was being by the Romans after all…) It just makes no sense, why would they reject such an application of the Abrahamic Covenant in that time, and then two-thousand years later we’re supposed to pull and about-face, and do the exact opposite… It just doesn’t add up…

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  14. Well, thanks for your feedback Mike, it means a lot, since lately I have honestly struggling with wondering if I have maybe been totally wrong about this issue, since there seem to be so few teachers out there with this perspective…

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  15. Daniel, IMO, those teachings are designed to gain followers. They are not designed to point people to God, His Sovereignty, all for His glory alone. Whatever, is going on is still within the realm of His Sovereign control. Never forget that.

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  16. Daniel, you may be interested in listening to Gary Hedrick of the Christian Jew Foundation. He recently did a series on “The Abrahamic Covenant” and it may give you more insight. You can find it at: cjfm.org He gives a Christian Jew perspective.

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  17. Thanks Lane! Listening to “Egypt and the Arab Nations in Prophecy” right now, and he’s talking about the sons of Noah/early origins of the various nations right now, very interesting stuff…

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  18. Mike
    I’m not sure I understand your responses to Daniel’s questions and comments. What is your position regarding Replacement Theology? I know there are many in this camp, but wonder what scriptures they use to support this belief. Thanks.

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  19. Sam, I think that it would depend upon how the term is used. When it is by those who demand that God has a different view of Salvation for Israel than He does for the Church and that those of us who decry that and that the Church is Spiritual Israel then accuse of using Replacement Theology then I most definitely have problem with that. The New Testament clearly teaches that there is only one way to God and that is through Christ and that there is only one saved group of people and that is those who have the same faith as Abraham and that is the true Church. So, that is the basis for my view of that.

    On the other hand, Daniel was referring to another take on Replacement Theology that has to do with Dominionist and Postmillennial thinking tied to the Institutional Church ITSELF being the REAL CHURCH instead of what I stated above. The New Testament is very clear that there will always be disingenuous Christians alongside real Christians in the visible Church. It also shows us that in the last days that it too will be taken over by them and those who won’t compromise will either be killed or go underground or whatever. My desire is not for this institutional church to repent, but for all genuine Christians to come out of her, come together and be part of real, Bible believing, obedient local churches until our Lord returns.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  20. Thank you Mike for clarification. Yes I understand now what you were saying.
    The sermon transcribe I shared from Bill Klein, I believe, was very helpful in explaining 1John 2:18,19. In these last days in which we, the unseen entity, the True Church/Body of Christ, which comprises all those spiritually born of His Spirit, find ourselves, the Lord is manifesting who is of us and who is not. Those of us having His Spirit cannot help but come out from the false teaching in the visible churches, as we can trust our True Shepherd to lead those who belong to Him out.

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