NazNet- Hypocrisy, Ignoring Scripture, And Personal Attacks

2 Tim 4: 1-5 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

The purpose of this is to warn every Bible-believing Christian about a certain kind of “Christian leader and pastor”, who is always ready to vilify you at the slightest sign of dissension towards their unbiblical views. This is to warn you and prepare you to deal with these people, some who may be leading your church now. This is to show you what kind of men are being sent out from the seminaries, to pastor churches with the watered down social gospel and with messages that lack biblical conviction. These men are blind to the very poison coming from their mouths, which they accuse all discernment ministries of, and which they accuse Christians who dare challenge their belief system.

NazNet is a Nazarene discussion forum on the internet, of which I am a member (from which I received a one week suspension for “laughing” at two comments). It includes a mixed group with varying theological leanings, although it is predominately a haven for emergent church and social justice types. It also allows Bible believing members, although as you will read here, many NazNetters are highly intolerant of outspokenness from the likes of me and others. A good number of these liberals do not believe in the inerrancy of scripture. Many of them reject the facts of Genesis 1-11 as a true historical account of creation, and instead have bought into the ungodly theory of evolution. They have a disdain for those who believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant, infallible word, often labeling us as “bibliolaters.” These are the men I am talking about, and I will point out that very few on NazNet act like they do, so this is not a blanket indictment.

Last week, as I perused some NazNet topics, I came across one that dealt with the suicide of the son of Ergun Caner, a former administrator at Liberty Baptist University. Caner had claimed to have been a former Muslim terrorist turned Christian, and when the facts came out that it was a lie, he was let go by Liberty. He is now the president of another Christian college. When his son committed suicide this year, not too long after he was confronted online by a longtime critic of Dr. Caner, many were very upset over what looked like an unwarranted attack of this young man. I have read details of this encounter, and I agree that the verbal attacks by Baptist preacher J.D. Hall were unnecessary and reckless. But what followed on NazNet turned into a blanket condemnation of any Christian who calls out false teachers or Christian leaders who are in error.

So here is where I got in trouble on Naznet. The topic only had three comments. I read the first one which mentioned that tragic death, and the writer, David Pettigrew, a Nazarene pastor, ended with this:

This phenomena of “discernment ministries” – those who feel it is their divine calling to expose “error” – is doing real damage to real people. I am convinced it is psychologically driven. It becomes a compulsion for those with this “calling” to attack.”

I then read the next two comments, which said the following:

“I’m convinced it is some kind of mental disease. At least, let’s hope it is. For if these folks act with full mental powers, I would not want to stand in their shoes at judgement day.” (Hans Deventer, Nazarene licensed minister)

“IMO most “discernment ministries” are nothing more than bullying and most “discerners” are self-justifying bullies.”(Jon Bemis, Nazarene pastor)

 

I then clicked the “laugh button”, to imply that I thought that this was an absurd, blanket condemnation of all discernment ministries. Sometime later is when the attacks started, and the rest of the discussion is a perfect illustration of the complete hypocrisy of these people. Keep in mind that quite a few of them are ordained elders and pastors of churches; leaders who are supposed to be examples of Christ-like conduct. The following quotes are other examples of their “Christ-like” conduct and their truly hypocritical behavior and blindness to the very things they accuse me and others of.

“This is why they are called online discernment mafias. They operate in secret and have no accountability whatsoever.” (Bob Hunter)

“I’m increasingly convinced that when we spend time and energy on peripheral issues such as eschatology and witch-hunting in the name of the Lord, aka ‘discernment ministries’, we’re setting ourselves up for some real problems.” (John Kennedy)

“Self proclaimed holy wars never have a problem sacrificing life at the alter of “truth” (Cam Pence, Nazarene pastor)

“It’s the mean spirited, sarcastic, loveless, prayerless presentation, both online and in person, that causes the Concerned Nazarenes to not be taken seriously by anyone outside their facebook club. Nobody can hear your message because of your methods. This will be my only response to you, as I find exchanges with you are pointless.” (David Pettigrew, Nazarene pastor)

 

“I think the fundamental problem with discernment ministries is that those involved fail to see that they are not actually very discerning.” (Kevin Rector, Nazarene pastor)

You’re like Hamas, crying over the casualties they have created themselves by their tactics. Very sad for the casualties, but Hamas is the real cause of their suffering.” (Hans Deventer, Nazarene licensed minister)

 

I gave my argument for posting the laugh icons, noting that it was unfair to paint all discernment ministries this way. I argued using scripture, showing them how time and time again, we are commanded to expose false teaching, thus what we are doing is biblical and necessary in these times. I pointed out how I was criticized for using these laugh icons, yet the moderator did not scold anyone else about the comments they made that were, shall we say, over the top? (mental disease? bullies? discernment mafias? witch hunting? comparing me to the terrorist group Hamas?)

 

In reading through the topic, I noticed the same things that they do on a regular basis:

 

  1. Taking Scripture out of context. They select certain scripture passages in order to reprimand me, but ignore the very scripture I showed which validated my position. They refused to address that at all. These people are purposely ignorant of the truth, and often use what they accuse us of- cherry picking scripture, or proof-texting. They are guilty of that tactic, over and over. In another proof-text, pastor Kevin Rector quotes Heb. 13:17 to emphasize that we should obey our spiritual leaders and do what they say (touch not mine anointed, perhaps?). Yet he apparently conveniently ignores any scripture which warns us to watch out for the wolves amongst us, such as Gal. 1:6-10.
  2. They use personal attacks. I understand why they do this, because they have no other basis to argue with. They lack the scriptural understanding (or perhaps ignore it) that would allow them to correct those who expose their false teachings. They are desperate to protect their territory, and will try to destroy your character in order to do it. They hypocritically judge a pastor’s mean use of words that led to the suicide of a young man, yet they have no problem using mean words on others. How ironic!
  3. They employ emotional tactics to get sympathy, such as telling a touching story. When David Pettigrew gave an example of what he says was the devastation caused by a discernment ministry to a pastor and his family, I returned the favor by giving an example that I knew of, of a pastor who caused great harm to a family. Instead of acknowledging this story as legitimate also, he scolded me for telling it, perhaps unable to admit that there have been a lot of people from “his side” who have brought damage to many Christians also.
  4. Their insincerity. Take for example, Bob Hunter, one of my most vicious attackers over the last few years. He followed up later with this: “I pray for you. I pray your family is well and your life is blessed. I really do.” This is the same Bob who had no problem labeling discernment ministries as mafia types, and who has called me some of the worst things over the last few years. Why would someone pray for my life to be blessed, when I am supposed to be someone who is tearing apart the church, according to many of them?

 

  1. Their dependence on the “Church manual” more than scripture. As an example, here is what Kevin Rector said:“if it creates division in the body of Christ over non-essentials then it is of Satan and not of God (By the way, the church decides what is “essential“, not the individual – for example, you and I don’t have the spiritual authority given by God to define that which is essential for the Church of the Nazarene – that is done by the General Assembly).”

    So Kevin Rector and others apparently believe that if the General Assembly declares something, we should accept it without question, because it is “the church” that decides! To these people, it is the denomination that decides what is essential, not the Bible! This is outrageous, but this view is perhaps the norm now in the Church of the Nazarene.
  2. They don’t understand scripture. Bob Hunter misuses Matt. 18 when he said this: “Yes, the online discernment ministries have earned a bad reputation among reputable Christian leaders. They have a track record of being ruthless, unsympathetic, and mean. They never follow Matt. 18 and privately conduct matters.” Bob apparently has
    never read such passages as Gal 2:14 that describes Paul scolding Peter publically for teaching a false doctrine. These people constantly misapply the principles of Matthew 18. Again, no correction by using scripture at all; just giving opinions unsupported by God’s word.
  3. Their hypocrisy. They scold me for using the laugh button, eventually delete my laughs, and then suspend me for a week, for violating NazNet laws. Not rules, but laws! Yet, they never scold their own publically (or very rarely). They tend to look the other way unless it is an extremely outrageous comment, and make the excuse that since they did not use my name, it is not a problem with what they said. Quote Kevin Rector: “You did not say that what they said was “funny” you said it was “laughable”. That is a put-down, not a compliment.” Apparently, to them, it is not a put-down to compare me to Hamas, or to imply I have a mental disease, accuse me of being on a witch-hunt, or that I am loveless, hateful, and just plain mean. Don’t correct us with scripture; just call us names.

Please understand, these people have not hurt my feelings. I don’t lose sleep over their insults. I am not looking for sympathy, because I don’t need it. I confess I am not perfect and do not know everything. I am trying to follow scriptural commands which tell us to protect the flock from false teachings.   And if they are proud of what they write, I am glad to expose that to other Christians, and let folks decide if their behavior as pastors is Christ-like or not. In my opinion, they have disqualified themselves as pastors with their behavior.

 

So my purpose is to show you how sad the state of the Nazarene church is today, as well as most denominations, in regards to those who are supposed to be leaders. These men speak their words publically in front of hundreds of other Christians, therefore they are accountable for their words. I have no problem pointing out their hypocrisy, and the false teachings coming from them, when it is clearly seen. There is no Matthew 18 directive with their public comments; we are not to “go to each of them” as they often say we should; we are to expose them publically, because they have committed these wrongs publically.

 

I have no doubt that if you are a member of a church led by men such as these, that someday if you decide to question what they are doing, and what they are teaching, please be prepared for the worst. They will be gentle at first, even kind and understanding. But if you persist, they will go on to follow the same advice Rick Warren gives in the Purpose Driven Church book, and that is to get rid of those who don’t go along with the crowd. You will be painted a troublemaker, you will be ostracized, and you will need to leave. They will attack your character and try to smear your reputation. In the end, these kinds of people are only thinking about themselves and their agenda. It has nothing to do with following the will of God and obeying His word.

 

Pray for the repentance of some of these men, who are demonstrating they are a real danger to the church.

Addendum: The entire conversation thread at NazNet:
http://www.naznet.com/community/showthread.php/15788-quot-Discernment-Ministries-quot-and-the-suicide-of-Braxton-Caner/page1

The False gospel and False “jesus” Of Social Justice

“Jesus didn’t come to address society’s woes. He came to die, to save.”

 

The following was written to a friend by a young man who attends a Nazarene church:

“I am so happy and hopeful to be a part of a generation that believes in social justice and change. Too often we look at the numbers and become pessimistic about the future of the world, totally forgetting that when we have The Lord on our side WE are the majority! We have so much power at our hands to change this world!”

My friend followed up with a question to the young man: “What is your definition of social justice and change?” Below is his answer.

“Simply put, look at Jesus’ life. He was all about social justice and change. He touched and healed people. He flipped tables over. He let a prostitute wash and touch his feet. He talked with women. He told his disciples to let the children come. He ate meat. He made a point to show how anti he was of the religious establishment in his day. Nowadays, there are so many social issues globally and nationally. For instance, the porn industry is one of the highest profiting industries in the whole world. I would LOVE to see those numbers plummet dramatically.

We need to raise awareness for how much damage porn causes in relationships, our brains, and our health to help break people out of those addictions. Human trafficking is another HUGE issue in the world today and not many people know what they can do to stop it. We need to be a voice to those who cannot speak up for themselves and in America we have so much opportunity to speak up and use this freedom we are always talking about. Also, buying things and supporting organizations that make sure that the employees / makers of the stuff we are importing to the States are being treated and paid properly. Racism, sexism, hunger and poverty, there are so many issues and people that need a voice and people praying for. God really laid a call on my life while in Ecuador to bring attention to these issues and that with Him, we are the majority! We have so much power to pull from and we can change this nation and even the world.”

It is so sad that this young man’s thoughts are probably not an aberration, but the norm from countless young people in today’s evangelical church. My friend Brenda has written a response below, which I pray is read by many more young professing Christians who have this same mindset. We need to pray for Nazarene and other Christian young people, because a false gospel is replacing the true Gospel in most of our Christian colleges and seminaries.

 

Response to the young man:

Dear young man, I appreciate your heart of compassion, but, would you be upset if I told you that you are absolutely wrong? Popular Christian culture today has remolded, and IS remolding, the gospel message of Jesus to fit a Social Justice Jesus paradigm.

The people who have been writing books and speaking on college campuses about their “Social Justice Jesus” are purposely turning hearts/minds AWAY from the gospel.

I’m sure that statement makes you angry, but, it is true.

Jesus came to SAVE mankind from their sins. He came as the perfect, unblemished Lamb. He was the foreshadow of ALL the temporary sacrifices which were a requirement of the Law to cover the Mercy Seat with His innocent blood.

 

He WILL come again, but when He does, it will not be because WE have brought social justice to the world to make it better for Him to return……no……when He comes, He will come as the Lion of Judah, to meter out true justice of those who rejected His merciful offer of salvation through His sacrifice as the Lamb.

 

Jesus warned many, many times of the fires of judgment that will last an eternity. He warned that justice WILL be thorough, complete, AND righteous.

Jesus warned that there would be those who thought they were doing good, but would be totally surprised when He says He doesn’t know them. Therefore, good deeds (social justice) are NOT the plumb line for being in the will of God. Social justice is not the mission, nor is it the gospel.

Stay with me now, dear one……. If you examine the Great Commission from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts, you will note that the mission of the church is to

PREACH the gospel (Christ died for your sins, and was raised from the dead so that you may have eternal life);

TEACH from scripture (show people how the message of salvation, the scarlet thread, was woven throughout the Old Testament books);

teach REPENTANCE OF SIN (tell them to turn from their old life of rebellion);

BAPTIZING (as an outward sign, a public testimony of one being born again);

DISCIPLE new converts (equip, exhort, and encourage their new walk).

 

 

When the Kingdom of God gains a broken hearted, repentant sinner, many times families become better, which, in turn, effects communities in a good way then, perhaps a nation.

Saved, compassionate people have always benefited society. They know what is right from wrong based on God’s moral law written on their heart. They no longer live as self-centered humanists, but bless those around them.

The problem in our world is a darkened, sin filled heart problem, where evil resides. The mission of the church is to address the heart, first and foremost. Warring against societal evils is a benefit of a changed heart.

Jesus didn’t come to address society’s woes. He came to die, to save. He upset the money changers’ tables because of their dishonesty (sin). He was NOT against the ‘religious establishment'; He was against individuals within those ranks who were vile sinners.

 

Note: Not everyone who was part of the priesthood, were considered vile. Zachariah, John the Baptist’s father, performed his duties of the priesthood, and praised God for finally opening his mouth, after he believed and His heart was changed.

Jesus was buried in the tomb of a rich man, someone from the priesthood. That particular man’s heart was changed and he became a believer.

So be careful of those who spout that Jesus was against the religious establishment of His day. They do so, because it fits within their agenda to castigate the church, and paint organized religion as evil and ineffective, to be rejected. Please remember, Jesus went into the synagogues to teach (established religion) from scripture. Some rejected Him, but some did not, and seeds were planted in some.

 

Let me end by pointing out that scripture states that the world will get worse and worse, and men’s hearts will wax cold. Sin will abound. Romans 1 states that homosexuality, and all manner of sexual perversion will escalate. People will become more concerned about the earth and environment and even worship it. Children will disrespect their parents. Men will become centered on themselves and be arrogant boasters.

No, my friend, we will NOT be able to eliminate all those areas of heartbreak that you listed, though, it doesn’t mean we walk away.

Please don’t be taken in by those who are purposely leading people astray with a different gospel and a different Jesus.

Praying for you,

Brenda

 

Nazarene Scholars Continue To Undermine Belief In God’s Word With Evolution’s Lie

“Theistic evolution is a concept being taught in many “evangelical” seminaries and colleges today. It is an idea that comes straight from the pit of hell. To believe that human evolution is true is to say that the Bible contains lies and myths, and that Adam and Eve were allegorical figures. If you teach and promote theistic evolution, you are calling God a liar. There is no middle ground here.”

This is my first article in almost two months, but I’m afraid things are just as bad as it was since my last post; the status quo in most of the evangelical denominations has not changed; and the Nazarene church is still in bad shape, notwithstanding any rosy reports from the General Superintendents or other leadership. Compromise seems to be the underlying principal for these religious leaders for quite some time now. Independent thought and true leadership is a thing of the past, as these General Superintendents continue to speak with one voice, or not speak at all, regardless of the truth.

In fact, the reluctance of the Generals to inform tithe-paying members about any details of the developing Nazarene Publishing House scandal, is a scandal and a moral and ethical failure in and of itself. I await further information before writing fully on this situation, but I can tell you that even those at NazNet (a Nazarene discussion site) who oppose us and disagree that there is a rebellion against God’s word within the church, are concerned and outraged at the continuing secrecy within the General Board regarding the financial debacle at the Publishing House. This link will take you to a discussion on NazNet that has broken all viewing records at that website, for any topic previously.

But let me alert you (again) to a further scandalous debacle that has been going on for a while now, and that is the promotion of theistic evolution in the church as an acceptable view of how we were created by God. The promotion of evolution by theology professors and other scholars, as well as by college and seminary presidents and district superintendents, goes to the heart of the problem in the Church of the Nazarene today. What is that problem? It is simply this: that men in the church are now standing on a foundation built on their wisdom and knowledge, rather than on the foundation of the teaching of God as written in His word. Selective belief in some scripture, while rejecting other parts, is the philosophy of these so-called “learned men and women”, even if they don’t state it overtly.

And now to show that it looks like the danger is worse than we thought. The group Nazarenes Exploring Evolution, lead by Tom Oord, professor of religion at Northwest Nazarene University, recently conducted an online survey. It involved the questioning of two demographics- a sampling of Nazarene laypeople, and a narrower sampling of Nazarene college scholars. Both results look pretty bad, and serves as a continued and even louder warning to parents who love their teenagers and want them to have a solid education that is grounded in truth. They will no longer be guaranteed to have that at any Nazarene university or college, including any of the seminaries.

Well known college presidents such as Dan Boone of Trevecca are fueling the advancement of the anti-biblical notion that man was created over millions of years of random evolutionary processes. Others pushing this godless idea which clearly contradicts the Biblical account include theological intellectuals like Al Truesdale, my former Greek New Testament professor; Scott Daniels, pastor of Pasadena First Church; retired professor Robert Branson; Kerry Fulcher and Mark Mann of Point Loma; Mark Winslow of Southern Nazarene; District Superintendent Stephen Borger; Carl Leth, Dean of Theology at Olivet Nazarene; Mark Maddix of Northwest Nazarene; Henry Spaulding, Mt. Vernon Nazarene President; theologian Rob Staples; and quite a few more “learned men and women”, who can be found at the Nazarenes Exploring Evolution site. These people are all responsible for helping indoctrinate countless students with theistic evolution, and their furtherance of this godless idea will lead to them being held accountable by God someday.  They need to repent, or they need to be removed from their positions of authority over our students.  Many of them have also been pushing the emergent church teachings. And do you wonder why so many young people are walking away from the church? Why wouldn’t they, when they are taught that they cannot trust God’s word?

In his article Poll Shows Nazarene Scholars Embracing Evolution, Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis summarizes the survey results:

Overwhelmingly, scholars at Nazarene institutions believe:

1) that the Bible does not require a belief in a young earth (nearly 95%)
2) that the Bible is compatible with evolutionary ideas (82%)
3) that science has established that the world is billions of years old (nearly 86%), 4) that human evolution is true (67%)
5) that the Nazarene church should consider theistic evolution as a valid alternative to biblical creation (87%).”

Those are very disturbing statistics, and the numbers for the first four questions, which were also posed to Nazarenes in general, were almost as ominous. To believe that human evolution is true is to say that the Bible contains lies and myths, and that Adam and Eve were allegorical figures. To believe that human evolution is true is to say that the Jesus was not truthful when he referred to Adam. To believe that human evolution is true is to say that sin and death did not come into the world through the disobedience of Adam, as written in Romans chapter 5.

So let’s be clear: if you teach and promote theistic evolution, you are calling God a liar. But it seems it will only get worse, and Bible-believing Christians will have to decide whether a secular college will be less dangerous to their children’s spiritual wellbeing than a “Christian” college or university. This whole bunch are some of the most dangerous people professing to be Christians today, and any parent sending their children to a Nazarene university or seminary today is literally gambling with their child’s spiritual health.

Dr. Ham, who has spoken out about and exposed these issues more than most Nazarenes have, went on to comment:

“This is clear evidence that a major denomination is teaching young people that they can’t trust the Bible when it comes to Genesis 1–11 and that fallible man can reinterpret God’s Word—thus man is the authority and not God.”

I agree. These men and women are a disgrace and not one of them should be in a position of authority that they are in, because they are misleading many.  The failure of the Nazarene General leadership in even attempting to right the ship makes them just as culpable, because they are allowing the erosion of Biblical standards by doing nothing- which seems to be all they are willing to do.

 

Addendum

What follows is the statistical report of both surveys, which are from the BioLogos website. (http://biologos.org/blog/nazarenes-on-evolution).   I found it very discouraging; you are free to make your own conclusions and decisions.

Poll of Nazarenes on Evolution

Question 1: Genesis and other biblical texts require Christians to believe the earth was created less than 15 thousand years ago.

Q1a

Question 2: The Bible can properly be interpreted as compatible with the theory of biological evolution.

Q2a

Question 3: Geology, astronomy, and physics have established that world is billions of years old.

Q3a

Question 4: Humans likely became a species as God worked with the biological evolutionary process.

Q4a

Among other things, this poll suggests that more Nazarenes today feel comfortable with evolution.

 

Nazarene Scholars on God Creating through Evolution

Question 1: Genesis and other biblical texts require Christians to believe the earth was created less than 15 thousand years ago.

q1

Question 2: The Bible can properly be interpreted as compatible with the theory of biological evolution.

q2

Question 3: Geology, astronomy, and physics have established that the world is billions of years old.

q3

Question 4: Humans likely became a species as God worked with the evolutionary process.

q4

Question 5: The Church of the Nazarene should allow the theory that God creates through evolution as one acceptable view of creation among others.

q5

Reaching The Young People

by John Henderson

It has been many years since I was a teenager freshly come to Christ.  I have never regretted making that decision to response to the evangelist’s invitation.  I do not believe I would have survived the diving accident I had some days later if I had walked away from that invitation.  In the accident, three of my neck vertebras were broken and I still suffered no nerve damage. I knew God had a purpose for me, even then.

I am eternally grateful for the faithful Christian adults who were there to teach me the right doctrines and encourage me to fully commit my life to Christ.  I am thankful for the many young people my own age that came to Christ and, together, we formed a bond of fellowship that cemented our commitments to Christ.

There were no special tailored programs for young people that were designed to peak our interest in church.  There was only the clear biblical witnessing of Christ that drew us to the Savior and the church.  The church did have youth programs of sorts.  The Methodists, of which I was a part, called it MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship).  The Baptists and Assemblies of God among my fellow believers had other names.  The Nazarenes had NYPS (Nazarene Young Peoples Society).  We usually met just before the Sunday evening services and there was a clear sense of the presence of the Spirit of God just as there was in the general services.

About the only distinction would be that our music had a lot of choruses that had been drawn from the gospel songs and hymns.  We were a bit less formal and more open among ourselves than we might have been in the regular services.  Of course, the distinction between our meetings and the other services was not all that much.

Times have changed I am told.  I have no idea what that means.  “Times” is not what changes.  People change their perspectives and notions based on influences and their own decisions.  Certainly, God has not changed.  There is no reason for Him to do so.  The truth of the Scriptures has not changed.  Even the devil has not changed.  The only thing that changes is us and our own fancies.  We fool ourselves into believing that the passing of time guarantees improvement.  We surrender values and call that progress.  Compromise only means surrender, not betterment.

I have never bought into the foolish notion that Christian leaders need to accommodate anyone, especially the youth, in presenting the claims of Christ on their souls.  I won’t get into the details, but want to emphasize that we may never reach our young people anymore unless we go back to the simplicity of the gospel.

Whatever it takes biblically is what we should be doing.  The youth are not stupid.  They just need to learn the right things and are ripe for being taught.  The socialists who have taken over our educational institutions since the 1960s and now rule our schools completely, thanks to academic buffoons for paying attention to John Dewey and his associates many years before.  We can add the entertainment industry to that list as well.  Ungodly entertainers have become the idols in place of the heroes of the faith.  Kids can quote the latest rap lyrics without hesitation and do not so much as know John 3:16 well enough to quote it or tell what it means.

The things we in the church have done to mimic worldly things has not taught them about Christ, let alone the Scriptures.  Meanwhile, those same hearts and minds are still longing yea, yearning, to hear the gospel—and we are not telling it to them.  If they hear anything at all from us, it is so watered down it provides no challenge to live godly and separated lives as truly committed Christians. They are made into religious clowns trying to accommodate the fickle world and not trained as soldiers of the Cross.  And they are certainly not encouraged to make the Word of God, the Sword of the Lord, their most important Book.

I strongly believe that if we will stop marketing for attendance and participation like a local lodge or community club and go the simple way by giving our young people what they really need, we will not be whining about losing our young people to the world and wondering why they are not coming to church.  When we stop pushing them towards the world and start calling them to the Cross, they will come running.

There are so many ways it can be done these days.  Ideas and methods are workable if they do not compromise the message of the Bible but rather seek to make it the theme.  All we need to do is make certain the message is “the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”  We must declare the strong message of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come as the Holy Spirit applies it to hearts. That is all they need from us.  The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

 

John Henderson

Are You Testing “Heaven Is For Real” According To Scripture?

It seems that we are living in times where many Christians today are just simply taking in everything that looks inspirational, without question, as long as it makes them feel good.  I believe that it is getting worse and worse, and nothing has been better illustrative than the excitement to go see something that has come out of Hollywood, and without question, believe that it is going to be a good thing for everyone!  Nothing was more illustrative of an incredible lack of discernment and good judgment than the latest Hollywood disaster (in biblical terms) than Noah.  It was not even close to being a good rendition of the Bible account of Noah and the flood- yet undiscerning Christians flocked to it, and most likely walked away disappointed.

When will some Christians start understanding that if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is NOT necessarily a duck- unless you know what is in the product!

I understand that many non-believers and even naïve young Christians (young in the faith) might be excited about such movies, and go to them, enjoy them, and come away excited and even encouraged about the afterlife.  That is quite understandable.  What bothers me is how supposedly mature, Bible-believing Christians, especially pastors and other leaders, are encouraging people to go to the movie, without checking out the claims of the young man and seeing whether they clash with Scripture in any way.  What would be more disturbing I suppose is if a Christian leader knows that this movie is very dubious, and recommends it anyway.  The emotional value of a movie it seems might be a very influential factor that perhaps clouds an otherwise mature Christian’s judgment, and makes them set aside God’s word, in exchange for the emotional benefits from the story.

I listened to a portion of Sean Hannity’s radio show a few days ago, where he interviewed Colton Burpo, who is now 14 years old, and his father Todd Burpo.  Colton is the young man who claims that at four years old, while undergoing surgery, he went to heaven and experienced some incredible things, including meeting Jesus, his grandfather who he never knew, and his sister who he never met, because she had died while in her mothers womb.  The movie is opening nationwide this Wednesday, April 16, and I am sure it will make millions of dollars this week.

Do We Have Physical Bodies in Heaven Right After We Die?

In the interview, Colton was asked about the people he saw in heaven, and whether they have physical bodies or not, or whether it was just a spiritual thing.  He answered Sean Hannity and said that definitely everyone in heaven has their own physical body, and he was able to hug some people physically.  So he had no doubt that people that he met in heaven possess physical bodies.

Now, the important question: what does Scripture say about death, and about what happens after a Christian dies?

As a believer who is saved, Scripture says that after death we are taken into the presence of Christ.  To the thief on the cross, Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).  And on two separate occasions, Paul said the following regarding death and bringing us into Christ’s presence:

“But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” (Philippians 1:23-24)


“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord–for we walk by faith, not by sight–we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-9)

Here’s where it gets “tricky”, in relation to Colton Burpo’s testimony.  I believe that when a Christian dies, his spirit/soul goes to be with the Lord- but not his physical body.

How do I know that?  Let’s see what Scripture says about this.

Paul says, in Romans 8:23, “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

Then we have 1 Corinthians 15:50-54, 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:  “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

And then 1 Thessalonians 14: 13-17, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,4 that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

These two passages are describing believers being resurrected and given glorified bodies.

The question then follows here:

If believers go to be with Christ immediately after death, what is the purpose of this resurrection? It seems that while the souls/spirits of believers go to be with Christ immediately after death, the physical body remains in the grave “sleeping.” At the resurrection of believers, the physical body is resurrected, glorified, and then reunited with the soul/spirit. This reunited and glorified body-soul-spirit will be the possession of believers for eternity in the new heavens and new earth. (source, www.gotquestions.org)

And according to Revelation 20:11-15, those who died as unbelievers will also be resurrected just as the believer will be, but they will be eternally condemned to hell.  They will be resurrected to be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment. The Scriptures say that those judged are judged according “…to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Rev 20: 12). And v 13 says, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” This answers the question: “What about the poor heathen who never heard?” They will be in this judgment.

Frankly, I don’t think a movie called “Hell is For Real” would have much appeal to people today, although if it followed Scripture, it could present the Gospel and show unbelievers where their destiny would be without Christ.

So it seems to me that Colton Burpo got it wrong.  The only other conclusion is that Scripture has it wrong, and what is described in the Bible is a mistake.  So you must choose: either believe Colton Burpo, or believe Scripture.

If Scripture is correct, what does that say of Colton’s testimony?  We already know of the other contradictions from his account that do not line up with Scripture.  What does a Bible-believing Christian do with the fact that much of Colton’s story is in opposition to the Bible?  What does one do with the fact that his claim to have gone to heaven is contradicted by God’s word?  Jesus told Nicodemus:

“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.” John 3:13

I don’t often reference the NLT, but I believe it translates it most clearly: “No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.”

Dear brothers and sisters, pastors, and youth leaders, you may think I am obsessed with yet another nitpicky thing.  Why should I ruin such a wonderful, inspiring and emotionally reassuring story? Why spoil people’s chances at getting a good feeling about life after death?  Why not let them have a modicum of comfort in their lives?  The answer is simple.  We must not accept anything just because it has the label of “Christian”, or because it feels good, or looks good, for the sake of temporary good feelings and comfort- if it goes against God’s Holy word.  Don’t you think that there are many more people in this world who could sit down and write an even more incredible story than Colton has written?  Would you believe them too?

Either Colton Burpo’s story must be rejected, or you must reject the veracity of Scripture.  You cannot have both.

Reference: http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/how-do-i-know-heaven-is-for-real/

How Do I Know Heaven Is For Real?

I have been thinking of the parade of “Christian” movies that have come out this year, and of more to follow. The movie Exodus is scheduled to be out this Fall, with Christian Bale playing Moses (Bale was the first choice of Darren Aronofsky to play Noah, but he had scheduling conflicts). Recently, we had “Son Of God”, a movie about Jesus that was produced by a professing “Christian”, Roma Downey- a woman who dabbles in the occult, speaks to her dead mother through a psychic, attended a New Age school founded by John Roger, listens to tapes by Eckhart Tolle and Tony Robbins- among other issues. Most recently was the movie Noah, which butchered the biblical account, and distorted the character of Noah, distorted the reason for the flood, and whose own director, an atheist, said that it is only a fable, and not a true account. For the most part, we can count on Hollywood to distort biblical truth, in exchange for what they really seek: money and fame.

But right now, the latest “Christian” movie to soon debut, Heaven Is Real, is coming out on April 16. It is based on the wildly popular book of the same title, which is an account of a four year old boy’s near-death experience, where later he amazes everyone with stories of his visit to heaven. It has been a book that has had great emotional effect on many people seeking comfort about death and the hereafter, and the movie is sure to elicit the same emotions. But is it biblical, and is it reliable? By the way, there was never any medical evidence that Colton Burpo was clinically dead during his surgery.

Is someone’s mystical experience necessary to validate the existence of heaven, or to teach how heaven is actually like? Keep this in mind especially in light of the trend in Christianity for people to want to “experience God.” This is very important, as Christians move from the objective knowledge of God’s reliable word, to placing more and more trust in subjective and unverifiable mystical experiences, including near death accounts of heaven.

(Disclaimer: I have read only parts of the book, but not the entire book from cover to cover. But I believe I have enough facts to comment on it).
On the Facebook page promoting the movie, there are thousands of comments, and the vast majority are in favor of it. Here are a few samples:

“I feel like this movie is going to be a huge change for many!!! And of course it comes to us through a child.

“Can’t wait!!! Ever since my daughter could talk she’s told us that she remembers being in heaven with Jesus and “choosing me” to be her mommy.”

“I just lost my son, and I believe this movie is going to help me to understand, some may question that I have, I know he is in heaven.”

“I read the book! I believe!!!”

If I told you the following, would you believe my testimony as a Christian was authentic and believable? If so, on what basis would you accept what I told you?

  1. Jesus rides a rainbow-colored horse (see Rev. 19:11)
  2. The Holy Spirit shoots down power from heaven (see Acts 1:8)
  3. Everyone in heaven has wings except Jesus
  4. The angel Gabriel sits on the left hand of God’s throne
  5. The Holy Spirit is blue and sits in a chair near the throne of God
  6. Mary stands in heaven beside Jesus

These statements are either contradicted by Scripture, or are outside of any Scriptural revelation. And then we have Paul’s testimony in 2 Corinthians:

12 It is doubtless[a] not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

If Paul is referring to himself, which I believe he is, note the humility this man had, so as not to draw attention to himself regarding this experience.

If I told you that I learned secrets about someone who died in the womb, and that I knew facts about a great-grandfather that had never been told to me, would you credit that knowledge as a revelation from God? Is it possible that the source of that information may have been a manipulation of some kind, or even worse?

Quoting David Cloud:

Some might ask, how Colton could learn secrets about his dead sister who died in the womb and facts about his great grandfather that he had not been told. The answer is demons. Paul warned that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light and his ministers as ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14-15). The book Heaven Is for Real also promotes the visions of child progeny Akiane Kramarik, who began “seeing heaven” at age four (pp. 141-144). Colton claims that the “Jesus” that he saw in heaven is the same “Jesus” that Akiane drew from her visions at age nine. But Akiane’s religious faith is a New Age type faith in a vaguely defined “God.” It is religious mysticism rather than faith in an infallible Revelation from God and the blood atonement of Christ. Even if we knew what Jesus looked like, we are forbidden by God’s law to make His likeness (Exodus 20:4).” (David Cloud, Way of Life website)

I am not saying that God will never reveal to us in one shape or another something that can only be explained as supernatural. I believe that the best we can say is that “it is possible” that it was a direct experience with the supernatural that was initiated by God. On the other hand, we can also know for sure that an experience cannot be from God, but is satanic in origin, if that experience is in direct, clear contradiction with scripture. Yet, even if it lines up with scripture, that does not mean the event actually happened, does it?

When my wonderful, godly mother passed away nine years ago, she experienced something the night before she passed away and went to be with the Lord. She was very weak physically, but was of a clear sound mind at the time. She was sitting in her bed and suddenly asked us, “who are all these men in white robes standing around my bed?” Did angels come to minister to her, and comfort her in her final hours? Perhaps. I do believe that was probably what happened. Will I tell you for sure that is what it was? Of course not. How would I know with full certainty, unless I saw the angels also?

I don’t tell folks much about this story, because my certainty and assurance of eternal life and heaven comes not from what may have been a supernatural occurrence for my mother, but my assurance comes from Jesus Christ and His word. No other experience can add to my confidence in my salvation, and in knowing that He has prepared a place for me.

Heaven is for real- because God’s word says it’s real. Scripture tells us that heaven is God’s throne (Isa. 66:1; Mat. 5:34-35). After Jesus’ resurrection and appearance to His disciples, ““He was taken up into heaven and sat at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56). He spoke of how the Father has “many mansions” in heaven. He assured us that He would return and take us to be with Him in heaven. Because of His word, His assurance and promise to us, I know that heaven is real- and I need no other confirmation.

I am not telling you to not go see this movie. That is up to you. I myself do not feel the need to see this movie, particularly because of the things in this young boy’s story that contradict Holy Scripture.

It’s my prayer that you will rely solely on God and His word, the promises of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, which will never give you false information.

 

Related Articles:

http://www.thebereancall.org/content/heaven-real-real-exercise-discernment-0/

 

http://thebereanlibrary.com/archives/1802

 

 

A Church in Crisis

by Lige Jeter, 4/9/2014

It has been awhile since I visited the NazNet web site. A recent article there caught my attention, especially since its topic [seems to] always be in the news. It is just a matter of time before churches are forced to accept its agenda or no doubt will be punished for taking a stand against such immoral behavior. After reading the post, I wonder what the Nazarene Church will do regarding homosexuality.

I read a recent post on www.naznet.comtitled Homosexuality — where I stand and why” , by Marsha Lynn, March 31, 2014. Without being judgmental, based upon many of the responses, it raises the question, “Where will the church stand when mandated by the law to perform same sex marriages,” which has prompted me to write this article. Although the site has no official connection to the denomination, it expresses the assessments of the subject, provided by its members and friends expressing their views on the topic. Many of their interpretations of Biblical truths are alarming and are an insight to their lack of spiritual understanding.

Marsha begins her thread with the following introduction.

I have been asked several times to provide biblical support for my position on homosexuality and gay marriage. This post is intended to address that issue.”

After the introduction, she states

“First, I need to clearly state my position on the matter: I believe that the question of sexual ethics for Christians experiencing exclusively same-sex attraction can be answered only from within the community of those experiencing such attraction. Second, having exposed myself to the words of those living in this tension, I am seeing a rising number of Christian gays concluding that God can and does bless committed, monogamous, loving, same-gender relationships – marriage.”

And here is her most alarming statement:

But, people ask, what about the Bible? Are we to set aside clear biblical teaching that homosexuality is an abomination to the Lord simply because some people who obviously are unable to take an objective viewpoint are willing to do so? Yes. We already set aside clear biblical teaching.”

Apparently, the social values pressed upon society as socially acceptable are forcing its way into the church with the goal to accept its practice as morally acceptable. We are not the first to fall under the spell of this kind of false accepted wisdom regardless how presented.

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Church warned against those who passed themselves off as the enlightened ones with special wisdom, knowledge or consciousness. It has been said that in Corinth you could meet self-taught sagacious men who mimicked their favorite philosopher by echoing philosophic discussions on any number of topics. They often portrayed themselves as learned or leading authorities in their field of study. I believe we are seeing a resurrection of such in these days spreading their false ideology, both in the church and society. Many today still seek recognition at any cost! Do not be fooled by their clever way of twisting the truth.

This newfound recognition has no doubt immersed itself into today’s beliefs, and touted by many as “experts” in their field of academics. I do not wish to imply that people with a higher education are not godly or wise; however, there is a tendency to trust one’s own judgment and learning rather than to trust in God’s wisdom. I am often reminded that the Bible teaches that the “foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

For me this separates reality from deception, keeping a proper perspective relating to things that are valid. In greater detail this is found in I Corinthians [1: 18-25] “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this Age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For the Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

Have we reached a point in our society where man’s teaching has now become superior to God’s and is being touted as the truth, while God’s truth has now become suspect or inferior to man’s? It has become easier for many to accept the myth that God’s word is no longer indisputable and open to challenge or useful regarding one’s moral behavior. When will humankind recognize that God is supreme and that our existence depends upon Him, and not in the reverse.

Could it be that many church leaders are in the pastorate today as a vocation, and do not qualify as the spiritual leader chosen by God? Are they serving by “election” {God selected them} or by “self will” {they chose themselves}. This may account for their apathy concerning their beliefs about morality. Jesus warns His disciples about false teachers. Our Lord describes those in His day as serving God only to pull the wool over someone’s eyes. They loved to be highly thought of by men enjoying recognition as men of God. Jesus charged them with blocking the truth from others, thus keeping them from entering in. Matthew [23: 5 - 7, 13 - 15].

In lock step with Christ’s condemnation of false teachers, I say this in writing this warning. There are no easy ways to say this without being falsely misunderstood. That said, I hope my remarks in the spirit of a loving warning will be received. There is no “clergyman or church” that can truthfully boast as being more compassionate, loving, more forgiving, or merciful than God. I repeat there is none, and yet this is happening in churches all across our land today.

For any religious church leader either to condone or defend any abominable sin such as; {abortion, homosexual behavior ‘either sex’, or take part in performing same sex marriages, etc.}, they are hypocrites. In reality, they are saying they are more loving and merciful than God is even though the Creator condemns these sinful acts. I caution those who knowingly follow their example, avoid them at all cost.

Jesus describes them as setting out to “win one proselyte,” and when he is won, “you make him twice as much a son of hell.” As illustrated in the above scripture they circumvent the word of God pretending to be religious and accept only the parts that pleases them. The rest they ignore or discount as a myth or fable especially the truth pertaining to God’s judgments upon such behavior. It is dangerous to play god no matter who you are. Buyers beware of those who would offer you the easy way out that requires nothing on your part. There is the price of repentance to be paid. The non-repentant will go to hell in the end.

 

Related Articles:

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/no-resurrection-false-doctrines-no-big-deal-to-emergent-nazarenes/