Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P24 (03-31-21)
There is one thing in Matthew that Jesus emphasized more than anything else. He said to not let any man deceive you? Are you growing in discernment? Have you discerned, first of all, that you are a child of God. One way to know that is to be intellectually honest with yourself, and ask, “What are the attitudes of my heart?”, “What are the motives of my heart?”, “Why did I come to Christ?”, or “What did I believe when I came to Christ?” We are told in scripture to test and see if you are in the faith. Did what I believe agree with what the gospel is as revealed in the scriptures? Or, do the things of God sound like foolishness to me?
If you truly have come to Christ, first for who He is, recognizing who you are, and who you were, and accepting Him into your life as your Lord and your Savior, and that has been done by faith, then you are a child of God, and if so, the Holy Spirit of God lives in you, and He will give you discernment on those things. There is no discernment in saying “I do not care what the word of God says. I like that guy.” It does not matter whether you like them or not, if they are evil doers, they do not like you. You have to understand that. We have to ask God for discernment on that.
So again, we do not rely on our understanding. The scriptures and the Holy Spirit living in us is where we come to understand and apply truth to grow in discernment. Scripture provides several warnings of those false teachers and teachings to watch out for. A person can proclaim to do many great things in the name of Christ, casting out demons or performing miracles, but you recognize them by their fruit. Now, we cannot judge motives, but we can test the words they say against scripture, and we can weigh their actions, whether they line up with what truth is. Jesus, who knows all things, will say to them on that day, “I never knew you”. What sobering words to hear from God Himself. So we use the plumbline of the word of God to assess these things.
A false teacher, such as a Mormon, will say that they got their message from an angel of God, but that message they speak is a different gospel than the one the apostles spoke. So that tells us they are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They are posing as a Christian but they are not, and drawing people away from God to their destruction. Now, we can discern these things as a child of God through the word of God. For as the apostle Paul said, if anyone, even an angel from heaven, speaks a different gospel than the one you heard from me, or the other apostles, or Christ Himself, then let him be eternally condemned.
There is only one gospel, and that gospel came to be written down and explained through an apostle, those whom God appointed, and through whom was written down the message they heard from God, who were eyewitnesses of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus, and through whom the Spirit of God brought back to their remembrance all that Jesus spoke and taught, and through whom signs and wonders were performed through them, affirming that God was speaking through them.
How often have you heard someone say, “Catholics are Christians too” or “I know a Catholic who is a Christian”. Where is their discernment? Are they repeating what they have heard or have they discerned that by knowing that person of whom they spoke of? I assure you, what the Catholic church teaches is a different gospel than the one the apostles preached. How do I know that? Having been raised Catholic, and having later become born again, and so knowing what the gospel is, and what they have said, this belief in sacraments as necessary for salvation, and this belief in a so-called Purgatory where any remaining sins gets purged after you die. Such statements show that they do not know the gospel, that Jesus died to take away the sins of the world, and that the only sin attributable to man is the sin of unbelief in what Jesus alone accomplished for you by way of His death, burial and resurrection. Their words are tested against scripture. Why would my sister, who is Catholic, say that I have a strange gospel? Either we have the same gospel or we do not. We do not or she would not be calling the gospel I proclaim from the scriptures as strange.
Deception is rampant and out there in the world today. You would expect it from the lost world but not from the church house. But that is what Paul warned about. He said that the Spirit told him that after his departure ravenous wolves would come into the church, men from within, posing as Christians, to destroy the flock of God. He wept for three years, knowing these things would happen.
So what is going on today since then? You have book studies instead of bible studies now. You have mega-church preachers teaching that godliness is a means to financial gain. You have people being slain in the Spirit, laying on of hands, false healings, and false signs and wonders. You have people teaching that tithing is for today. You have people preaching the truth one day, but compromising the truth the next day by their actions, leading their flock into joint services with Catholics on Good Friday. You have gay and lesbian pastors and those who will not speak out against the depraved lifestyle that God says is perversion. You have Marxism mixed with Christianity, which some people term Marxianity. You have spiritual formation training with spiritual directors, teaching people to essentially blank their mind, opening people’s minds up to hearing from demonic spirits. You have experience replacing truth. You have existentialism, teachers that say truth is all relative and there is no absolute truth. You have those who teach the acceptance of Christian yoga, which originated from New Age thinking and philosophies. You have Enneagram and other strange teachings brought in the front door of the church house, often wrapped up in nice looking terms for spiritual growth or training. You have social justice warriors, essentially training or leading people into Communist thinking, yet the stated goal of Communism is to destroy Christianity. All of this is occurring in the church house.
So just as Eve was deceived by the cunning of Satan himself, that our minds sometimes are able to be led astray from this sincere and pure devotion to Christ. In other words, there is a devotion to Christ that is not pure and not sincere. It is just outward, but there is nothing going on inward. So scripture warns us to be on guard, and to be a watchman for the flock of God.
Now that we have confidence in the radar, we are going to realize that my role should be to consult with that, to lean not on my own understanding, but in all things to acknowledge Him and let Him direct my paths. On the other hand, there are a lot of false radars out there. We have to understand that. That is why it says to be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.
Matthew 10:16 (KJV)
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
When talking about being wise as a serpent, we have to understand that not all people out there are who they claim to be. Not all people who say “Lord, Lord” do not know what “Lord, Lord” means. So in this entire field of religion there is false religion and then there is true religion. That is religion used as I believe it is, and that is in relationship with Christ Jesus alone.
27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
There are all kinds of religions in the world that have been initiated and their founders are that of the devil. It is demon led. We need to understand that. That is where discernment is so unbelievably important to a believer. It says that the Spirit of God living in us will discern truth if we are relying on it and depending upon it. God is in every single aspect of your life and in everything we hear it has to be bounced off the plumb line. It has to be bounced off the standard of truth.
Folks, if the word of God is our standard of truth, it does not make any sense how good something sounds. If it does not compute with the truth of the word of God, you have to discount it. The problem with the Christian world today, we are so anxious for a quick fix, so any promise of immediate feel good will suddenly substitute for the validity of the truth of the word of God. And so people are willing to say to God, “You do not know what you are talking about in order to take Mr. Feel Good.” Anything to give me a temporary fix instead of a permanent solution that people should run to and flock to, instead of seeing the Christian life as spectacular but miraculous.
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[southern Nile region] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”[Isaiah 53:7-8]
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
There was nothing spectacular about Philip meeting an Ethopian Eunuch. Do you know what you are reading and leading him to the understanding of Christ. There was nothing spectacular about that. That would not make our Christianity Today news report. That is just two on two. That is not spectacular but unbelievably miraculous. The Christian world is going for the spectacular. Show me the appearance of somebody, like somebody’s face to appear in a restroom some place, or something spectacular. That is not what the Christian life is all about. It is unbelievably miraculous to be born again. There will never be a miracle like that.
It took a miracle to hang the moon in space, to place the sun in place, but when He saved my soul, He saved my soul. It took love and grace. That is the greatest miracle in our life, the miracle of new birth.
As we enter into our lesson in Matthew 7:15, we need to watch out for false prophets. Turn to Matthew 7:15.
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
The thing we have to realize is that everything that glitters is not gold. A ferocious wolf would have no ability to deceive you at all coming to you as a ferocious wolf. In other words, revealing to you what his agenda really was, and that is to eat you. In order to get into your camp and to be accepted so that he can chow down on you and turn you into nothing but food, he has got to dress himself up in sheep’s clothing, to look fuzzy and nice and harmless. Which is what a sheep is, a harmless appearing animal. We have to realize that a false prophet is not going to be one who appears in any way shape or form to be what he really is, a ferocious wolf. He will come to you in appearance as gentleness, and as if to have a total interest in you. But it says, by their fruit you will recognize them.
16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?
Do you do that? No. You do not do that.
17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
When you are talking about, again, when so many times in the Christian world, we have looked at fruit as witnessing, and getting converts. So, it is very easy for a ferocious wolf to develop ploys to either get true converts, because a wolf can convert. The word of God is strong even when it is used by a ferocious wolf. But people will say, “How can this man not be of God, for look at all the people flocking down accepting Christ?” That is not fruit that is talked about in scriptures. Stones would cry out and proclaim the word of God. The fruit is the fruit of the Spirit. It explains that in scripture.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The whole definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, that is all a part of fruit.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
All of those characteristics can only be produced by Christ Jesus. That is why it is talking about how you are not going to pick grapes from thorn bushes, because that bush does not have life of grapes in it. The true bush has a life of grapes in it. So fruit can only be from the life you are abiding in. So when talking about a false teacher, you will not be judging them by what appears to be results of the ministry. The results of the word of God are produced by the word of God.
I think when you enter into this thing of false prophets and false teachers, let us look at the radar illustration. That radar has to be done a hundred percent or it is nothing. If it was on course just eighty percent of the time, then in the twenty percent, it is not on, you might be on a mountain top. That radar has to be one hundred percent. That is where the deception comes in. For God, who is the total producer of results. All the false prophet has to do is give five words in a message and God can give those nice words to a heart that is receptive to truth. But the rest of it could be error, but a person who has responded to truth, he is going to take the seed away from that with error or paralyze him in the application of it.
Your internal discernment is what is going to have to be the standard as you study the word of God and allow God to reveal truth as to what it means. You will have to rely on the word of God to help you point out false teaching. So it is vitally important for any Christian to be aware that all teaching done under the banner of God is not of God. The scripture warns of this danger. The following passage contains some of the danger signals to help you identify those attempting to perpetuate a false gospel. So when you hear these passages, you can put them in your head there. Have I been hearing this from television or radio or a pastor or whoever it might be, and if so, it is either coming from a false prophet or from a true man of God who is deceived on the word of God on this particular part of scripture or whatever it might be.
Turn to Matthew 7:21-23.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
What is the will of the Father? What is the work of the ministry? To believe in the one who was sent, Jesus Chrsit.
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
The will of the Father is to consult the radar. The will of the Father is to live through the instruction of the radar. That is the will of the Father. So it is talking about doing the will of the Father, the one who has come to understand they had nothing to do with their salvation except to receive what has already been done for them in Christ Jesus and live their life in the same way. So not everyone who says “Lord. Lord.” is going to enter the kingdom of God.
22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord’
Listen to what some of those people who Christ identifies as false prophets are going to be saying and see if you can equate any of this possibly to what you might be hearing in today’s modern Christianity.
22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’
You have people today who are claiming to be prophets, claiming to be continually to drive out demons, claiming one miracle after another, slaying people in the spirit, and all of those kinds of things, that again I have to match my opinion of those things up against the word of God. I say I cannot come down and judge the motives, but I do know that according to the word of God, Jesus said people doing those things, some of those, are going to be saying “Lord, Lord” and He is going to say this to them.
23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
“You say evil doers but I was prophesying about you.” “Evil doer.” says Jesus. “I was driving out demons.” “Evil doer.” says Jesus. “I was performing miracles.” “Evil doer.” “How could somebody casting a demon out of somebody be an evil doer, according to you, Jesus? How could doing a miracle be an evil doer? After all, I got my leg straightened out. How could that be an evil doer? When I stood up and gave this prophecy, how could that be an evil doer?” “Because not an ounce of it came from Me”, says Jesus. “It was all done by you to draw attention to you, to bring money to you. It had nothing to do with Me.” “Lord, I gave credit. I said praise God and praise Jesus.” “Yes, in order to draw attention to you, and accolades to you and to make people think you were a super saint when the fact of the matter, I do not even know who you are.”
This is sobering when you stop to look at that because, in Jesus name, those people are performing those activities. And Jesus is saying “I do not know who you are”. So we have to be careful, don’t we, when we are seeing the spectacular, and to realize that Satan can do the spectacular. We have to realize that even though a person may look a certain way, that Jesus says there are people looking on the outside like sheep who are ferocious wolves on the inside. I am not saying who is and who isn’t. That is not for me to determine. All I am saying is that that is out there, and that we need to consult the Spirit of God living in us if we are truly His.
I would hate to go up to God and say, “Here I. I am your child”, and He says, “I do not know who you are”. The first thing we need to realize is this. Have we come to faith in what He did, or are we still trying to earn our salvation? If you are still trying to earn your salvation, then you have never come to salvation. So if you truly have come to Christ, first for who He is, recognizing who you are, and who you were, and accepting Him into your life as your Lord and your Savior, and that has been done by faith, then you are a child of God, and if so, the Holy Spirit of God lives in you, and He will give you discernment on those things. There is no discernment in saying “I do not care what the word of God says. I like that guy.” It does not matter whether you like them or not, if they are evil doers, they do not like you. You have to understand that. We have to ask God for discernment on that.
Turn to Galatians 1:8-9.
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
I believe some of the things we just talked about are some of the areas that we need to ask God for discernment, as we see in so-called evangelical Christianity. Now he is talking about something even more cultic. There are other gospels being preached. It is interesting, as an example, in the Mormon religion, they claim that an angel from heaven came down, and their whole religion is based on an angel, giving them a gospel different than the one Paul preached to them. What does it say? Let them be eternally condemned because that is a different gospel. There is nothing in scripture about God being a glorified man. There is nothing in scripture about Elohim having intercourse with Mary and having Jesus. There is nothing about that in the scripture. That is a different gospel. And it was brought here by an angel of light. I do not know whether Joseph Smith had indigestion that day or whether he saw a true angel of light. If he did see an angel, it was not an angel of God. It was an angel appearing as an angel because he was giving a different gospel. No messenger of God would be giving a different message than what God gave through His Son Jesus Christ and through the apostles. So you are talking about a doctrine that is eternally condemned.
9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
Paul is saying, “I am going to put a double emphasis on this. If anyone is preaching a different gospel than the one you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.” That is both sobering and also truth. There is only one gospel. You do not add to it and you do not subtract from it. There is only one gospel, and it was not given in latter day revelation. It was given to the apostles, written by them or an Amanuensis of an apostle. There is no book over and above the word of God. The word of God is completed. The bible we hold in our hands is it. There is no book of Mormon. There is no book of Jehovah Witnesses. There is no book of anything else that you add to the word of God. The bible is the word of God. To add to it or to subtract from it is throwing mud in the face of God Himself. Paul says let him be eternally condemned. That is sobering.
Now, what does this tell you about many present day teachings that are contrary to the apostles doctrines? If an angel was truly sent from God appeared, what would he be preaching? He would be preaching the truth. Again, so how could someone claiming to see an angel that was from God declare that angel was preaching something different than what He had revealed to His Son? No sense to it at all.
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.
Do not add to any more prophecies. There is no more prophecy. There are no more words of knowledge going on. The gospel was closed in the book of Revelation. That is it.
19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.
So, there is no taking away. To take away means you never believed what was there to begin with. To add to it also means you do not believe in the sufficiency of what was there.
What he is talking about and dealing with up to this point is people who are obviously not Christians, but posing like them, acting like them and sounding like them. How can that be? How in the world can people think Charleton Heston is Moses? There is good acting out there. There is a lot of money to be made in Christian work. Before I came to Christ, I was ambitious, and wanted to be a millionaire before the age of forty. Had I known today what I had known back then, I would have gone into religious work. It would be very easy to become a millionaire because people are looking for truth so desperately and are sitting ducks to be deceived. So there is always someone willing to take advantage of that.
People justify that kind of thing by saying that God wants a lot of people to be wealthy. You have people in the religious world driving in Rolls Royce’s and all kinds of things. That is really none of my business. I know, as a child of God, I know who I am. My heart could not allow me to do that type of thing. Number one, you are taking donors dollars to live like a millionaire. I do not believe that is indicative or representative of how the early apostles lived or the early church leaders lived. I do not think that is our way. I do not mean we, as church leaders, need to go around being poor. But I do not believe in any way, shape or form that our lifestyle should be at the upper echelon of society in which we live.
There are ways of making a lot of money, personally, if a person wanted to do so. You have to set limits. You have to have criteria. There are rules and regulations that have to be followed. You submit volitionally. You do not have to do that, but there is accountability for a ministry. You have to submit your reports, and your fundraising appeals, to make sure you are not sending out rugs to lay on and put hands on, and where two or more gathered in my name and there I am in the midst of them and sending out handkerchiefs dipped in the Jordan river, to put under a pillow or under a blanket so you will be blessed. That is deception. There is nothing in the bible about those kinds of things. That is hocus pocus. There are ministries to keep them accountable, but not all ministries are accountable to them because if they did they would not be in existence. So you set those kinds of regulations or controls on yourself so you do not get deceived in that.
So as we read in Matthew 7:15, and in Matthew 7:21-23, about “Lord Lord” and “did I not do this” and Jesus said “I do not know who you are ”, you are talking about people who are posing as Christians but are not. Now only God and him know that but fruit is showing it. Also people claiming they saw an angel from heaven preaching a gospel different than the one the apostles preached, how can you be saved by believing a false gospel? There is no way in the world you are going to be adding to the book of Revelation or subtracting from it as a child of God.
In 2 Corinthians 11:3, is another warning to us who are believers.
2 Corinthians 11:3
3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
That shows us that just as Eve was deceived by the cunning of Satan himself, that our minds sometimes are able to be led astray from this sincere and pure devotion to Christ. In other words, there is a devotion to Christ that is not pure and not sincere. It is just outward, but there is nothing going on inward. It is the thing that John says in 1 John.
1 John 2:19
19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
While they were a part of them, did they look like they were one of us? Yes, of course, they did. But the reason they left is because they were never a part of us to begin with. For if they were a part of us to begin with, they would have never departed. So they went out from among us because they were not a part of us. They looked like Christians, talked like them and acted like them. And so good Charleton Heston is an actor. So you are talking about an acting game. You learn to act. It is not difficult to learn the vernacular. It is not hard to learn how to act. It is not hard to say “Praise the Lord” and “Hallelujah”.
I remember the hippy generation out in California. The street people roaming from here to there would laugh about that, when you see this guy with a fish symbol, and they would jump up and say “Hallelujah”. You get free meals and free transportation. They learned to speak the vernacular to get their needs met. We have to learn as Christians, we can be deceived. We have to be aware of that fact, and therefore, be on the lookout for that kind of deception.