Lambs dip while hogs wallow. 2 Pet 2:14

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 2TI 4:1 (bbe)

Never before has this been more true nor more confused and destructive. Television streams a constant barrage of every false and demonic doctrine packaged and presented with all the finesse of only a video studio can achieve, marketing lies and deception along with charms and keepsakes and vacations at amusement parks. People can have any flavor of false prophet or even build a personalized religion by sampling these media giants like a hungry child at an open buffet. There plates are full but when they eventually must regurgitate the tasty but malnutritious bounty, they ultimately go hungry and cannot reproduce. Being unfruitful (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, humility, etc.) they will ultimately be pruned from the vine and cast into the fire.

Strong language, I know, but not undue. Recently I was channel surfing and landed for a moment on a prophet of Lucre and Mammon who was trying to excuse his ministry, which is generally comprised of assuring rich oil merchants that their money is proof of God’s favoritism and their sinful lives are merely an inconvenience. It is serendipitous that the man is named for the god he preaches.

On this particular day he was prophesying from Galatians, a much misinterpreted book because taken out of context several verses are so filled with hyperbole’ that the meaning is lost, until you read the following passage which corrects the course and intention of the passage. Mr. Money had the Scripture saying that since, Jesus death was to bring about relationship and, since human’s ultimately fail in obeying the law on their own, the law is valueless except as a contrast with the life of license to live without conscience, which he assures us is the meaning of grace. Now I know from other of his broadcasts that he does teach that God’s Standard of Holiness is a necessity in the Christian life. But in the moment, confused by the unintelligible babble of the so called amplified Bible, he over stated Paul’s indictment against legalism and Judaizing of the Church, with a license to be free of the Law as a School Teacher to show us what a Holy God disapproves in the life of his children. Like so many others he misunderstood Paul.

As peter said:

These are fountains without water, and mists before a driving storm; for whom the eternal night is kept in store. For with high-sounding false words, making use of the attraction of unclean desires of the flesh, they get into their power those newly made free from those who are living in error; Saying that they will be free, while they themselves are the servants of destruction; because whatever gets the better of a man makes a servant of him. For if, after they have got free from the unclean things of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again taken in the net and overcome, their last condition is worse than their first. For it would have been better for them to have had no knowledge of the way of righteousness, than to go back again from the holy law which was given to them, after having knowledge of it. They are an example of that true saying, The dog has gone back to the food it had put out, and the pig which had been washed to its rolling in the dirty earth. 2PE 2:17-22 (bbe)

Mr. Money’ take on Galatians would necessitate a discrepancy, that Peter’s Gospel and Faith are at odds with Paul’s in effect a different religion. God changed his mind. Instead, we live by faith and that means we know that our sins were forgiven on the cross, even the ones we’ll commit after salvation and therefore we are never accountable as long as we believe. Well God might be displeased; it might hurt our relationship–but he’s patient so it’s all good, all the time.

But let’s look at what Galatians really says. At the heart of Paul’s thesis he makes the following statement:

Being conscious that a man does not get righteousness by the works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, we had faith in Christ Jesus, so that we might get righteousness by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law will no flesh get righteousness. But if, while we were desiring to get righteousness through Christ, we ourselves were seen to be sinners, is Christ a servant of sin? In no way! For if I put up again those things which I gave to destruction, I am seen to be a wrongdoer. For I, through the law, have become dead to the law, so that I might be living to God. I have been put to death on the cross with Christ; still I am living; no longer I, but Christ is living in me; and that life which I now am living in the flesh I am living by faith, the faith of the Son of God, who in love for me, gave himself up for me. GAL 2:16-20 (bbe)

“So that we might get righteousness by faith. . .” Some would have you believe this means that the righteousness gained by faith is not a works righteousness because if you ever do right, then you are being legalistic. But Paul asks, rhetorically, “Is Christ a servant of sin?” The answer is a resounding no. Christ was sinless, this is the very basis of his substitutionary death on the Cross. The whole point is our identification with Christ on the Cross is the death of our carnal nature and slavery to living in sin. “I have been put to death on the cross with Christ. . .and that life which I am now living in the flesh I am living by faith. . .” Our human life is crucified and the spirit empowers us to live a holy life, not by ignoring sin and legislating it away. How more legalistic can one be, than a pardon without a transformation. The guilty murderer pardoned of his crime and all future crime to commit murder again and again without remorse and without punishment? Is this what the God in Christ bore the suffering and humiliation of the cross for? Of a certainty it is not! Instead Christ died that, living through us, replacing our broken, human spirit with a new inspiration of God’s breath, we could be made new like Adam before the fall, free to live sinless by letting Christ live through us and kill each sinful habit and trait one by one, perfecting us in his grace. This is the grace unto salvation the Victory in Jesus. It is the power to trust and to obey, for it is obedience not offerings of money, land, goods, produce or even blood, that pleases God.

Imagine, for a moment, you are a parent. You love your child with the whole of your being. That child goes off to school in the morning and comes home that night with a shapeless limp of clay, malformed and sickly, glazed so poorly the bubbles have burst exposing cavities that go down to the ceramic beneath. Your child holds this miserable creation out to you and with a fearful smile and shameful eyes says, “here mommy”; “here daddy–.” There’s a pause then, “I made this for you!” And a tiny glimmer of hope lights in the back of childish eyes that are all to well aware of the inadequacy of the offering. Do you reject the pot; dash it against the wall and try to teach the child how to make better pottery?

In the same way, “Our heavenly father rejects neither our offerings, nor our works.” Instead he blesses them and sets them in a prominent place, so he can say, “My child made that for me!” With all the pride of a daddy showing that first pot, or Christmas tie, or photo of a gangly teen with pimples and greasy hair.

The cross is adoption, but grace is the growing. Eventually you will make fine pottery or master works of what ever craft you choose, because the Christ living in you will live through you growing ever more righteous. Take the burden of your sin to God, one thing at a time and shed it. Let him crucify it dead and never to be remembered by him or by you and thereby committed again. As Peter says don’t return to your wallow and be destroyed, worse off than before, because there is no remaining means of salvation for you.

Rules of Engagement

I know that I have visited this topic previously and it may seem that there is little more to be said, however the larger issue is the fact that a particular body of anti-Christian heresy continues to pervert and beleaguer the church and one of the most profound results is the instability of the Christian home and family. I refer of course to the teaching that God has changed with the times and sin is no longer sin. But, more specifically, I refer to the casual even positive way in which divorce is now viewed among those who consider themselves believers. Why this matters has been covered partly in previous musings where I point to the Jesus midrash where he clearly links the relationship between the church and himself with the relationship of man and wife. But in the larger scope it has to do with the, pardon the expression, fundamental understanding that grace, while freely given to any who would ask, has rules and a heavy cost for those who are able to retain it. Grace once given by God can be and often is, discarded to the damnation of former believers who are careless of God’s repeated admonitions in scripture. To wit: One who is often reproved, yet remains stubborn, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. Proverbs 29:1

This whole issue came up again recently centered around a young lady who, after living with her boyfriend outside of wedlock and leading him to Christ in that time, was found out and expelled from her congregation, weeks before her wedding. My initial opinion was that was rather late in the game to find her out and didn’t help the situation any, as she was in the process of rectifying her error. We must always be quick to forgive and restore the genuinely penitent. But her reaction to the whole thing was certainly less than contrite so I’ll leave it to her pastor to be the voice of wisdom in that situation. What I could not ignore, as a man of God and student of theology, was the outcry of support to her status updates on Facebook (R). One of the most egregious responses she got included the following remark:

Times are very different from biblical times and while living with someone before marriage may not be the best choice it is definitely not the sin it once was.

Imagine! “Times have changed, so the Bible is irrelevant and Jesus’ own words are no longer binding on the believer.” Can there be a more depraved and apostate voice? And this was only one of many rushing to encourage the young lady by comforting her in her sin, with the full belief that sin in the life of a Christian is nothing more than a livable mistake, and not one that will actually separate you from God.

Well, in answer to A.W., the young woman who expressed the startling doctrine above, I have to point out one simple truth. Jesus is the foundation of the Church and our hope of salvation. If he is fallible in any point then we are fools to follow him and there is not hope in him. If we are right to trust him and have saving faith we cannot and will not question his authority or infallibility. That means on any subject, including divorce and remarriage, which he spoke, he is the last word and there can be no changing it because times have changed. Jesus claimed to be God in flesh and one with the father. If his words are not timeless and law for all time, then he lied and we are not saved. If he was true and we are saved by grace through his ministry and blood sacrifice then we have no authority to do other than he commanded. There is no third option.

The church as a whole is in crisis today because those in the pew are taught they can accept the worlds values, disregard Jesus’ commands, and remain in right relationship with God or at worst backslide without danger of damnation. There is a church movement that has taught us that we can live like the world and God will simply look on sadly, and that the church cannot judge the behavior of those who claim to be Christian. The Corinthian church faced a similar issue. They felt they were being loving and gracious by allowing those who were living in sin to be comfortable in the congregation. Paul takes three chapters from 4-6 of 1Cor. to show them the error of this thinking. He reaches the high point by saying cast out the immoral brother (or sister). The point being let them straighten out their issues outside so they don’t corrupt the young in the church, or introduce tolerance of habitual error.

In Hebrews Paul speaks at length about mercy and compassion and God’s willingness to forgive sin. This is where the Calvinists and Protestants gather their ideas regarding once in grace always in grace and the perverted gospel that judging is itself a sin. What is generally overlooked is the fact that the whole essay on perseverance of the saved, is bookended by the statement, before and after, that habitual sin will damn even the believer. This is found in Hebrews 6:4-8 and in Hebrews 10:26,27 demonstrating that the author clearly sees nothing in salvation by faith that allows for carnality and rebellion. You can lose your salvation for rebellion. Paul’s warning to Corinth, found in chapters 4, 5 & 6 of I Corinthians, is that the loving thing to do is kick people out so they will realize there error and repent before it is too late, then they can be welcomed back with full fellowship and love.

The world has infected the church with a lot of demonic ideas that seem like love and compassion, but are really just sin and damnation. The place where Satan seems to have made the greatest inroads is in the area of Divorce and Remarriage.

Jesus’ commands and New Covenant law regarding marriage is simple, and laid out in MAT 5:31-32 (nrsv), MAL 2:16-16 (nrsv), MAR 10:2-12 (nrsv), & 1CO 7:10-17 (nrsv), among a host other passages. These passages resolve to eight simple rules regarding marriage that are binding under the New Covenant and if a person confesses Christ he or she is bound by them thereafter. <edit>Bear in mind that these are standards for those who have already accepted Christ.

1) If you are offended by your spouse you can no-longer (as was custom in the day) kill her and get another. 2) Moses allowed divorce to those who are hardhearted so they wouldn’t be forced to confront rule #1 3) Given that hard-hearted is one of the signs used by Jesus and the apostles to indicate an unrepentant person It is clear that divorce is in fact legal but sinful never-the-less. 4) If you marry it is for life, period. The only legitimate excuse for divorce the infidelity of your spouse AND you must have not done the same. 5) If a person commits adultery and is divorced by his or her spouse, the spouse is free to remarry. The adulterer must remain celibate for life. 6) If you just can’t live with one another and have to separate, and that leads to the sin of divorce, a separation for any cause other than adultery make you responsible for your spouse’s needs for sex, any mistakes made, and neither of you can remarry except by reconciling to the original spouse. 7) Any remarriage that violates these principles is not a marriage before God regardless of the church’s stance on the subject and the partners are engaged in habitual sin. 8) A believer may never initiate divorce from an unbeliever nor separate from a spouse except by mutual consent and for a finite period. However, if an unbeliever (one who has never confessed Christ or is forever lost) leaves a believer, then the marriage is annulled without prejudice toward any children of the marriage.

The church is in crisis and people are dying spiritually in the pews because of sin they have been tricked into accepting into their lives by a selfish and hard-hearted generation of believers and unsaved who have driven godless values into the congregation and allowed them to fester.

People please wake up before it is too late.

Fire Retardent

Recently I was confronted by a man who made an Apology, in the debate sense, for insuring that people in his congregation seek a shallower experience of God presence in his services. Clearly the man is in error to the point of rebellion, but it called to mind the fact that there is an increasing trend, in the wake of heretical extremism, to dampen down the strange fire and excess. This man’s error is to avoid strange and wild practices by insuring that the presence of God was given so little freedom to move on his people that no fire would occur.

For the uninitiated, Fire is a metaphor for the intense emotional and physiological responses that can occur when a believer encounters the incorporeal presence of the Holy Spirit, first hand. If you think back to that “warm fuzzy” you got the first time you had a crush on someone, and filter out the sexual response entirely, that is essentially what the prophet referred to as “having fire shut up” in his bones. This is normative for those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, as well as those who are receptive but fail to take the next step, and if there is a reliable initial evidence other than the fruit of the spirit I’d like to argue for this.

That said this man (I can’t in good conscience call him a pastor) is clearly not baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Ruakh Elohim, that filled the prophets of the Old Covenant and flowed out of the prophet of the New. No Godly man, filled with the Spirit and in right relationship with God, would ever seek to curb the activity of the Spirit. What this man said was, “here we have order and you can practice your gift at home alone.” Such an egregious challenge to the authority of God’s spirit is unconscionable. Yet, in the wake of counterfeit revivals such as Brownsville Texas, Orlando Florida, Toronto Canada and Broken Arrow Oklahoma–there is an increasing trend, even in the bastions of orthodox Christian faith, to suppress the will of God and the relationship with his people, to avoid the embarrassment of such sacrilege as Barking, Laughing on Command, and selling artifacts imbued with “prayer”.

I can empathize with this man’s stated motive, while not agreeing with the solution, one that clearly indicates his lack of faith and suggests that his motives may be far less sincere. But the insurance against such excesses is simple and effective. Every congregation must be led by a board of deacons and elders who are themselves so on fire as well as genuine, that they can discern in the Spirit when something is not Godly and genuine, and curtail it as it begins. Every church must be led by a Pastor or Rector who is Baptized in the Holy Ghost and clearly gifted not with teaching or administration, but with prophecy and discernment of spirits.

Churches were never meant to be so large that the members do not know one another intimately. Heresy and excess are born in the shadows produced by impersonal mega church congregations and small groups, where small misinterpretations of scripture by uncalled leaders grow unchecked into heretical dogmas. Ministry leaders have ceased to be Pastors with the intimacy of knowing each member and sharing each member’s struggles and knowing their rate of growth and learning, to being showmen and entertainers with crowds who follow them while starving for lack of real personal ministry. They’ve farmed this out to others and there is no connection between the pastor who will be held accountable and the members who suffer for lack of personal attention.

Another solution that has arisen is to have each prophet submit or deliver his prophecy to the pastor for evaluation, before delivering it cold and on queue, when the pastor has chosen to make room for it between the announcements and the last song. Imagine telling Jesus, “now tell us what are you going to say to those Sadducees? hmmm. Dogs is a bit strong, they may think you are calling them male prostitutes– How about deeply mistaken brothers. Doesn’t that sound like what God is really saying? Now about this word thieves–”

The key to insuring good order is to submit more fully and genuinely to God. God is not the author of confusion. He uses foolish things to stump the wise, but have a little faith! The Holy Spirit is a gentle spirit and gentleman. He’ll never create confusion, no matter how the congregation babbles while praying in tongues. The only insurance the church has against false prophets, on the order of A A Alan, Cyril of Alexandria, Joseph Smith and Elen G White, is the presence of the Holy Spirit. You have to ask yourself who really benefits from quenching the fire, and silencing the gifted members. Shouldn’t we all seek the baptism so that there will be more who are qualified to discern to the false and counterfeit fire, the false prophet, the deceiver?

From the voice of many counselors is wisdom. This is the defense against strange fire insuring that the whole congregation is baptized in the Spirit and sensing his presence, not relying on emotions and human reason to decide what feels right, insures that the strange and the anti-Christ will be evident. Seek the spirit and find a church where the pastor isn’t too important to have coffee with you, and is filled with the spirit with the evidence of prayer in tongues, gift of prophecy, and spiritual fruit such as humility.

Be a part of God’s solution!

Fred

{Insert Cute Title Here}

Trying new software for musings. Musings go back to a day before I had discovered the dreaded blog, and I never had the will to automate the process of updating. I edited each musing as a separate file and then cut and pasted the content of the formatted text into a web editor. This produced adequate results and I was satisfied. Recently I’ve been exposed to several blogs and have found the packaged blog software to be impressive, so I’m hanging up the ol html editor and moving up to a wysiwyg plugin on a SQL driven blog portal. I think I’m going to like it here. Lord willing and the rapture delays, I’ll be adding new musings this year. Lord bless you all.

Fred

Apocalypse Now

One of the most hotly debated topics of Christian faith is the interpretation of apocalyptic prophecies, in particular the Revelation of John. Ironically, those groups who are most inclined to denigrate the prophecy are quickest to refer to John as The Revelator. The confusion abounds and the ignorant revel in expounding wild or pagan interpretations or denying the authenticity and authority of the prophecy.

Whatever your personal views and perspectives on apocalypse, there are certain points that are undeniably clear: A peace maker called Anti-Messiah or Anti Christ, A unified totalitarian world government and commercial system, and the persecution of Bible believers Christian and Jew alike at the hands of the new world order.

Anti Christ and his mark are nearly inseparable and the source of the most confusion for readers and interpreters. What we know is that he will be a peacemaker, a diplomat and leader who forges alliances between disparate groups who have warred for generations. Rather than a figure of Godly authority and the establishment of a harmonious future, this peacemaker, by the venality of compromise, will spread ungodliness and a pure satanic Dominion.

Associated with this figure, is an even more cloudy foretelling, the Mark of the Beast and

it’s attendant context. People love to focus on the riddle, “Let him who considers himself wise consider … the number of his name is 600, three twenties and six.” Today you commonly see those who have voluntarily allied themselves with Satan, or those who foolishly consider the Bible and it’s faiths to be superstition, tattooing themselves with 666. Many municipalities have ordinances making it illegal to use 666 as an address, while others ignore it or even as in 666 West 57’th street, NY, NY allow a business to acquire it and use it for commercial purposes. That particular business made great sums of money from music that was dedicated as hymns and odes to Satan and his messengers. Again this was from a crass mercantilism that denied the reality of Satan while using his name and message to sell merchandise.

On the other side of the same coin you have “prophecy hounds” who capitalize on John’s revelation with books designed to titillate or frighten readers with the coming Dominion of Stan followed wrath of God and destruction of the world. Comic books and novels present a heterodox interpretation complete with second chances, thrilling escapes and easy martyrdom.

In this cloud of pagan confusion, atheistic folly and greed, the real message of the prophecy has been lost. Let me just admonish you, if you get “left behind” by all means avoid the mark, don’t confess the world religion, and try to face the torture with the dignity necessary to die in a state of grace. But don’t count on that being possible. If you are left behind, it’s because you weren’t in a right relationship with God and the Ruach Elohim, the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn in that time. You’ll be doing it under your own steam. Don’t count on being able to endure. Don’t allow yourself to be left behind. Live like it’s happening tomorrow and get your life right with God. Now!

That said I’d like to clear some of the confusion. When the various perspectives and interpretations are cleared aside and the distinctives of given denominations and faiths are factored out, we are left with three main elements regarding the Mark of the Beast. One it is the number of his name. Two it is the means by which commerce can occur on a global basis. Three accepting the Mark and the global economy that it opens up will insure that you cannot be rescued or allied with the Messiah –Anointed Rescuer of God– and you will spend eternity live, conscious and imprisoned in a prison constructed for the celestial beings known colloquially as Satan and his Angels. This is the “second death.”

Knowing these three essentials the specifics that are touted by various teachers are irrelevant. We know it’s the number of “his” name, so it is incumbent on us to thwart and oppose all efforts at any consolidated identification system which uses numbers rather than an individual’s name and person. The more fragmented and disorganized the ID systems in place the less like that we were warned of. Figuratively throw some shoes in the works, it is your Christian duty and for our Jewish cousins yours as well. When has a global conqueror, even a “benign” one using commerce and diplomacy, ever missed his chance at killing the Chosen of God? Lawsuits, protest, fasting and prayer – these are your duty soldier. Do them.

Secondly, the globalization of the economy is a thing of evil. Resist. Without a global economy, the antichrist cannot consolidate his power and authority. Armies will never conquer the globe, but currency and trade will. Protectionism; balkinization; diverse, independent economies are the absolute necessity — not only to enforce democratic ideals but to delay the advent of Antichrist. The longer he can be delayed the more souls can be reached and the longer before the totalitarian nightmare republic he will establish.

Lastly resist trends toward globalization, and the elimination of physical, and diverse currencies because without the unified (most likely electronic) currency of the global economy he cannot begin to consolidate power. Do not accept any system that links all your accounts to a single ID, do not accept any system that allows the use of electronic ID in place of your physical, original signature. Do not accept the elimination of physical currency or the use of biometrics and smart chips to make transactions.

Let the Holy Spirit lead you and do not give in to pressure to be apolitical. The word of God tells us that we wrestle, not against “flesh and blood” but against “nations and spirits”. Get up! Stand up and fight for your Christ! This is the religious duty you were sealed for when you were converted.

Heavenly Hydroponics

One of the most prevalent and toxic counterfeit doctrines to plague the Christian Church in the modern era, is the thaumaturgical impulse to use the promises and prophetic names of God to manipulate and coerce him. The inclination and practice are so thoroughly ingrained into God’s people that they are difficult to distinguish from the normative practice and dogmas of the core, apostolic Gospel. Those who recognize the practice will generally note it in the Word Faith movement’s attempts to use the promises of the Old Covenant to grow rich and self satisfied. That is of course a serious breach and one that needs to be addressed. If for no other reason than to point out the fact that if you claim the blessings you are bound by the commandments and liable for the curses. Claim the Abrahamic blessing of wealth and you incur the responsibility for obedience and sacrifice, and the curse of rejection, blindness and separation for failure.

However that is not the focus of this letter and though it is related, it tends to eclipse an equally serious breach. The New Covenant contains many promises for intimacy with God, blessings in life and most of all assurance of God’s competency to save your soul and protect it from the attack and thievery of Satan. These promises are affirmative and reliable just as certain as death. The error comes when people, lacking the baptism of the Holy Spirit and bound by the carnality of the new-born, milk-fed Christian begin to teach.

No matter how thick and defensive we may be, it is impossible to teach the scriptures for any length of time before one notes that a teacher is to be held to a higher standard than the members of the congregation. When the teacher is confronted with this reality he is forced to seek the means to meet that standard or make excuse for why he is exempted. Inevitably this leads to misusing the passages regarding the blessed assurance to give license to live a life of rebellion and disobedience.

This heresy, variously called Eternal Security, Perseverance of the Saints and Once in Grace Always in Grace ultimately takes the form of tacitly using the promises of security to coerce God into modifying his New Covenant to allow sin to go unrepentant in the life of the Believer, or to suggest that the capacity TO sin is sign that one was never genuinely saved. The one is thaumaturgically coercing God to change his mind, despite his clear assertion,

A Needful Correction

It’s ironic the subtlety and grace with which I’ve been admonished for some errors in my last musing. I say ironic, because in at least three cases those who have been so gentle are the same individuals who have spit bile and vitriol over God-given and textually sound musings in the past. The recent comments have been no less public but a good deal less ugly and the difference is noted and appreciated.

That said, let me confess to having poorly edited the prior musing and as a result an internal contradiction crep into the text. This was partly due to a problem with the spell checker and file converters in my word processor, and partly due to my inattention to detail. Because of this a block of text that should have been there wasn’t and a word or two was substituted (e.g. eventually typoed as venually? got corrected to venially) much to my chagrin.

The upshot was that the text could be read as if I were stating that only a believer who had received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost was capable of falling from grace, and that any backslidding or slippage after Baptism resulted in immediate fall from grace. This was not the intent of the text and not what God told me to write.

The text now reads as it should have, but all these months later, it is a bit more long winded in the reading. Pardon my slip.

In His Wings

It saddens me how often these musings are inspired by misinformation and ignorance in the pulpit or the tele-evangelists studio. Godly men in the role of teacher and preacher are held to a higher standard in both knowledge and practice of the word. Evangelism is properly the work of reaching the lost on a wholesale scale. When an evangelist uses his venue to teach or a pastor or teacher moves his sermons and lessons to the mass media, it is a frightening thing. He assumes great responsibility for the lives and spiritual welfare of mass humanity whom he has never met nor been inspired to teach.

Such a mass market approach is the proper purview of the prophet whom we are more comfortable calling preacher. Preaching is the activity of conveying God’s inspired word to believers who are strayed from the faith or entertaining heterodoxy, or who are backslidden and in rebellion. We are so much more comfortable with the term preacher because we in the west associate prophet with canonicity, and rightly recognize that false prophecy is a matter of life and death. By calling prophets, preachers, we seem to think we not only reduce the import and urgency of their appeal, we insulate the speaker from the liability toward God that he incurs when he compromises with the powers that be or presents a sermon based on bad scholarship or deceit.

Sadly this semantic manipulation does not dissuade God or eliminate the very serious responsibility the failed or false prophet has to the hearer and to God.

Recently I heard a recording of a man who has spent at least the last 30 years teaching and preaching to the people of North America. This man has a sweet disposition and has helped a large body of believers to fall in love with the scripture and to discover the Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs as real people instead of shallow characters from obscure parables. I’m not sure how old the recording is but I believe it to be at least 15 years old (dating from his tenure as a pastor). In this lesson, he attempted to interpret the passage in James where the sibling of our Lord Jesus told us to “call upon on the elders of the church … and [their] prayer … shall heal the sick.”

It should be noted that this man is a fairly good student of the scripture, but he has embraced the heterodoxy neo-Irvingite theology that we in America call Evangelical. However he could properly be call a charismatic because, like his Irvingite fathers, he grudgingly accepts the gifts of the spirit including supernatural tongues and prophecy as occasionally present in today’s church. He would argue against their proper role as a normative component of spirit filled living.

That is an important observation, in that it skews his cosmology and his doctrine to the point that it is a primary cause of the eisegesiswhich he exercised in this lesson. His dogma informs his study and overrides doctrine therefore reinforcing his chosen dogma. This is the worst pitfall of the student theologian and should have been eliminated from this man’s habits long ago. He took a single word from the passage, the one translated anoint, and attempted to redefine it as medical treatment.

Basing his argument on extra-biblical sources he established the word’s common usage to refer to a specific medical treatment common in Hellenistic Greece, and extrapolated it to mean medical treatment in general. He then ignored the proper syntax of the passage and argued that it should have read approximately like, “and they shall administer medical treatment”. This is a surprising abuse of scripture given the source, a man who has a history of scrupulous adherence to context and canonical criticism. He compounded his error by smugly announcing, “now you’ve never heard a pastor say that before!” To be fair, this was after he had explained that he felt unfairly exploited if a person came for prayer when they haven’t first gone for medical treatment.

One is tempted to coin the term reverse reactionism, to refer to the activity of liberal theologians who, upon discovering that a preacher of prophet is making headway in bringing about revival and repentance, attack in order to defend the entrenched liberal theology. This preacher would be just such a reverse-reactionary, attempting to prevent God’s people from turning away from reliance on modern medicine and philosophies.

Before he was done he had recklessly announced that 1) he had no power, and 2) that he had members of his congregation who needed psychiatric drugs and he would not pray for healing of their minds, and 3) that you should have faith in your doctor. Every successive statement was more heterodox and rebellious than the last. I must admit I was offended and appalled. I can only hope he’ll repent and destroy the copies of this sermon.

His faithlessness was tantamount to an argument that the God who made the mind was not capable of healing it. He was also arguing that there is no power in the godly obedience, that the prayer of faith will not save the sick, and that God does not bring the spirit of a sound mind. Essentially he was replacing God with men in the most vomitous piece of carnality and humanism I have seen in a pulpit.

Let’s look at the passage. It is patently clear that the passage says, “and they [the elders of the church] shall anoint” the petitioner. Now it may be true that the term translated anoint is the Hellenistic equivalent of “slap some oil on ya,” but that doesn’t obviate the translation as anoint. What it does is highlight the crude, folksy patois used by the author of James. It’s common usage outside of the present context does not obviate the context, and the speaker is just wrong due to bad scholarship.

The present context is calling upon the Elders of the Church. If that Elder has no special power he isn’t a legitimate Elder. The office of Elder conveys the power to speak with authority on matters of faith and practice and this passage clearly indicates it conveys a deepened responsibility for the welfare of younger members. This is the result of longer service and the deepened relationship and trust in God’s character that comes from long, authentic service (as opposed to inauthentic service which is a waste of time and does produce a powerless and ineffectual leader).

Regardless of any other consideration, the abuse of scripture evidenced in this passage is not only troubling it discredits the entirety of the resulting sermon and indicates a need for repentance on the part of this teacher. As a personal aside I want to make the following appeal to the teacher mentioned above:

You are a man of God, and I have followed your ministry with appreciation for many years. But, you know more than most that the appeal of compromise is an unrelenting temptation for the compassionate teacher. A desire to see our student flourish and succeed can cause the best of us to falter in holding the line of Biblical theology and holiness. But if we do not hold our students accountable, just as they hold us accountable, God will hold us accountable for their blood. If you feel powerless, then I’d invite you to seek the gift of healing and the deeper infilling and communion of the Holy Spirit that accompanies Glossalalia (as opposed to the supernatural gift Xenoglossa).

God is gracious, please hear my appeal. And for the sake of those whom you lead, don’t dismiss this appeal with a smirk and a chuckle as you are wont to do. Please brother, show the godly remorse and repentance that you so appreciate in David. I know you have a heart that seeks to know God’s heart.

Your brother,

Fred