83) Replacement Theologies

Treating the Bible like a buffet and serving yourself only desired pieces of the biblical message while repudiating the undesired parts is how there are Old-Testament-only religions like Judaism with its many denominations and New-Testament-only religions like Christianity with its many denominations, and post-Christianity cults like Islam, Mormonism and Rastafarianism following various self-proclaimed prophets and prophetesses.

For example:

Islam began with Adam, and has evolved in accordance with the progressive revelations given by Allah to His various prophets…

…Early on, among the descendants of Prophet Jacob, distortions of the basic message of Islam were codified and ritualized, giving rise to the religion of Judaism…

Among those prophets, whose ministry was limited to the Israelites and Jews, was Jesus (the Messiah or Christ, and the son of the Virgin Mary). However, Jesus’ message and ministry were also distorted…

Does it shock you to discover that the most fundamentalist Christians who believe in the inerrant word of God base their beliefs on progressive revelation as much as Islam? 

dispensationalism-chart

Don’t try to comprehend everything in these complex graphics, simply take note of the progression in revelation depicted.

Two of the more common hermeneutical and theological viewpoints within the world of Bible-believing Christianity are dispensationalism and covenant theology. Each position represents a version of Biblical orthodoxy. [Emphasis added.] Both perspectives generally affirm the major doctrines of the Christian faith, such as the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible…

However, they disagree strongly on…how one views the expression of continuity and discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments…No one doubts the fact of the progress of revelation….

for covenant theologians, the church began either with Adam (presumably the first saved man) or Abraham…

In contrast, dispensationalism sees the church as starting on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2…The church has a unique relationship to Christ, something that did not exist before.

How is it possible for two such different theological groups, both believing in the inerrancy of scripture, to co-exist?

The difference lies in how scripture is interpreted.

Systematic theology is a discipline which addresses theological topics one by one (e.g. GodSinHumanity) and attempts to summarize all the biblical teaching on each particular subject…the goal is to present the major themes (i.e. doctrines) of the Christian faith in an organized and ordered overview that remains faithful to the biblical witness…

Systematic theology also has major implications in the area of interpreting scripture. For example, the doctrine of the Trinity is not gathered from one passage of the Bible. Instead, the Trinity is an …interpretation of…”a pattern of implicit and explicit judgments concerning the God of Israel and his relationship to the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth…

To understand the connection between systematic theology and interpretation, we can compare it to simple systematic filing. Documents are organized into categories with file folders that allow you to develop meaningful patterns by combining information from multiple sources.

The categories are developed separately from the content of the information, and are based on the ultimate use of the information. Often the same information can be filed into a number of different categories.  For instance, the same receipt from a Chinese restaurant can be filed

  1. alphabetically
  2. under “Meals” or
  3. under “Entertainment.”

It all depends on what purpose you have for the information being categorized –

  1. retrieving any of your receipts as needed
  2. budgeting food expenses
  3. tracking tax deductions.

The content of what is being organized doesn’t change, but the way it is interpreted changes according to the way it is labeled.

The same is true for Systematic Theology. Each system files the same scripture under a different heading, to organize a different pattern of interpretation.

It is important to note that every filing system – material or conceptual – starts with a pre-conceived purpose for categorizing the information. In the case of Systematic Theology, scripture is assigned to categories to fit a preconceived pattern based on a purpose.

Covenant Theologyis a conceptual overview and interpretive  framework for understanding the overall structure of the Bible. It uses the theological concept of a covenant as an organizing principle [Emphasis added.]…The standard form of covenant theology views the history of God’s dealings with mankind…under the framework of three overarching theological covenants: those of redemption, of works, and of grace..

As a framework for biblical interpretation, covenant theology stands in contrast to dispensationalism in regard to the relationship between the Old Covenant (with national Israel) and the New Covenant (with the house of Israel [Jeremiah 31:31] in Christ’s blood)

Covenant theologians deny that God has abandoned his promises to Israel, but see the fulfillment of the promises to Israel in the person and the work of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who established the church in organic continuity with Israel, not as a separate replacement entity…

A number of major 20th-century covenant theologians including Karl Barth, “the most important theologian of the twentieth century” ….departed from the traditional classical covenant theology to develop a monocovenantal scheme subsuming everything under one Covenant of Grace. The focus of all biblical covenants is then on grace and faith.

So as Karl Barth developed his understanding of God’s message to mankind, he moved scriptures from the Covenant Theology filing system of various old covenants (as seen in the graphic above – Adam, Noah, Moses, etc.) and the new covenant in Jesus’ blood into just one combined old and new single covenantal theologythe grace of God received by faith of man.

Notice, there are still different covenants, but now they are placed into one single file with one heading, fitting one single pattern of the relationship between helpless humans and a powerful God who saves mankind.

From beginning to end, Barth’s theology is decidedly Christocentric…In the incarnation, Christ takes on humanity’s sinfulness and lifts humanity up into restored fellowship with God [Emphasis added.]. On the cross, Christ suffers the rejection that sinful humanity deserves…judged in our place…

the community of God exists in the twofold form of Israel and the Church…according to God’s eternal decree as the people of Israel (in the whole range of its history in past and future…and at the same time as the Church of Jews and Gentiles…”

For Barth, God’s covenant with the nations is clearly an extension of God’s covenant with the Jews…“In tracing God’s election, providence, and covenant with the Jews, Barth affirmed the particularity of God’s election for the Jews ‘in whom there is fullness of salvation for all men of all nations.’ ”…

So we see that Barth’s systematic monocovenantal theology serves a purpose of understanding how the community of God’s people exists as Israel maintaining its national identity in the international Church.

In stark contrast to Covenant Theology, Dispensational Theology serves the purpose of understanding  “the difference between the Jew, the Gentile, and Church of God.

Before a child of God can move forward in serious Bible study, he must understand the different dispensations. Failure to understand the true teaching of dispensations has led many to make false applications of the Bible.

Dispensationalism is “a teaching on which we cannot afford to be uniformed.”

Three things helped dispensationalism become very popular in the twentieth century. The first was the beginning of the Bible Institute movement. D.L. Moody had one in Chicago…the flagship institution. These institutions sprung up all over both the United Kingdom and the United States, and they taught dispensationalism.

The second thing was prophecy conferences. These were popular in the early 1900s. They were held in Winona Lake, Philadelphia, and Dallas. They were everywhere.

The third thing that popularized dispensationalism was the Scofield Reference Bible, named for Cyrus Ingerson Scofield, who was born in 1843 and died in 1921. He used the dispensations as the framework to understand the Bible and its structure, and he applied that dispensational hermeneutic to texts. Scofield also put forth the dispensational distinction of a separation between Israel and the church.

The best known purveyors of Dispensationalism are found among the most fundamentalist Christians such as the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, Fundamental Independent Baptist Churches, Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary, Back to the Bible Broadcast and the book series Left Behind by Tim LaHaye.

Dispensationalists “consider themselves to be the only true champions of biblical orthodoxy. Departure from dispensationalism will result in the loss of the evangelical faith.”

I must say there is quite a lot of truth in that statement.

I grew up in one such ardently dispensationalist environment, described accurately I must say by a detractor whose faith was completely broken. Mine was just crippled for many years. My father was a Fundamental Independent Baptist pastor whose faithful daily morning Bible study inspired me to teach myself to read at the age of four, in order to engage myself in what was obviously the most important activity in the world. As a female I could not obtain theological studies from the Bible Study my sisters attended. My theological training occurred in the course of attending church at least three times a week, memorizing chapters at a time in AWANA Club, and studying the Bible in personal quiet time every morning and family devotions every night.

One of our family devotions became the pivot point in my spiritual life when, while studying Matthew 24, in answer to a question to clarify a confusing statement, my father replied that Jesus and his disciples were no longer Jewish, they were Christians, therefore the events in that passage describing the destruction of the temple, tribulation and second coming did not apply to them.

I was only 14 years old, but this interpretation was so inconsistent with

  1.  the personal context in which Jesus was replying to questions posed by the disciples,
  2. the historical evidence that these events had occurred to the disciples, while also would repeat in the future, and
  3. the rules of biblical interpretation I had been taught, even as a teenager,

that I was shocked and argued against it. My father’s response was “It’s Dispensationalism, but you wouldn’t understand it.” I was savvy enough to recognize that my father, who loved to teach, didn’t himself understand it or he would have held forth.

I never forgot that weird explanation, but it wasn’t until years later, through persistent questioning, that I learned how Dispensationalism reclassified the disciples / apostles from Jews to Christians, since, according to Dispensationalism, one cannot be both. Therefore, the teaching given by Jesus in Matthew 24 was NOT directed to his disciples since, according to dispensationalism, Christians are raptured out prior to the Great Tribulation described in Matthew 24.

Please note – the purpose of this study is not to discredit Dispensationalism.  The purpose of this study is to ascertain that what is believed is solidly based on inspired scripture.

I was disturbed to discover that I was basing my faith and practice on a hidden doctrine that I didn’t understand and wasn’t explained in church. I felt compelled to search out its validity, since it didn’t seem to agree with a straightforward, literal interpretation of the Bible as claimed by my family’s denomination.

The validity of Dispensationalism is extremely prejudiced by the fact that it is a recent development. It only began in the late 1800’s with John Nelson Darby, and was popularized throughout North America with the Scofield Reference Bible published in 1909.

This year became in a sense a turning point in the history of contemporary dispensationalism as the Reference Bible made an immediate impact among evangelical believers. This Bible is now practically a textbook in many Bible colleges…The Scofield Bible creates a false sense of authority by continually referring to its explanatory notes, based on Darby’s interpretation of Scripture. 

The reliability of Dispensationalism is extremely prejudiced by the fact that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (I Corinthians 14:33)

Dispensationalism is a complex theological system and there are numerous shades of interpretation. The simplest definition is…A system of Biblical interpretation adhering to literalism in interpretation and distinguishing a series of periods in God’s dealings with man in which God introduced a succession of tests of responsibilities….Most dispensationalists hold to seven dispensations…Some have only four. Others have as many as eight…

Darby taught that Israel and the church are separate entities…God governs his relationship to Israel and the church according to quite distinct principles. Israel and the church belong to different dispensations, that of law and that of grace…

Champions of biblical orthodoxy…? Literal interpretation…? Darby’s teaching should raise alerts on many fronts.

  • The claim that God inserted the exclusively Gentile Church into his plan after Israel did not accept Jesus Christ and demanded his death is patently false. The New Testament documents over and over that all Israel did not reject Jesus Christ, only the corrupt leaders who allied with the Gentiles. Paul himself, considered the founder of the Gentile Church, never stopped identifying himself as an Israelite, as did all the early believers of Jesus as the risen Lord and Savior. Even more important is that God’s plan had included the church since before time began, in eternity.
  • Dispensationalism itself is split into many factions teaching different things. So which faction is correct? During his career, John Darby himself was a fractious man. “Perhaps he should be described as a petty tyrant, for he was most tyrannical about petty things…All who did not agree with his interpretations of the Bible were characterized as “not having the truth,”…and therefore as somewhat “apostate”…” Darby’s overbearing personality caused much friction. The early history of the Plymouth Brethren movement was dominated by rivalry and strife. Even within Darby’s lifetime several divisions within the Brethren movement took place.
  • A forensic psychiatric review of his case file reveals common manic behaviors, leading to a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. “…a man with magnetic, electric personal qualities…he often demonstrated as much zeal in destroying a work of his own…He left a massive set of Collected Writings which are almost uniformly unintelligible.”
  • A dispensation-declared “false” application of scripture wrests straightforward statements in the Bible when it isn’t interpreted according to the dispensational system in verses like:

    “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way…” (Romans 3:1-2)

     “a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:28-31) 

The inviolable separation of Gentiles from Jews trumpets the fervent racism within the Bible Belt where Darby’s Dispensationalism flourished.

  • The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1845 by pro-slavery churches splitting from the northern Baptist Abolitionists.
  • Neoslavery, like Neo-nazism, and widespread violence against Blacks, Jews, and Catholics in particular and anyone who supported social equality for Blacks, infested the South not only through White Supremacist elements like the Klu Klux Klan but society-wide, during Reconstruction. It continued through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s-60’s to present day Black Lives Matter raising social awareness of police prejudice against young Black males.
  • The Eugenics Movement was born in early 20th century America “demographically reeling from immigration upheaval and torn by post-Reconstruction chaos…Elitists, utopians and so-called “progressives” fused their smoldering race fears and class bias in coordinated action intended to subtract emancipated Negroes, immigrant Asian laborers, Indians, Hispanics, East Europeans, and Jews. The Nazi Holocaust of the 1930’s-40’s was not Hitler’s brainchild. “Hitler studied American eugenics laws. He…was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side…the intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were made in America” which had demonstrated successful implementation of segregation, marriage laws, forced sterilization, and “many mental institutions and doctors practiced improvised medical lethality and passive euthanasia on their own…In its infamous 1927 decision, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “It is better for all the world, if…society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.” This decision opened the floodgates for thousands to be coercively sterilized or otherwise persecuted as subhuman. Years later, the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials quoted Holmes’s words in their own defense…”

1935sterilization-map

Theologically hidden though it may be, historically it is of supreme significance that the biblical interpretation of the relationship between the Jews and Gentiles figures prominently in the two major Christian theological viewpoints developed at the turn of the 20th Century. 

Karl Barth’s theology was developed in close and dynamic dialogue with the society and circumstances in which he found himself... 

Barth’s practice of…constructing theology with the Bible on the one hand and the newspaper on the other, as he put it—buttresses both the logic and the delivery of his theological system. His development as a theologian was deeply connected with the historical setting that encircled him…

His life spanned both world wars, and he was one of the Church’s most vehement voices against Hitler and Nazism. Living in Germany at the time, Barth served as a primary author of the Confessing Church’s defining document, the Barmen Declaration. The goal of this declaration was to connect Christian truths with necessary action against the Nazi regime. In 1934, Barth refused to give an unconditional oath to Hitler and was…expelled from Germany. Barth returned to Basle where he continued to denounce Nazism and exhort the Church to actively respond to the atrocities and injustices being committed. He joined the Swiss Armed Forces as a declaration of his passion for the cause.

According to Barth, the anti-Semitism of the National Socialist regime precluded it from being considered under the Romans 13 umbrella of God-established authority. In Barth’s words, “he who rejects and persecutes the Jews rejects and persecutes Him who died for the sins of the Jews—and then, and only thereby for our sins as well. He who is a radical enemy of the Jews, were he in every other regard an angel of light, shows himself, as such, to be a radical enemy of Jesus Christ. Anti-Semitism is sin against the Holy Ghost. For anti-Semitism means rejection of the grace of God…”

And racism is still a big part of Christianity today.

The fact remains that the Eugenics movement in the United States is alive and well…Over $300 million of taxpayer money goes to family planning programs that are intentionally used suppress the birthrate in low-income, minority families…much of it ends up at Planned Parenthood, America’s number one abortion chain.  It is no secret that Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was a self-proclaimed eugenicist.

Racism among white Christians is higher than among the nonreligious. That’s no coincidence…The relationship between holding racist views and white Christian identity is actually stronger among more frequent church attenders than among less frequent church attenders.

Seven symptoms of racism in church.

If you dare, take a free on-line test to gauge your implicit racism.

Antisemitic racism, blatant or so ingrained that the holder is utterly oblivious to it, is the icing that makes the delightful Dispensationalist dismissive “let them eat cake” so utterly irresistible.

Why is this influence of dispensational theology so great? In view of the fact that we are living in dramatic, apocalyptic, pessimistic and uncertain times, dispensational theology becomes very attractive to those Christians who see no way out of a seemingly hopeless situation apart from God’s direct intervention in history to take away (rapture) His true church out of this wicked and very perverse world…

The hope of the church is the rapture, the “first” second coming of Christ. Before the great tribulation, which will last for seven years, the true church is to be taken from the earth secretly and then, at a later time, Christ will return in a public “second” second coming. As Darby put it, “The church’s joining Christ has nothing to do with Christ’s appearing or coming to earth.”

Christ at the public second public coming will establish…the millennial kingdom on earth and Christ will offer the Kingdom to Israel again, David’s throne will again be occupied, the temple restored, and sacrifices reinstituted. Judaism will be completely restored and there will be a division between Jew and Gentile. 

This teaching on The Rapture of a Gentile Church is not in the Bible and contradicts the clear biblical timing of occurring at “the last trump“. In order to account for this, Dispensationalists invent another series of trumpets that are not mentioned at all in the Bible, and twist and take out of context many scriptures to make a square interpretation fit into the circular eternal plan of God.

In my experience talking with people who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture, they have no idea where the rapture teaching came from. Their faith in preservation from suffering is based on preaching from dispensationalists’ pulpits rather than personal Bible study.

So if it’s not in the Bible, where does it come from?

It comes from the ecstatic utterances of Margaret MacDonald in 1830…that were picked up by John Darby.”

There are two ways to determine if Margaret MacDonald, John Darby,  Muhammed, Ellen WhiteJoseph Smith, and all the rest of the hordes of prophets claiming to report God’s revelation through them are, in fact, God’s messengers.

First, external validation of prophecies that the claimant has made.  If a single prophecy fails, then the person is a false prophet.

“if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)

Let’s take a look at Darby’s Prophetic Map of the End Times developed in the late 1800’s. Note, according to Darby’s teaching, the rapture can occur at any moment. Therefore, if his prophecies are true, the political elements should have been in play over the last 140 years or so.

42_nc2c

This article looks back over what Darby wrote in the light of various things that have happened in the world since then...we Christians should be intelligent as to events in the world, and also know what will happen here after the rapture of the church. Of course we will not be here!

  • France, not the USA, becomes the dominant Western power instead of England.
  • The USA does not become a world power.
  • Russia dominates Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon.
  • Islam is of no importance.

Clearly Darby’s predictions have not come to pass.

So in addition to marking him as a false prophet, how can Dispensationalists believe that the rapture could have occurred at any moment since Darby’s new doctrine was taught?

I’m hearing the dispensationalist argument – his predictions just haven’t happened yet. But they will! in an extremely short war where Socialist France allied with Communist Russia splits West and East they knock the USA and the Moslem countries out of commission.

But since Christians won’t be here when that happens, Darby is safe from judgment. But by the same token, without any proof of true prophecies, he is also barred from consideration as a true prophet, isn’t he?

Isn’t he?

So let’s apply the second proof. As with any other literature, internal consistency provides reliability on which to place our trust in the revelation of the many prophets claiming to speak for God.

Literary experts determine if any “newly discovered” composition is, in fact, the claimed work of a famous author from centuries ago by its consistency with previously established, i.e. canonized (secular as well as religious) works by the same author.

When William Shakespeare’s friends and fellow actors and authors published his collected plays in 1623, 7 years after the Bard shuffled off this mortal coil, that book, now known as the First Folio, established what was and was not to be officially “Shakespeare.” Yet, as with any other great artist, Shakespeare left us wanting more. The search for “lost” Shakespeare has spanned centuries…William Shakespeare & Others: Collaborative Plays, edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, uses the latest computer technology paired with old school critical connoisseurship…to coolly lay out all the arguments…beside the very texts in question…

fellow playwright Ben Jonson...calls Shakespeare “not of an age, but for all time,”…the publication of the plays would win Will…a lasting legacy.

Anyone who contradicts internal reliability to make him / herself the authority to redefine the authorship, credibility and meaning of parts of any ancient piece of literature is patently a deceiver. He / she doesn’t know enough about the circumstances in the time and place of the writing to support their claims.

The early Christians…produced translations in each of the major dialects.

The Armenian language first developed an alphabet around 406 AD. An Armenian translation of the entire Bible existed by 414. Early Christians were obviously very zealous about bringing the Scriptures into the languages of the people. There were also very ancient translations of the New Testament into Palestinian Aramaic, Georgian, Ge’ez (Ethiopic), Arabic, Nubian, Persian, Sogdian (Middle Persian), Gothic,  Slavonic, and others. The Early centuries of Christianity thus saw the Scriptures translated into a variety of vernacular tongues as the gospel spread throughout the known world…[emphasis added.]

The only way that the Dispensational view works is to take the original language out of the equation and justify their doctrine based on only the King James interpretation of the Scripture. This is understandable considering the large majority of Christians that are holding firm to the belief that the King James version is the only accepted version of the Gospel…We are instructed to study the Scripture to show ourselves approved and to light a path during the time of trial, not to divide the word to justify our translation. (Psalm 119:105)

Unlike religions such as Islam, where the Quran is only truly the Quran in the original Arabic, Biblical Christianity has always believed that…any language in which the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are faithfully rendered, they are still the word of Godand so the Scriptures should be translated into any language necessary to bring the gospel message to all people everywhere.

The Dispensationalists want to twist the word to justify their translation, believing this brings light unto the understanding of Scripture. The basic principle behind this translation is to completely disregard the entire Old Testament and the Gospels as they were written for only the Jews and that only the portion of Scripture written for the Gentiles is relevant for the Church…

this fits your doctrine to justify your stance of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture (which is also false and not supported by your doctrine) but how can you call yourselves a follower of Christ when you no longer follow His words?…

The Dispensational view removes about 7/8ths of the Bible to support their claim of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Without removing these portions of the Bible, they have nothing to stand upon!!

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life” (Revelation 22: 18-19)

 

what-exactly-is-the-prosperity-gospel

The history of Christ’s church is inseparable from the history of Satan’s attempts to destroy her. While difficult challenges have arisen from outside the church, the most dangerous have always been from within. For from within arise the false teachers, the peddlers of error who masquerade as teachers of truth…

The Heretic is the person who teaches what blatantly contradicts an essential teaching of the Christian faith. He is a gregarious figure, a natural leader teaching just enough truth to mask his deadly error. Yet in denying the faith and celebrating what is false, he leads his followers from the safety of orthodoxy to the peril of heresy….sometimes by contradicting the truth and sometimes by adding to it. He may…deny the virgin birth or the resurrection of Jesus Christ…alter God’s finished word, or…add to it. Always, he boldly tampers with “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3)…

The Charlatan is the person who uses Christianity as a means of personal enrichment. Paul charged Timothy to be on guard against him…imagining that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Timothy 6:3-5). The Charlatan is only interested in the Christian faith to the extent that it can fill his wallet. He uses his leadership position to benefit from others’ wealth…

The Prophet claims to be gifted by God to speak fresh revelation outside of Scripture—new, authoritative words of prediction, teaching, rebuke, or encouragement…John offered an urgent warning about him. “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)…

The Abuser uses his position of leadership to take advantage of other people. Usually, he takes advantage of them to feed his sexual lust, though he may also desire power. Both Peter and Jude were aware of the Abuser’s lechery: “And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:2)…  “ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). The Abuser…works his way into women’s lives, confidence, homes, and beds. When he is not pursuing illicit sexual pleasure, he may be domineering people to gain power, abusing them on his path to prominence. He does this in the name of ministry, with the claim of God’s anointing…Today it seems that every week, we learn of another leader who has been found guilty of sexual sin with men, women, or even children….sad tales of survivors who have been abused and cast aside by a leader craving power…

The Divider uses false doctrine to disrupt or destroy a church. He gleefully divides brother from brother and sister from sister. Jude warned about him: “‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’ It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit…” (Jude 18-21). The Divider is devoid of the Holy Spirit whose first fruit is love and whose special work is holding believers together in the bond of peace (Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 4:3). This false teacher brings strife, not love. He generates factions, not unity. He desires discord, not harmony.

The Tickler is the false teacher who cares nothing for what God wants and everything for what men want. He is the man-pleaser rather than the God-pleaser. Paul thought of him as the ear-tickler: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The Tickler craves popularity and praise from the world. To maintain his follower’s respect, he preaches only the parts of the Bible they deem acceptable. Therefore, he speaks much of happiness but little of sin, much of heaven but nothing of hell. He gives them only what they want to hear…Joel Osteen, pastor of the largest church in America, who is known equally for his toothy smile and his vacuous content. He preaches an empty gospel to a packed out church. Like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day, he and the thousands like him say, “‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).

Finally, the Speculator is the one obsessed with novelty, originality, or speculation…The Speculator tosses aside the bulk of the Bible’s content and the weight of the Bible’s emphasis in order to obsess about…the End Times, and somehow his failed predictions dissuade neither himself nor his followers. Recently we saw him obscuring the clear message of Scripture to search for hidden codes in Scripture. Sometimes he plants himself in academia, where one of his recent masterpieces is a re-imagined God who is unable to see and know the future. Well did Paul label the Speculator acontradictory, irreverent babbler (1 Timothy 6:20-21).

Satan’s greatest ambassadors are not pimps, politicians, or power-brokers, but pastors. His priests do not peddle a different religion, but a deadly perversion of the true one. His troops do not make a full-out frontal assault, but work as agents, sneaking into the opposing army. Satan’s tactics are studied, clever, predictable, effective. Therefore, we must always remain vigilant. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15-16a).

 

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