What Must A Christian Do To Protect Their Family In The Midst Of Apostasy

The following question was recently asked, and I thought I would contribute in hopes of helping this person, as well as other Christians- Nazarene or otherwise. I hope this helps.  I don’t have all the answers.  No one does, except One.  God has the answers.  God does know the future.  God does not make mistakes and learns from them.  He is perfect, He is without error.  On that fact we can depend on.  He holds us in His hand.  We can trust Him even in the midst of our own uncertainty.  Thank God for that!

Question: My husband and I were both 4th generation Nazarenes. We both attended Nazarene schools and graduated in 1997/1998. When we started having children we really started noticing the emergent direction of the Nazarene Church and decided to leave (7 years ago). We really struggled to find a church and still after 3 years with our “home church” are a little unsettled. What is your advice for those with young children who want to raise their children the way we were raised? Both of our families were very conservative and believed in the conservative Nazarene doctrines. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

Answer:

From my five years of involvement in this battle, here are some observations and conclusions I and others have come to.  The problem in the church begins with the fact that many of our leaders and pastors no longer believe that the entire Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God.  If this foundation is destroyed, what else is left but for everything else to crumble?  The world is full of evil, and it seems the most dangerous kind is being found within the church today.

1. The leadership of the Nazaren church is pretty much invested with emergent ideology and other false doctrines and practices, the embracing of Roman Catholic practices, contemplative mysticism, open theism, a relaxation of the biblical teaching on the sin of homosexuality, and even promoting evolution openly.  When I say leadership, it includes some on the General Board (Middendorf and Porter) who have been shown to be promoters of some of these false movements. 

Dr. Porter for instance is a big advocate of the G-12 (Master’s Plan) movement, which particularly has caused great harm to Spanish-speaking Nazarene churches, but the movement is also influential in parts of Brazil and other countries, as well as here in North America.  He is also involved with radical political social justice organizations.  It has also been documented that Dr. Middendorf promotes the emergent church movement, along with his son Jon.

The other Generals from the past eight years at the very least have shown no leadership at all on these matters, and mainly are indifferent or blind to what is going on.  In my opinion, I believe they are mostly interesting in pursuing the financial bottom line and keeping the numbers growing in order to help the church get out of serious financial debt. Several years ago, there was a sexual abuse scandal that involved the Bethany First Church of the Nazarene in Missouri as well as Southern Nazarene University, which cost the denomination an unspecified amount of money to settle the case.  I believe this and other problems have brought the denomination into serious financial crisis, to the point that even some church properties are being sold, growing congregations disbanded, and then coffee houses are being setup to replace these churches, without regard to the members.

Others in leadership are also either buying into this stuff, or ignoring it completely, including many district superintendents, the college presidents (based on not voicing anything at all at best, or promoting these things at worst, such as Dan Boone of Trevecca), and many, many pastors and others in leadership positions.  A few leaders have boldly spoken out, such as Dr. Orville Jenkins, Jr., in opposition to emergent ideology and the social justice emphasis, but that is a rare exception.  Thus, where the leadership goes, so goes the denomination in general.  In short, I believe the denomination is damaged beyond repair, barring a complete and radical repentance of the General Superintendents and others in power. 

The Church of the Nazarene, with some exceptions, is not the church of Philadelphia, it is not the church of Smyrna.  It is more like the other five churches: a church that has forsaken its first love; a church that needs to repent; a church that has false prophets; a church that has fallen asleep; and a church that has a lukewarm faith.  Jesus did not take kindly to any of these churches, so what can we conclude as to what He thinks of the Church of the Nazarene now?  Does anyone really think that our Lord has no issue with professors teaching our students that Adam and Eve did not really exist, even though Christ Himself attested to his existen

Is There Anything Good?

  Holding the line inside our generally apostate denomination are the following: local churches that have decided to stand firm and stick a thumb in the eye to the leadership, by simply and respectfully rejecting the false, and preaching the word of God.  I am sure that many in leadership position go apoplectic whenever they hear that a local pastor proclaims that the Bible is completely and totally God’s inerrant word!  Did you know that a licensed minister in my New England district, was told by the licensing board a few years ago, that most likely he would not be approved for ordination.  Why?  Because he was guilty of attesting to the fact that he believed that the Bible was the inspired and inerrant word of God.  Imagine being rejected for believing in the word of God, yet many others being ordained who believe open theism, the teaching that God cannot possibly know all of the future.  This is our Church of the Nazarene today, and not one of these leaders can refute these facts.

 There are few of these faithful churches left, but they are there, and we are thankful for those churches that remain true to the word of God.  Also holding the line are most of our evangelists, yet, I believe the problem there is that there are fewer and fewer invites for evangelists to preach at churches, especially emergent churches.  No wonder, since the evangelists actually believe in the word of God!  And finally, there are the individuals and families who are hanging in there inside the walls of some of these churches, fighting hard to warn the brothers and sisters.  I cannot count the many letters I have received over the last five years, including from across the ocean, detailing the sorrow at what is happening in their church or district.  They speak of the disappointment as they realize their pastor is simply getting annoyed at them for asking questions.  They speak of how if they persist in getting answers, they end up getting ostracized, they end up being spoken of as the “troublemakers’ and “dividers”, and they eventually have no choice to leave.  And I can’t begin to tell you how this has affected more Nazarenes than I can imagine, some who left a church they were a member of for over 50 years.

My Advice Based On The Current Condition Of the Church

Your own decisions in this matter is ultimately up to you after seeking God’s direction through much prayer and reading of His word.  As we always tell everyone, don’t take our word for it.  Use biblical discernment, investigate the facts, and reject anything that does not line up with the word of God.

For those with young children, especially, you MUST protect them even more!  You cannot bring young children into a toxic environment where you wonder whether the Sunday School teacher is indoctrinating them with all sorts of foolishness.  That is one reason that I was also glad to leave my church, because of lack of solid biblical instruction from “teachers” who lacked discernment and knowledge of God’s word.

Option 1: Some may have to leave their church, even if they have been a member for many years.  Ultimately, a Christian must be true to God first and always, above allegiance to any pastor, church board, church members; above any kind of need for fellowship, or the need to keep their friends, or even the need to keep their children from getting hurt by losing their friends.  I know, because my family has been there, and done that.  We have experienced what it is like to be betrayed by a pastor who we trusted, and we have experienced the ostracizing that comes from simply speaking the truth.  We have experienced the loneliness from waiting for even one church member to call us.  Yet, we had no choice but to make the right decision regardless of the consequences.  Should a Christian decide to stay and “fight”, that may be what they should do.  But they also may need to shake the dust off their feet if they reach the conclusion that it is pointless to continue “fighting” those who persist in remaining in darkness.

Option 2: They may have to leave the church, and also they may have to leave the denomination.  I have letters from these type of Nazarenes.  They had to leave their church, and could not find a single Nazarene church in the area as a good alternative.  How sad that this happens so often, more that we perhaps can know.  But does one try to stay a Nazarene at all costs, or have we forgotten that the true church is comprised not of the Nazarene denomination, but of those faithful Christians from many other denominations who are true believers. It is almost like an idolatrous adoration towards the Nazarene denomination, with an attitude of “I will never leave my Nazarene denomination, no matter what.”  If anyone has that kind of attitude, I truly feel sorry for them.  They have lost sight of the true church of Jesus Christ.

Final Thought

The bottom line is that we ought to be faithful to Christ, not to a denomination, or a pastor, or to what has become a social club in many churches.  We cannot fret about any kind of “loyalty” to the denomination, and must take care of what we need to take care of.  It’s not worth any denomination, and in many ways, denominationalism has led to many of the problems in the church today.  We don’t need denominations, as much as we need strong local churches whose pastors preach unashamedly the whole counsel of God.  If there is to be a walking away by many from the denomination, then God will lead them away.  If there is to be a new holiness movement, God will direct it.  If not, we should not be concerned about it, but just be faithful to God.

Find a good, Bible believing church that preaches the truth, and stick with it.  But even so, always be a Berean.

Links:

Walter Martin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78wRKmmnwhY

 

Church Scandal: http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv=7gQDhjd93L4

Why Don’t More Pastors Speak Out Against Apostasy?

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.  Jeremiah 7:3

I received the following letter from a sister in the Lord who is on the front lines of the battle and warning her fellow Christians.  I follow the letter with a brief response.

I am so overjoyed these days as I think on the soon return of Jesus, and see prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes.  Yet at the same time, I am also feeling so grieved in my spirit, because I do not see more of a stand being taken from those who do know the truth and have an audience or platform to proclaim the truth, but do not feel the urgency to aggressively expose this time of falling away.  I sometimes wonder if they think this is all a bad dream, or worse yet, just a passing fad, and hope it will just go away.   

I again made a trip to two local Christian Bookstores yesterday, and both seem to be “pushing” books that are filled with the mindset of the Emergent Church and the Missional Church.   I notice that Rob Bell’s ‘Velvet Elvis’ is constantly restocked and sold as a $1 bargain book, and placed at several different locations throughout the book section in full view as to make sure that it does not miss the eye of the customer – not just alphabetically, as most books are displayed.  (Personally, I do not even think his book is worth $1, but the plan seems to be to make them very available to as many people as possible, along with a host of others who are of this Emergent / Missional Church mindset.)  Outside of those clearly speaking against the Emergent Church, etc., I cannot even chance purchasing a book from current and especially new authors for running the risk that the author would already be steeped in this mindset.  I am beginning to feel the weariness from being on my guard continually.

I feel like “the house ” (i.e. the Church) is on fire, and most [Christians] are standing around just watching it burn.  I know that is not the case with your ministry, and others I keep up with on the internet, but in my own backyard, I am not seeing evidence that the alarm is sounding to the degree it seems a burning house would warrant.   I am only about 20 miles or so from the mega-ministry of Joel Osteen, whose message seems to stand out in our southern area more than others.  It seems that the message of the Emergent Church is slipping in relatively unnoticed, and now has a high level of penetration in the Christian Bookstores.  The Emergent Church has become just one more “feel good gospel”, and is not seen as a threat to The Church.  With all the Concerned Christian DVD’s we have passed out, we have only found a couple of people who even knew anything about the Emergent Church beforehand.  After giving them the DVD and checking back with them for their response, many have not even taken the time to watch it.   The exception is the faithful members of the church we recently left, where they are well aware that their church is on fire.  They are working overtime to distribute stacks of books like Faith Undone by Roger Oakland to as many members as possible in an effort to join together, vigorously sound the alarm, and desperately try to put the fire out in their beloved church which is quickly following the Emergent Path.   

I realize that the end time apostasy will encompass those within Christianity as well, but I would hope to see more effort to sound the “on fire” alarm in an attempt to wake up those who are asleep.  (In my opinion, “the five sleeping virgins who do have oil in their lamps and are waiting and watching for the Bridegroom” are a picture of the now awakening, discerning Church as spoken of in Matt. 25 – with the other five sleeping virgins representing those without discernment who fall prey to the false teaching of the end time.)  I have heard a handful of pastors address the Emergent Church in their sermons or on a few radio broadcasts, but not to the degree that I would expect, and often not by name.  The fact that there has been such a strong penetration into our Christian reading material of the Postmodern movement and it’s agenda seems to be a significant fact left un-addressed.  It seems like the alarm can just barely be heard.

Manny, are these pastors afraid of standing for Truth (similar to Jonah and others who were called to proclaim the truth in the face of error, but initially tried to avoid doing so?)   I just do not get it.  I cannot understand, for the life of me that if a pastor is called to preach Truth, why they would only be willing to “lightly” touch this message.  My whole life has been affected by this awareness, as I know yours and many others have been as well.  I am sure you have already experienced this moment of grief and frustration, but it has been so strong for me lately, and I feel the sadness of it almost continually.  I now understand why Jeremiah was called the “weeping” prophet because this is so grievous and heart-wrenching.  It feels like there is a hesitancy from the pulpit to “call a spade a spade”  (for lack of a better analogy).    Is this just the way it is going to be… or even, suppose to be?

I was curious to know if this is how you have felt in the past or do currently feel, or am I being over-dramatic.  I do tend to take life and my faith very seriously and can get a bit worked up and overly zealous at times, at least in the opinion of some.
In Christ,
Miriam

Dear Miriam,

Here are a few thoughts on your questions:

1. Why are so many pastors silent?  What reason could they have to be silent when they are called by God to speak the Truth?  Don’t they see that what is happening does not line up with God’s word?  Yes, many are behaving like Jonah, because I have personally spoken with them.  They listen, they nod their heads in agreement, and then that’s it.  Or they deflect my message with the erroneous argument that we should not be judgmental, thus steering clear of the questions at hand that need to be answered!   How ironic, coming from pastors who ought to know the Scriptures better than me!

In any case, I no longer hear from them, and I wonder what is going on in their minds daily after receiving the message I gave them.  And yes, sadly, I believe this is the way it is supposed to be- according to what I have read in Scripture.  The hearts of many will grow cold; even the elect may be deceived; and as the Lord’s return gets closer, there WILL be a great falling away before the son of perdition arrives on the scene to deceive even more.  It is chilling to think of that scenario, but we cannot make it go away by pretending there will be great revival- as that false notion keeps getting spread around.

Jesus said in Matthew 11 as he prayed to God, ““I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.”  Are we the babes He refers to?  You and I are certainly not looked to as theological giants that everyone comes running to for advice.  Yet, why do we see this apostasy so clearly, and learned men do not?  I believe this clearly shows us that it is not head knowledge that reveals the truth to us, but God’s Holy Spirit as we walk in faith and obedience to His word.  Are these pastors and “spiritual giants” walking in obedience to God?

2. Yes, I also believe the house (the Church) has been on fire for a long time.  Yes, my heart has long been feeling that same heaviness that you have.  You are not overly zealous, nor over-dramatic or too worked up; you have a love, as I have, for those who are dear to you, as well as those you don’t know well, because you know the consequences of apostasy and worshiping a false Jesus are deadlier than physical death!  What more urgent message can we give, but to tell the people that they are headed towards destruction?  Yes, this is grievous!  This is heartwrenching!  I watched a movie about Jeremiah that my wife and kids gave me as a Father’s Day gift.  (Jeremiah’s Indictment).  Many of us feel just like the weeping prophet, who day after day, year after year, sees the people either flat out rejecting the Lord, fooled into participating in idolatry, or they just don’t care.  What else is there left to do but weep?

The same message applies to all professing Christians today.  Thus says the Lord to all who have turned from his command to obey Him in all things: “amend your ways” To all who desire to “live a godly life in Christ Jesus”, here is another guarantee: we WILL be persecuted for His name’s sake.  We may even be killed for His sake someday.  But the end result of our faithfulness is a crown of glory and being in the presence of the King.  Yet, that good news certainly does not remove the fact that many more than not will reject the true Jesus in the end days, and worship and bow to a false god.  Oh the sadness and heartbreak it brings to us, as we think of loved ones especially who we have given the message to, but who have rejected us.  But Jesus did say, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”  Matt. 24:12-13

So, we must continue to faithfully proclaim the truth to as many as will listen, and we must stand firm to the end.  It breaks our hearts knowing that many will turn away and their love will grow cold, but their responsibility will be to answer not to us, but to Almighty God on Judgment Day.

Manny

When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)

For additional reference: Falling Away (Durable Faith)

Testing The Spirits, And Wrongly Handling The Word Of Truth

Test The Spirits, To See Whether They Are From God
(Source: Mission Venture Ministries)

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

John is telling us that there are two spirits:

  • God’s Spirit, which is called the Spirit of truth because it inspires truth (vv. 4:2, 6); and
  • The spirit of antichrist, which promulgates falsehood, and does not acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ (vv. 3, 6).

And he warns us how important it is to understand that we cannot believe everyone we hear and that we cannot believe everything that is alleged to come from God, but like the Bereans we need to check the Scriptures. We are to test the spirits, to discern whether a message is the truth that comes from God. So we are not to just accept what some teacher or preacher is saying; we are to examine what is being taught.

We know that God speaks and reveals truth, and the enemy speaks lies and is a deceiver, therefore it is very critical that we be able to discern the difference. If information comes from the Holy Spirit it is life-giving, life-sustaining, life-producing and God-glorifying. If it is not sent and energized by the Holy Spirit, it comes from seducing spirits or false prophets, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This was and continues being a huge problem and those without discernment are being victimized.

It is very sad to realize that many so-called “religious leaders” are false teachers and people are having a hard time finding a church where the Word of God is being taught faithfully. What appear to be “Christian churches” are teaching things that are not in line with the Bible. They are downplaying or removing altogether the doctrines of sin, repentance, the Trinity, Salvation by grace alone, through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and the deity of Jesus Christ, and replacing them by more “seeker sensitive ideas.” For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear – (2 Timothy 4:3). These false teachers are teaching their followers doctrines and practices that are not in harmony with God’s word, like “contemplative prayer” and “prayer labyrinths” which are actually taken from new age and Hindu practices are being introduced and accepted by many churches that are moving towards the Emergent Church movement today.

These teachers are hypocritical liars and are teaching doctrines of demons motivated by seducing spirits. This is an enormous problem and the world is literally drowning in a sea of demonic lies. We live in a time when we must be so close to the Father and ask Him to fill us daily with His Spirit of discernment.

John continues giving instructions on how to know the Spirit of God: “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” When someone comes and affirms that Jesus Christ is God in flesh that is the divine truth taught by the Holy Spirit. But every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” False teachers and demons deny the deity of Jesus Christ and therefore as believers and students of the Bible we recognize them as being controlled by the devil and his lies. So: “Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22)

The false teacher does not believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He may accept Jesus Christ as a great teacher and a great religious leader, perhaps the greatest, but he does not believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior and the only way to God. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  He believes there are other ways to God. Beware!

The spirit of the antichrist was very much alive in John’s days and today our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). When we think of antichrist, we think of some future person, the beast of Revelation. However, all teaching that presents untruth about Christ is the spirit of antichrist which has been in the world for nearly 2000 years and is yet to come in its final form.

Before we accept any teaching, we need to be sure of the person’s view of Christ, their view of salvation, and their view of Scripture. Do they acknowledge that: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”? (2 Timothy 3:16). Do they manifest a regenerate life? And lastly, do they submit to the Word of God? “By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6)

 

Wrongly Handling The Word of Truth
(Source: John Henderson)

KJV: 2 Timothy 2:14-17b –  “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth [see footnote “1”]. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker….”

NET: “Remind people of these things and solemnly charge them before the Lord not to wrangle over words. This is of no benefit; it just brings ruin on those who listen. Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately.[1] But avoid profane chatter, because those occupied with it will stray further and further into ungodliness, and their message will spread its infection like gangrene.”

There are two groups of people who mishandle God’s Word and its message:  heretics and misinformed Christians.  Both are equally detrimental to the truth.  Any straying in that direction will have the same bad effect.

I may lose some friends and admirers here, but that is nothing new.  Knowing Christ in His truth means more than any of that.  Being able to go into eternity and of standing before His judgment seat without fear of being indicted for carelessness is very important.  Therefore, I say:

I can see no difference, for instance, between someone’s saying that the Bible is partially inerrant and contains the inspired Word of God and someone else saying that we must unequivocally accept the notion that only one English translation is valid, and even inspired as a translation.  Both notions are grossly erroneous and are bold denials of the true nature and authority of the Scriptures.  Both construe words and miss the revelational significance of The Word.  Both wrong ideas come from the same source—human reasoning based on false presumptuous suppositions.  Something like that never comes from the Holy Spirit who is here to guide us into all truth.

Whatever happened to “test the spirits”?  A fine article on that very question has been published by folks I consider as friends.[2]  Their opening paragraphs say:

“And he [John the Apostle] warns us how important it is to understand that we cannot believe everyone we hear and that we cannot believe everything that is alleged to come from God, but like the Bereans we need to check the Scriptures. We are to test the spirits, to discern whether a message is the truth that comes from God. So we are not to just accept what some teacher or preacher is saying; we are to examine what is being taught. [Comment:  We do that much when we visit a doctor!]

“We know that God speaks and reveals truth, and the enemy speaks lies and is a deceiver, therefore it is very critical that we be able to discern the difference. If information comes from the Holy Spirit it is life-giving, life-sustaining, life-producing and God-glorifying. If it is not sent and energized by the Holy Spirit, it comes from seducing spirits or false prophets, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This was and continues being a huge problem and those without discernment are being victimized.”

They also say a little later: “These false teachers are teaching their followers doctrines and practices that are not in harmony with God’s word….These teachers are hypocritical liars and are teaching doctrines of demons motivated by seducing spirits.”

If it was possible to hang signs on false teachers, that would make it easier to tell the difference.  The worst possible kind of false teacher, however, is the one who agrees with God’s revealed Word in ALMOST every detail or who adds to the Scriptures false notions those Scriptures do not state or support.  It is just fine to quote good stuff, but even the best must align with the truth of the Bible.  Earlier teachers may have said some great things but unless they got their ideas from the Scriptures, they are automatically questionable.

I have little problem with differences in understanding as long as the issues are couched in the authority of the Scriptures by all concerned.  I will never agree, for instance, with the Five-Points of Calvinism but will always view those who do as coming from an understanding, not a manipulation, of the Scriptures.  That is much different than superimposing human notions onto the Scriptures.  Besides, when we all get to Heaven, the Calvinists will finally realize how right I had been all along.

Returning to a more serious tone [sorry about the bad humor, but not enough to remove it], it is of vital importance that we carefully and prayerfully handle the Word of God as we should.  We are flawed and will make mistakes, but miscalculations and deceptive inaccuracies are not the same.  We must have a reverence for the Word of God that complements our reverence for the God of the Word.  God did not speak in English, Japanese, or German.  Unless speaking audibly, as He did a few times in ancient history, He never spoke in any human language.  He spoke to hearts and spiritual understanding, just as he does today.

His Word comes to us through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, not in languages per se.  Languages are only vehicles and nothing more.  Languages are limited and imperfect.  His Word is neither.  His Word IS the accurate message if truth in every detail and in every matter whereof it speaks.  It needs no modification and it is not limited to the English language or any other language.  God’s Word soars beyond translations and commentaries.  God’s Word transcends human comprehension but fits human knowing when the human heart is right with God.

 John Henderson


[1] NET Footnote: “cutting a straight road.” In regard to the message of truth, it means “correctly handling” or “imparting it without deviation.”

[2] http://missionventureministries.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/test-the-spirits-to-see-whether-they-are-from-god-1-john-41-6/.

Just Who Is Dividing The Church?

“It is better to be divided by truth than united in error.”
 “It’s better to be hated for telling the truth than loved for telling a lie.”
“It’s better to know the truth and to stand alone than it is to be wrong with a multitude.”
“It’s better to speak truth that hurts and then helps than falsehood that comforts and then kills.”
“It’s better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie.”

Yes, peace and unity are very high in my hierarchy of values. But in my value system, “Truth trumps peace and unity.” You see, in the long run, there will be no lasting peace and unity without truth. How grateful I am for grace and forgiveness. But in my value system, if there is a conflict, “Truth trumps even grace and forgiveness.” For without truth there is no grace or forgiveness.  (Mrs. Joyce Rogers, wife of the late Adrian Rogers)

Over the last few years, the Concerned Nazarenes group has come under criticism from its opposition within the church.  Typical descriptions include “unChristlike behavior”, “causing division”, “dividing the church”, “who are you to judge?”, or the unscriptural “you should never judge” admonition.  Those of us who believe in exercising biblical discernment need not fear any Scriptural refutation of our concerns, because there is none.  The response is either false accusations and misused Scripture references such as Matthew 7:1 to say we should not judge, or Psalm 46:10 to justify contemplative spirituality practices; or no response at all.

When we explain how prayer labyrinths, ashes to the forehead, and lectio divina are unbiblical; the opposition says we are causing division.

When we speak out against ecumenism and the embracing of Roman Catholic mystical practices and state the biblical reasons why; they say we are causing division.

When we point out the false teachings and doctrinally-challenged theology of Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Leonard Sweet and others… they say we are causing division.

When we expose a Nazarene pastor (Gabriel Salguerro) for promoting an ungodly “spirituality” festival, we are met with silence because they cannot defend that type of behavior… or we are called dividers.

Recently, I posted on our Facebook Group page a request for anyone who might be able to help translate articles into Portuguese and/or Spanish.  About a month later, the following was posted publicly on the Facebook page of Rev. John Brickley, an ordained elder in the church and a NazNet member, who apparently sent out the same message to a list of Portuguese-speaking Nazarenes.  Below is the English translation of his message:

“To all my friends in the Church of the Nazarene (Lusafona). Recently a group called Concerned Nazarenes asked for help to translate their material into Portuguese. This group already has done much harm to the Church of the Nazarene here in the United States.  Churches have been divided because of them, and many good leaders including Presidents of Universities and the Seminary, some District Superintendents, and also Generals were attacked by name by this group. Even If some of you agree with SOME of the concerns of this group, they act in a manner which is dividing the Church. So I’m warning you not to help this group or with the translation or with the propagation of their material. I am praying constantly for you all and I know God has great things for the Church of the Nazarene (Lusafona).” God Bless, Your Brother John  (my emphasis in bold)

This is another typical example of the kind of attacks that we should expect more and more in the future, for anyone who dares to continue to expose the truth of what is happening in our denomination as well as many others.  Rev. Brickley, who has posted this type of invective publicly before, is not an exception.  He exemplifies what is standard procedure for even some ordained elders in the church, and for those who support and promote the emergent church movement, contemplative spirituality and other dangerous ideologies.

These Are The Ones Who Claim To Be Understanding and Loving?

There were the attacks that came from Trevecca President Dan Boone that lacked any biblical defense  (See here) Dr. Boone is also an ordained elder who wrote a book called A Charitable Discourse, and then ironically in the very book he wrote uncharitably equated fundamental, Bible believing Christians to Muslim jihadists!  He also said this in response to some of our exchanges:

“Religious fundamentalism is one of the hot topics in the world today and this website has given me the best model, other than Islamic fundamentalism, to demonstrate to students how religious fundamentalism works.”

“I am most likely viewing these websites for the last time and would urge all thinking Christians to join me in the exit. Maybe we can stun them with our silence. In the meantime, I am working on a book called “A Charitable Discourse on the Things that Divide Us”. I’ll discuss Jihad in the church.”


So much for practicing what you preach.  Note that if you don’t agree with Dr. Boone, you are not a “thinking Christian.”  Yet he has received much praise for a book that attacks Christian fundamentalists.

And remember the more recent diatribe written by the Rev. Kevin Ulmet in Holiness Today, where he used a few dozen nasty ways of describing those of us who dare to criticize what is happening, and leaves out any biblical defense of his position.  I don’t know what was more shameful: his article, or the many Nazarenes who complimented him on such a fine, “Christlike” and loving piece.  It really was simply another attack piece without biblical foundation, yet he was praised for it.  Some of his “best” loving descriptions included:

“driven by categorization, guilt-by-association”;  “gotcha” tactics that more represent radical politics than anything remotely biblical, Christian, or certainly holiness”;  “Internet rumormongers”; “Salem-witch-hunt”; “Inquisition-type atmosphere”; “Our presidents…  are under direct and often slanderous attacks from various sources”;  “full of self-righteous piety”; “great derision and mistrust in the scurrilous E-mail exchanges”; “mistrust and gossip”; “no regard whatsoever to biblical conflict resolution principles”; “inflaming the emotions of the faithful”; “unjustly and manipulatively ratcheted up by the fully-aware bloggers”; “special-interest-political-action-group thinking”.

And then there were the personal attacks from Olivet theology head, Dr. Carl Leth.  (Responding to Dr. Leth’s Open Letter) He wrote a critique which also followed the Dan Boone method of claiming love and concern for us, but which devolved into yet again the same pattern: baseless attacks with no Scriptural foundation.  When you view the many comments of those who praised his article, it is astounding how people can be blind to Dr. Leth’s baseless and un-Christlike accusations.  As we proved with objective facts in our response, Dr. Leth was either horribly ignorant of the facts, or he deliberately ignored the facts and made false accusations about me as well as the folks at Lighthouse Trails Research.

Then there are the many colleagues of Mr. Brickley over at NazNet.  There are those such as Dennis Bratcher, former professor at Point Loma, who has in the past said some very nasty comments about me and Tim Wirth and anyone else who challenges his version of the truth.  There is the kindly sounding Professor, Dr. Tom Oord, who has expressed a disdain for fundamentalists in some of his writings.  However, even as he has avoided direct vicious attacks on us, he nonetheless exhibited a strange tolerance for one of his Facebook friends, who wrote the following during a discussion of Rev. Ulmet’s article and the Concerned Nazarenes:

 “Pray for what? Insight as to WWJD? Victory over the Enemies of the Church? Assimilation? If so, who is to be assimilated? What’s up with ‘personal sameness’? With Jesus? I am curious. How do you determine if/when that occurs? Do you offer the same advice to the CN’s? What if they don’t listen? What if the opponents to the CN’s don’t listen? Please explain, as I do not, given human nature, see your ‘solution’ .  I abhor strife and violence, but sometimes it boils down to the simple fact that some people just need killing … figuratively if not literally.”

It is amazing that Dr. Oord did not call out this man for making such a hateful and threatening statement on his Facebook page.  It is ironic as well, because Dr. Oord loves to write and talk about love, and has a blog called For the Love of Wisdom, and The Wisdom of Love.  Apparently he has no problem allowing this kind of comment to go unchallenged.

These are just a few examples.  I could go on, about those who brought false accusations against Pastor Joe Staniforth for simply preaching against emergent ideology, leading to his dismissal from his pastoral duties and missionary service.  I could go on about the General Superintendent who dismissed me out of hand in an email to Dr. Boone, after he realized I was not budging easily from my position.  All these attacks serve to illustrate that these people will go to great lengths to protect their turf, at the same time pretending to be the understanding and loving ones.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

They Will Go After Anyone

The NazNetters, and the emergent Nazarenes who claim that they are part of a  so-called “big tent” denomination, will go after anyone.  I recall the disrespectful comments they dished out when a well respected District Superintendent dared to write and speak out against emergent ideology and radical liberalism in the church.  Just as they attacked his integrity for refuting their ideology, so they will someday even go after a General Superintendent who might speak out and stand up for biblical truth in the church.  They don’t care, because their sole interest is to protect the turf that they are trying to permanently claim as theirs, and theirs alone.

To those who are working hard to defend the truth and expose the lies, you have not seen the worst of it yet.  You need to prepare for even worst in the future, and the worst will continue to come from within, from the wolves inside the church.  Do not be afraid of them, do not give an inch to them, do not be intimated by them.  Just keep calling them out for what they are doing to the church of God.  Regardless of the consequences, your obedience to Christ is not an option.

To those who are in the company of Rev. Brickley, Dr. Leth, Dr. Boone, Dr. Oord, Rev. Ulmet, and others who are attempting to silence us by their false accusations of dividing the church:

1. There is a division that is good.   Jesus Christ mentioned it.  He said that He has come to divide with a sword.  He will separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats.  There will not be a “big tent.”  The way is narrow that leads to life, but the path of destruction is wide and looks very comfortable and full of those who love “conversation.”

2. The division that is happening in the church is coming naturally, because what you teach and promote throughout the denomination is causing many Nazarenes to react to your unscriptural teachings, and they are calling you out on it.

There Are Two Things We MUST Do

The Scriptures clearly teach us that we are to be discerning, and to defend the faith once given to the saints.  Paul says in Galatians 1 that if anyone else preaches another Gospel, let him be accursed.  We are to be Bereans, and question our very own pastors or leaders if necessary when we hear strange doctrines and “new” ways of “experiencing” God.  It is not hateful to do that; it is because of love that we ought to do that, for their own sake, and especially for the sake of Jesus Christ and obedience to Him.

But Jesus also commands us to love our enemies.  There are enemies of the Cross within the church, and yet, we are to love them, and to pray for them.  And so we will.  To those reading this who have been misled by false teachings, we will lovingly and prayerfully reach out to you and show you what God’s word says and help bring you back to the truth.  To the ones who are deliberately misleading other Christians, we will not be so gentle with you, because false teachers will not be given a free pass.  We will call you out for what you are doing against God’s word.  We will reprove and rebuke, but we will also pray for you, and we still love you.

But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.  Jer. 20:11

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;  but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.  1 Peter 4:12-14, 16

A Response To Holiness Today’s Attack On Scripture

” But the underlying issue in everything else he raises as a concern is the authority of Scripture. If all of Scripture is Divinely inspired and thereby inerrant as Article IV clearly and repeatedly states then each one of his concerns crumble like a house built on sand.”

by Nyk Edinger (Original source: The Black Horse Inn)

In the current issue of HT (Holiness Today, April/May 2012), the Church of the Nazarene’s only official magazine, is an article by Pastor Ulmet, the pastor of Nashville First Church of the Nazarene. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/ISsnnM

   This article must be responded to with force. There is so much in it that is really peripheral to the real issue that I cannot even begin the task of sorting it all out with any brevity. I would encourage you to read a more fully orbed response by one who is very close to Pastor Ulmet and the situation here: http://bit.ly/INkMw7

   I would like to focus on one specific item in this article; Pastor Ulmet’s butchering of Article IV of the Church of the Nazarene’s Articles of Faith.

   The absolute disdain for the truth that Pastor Ulmet demonstrates with his opening sentence under the heading “Doctrinal Heritage” is staggering. He dares turn to Scripture as the basis for our statements of doctrine as if he is writing this article to defend these articles and likewise Scripture itself when the undermining of the authority of Scripture is actually what he is espousing throughout. He calls the theological concept of the inerrancy of Scripture “insidious”. He then invokes the names of Wesley and Wiley and others as if they would side with him in this discussion. He is counting on the ignorance and laziness of the readers of HT to allow him to get away with such outlandish statements.

   In trying as delicately as he can to define Article IV of the Articles of faith of the Church of the Nazarene without letting on how he truly views Scripture he explains it as the “full inspiration of all 66 books…(inerrant) ‘in all things necessary to our salvation.” Of course that is not what it actually says and much less what it actually means.

   Here is how it actually reads: “We believe in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, by which we understand the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith.

   H. Orton Wiley, the architect of Article IV explains clearly what is meant by the phrase “plenary inspiration”.

   He writes: “By plenary inspiration, we mean that the whole and every part is divinely inspired…We conclude that the Scriptures were given by plenary inspiration, embracing throughout the elements of superintendence, elevation and suggestion, in that manner and to that degree that the Bible becomes the infallible Word of God

   He goes on: “Superintendence, by which is meant a belief that God so guides those chosen as the organs of revelation, that their writings are kept free from error. (Scripture is) infallibly preserved from all error.

   The theological definition of plenary inspiration is “that kind of inspiration which excludes all defect in the utterance of the inspired message.” That is the definition. “Excludes all defect” means inerrant.

   These quotes from Wiley, the first and foremost Nazarene Theologian explain in clear terms and leave no doubt that the Nazarene church, by stating our belief in plenary inspiration, believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of the whole of Scripture, which is all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments and everything contained therein.

   To reiterate: Wiley defines inspiration as having three elements; superintendence, elevation and suggestion. He says that superintendence must be present in ALL inspiration. And he defines superintendence as the fact that God guided the writers to such a degree that the writings were inerrant.

    All of that is contained in just the first six words of Article IV! But it does not stop there. It goes on to refer to the Bible as the “Holy Scriptures”. The word Holy in this context is no empty word. Going all the way back to the beginnings of the Lutheran Church this word was used in combination with Scripture to specifically denote that the scripture referred to as Holy was of divine origin and therefore reliable and inerrant. I do not think this point was lost on Wiley.

   If we yet have any doubts Article IV continues on by specifically stating that it was “given by Divine inspiration”. This is the third time within Article IV that it makes the point that Scripture is inspired, Divinely so, and therefore inerrant. And twice it makes clear that this belief is applied to ALL of Scripture. First by the use of the word plenary which means “fully” and second when the Holy Scripture is defined as the “66 books of the Old and New Testaments.”

   This brings us to the phrase which Pastor Ulmet and countless others like him in our Denomination have seized upon to undermine everything the Article IV has just laid out so emphatically; “inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation.

   This statement simply is meant to further emphasize, in case there were any doubt, that contained within Scripture is everything we need to know concerning our salvation and that it is inerrantly revealed. This is of utmost importance because our salvation is the purpose for the entirety of Scripture. This is it’s core message and the writers of this article wanted to make absolutely sure that future generations would understand that.

   Nowhere in Article IV does it even suggest that we believe that Scripture is ONLY inerrant in “things necessary to our salvation” as Pastor Ulmet states.

   The very next phrase puts into context what is said about “all things necessary to our salvation”. It is this: “so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith.”

   What this means is we need not look to anything outside of Scripture in regards to our salvation. Everything we need is found in Scripture and inerrant in its revelation. This of course doesn’t mean that everything else found in Scripture is errant. But that is what Pastor Ulmet would want you to believe or at the very least that it has the possibility of being errant. Article IV tells us three times that all of Scripture is inerrant and we see that by Wiley’s own written explanation of the terms and then for added emphasis tells us that not only are the Scripture inerrant but also its message and we need not look anywhere else but to Scripture for our salvation.

   All of this is very convincing but let’s take a look at the actual Scriptures cited as foundational to Article IV. Let’s go to the source that Pastor Ulmet so rightly pointed out our Articles of Faith are based upon.

 Luke 24:44-47 (HCSB) 
 44 Then He told them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Here Jesus is speaking and referring to the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms as Scripture. This of course comprises nearly the entire Old Testament, including Genesis which would be the first book that Pastor Ulmet would exclude from inerrancy. Yet Jesus says it is Scripture. Scripture that He fulfilled. If it were a fable that He fulfilled, what exactly would that make Him?

 John 10:35 (HCSB)
 35 If He called those whom the word of God came to ‘gods’—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 

The poignant phrase here is the statement of fact by Jesus that Scripture cannot be broken. In other words, it is true. In other words, it is not in error.

 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (HCSB) 
 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 

Here Paul is verifying that the Gospel he preached to them is indeed found in Scripture. This only matters of course if Scripture is reliable. And it is only reliable if it is true.

 1 Peter 1:10-12 (HCSB) 
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. 11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things. 

Here again we have an affirmation that the prophesies found in Scripture regarding Jesus and our salvation were directly inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is interesting here that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was not simply what to write but who they were writing it for. This is quite a revelation! If the Holy Spirit is willing and able to provide this kind of detailed information to the writers of the Old Testament, I suspect He could handle getting accounts of the Creation and the Flood correct. After all, He was there.

 2 Peter 1:20-21 (HCSB)
 20 First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 

This one is fairly self explanatory.

 2 Timothy 3:15-17 (HCSB) 
 15 and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God[a] and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 

I left this one for last because it contains everything. Scripture is efficacious for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, all of Scripture is inspired by God, (and remember that Wiley, the architect of Article IV, says that inspiration is synonymous with inerrant) and that Scripture is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. It cannot be profitable if it is not true. It is also interesting that not one of the things that this verse says Scripture is profitable for is pertaining to our salvation, they would all be things that would take place after or apart from our salvation. So from the Scriptures (the ones that Article IV cites as the foundation for the Article itself) we see that all Scripture is indeed inspired by God through the Holy Spirit directly and is without error.

   But Pastor Ulmet believes something completely different. He says in this article “the Bible as the fully-inspired and with regard to all things salvific the inerrant Word of God.” Do you see the clever word play? According to Pastor Ulmet the Bible is only inerrant with regard to all things salvific. That is very different from what Wiley wrote and what Article IV states.

   This isn’t a new idea though. There were those in Wesley’s day that put forth this exact idea concerning Scripture and this is how Welsey responded to one of them: “Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.”

   In fact, Wesley wonders aloud if this person might actually be an atheist. So maybe Welsey and Wiley would not view those who support the authority of Scripture as being insidious as Pastor Ulmet contends. In fact, it is clear they would not.

  He then again misrepresents what those who stand by the Church of the Nazarene’s belief in the authority of Scripture by saying that they want the Bible’s primary purpose to “define all science and research.” I would challenge Pastor Ulmet to produce proof of this accusation.

   He then tells a bold faced lie. “We have never, for example, taken an official position on a certain view of Creation or a certain timeline of other events. Never in our history!

   In the very Articles of Faith that he previously referred to as “precious” the affirmation of the Genesis story of Creation is seen over and over again. In Articles 1, 5, 5.1, 6 and 7, the Genesis story of Creation is taken as literal and foundational to our very salvation or the need of it. Wiley, himself, makes a special point of stating that the truths and facts of the Creation and the antediluvian times had to be inspired. And in his view, inspired and inerrant are synonymous.

  So we DO have an official statement on Creation and that is, it happened the way the Scripture says it happened and not only that but the Genesis account of Creation is foundational to our salvation and our need of it. If that wasn’t our official statement on Creation then four of our Articles of Faith would be baseless.

   Pastor Ulmet brings up many things he is concerned about and some of them such as his position on what I call the “worship wars” are included as a means of distraction even though I actually agree with him on that issue. But the underlying issue in everything else he raises as a concern is the authority of Scripture. If all of Scripture is Divinely inspired and thereby inerrant as Article IV clearly and repeatedly states then each one of his concerns crumble like a house built on sand.

   Pastor Ulmet and many others like him want to recreate a church built on human wisdom, not Scripture and if we sit idly by in our seats in our churches and let them do this then we only have ourselves to blame for the inevitable destruction of our Denomination. As Nazarenes, we are not there yet but the battle is raging on the hill and this is one hill to die upon.

Nik Edinger

In Appreciation: Thanking A Pastor For His Service

A few weeks ago, New Bedford International Church lost its senior pastor through retirement.  Pastor JR Chavier had to step down due to health reasons.  I have known JR for many years, and my family attended the same church his dad pastored when we first came to the United States in 1961.  I have gotten to know Pastor JR in the past three years better than I have known him in the many years before that.

Not all who call themselves pastor are qualified to serve, because not all have been called by God.  The literal translation of the word for pastor in the New Testament means “shepherd.”  Our Lord Jesus Christ is referred to as a shepherd.  Thus the pastor of a church is an under shepherd of The Great Shepherd, with a desire to serve being one of the first qualifications.  A pastor is responsible for feeding the flock.  It is a spiritual gift to be called by God to be a pastor.

Other qualifications of a pastor is that he must be vigilant; be sober, just, holy, and temperate; be of good behavior; must not be given to much wine; be patient with others; must not be greedy or covetous; not be a novice; be blameless (although none are without faults); given to hospitality; have a good testimony among those who are outside; be the husband of one wife; must rule his house and be the spiritual leader of his family, having his children in submission and with all reverence.

And finally, pastors must also be apt to teach; they must hold fast the faithful word; and they must teach sound doctrine both to exhort and convince the gainsayers.
(See: 1 Tim 3:2-13; Tit. 1:7-9)

Those who know Pastor JR recognize that he has these qualifications.  These qualifications are not optional, so a faithful pastor will meet and follow all these items.  In my two plus years as a member of International Church, I have observed a consistency in these areas.  I particularly have been observant of the last three items I mentioned.

In these days of increasing apostasy, the retirement of a senior pastor can be one of the most critical moments for a local church. In the last few years I have been at International Church, what I have heard is a pastor preaching the whole council of God: the good news as well as the bad news.  I have seen a consistent underlying theme that is at the foundation of Pastor JR’s teaching: that the Bible is God’s inerrant word, that is it our final authority in our faith and practice, and that we must never deviate from its clear teachings.  His father taught the same principle for many years.   This is one of the legacies that Pastor JR is leaving to the church, and I have no doubt it is a teaching that will be reinforced by Pastor Ramiro.

Pastor JR has taught the word of God without compromise.  He has not bowed down to the shifting “winds of doctrine” to catch on to the latest fad, even if doing so would gain favor, or gain more members.  He has recognized that a healthy church is not measured in attendance numbers, in membership, in finances, or how many times the church has fellowship gatherings.  The measure of the success of a church is by its fruits, resulting from obedience to the Lord and to His word.  In faithfully preaching the message of uncompromising obedience to God’s word, he has laid a foundation that is strong and can be built upon.  Being a pastor or teacher in the church is a serious responsibility which is taught in Scripture:

“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” James 3:1.

 Some of you know that three years ago was one of the most difficult times for me and my family.  I recall the night I attended an evening service in April 2009, and before service started, I asked Pastor JR if perhaps in the near future, we could get together and discuss my concerns about a movement called the emergent church.  Not only did he say yes, but he practically pulled me into his office after the service, along with Almeda, Clay, and Jim, and by the time we finished talking, I was scheduled to speak at the church a few months later about those concerns.  He did not care about anything else but to open more eyes to the dangers around them.

 I owe a lot more to Pastor JR than can be said here.  He has been a source of encouragement and sound advice, and I know there are many others who would echo the same words.  He did not choose the expedient things.  He chose to do the right thing, and the right thing is to be on the side of God and His word, not on the side of men and popularity.  Remember Luke 6:26: Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”  I have seen a man who has stood firm.  He has maintained a standard and set an example that other pastors should emulate.

 I have no doubt Pastor JR and Almeda will continue to serve the Lord in a new capacity.  It would be a shame if that foundation of biblical certitude were to disappear from this church.  I have no doubt it will remain with Pastor Ramiro.  But as the church takes steps in the coming months to find a senior pastor, I have a humble word of advice to my fellow members.

 It could be that this local church, a church which has stood strong in this community for years, may be at its most critical decision point in its history.  The Christian church is under attack more than ever before, and the most dangerous threat is from within.  One of the greatest acknowledgements we can give to Pastor JR, is to welcome a new senior pastor who reflects the same level of commitment to God’s word as he has demonstrated.  We must select a pastor who is not swayed by the shifting winds of doctrine, but who will make all his teachings and decisions based on the word of God, who will uphold the gospel even at the expense of paying a great price, even at the expense of losing members.  We must have a senior pastor whose focus is to faithfully preach the word of God, in season and out of season; who does not take from nor adds to the word; and who tirelessly defends the faith once delivered to the saints.  Nothing less will do.

 Thank you, Pastor JR, Almeda, Mrs. Chavier, and your children, for your faithful service to the Lord.  May God continue to use your gifts to build up the believers, and to bring the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are lost.  God bless you.


Manny Silva

Christ’s Birth, And Foundational Truths

From Stand For Truth Ministries, a word of thanks: I am grateful to God for the many brothers and sisters in Christ who I have met in the last three years.  Grateful for the prayer warriors.  Grateful for those who contributed so I can send out more resource materials to many folks last year.  I have never been so encouraged by seeing such great faithfulness to the word of God throughout this country and across the world, Nazarenes and non-Nazarenes alike.  So many who have said that they will not compromise an inch when it comes to the word of God, at the risk of losing everything.  Each one of you who have impacted my life, I hope to send a personal thank you in the next month or so, but in the meantime, know that I have appreciated your word of encouragement, and what you do in the name of Jesus.
My prayer is that those who are weak in the faith and unsure of what to do when faced with challenges in this apostate time, that they will not compromise the undiluted gospel of repentance that Jesus Christ and the apostles preached.  Please share the true word of God and the real meaning of Christmas with as many as possible.   I share with you the following from a brother in the Lord. Duke, who sent this to me today.  Merry Christmas to you all.
Manny

Christ’s Birth, And Foundational Truths

“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”  Matthew 1:20-25

As we celebrate this Christmas season, these are eternal things that will never change in the above verses:

-Mary was a virgin, with the baby Jesus that was conceived by the Holy Ghost.

-Biblical prophesy is always fulfilled!
Isaiah 7:14  Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

-Jesus Christ is the only One who can save people from their sins!
No religion of man has the ability to do this.  We cannot mix man’s religion with God’s Word, Light has nothing to do with darkness, and salt water cannot be mixed with Fresh.

-Until Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary had no marital relations. (“knew her not”)

-Mary is not a “perpetual virgin” or a “Co-Redeemer” as stated by the RCC.
After Jesus was born she and Joseph went on to have children.
Matthew 13:55-56  Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?  And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?

-Mary being obedient to the O/T law in Leviticus chapter 12, went on to offer an atonement sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves.
Luke 2:19-24 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

There are many pastors and teachers today that do not believe in these foundational Truths of God.  Run from them.
Support the few who do still believe that the Word of God is wholly true.  If one is not available in your area, have church at home.
Pray and read the Word of God with your family.  There are “house churches” in the Bible.

1Co 16:19  The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
Phm 1:2  And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:

As many denominations intermingle with the world and it’s ways, may we who are in the Body of Christ come together as one in these final days.

1Co 1:10  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Jesus Christ came into this world as a baby.  He is coming back as a Lion.
Those not found entered in “The Book of Life” through Jesus Christ are “cast into the lake of fire” for all of eternity…
Rev 20:15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Our Christian stand should be “Either all of the Bible is True, or none of it is.”

Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Duke