Category Archives: DENOMINATIONS, CULTS, & FALSE TEACHING

How can I most effectually deal with cultists who knock on my front door?

HOW CAN I MOST EFFECTUALLY DEAL WITH CULTISTS WHO KNOCK ON MY FRONT DOOR?

by Shawn Brasseaux

It is truly sad that the average Bible believer is too afraid to deal with the cultists who canvas neighborhoods, knock on doors, and distribute sectarian literature to unsuspecting and dazed citizens. Genuine Christians do not know how to respond to false doctrine, so they will outright refuse to deal with its peddlers. This author knows the routine; long ago, he faced the same dilemma. “I do not invite them into my house, and I do not talk with them, because 2 John forbids it!” Frankly, this is an excuse—nothing more. The believer declines because he knows he really has no firm grounding in the Scriptures to handle even minimal opposition! Here, in this study, we offer three simple tips to help overcome this formidable “barrier” and reach the denominational proselytizer.

Before we begin, let us provide a few quick remarks concerning the misunderstanding of 2 John 9-11: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” This has a context, and our Dispensation of Grace is not it. John is an apostle of Israel (Galatians 2:9), whereas the Apostle Paul is God’s apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13; Ephesians 3:1-2). Furthermore, we do not appeal to John because he is writing of a time concerning the Antichrist and other antichrists, a period future from us (see 1 John 2:8; cf. 1 John 4:1-4). Our doctrine, duty, walk, and destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ are found in the Pauline Epistles, Romans through Philemon. Now, we begin!

A WORD OF CAUTION (MARK IT WELL! MARK IT WELL! MARK IT WELL!)

When dealing with cultists, it is tempting to start by systematically targeting all their peculiar beliefs. Sometimes this approach is helpful—but only when the Bible believer is skilled enough in the cult’s teachings (rare) and proficient in the Scriptures (rarer!). Door-knocking cultists usually operate with an extremely strict, brainwashed mentality, so they will not sit silently as their most treasured ideas are discredited. In case you have not noticed, they will become increasingly agitated, defensive, and belligerent. By the time you have dismantled their system, they are too infuriated to hear and believe a clear Gospel message. Perhaps you are now too disgusted yourself to deal with them any further. What was accomplished? Just high blood pressure and spiritual destruction on both sides! Lost souls remain lost; Christians have lost their testimony and joy in witnessing. Friend, you want to expose them to as much profitable material as possible in as short a time as possible. It is not wise to start talking about just anything in Scripture. Try to adhere to the simple plan described in the ensuing paragraphs.

Again, every door-knocking proselytizer representing a denomination or group is extremely familiar with at least a few key Bible texts. Their group has trained them so they can especially deal with objections concerning their “pet verses,” increasing the likelihood of gaining new members. Here is why the Bible believer is fearful. “They know the Scripture better than I do, so I cannot possibly answer them!” Friend, listen, please pay attention here. Rather debating them regarding these passages—yes, very few Christians are strong enough in the Word to do that anyway—you want to make the most of your time and energy. Your goal is to make this time as instructive and edifying as possible for yourself and your listener. Maximize the amount of sound Bible doctrine you share, and this will minimize “the flesh.” Stick by the Word of God rightly divided, and you will be on safe ground because this is how the Holy Spirit works!

THE THREE-STEP APPROACH (MARK IT WELL! MARK IT WELL! MARK IT WELL!)

Years ago, this author devised the following direct method to be most useful in reaching cultists with the Gospel of Grace. Follow this simple, three-step technique and you will accomplish many vital objectives. It is important that you follow this outline because it is designed to hit the three major areas in “one shot.” The mature Bible student will take the applicable verses and craft a Gospel presentation suited for the particular convert. You, the soul winner, no matter the circumstances or personal backgrounds involved, have three responsibilities:

  1. Firstly, you need to precisely identify their false teaching. You should not misunderstand them, so you will let them speak on their group’s behalf. Once they have spoken to you, they cannot accuse you of misrepresenting them or charge you for not really knowing what they teach.
  2. Secondly, but most importantly, you need to give them the Gospel of Grace. The previous step was really a subtle gateway to this stage.
  3. Finally, you need to show them you are not interested in joining their group. As a Bible believer, you cannot fellowship with false doctrine and false teachers (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 Timothy 6:3-6; 2 Timothy 3:1-9).

And, here is the challenge… all three steps should be achieved within 5 or 10 minutes! Let me show you how to do this, it becoming easier and easier as you practice and use it.

You should always be polite. Greet the door-knocker with a “Hello” and even a “How are you doing?,” but avoid endorsements and flatteries (“how dedicated you are to proselytize for your group!,” “you have traveled and covered all this area?!,” “I have heard of your group and what a nice church building you have!,” “look at all the people who have come with you!,” et cetera). Invite the denominational person into your house. At this point, be careful not to say, “I do not agree with you because you are a false teacher!” Remember, you have not heard them yet. If you judge their doctrine before letting them speak, then you will prove to them that Bible believers really are “narrow-minded” and “ignorant” of their group. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13). However, by allowing the denominationalist to share their information with you, you are setting a wise example. Unlike a blind sheep of religion, you show the dear soul that you use your brain and carefully consider anything and everything. Perhaps this person will follow you in that regard of not being so naïve.

STEP 1. Do not start sharing the Bible with them. Let the false teaching go first. Begin by asking them, “Could you summarize your Gospel message in one statement?” (If they fail to understand what you mean, restate your inquiry: “What good news do you bring here for me to believe? What is the primary message your group proclaims?” These are developments of one question.) Make sure you limit them to “one statement,” otherwise you will likely end up with a complex diatribe lasting several minutes. You should be listening for a message about Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary. Knowing the cults though, we can expect something else to take precedence. They will emphasize some strange doctrine, an experience, a ceremony, a ritual, et cetera.

STEP 2. Now that the denomination has spoken, the Bible will speak. If the person is carrying a Bible, ask them to turn to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. You should take your King James Bible and turn to it as well. (If they do not have a Bible, let them use yours.) Honestly, though, it is beneficial to let them read the Gospel in their own Bible, if possible. This way, they cannot dismiss you with, “Well, that is your version and not my denomination’s approved version!” Here is the Authorized Version: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….” (Be careful to emphasize the word “Gospel” in verse 1, and the Gospel of Grace [Acts 20:24] itself in verses 3 and 4). If you want, you may turn to Acts 16:30-31 to summarize: “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

STEP 3. The Bible will continue speaking (and it will have the “last word”). Again, if the person has a Bible, ask them to turn to Galatians 1:6-10 now. You should take your King James Bible, too. Honestly, again, it is beneficial to let them read the Gospel in their own Bible. This way, they cannot complain, “Well, that is your version and not my denomination’s approved version!” Here is the Authorized Version: “[6] I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: [7] Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. [9] As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. [10] For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” The word “accursed” means “cut off from fellowship.” Politely tell the proselytizer that you in faith cannot join their group because they do not have Paul’s Gospel as their primary message (resort back to their comments in #1 and the Gospel in #2). They cannot backtrack—their own lips have condemned themselves as not Christian vessels!

At this point, God’s Word has convicted the door-knocking proselytizer. They likely do not want to hear anything else from you—that is totally fine because you have gotten the most important Bible points across to them! If they desire to talk more, accept the offer, but make it clear to them that it will be civil discourse. Furthermore, explain that no matter what they say, you have already made your decision to believe those Bible verses and will not join their denomination. You should encourage them to trust those verses—the Gospel of Grace—without delay. Do not be surprised or discouraged if they remain in unbelief. You have no doubt grabbed their attention, and they have been exposed to sound Bible doctrine, so praise the Lord Jesus Christ! Whenever you prefer, realizing the time of deadlock has been reached, ask them to leave your house because you cannot endorse false doctrine (reemphasizing the three points). Be tactful not rude!

One more thing: you should have already accepted whatever free literature they offered you at the beginning of the meeting. Certainly do not believe their lies. Yet, by taking their brochure, tract, or booklet, you are ensuring one less soul is deceived. That is one less piece of denominational literature liable to fall into the hands of a poor, benighted soul. Study that information, and familiarize yourself with that group. You will be better equipped to reach those church members next time you meet them, and you will be able to authoritatively warn others about their dangerous doctrines. Arm yourself with this knowledge so you can know exactly what you are up against when you get into more detailed discussions with them on other occasions.

Also see:
» How do we identify false teachers?

» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» How long should I keep witnessing to the same person?
» Should we read denominational literature?
» Has God’s Word failed?
» “If any man be ignorant?”
» Must I witness to be saved?
» “I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?”
» Are we merely interested in breaking up churches?
» If dispensational Bible study is true, how come so few believe it?
» If God knows who will serve Him and who won’t, why witness?
» Should the lack of worldwide revival in our dispensation discourage us from witnessing?
» “But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!”
» Can we witness “too much” to family members?
» What if someone asks me a Bible question I cannot answer?

Are we dispensationalists guilty of “limiting God?”

ARE WE DISPENSATIONALISTS GUILTY OF “LIMITING GOD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

In order to maintain their traditional view of “God healed bodies in the past so He is still doing it,” Charismatics (spiritual-gift people) and their sympathizers claim we dispensationalists are “limiting God” and “putting God in a box.” Who are we to tell God He cannot heal the sick? Who are we to tell God He cannot empower today’s Christians to exercise the spiritual gift of tongues? Charismatics default to these arguments when dealing with those individuals who question their beliefs and activities. Are these claims answerable? (Indeed, they are, and we start replying to them by asking two of our own questions. Who are we to tell God He must heal bodies? Who are we to tell God He must distribute the spiritual gift of tongues to us?) Here in this, our special-edition 700th Bible Q&A article, we gladly take this opportunity to respond to these claims in greater detail.

I. ISSUE #1: THE GREAT DELUGE—TO BE REPEATED, OR NO?

Dear friend, we are all familiar with the Bible story of the Great Deluge, the global flood that came in Noah’s lifetime. The historical record is chapters 6-8 of Genesis, the first Book in the canon of Scripture. What we are interested in here is what Almighty God said following that most catastrophic event. Turn to Genesis chapter 9 and read the facts: “[8] And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, [9] And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; [10] And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. [11] And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

“[12] And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: [13] I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. [14] And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: [15] And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. [16] And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. [17] And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.”

God thrice promised man in the form of a covenant or agreement: “neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood” (verse 11), “neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth” (verse 11), and “the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh” (verse 15). The rainbow in the sky is the “token” or symbol of that Divine promise (verses 12-13,17). Never again will He flood the entire world with water. (This shows us that it was a global flood—certainly not the regional flood that scoffers allege happened.) God swore to us He will never destroy the planet with another flood and we believe He told the truth.

But… wait… if we extend and apply the aforementioned philosophy of the Charismatics, we have generated a real dilemma here. Remember, never should we limit God. It is wholly inappropriate for us to tell Him He cannot flood the whole world again. After all, He can do whatever He wants. How dare we “put God in a box,” how audacious of us to “limit Him,” by saying He will never cause another global deluge! If He wants to flood the world again, He can. Well, dear friend, as you have probably guessed, much sarcasm was employed here to prove a point. These statements are made in complete rebellion to the revealed Word of God.

Is not Almighty God bound to keep His Word? The fact of the matter is that if He promises to do something, He must do it—or He is a liar. We are not putting God in a box. We are not limiting Him. He has put Himself in a box; He has limited Himself. In faith, we are simply acknowledging what He Himself has said concerning the issue! Likewise, when we say that God is not healing physical bodies today and He is not issuing spiritual gifts today, we are merely repeating what God Himself has said in His Word, the Holy Bible. We will deal more fully with that issue later. For now, we must consider a second matter.

II. ISSUE #2: THE MIDDLE WALL OF PARTITION—UP OR DOWN?

Dear friend, Ephesians 2:11-13 is another clear example of God changing His dealings with man: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Is there not a difference between physical circumcision and physical uncircumcision? Yes, there surely is. There was even a time when Almighty God saw a spiritual significance in being physically circumcised and a spiritual disadvantage in being physically uncircumcised (see Genesis 17:1-27). That is not true today. We would have to not want to see it not to see it.

“For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Galatians 6:15). Again, who are we to “limit God” and “put God in a box?” Why can we say that physical circumcision is not spiritually beneficial today? Because God said so through the Apostle Paul. How can we say that physical uncircumcision is not spiritually detrimental today? Again, because God said it through Paul. God limited Himself. He is bound by His words today not to treat a Jew any differently than He treats a Gentile (non-Jew). The ground is level at the foot of Calvary’s cross.

In the “but now” (Ephesians 2:13), in the “Dispensation of Grace” (3:2), God sees “no difference” between Jew and Gentile. “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Romans 3:22). “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). Certainly, this was not true in time past!

Can God lie? Does He lie? Well, if we are to avoid “limiting God,” then how could we confine His words to the realm of truth? After all, as the Charismatics claim, we cannot put Him in a box! The fact of the matter is Hebrews 6:18 already told us “it [is] impossible for God to lie.” We can therefore “limit Him” because He Himself is limited here. He always tells the truth. He never lies. This is an absolute boundary He does not cross at any time. It appears as though we must “put God in a box” here… lest we make Him out to be a liar!

III. ISSUE #3: WHO IS GOD—HE OR WE?

Make no mistake: God is God. As the Creator, He makes the rules. Sinful human flesh rebels against that fact. Man wants to do what he wants to do! “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6). Like a child defying his parents, man challenges God by creating his own set of rules. He deviates from the path God ordained him at Adam’s creation. At this point, it should be stressed that man’s heart misleads him: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). He thinks he is doing God’s will but he is not. He assumes he is doing right but he is not. The defense mechanisms echo even today: “I am not all that bad. Sure, I make a mistake here and there, but I try to do a good deed here and there to make up for my wrongs. In the end, I think I have something good to offer God.”

Human nature has two extremes—asceticism and lasciviousness. The former is the “religious crowd,” those who meticulously observe the rules of piety for the sake of self-discipline. They take great care in denying themselves of worldly pleasures. “We do not drink alcohol, we do not smoke cigarettes, and we do not carouse and commit illicit deeds.” Prayers, fasting, almsgiving, commandments, ceremonies, rites, and rituals mark this course of life. Asceticism promotes human goodness, a way to show God how a human can “self-reform” and “behave.”

The latter is the “loose crowd,” the rough and rowdy bunch. Instead of observing rules as the ascetics, the lascivious crowd has no rules. It is an example of human misbehavior—a complete disregard for order and decency. To the degree the ascetics have “given up” debauched conduct, the lascivious indulge in it. Neither is acceptable to God, for asceticism and lasciviousness alike are but futile attempts to substitute man’s thoughts and works with those of the Lord Jesus Christ. God wants neither self-righteousness (asceticism) nor selfishness (lasciviousness).

Dear friend, Christians need to be careful in that both extremes creep into daily thoughts and behaviors. If we mind the things of the flesh, we will walk after the flesh—and that can result in asceticism, lasciviousness, or both! The Charismatic Movement is a mixture of both. For example, they tend to shy away from profanity, vulgar clothing, and so on (going so far as to forbid women from wearing pants, prohibiting jewelry and makeup, and so on). Yet, chaos and confusion mark their services. Individuals will actually tremor, roll around on the floor, jump and run across auditoriums, raise their voices in “unknown tongues,” and so on. This is a combination of human lasciviousness and human asceticism. It has the appearance of human good: they shout “Praise Jesus!” in a church setting. Yet, it also resembles a drunken party at a nightclub—their “alcohol” being emotions and religious tradition.

Again, it is a tricky situation. Our heart is so sinful that, unless we are walking in the spiritual light that we have (minding the Scriptures we know), we will fall into the trap of opposing God’s will and yet believing we are fulfilling it. For instance, if there is a course of action we want to take, if we desire to adopt a particular view, we can flip through the pages of the Bible and find something somewhere to justify it. It is no secret that people, for centuries, have grabbed verses and taught innumerable outlandish ideas. All cults, sects, and denominations have at least a few Bible passages to support their teachings to some extent. Their doctrinal statements did not just appear out of thin air. Even with a weak biblical foundation, the founders and hierarchies of these groups present quite a convincing case when scouting for new members. Enamored, prospects exclaim and surrender: “It is a group that uses the Bible, so it must be God’s group for me!” (Check Matthew 4:6, where Satan uses the Bible too!)

Dear friend, never should we want to limit God. We, such fallible and weak beings, are unable to do that anyway. However, we can see ourselves as God… and then believe that any limitations placed upon us are actually limitations of God’s work. We are now living in a world of delusions instead of reality. If we are not aware of what God is or is not doing, we cannot accurately judge what is and what is not acceptable. Unquestionably, God behaved a certain way in time past. However, that does not mean He is still working in that same manner today. Before we go around accusing anyone of “putting God in a box” or “limiting God,” perhaps we had better study our Bible and see what restrictions God has placed upon Himself.

Earlier, we saw two examples, two issues, which highlighted how God’s dealings with man have changed. Let us briefly consider a third one. Should we offer animal sacrifices as instructed in Leviticus and Numbers? After all, if God commanded them back then, why will He not accept them today? Once again, should we be “limiting God?” Yet, we remind ourselves we never read anywhere in the New Testament Scripture about animal sacrifices required today. We will have to “limit God” here as well because He has restricted His current dealings with man so they do not involve animal sacrifices. Although God accepted such practices in time past, He does not accept them today.

Here is what religious people want to do. They think that they can draw a box and then make God jump into it. If someone questions their actions, then they are under the impression their critic is “limiting God.” In reality, God has placed restrictions upon Himself—and He will not break His Word in order to cater to the whims of sinful man. Unlike them, He does not value church traditions, denominational systems, and so on. Such is the case with bodily healings and the gift of speaking in tongues. While these are certainly components of a program God once operated, that is the very point—that program is no longer in effect!

IV. ISSUE #4: IN WHICH DISPENSATION DO WE LIVE—LAW OR GRACE?

Dear friend, we would do well to see that, in light of the dispensational change from prophecy to mystery, God has stopped doing things that He once did. The Holy Spirit Himself provides many such examples in the Books of Romans through Philemon, but we will focus on just two of them: physical healing and the gift of tongues.

“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23). How unfortunate that the great Apostle Paul, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, “put God in a box.” Paul was under the impression he—and all other people—no longer had the spiritual gift of healing. He also believed Timothy could not heal himself either. Paul’s advice to use wine as medicine was evidently given under the assumption that no “Divine healing” would be bestowed upon Timothy. The absence of supernatural healing is surely striking here, is it not—especially since Paul performed numerous such miracles throughout his Acts ministry?! In one of the final inspired statements he wrote, Paul penned: “Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick(2 Timothy 4:20). Did Paul expect Trophimus to be healed? No. Is there any indication Trophimus was healed after Paul’s departure? No, there is none. Second Timothy was the last Bible Book Paul wrote. (Paul “limited God?!”)

It would seem as though Paul knew the frail, dying condition of any and every human body. Lost and saved alike, non-Christian and Christian, we are all under the curse of sin. Bodily sickness is inevitable. Romans 8:18-25 comments: “[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. [24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

What Paul hoped for, what his expectation was, was not a temporary healing of a physical body that would die anyway. He looked forward to a resurrection—commonly called the Rapture—wherein these ailing bodies would be exchanged for eternal bodies. You can also look at 1 Corinthians chapter 15 for more information, but, here, we will see Paul’s second epistle to Corinth.

We read in 2 Corinthians: “[4:16] For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. [4:17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [4:18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. [5:1] For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [5:2] For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: [5:3] If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. [5:4] For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. [5:5] Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. [5:6] Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: [5:7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) [5:8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

The Holy Spirit guiding his mind and pen, Paul spoke of these physical bodies—the “outward man”—as “perishing” (4:16). As one brother said long ago, “All the ‘healing’ claims aside, the death-rate is still one apiece!” The Greek word rendered “perish” is “diaphtheiro,” used of the moth that “corrupteth” (eats) clothing and other transitory possessions in Luke 12:33. Our bodies are likewise being consumed with the passage of time—the aging process is diminishing our vigor and strength. It is depressing, but rather than deny it, Paul had the Divine mindset to overcome the despair. “Yes, this old body of flesh and blood is indeed headed for a cemetery plot, but, with every passing day, the spiritual body inside is becoming stronger and more vigorous!” Ephesians 3:16 says of Paul’s prayer for the Christians at Ephesus, “That he [Father God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” Until our physical bodies are redeemed, we patiently waiting for bodily resurrection, we enjoy a spiritual healing like nothing else!

V. ISSUE #5: WHAT IS OUR PREFERENCE—TEMPORARY PHYSICAL HEALING OR ETERNAL SPIRITUAL HEALING?

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Friend, as we study and come to a greater and greater awareness of God’s Word, as we believe what we read, it gives the Holy Spirit more and more control of our thoughts and lives. This leads to spiritual health—the “inner man” or “inward man” maturing, strengthening. Read 1 Timothy 6:3: “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness….” The Greek word for “wholesome” is “hygiaino,” which obviously gave rise to our English term “hygiene.” Christ’s words to us through the Pauline Epistles, Romans through Philemon, can heal our soul to the degree the healing miracles cured physical bodies in Bible days.

Notice: “And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole [hygiaino] need not a physician; but they that are sick” (Luke 5:31). Here is spiritual healing. The word is employed now for physical healing: “And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole [hygiaino] that had been sick” (Luke 7:10). The “sound” doctrine of the Scriptures rightly divided can lead to spiritual healing, strengthening, health: “For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound [hygiaino] doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust” (1 Timothy 1:10-11).

“Hold fast the form of sound [hygiaino] words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). “But speak thou the things which become sound [hygiaino] doctrine:…” (Titus 2:1). “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound [hygiaino] doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9). Here is the spiritual health that sound Bible doctrine actually produces: “This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound [hygiaino] in the faith;…” (Titus 1:13). “That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound [hygiaino] in faith, in charity, in patience” (Titus 2:2).

Of course, “sound [hygiaino] doctrine” is said to be that which the professing church will disregard. Second Timothy chapter 4 says to this point: “[1] 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; [2] Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. [3] 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; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Did you catch verse 3? There are those who follow their “own lusts” or personal desires—spiritual lasciviousness! How do these people operate? Tossing out sound Bible doctrine—that which promotes spiritual health or integrity—they embrace “fables.” Such stories become the basis for their teaching, morality, and so on. Certainly, the “healing testimonies” of the modern Charismatic Movement fit right in here! Such storytellers do not know what God is doing today (as found in Paul’s epistles—our earlier comments), but they certainly want to go back to what God in the previous dispensation (healing miracles and the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues). Walking by sight and not faith, they look for signs and wonders. Instead of emphasizing spiritual health, they stress physical healing. They have not learned Romans chapter 8, and 2 Corinthians chapters 4 and 5!

VI. ISSUE #6: WHAT SHALL WE CHOOSE TO HEAR—THE WORD OF GOD, OR THE TONGUES OF MEN?

Charismatics will tell us that one of the signs of the Holy Spirit working is when individuals speak in a “heavenly tongue,” some ecstatic utterance. They point to Acts chapter 2, obviously, as their main proof text: “[1] And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

First Corinthians chapters 12 and 14 are also used to defend this practice of tongue-talking (although, upon closer inspection, most of chapter 14 is actually ignored). The fact of the matter is that chapter 13, sitting in the middle, attaches a major condition to spiritual gifts: “[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”

Even if we were to adopt the erroneous view that the gift of tongues will cease once we get to Heaven (Heaven and the Lord’s coming absent from this context!), that itself is an embarrassing admission that God does not always do the same thing forever. If God never changes, then, by the Charismatics’ own claim, He will always (without end!) issue the gift of tongues and that would render 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 meaningless. Even in Heaven there would be the gift of tongues! Remember, as the anti-dispensationalists claim, “Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). So, we are now forced to believe the gift of tongues will never, ever pass away. It never ceased after Acts, and it will never terminate—even in Heaven. (Which even Charismatics do not believe!) Do you see how dangerous this gets, friend? If we do not recognize God limiting Himself, we open ourselves to all sorts of possibilities. Nothing in the Bible will mean anything. Scripture will become destructive rather than edifying.

Here is plain truth. The gift of tongues ceased when the Bible canon was completed just after the close of the Acts period some 2,000 years ago. Exactly as 1 Corinthians chapter 13 predicted, partial knowledge gave way to complete knowledge. Limited preaching gave way to complete preaching. We have all revelation from God now—otherwise, the Bible is incomplete, and we fall into the heretical trap of “continuing inspiration.” This is the same idea that led to the Book of Mormon, the supposed “sequel” to the Bible. Various other cults equate their founders’ writings with Scripture, failing to realize God stopped issuing new revelation to man 20 centuries ago. Again, God limited Himself by saying He has nothing further to say. We have the entire will of God already manifested in the Holy Scriptures. We either believe that, or we do not! (If we do not recognize God limiting Himself here, we will always be adding to the Bible!!)

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). “Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:…” (Ephesians 1:8-10). If we understand that God’s revelation to man has ceased, then we are simply recognizing God’s own words on the subject. He has limited Himself, and is bound by that Word not to keep dispensing new revelation. There is no “hidden will of God.” With Paul’s revelation written in Romans through Philemon, all has been disclosed! Or, if we prefer, we can limit our spiritual health and understanding by ignoring the verses just presented.

VII. CONCLUSION

Try as we might, friend, we can never limit God. Furthermore, as passionately as we may attempt, we can never force God to do something He is not doing. He is God; we are not; that is that! While we can “fake” it for a while, we can never replace God’s work (either what He did in the past or what He is currently doing). Dispensationalists understand God’s revelation to man and work with man changes through time, as we move in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. If we disregard these dispensational boundaries, we have an agenda of doing whatever we want to do with the intention of blaming God for the consequences of our folly.

Would it be appropriate for us to say that God is not planning to flood the whole world again? It would be wholly disrespectful of us to tell God what He can and cannot do. Yet, we are not telling Him that. He is telling us what He will not do. We do not have to fear another global flood. After all, God Himself made that very promise. Would we be telling the truth if we said God sees a spiritual advantage to being a Jew and a spiritual disadvantage to being a Gentile? No, we would be lying. What was once true concerning God’s dealings with man is no longer true. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile today. All in Adam are equally lost, and all in Christ are equally saved.

“We cannot limit God. We cannot put Him in a box! If He healed sick bodies then, He is still doing it now! If His Spirit moved people to exercise the gift of tongues then, He is still doing it now! Jesus never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” Considering all that we have discussed now, will we continue with this soggy, worn-out, now disproved argument? If we retain that mentality, knowing what we have already discussed in this treatise, then we have exposed ourselves as promoters of mere spiritual lasciviousness. We are doing what we want, without any boundaries. We have now also made God appear to be operating without any self-imposed limitations. His actions are no longer predictable or understandable. Spiritual darkness creeps in—and we have limited ourselves in seeing greater light from His words!

Is not God bound to keep His Word? If He promises to do something, He must do it or He is a liar. We dispensationalists are not putting God in a box. We are not limiting Him. By making promises and writing them down in the Holy Bible, He has put Himself in a box. He has limited himself. We are simply acknowledging what He Himself has said about His own work. Will you disagree with Him, friend? When we say that God is not healing physical bodies today and He is not issuing spiritual gifts today, we are merely repeating what God Himself has said in the Scriptures.

Furthermore, we rather disrespect God when we try to force Him to do things He is no longer doing. We rather limit God when He wants to have us focus on the inward man but we show more interest in perpetuating this outward man with healing miracles. Rather than emphasizing His written Word, the completed Bible, we are looking for more supernatural communication. The spiritual gift of tongues is just one of many such “experiences” that replace Bible study and sound Bible doctrine in Charismatic assemblies. “I do not care what the Bible says! I know what I saw and I know what I felt, and I want more!” Such people have limited themselves to have a limited understanding of God’s purpose and plan for the Dispensation of Grace and the Church the Body of Christ! Here is one self-limitation they do not realize… yet, they will accuse us dispensationalists of “limiting God?” Ridiculous and tragically ironic!

Also see:
» Was the Apostle Paul a false prophet?
» “But, what if I do not accept the Bible’s authority?”
» “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?”

How is Jesus Christ the “firstborn” of every creature?

HOW IS JESUS CHRIST THE “FIRSTBORN” OF EVERY CREATURE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

This question stems from Colossians 1:15: “[God’s dear Son; verse 13] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:….” Lest we misunderstand the matter, it is better to read all the way through to verse 20 to grasp the sense of the verse.

“[15] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: [16] For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [19] For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

God the Son, Jesus Christ, made creatures (angels and humans, respectively) to occupy the offices of government in Heaven and Earth. These offices are the “things” in the above passage—“thrones, dominions, principalities, powers” (verse 16). In the original creation, creatures ruled for Jesus Christ’s glory. Alas, angels and humans sinned. Satan and his angelic cohorts corrupted the heavenly places with sin (Job 15:15; Job 25:5; Isaiah 14:12-15; Ephesians 6:12). When the first man, Adam, willfully followed that rebellion in Genesis chapter 3, he allowed sin to spread to the Earth’s governmental offices (Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 4:8-11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4).

The Holy Bible is the record of how the God of Scripture invented and enacted a plan to restore to Himself the offices of government (“things”) in Heaven and Earth. In the Apostle Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, we see the final pieces to that scheme laid out. Both God’s earthly people (the nation Israel—the prophetic people) and His heavenly people (the Church the Body of Christ—the mystery people) are formed through Jesus Christ’s shed blood. Calvary’s finished crosswork makes it possible for both groups of sinners to become saints, people set apart for God’s purposes. Where Adam failed on Earth, redeemed Israel will succeed. What Satan and his angels defiled, the Church the Body of Christ will take over. This is the first step in understanding the excerpt from Colossians chapter 1. (We will return to this shortly.)

In the physical world, the “firstborn” son is said to be “the beginning of his father’s strength.” See Genesis 49:3: “Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power….” Moreover, Deuteronomy chapter 21 says the firstborn son received the double portion of his father’s estate: “[16] Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: [17] But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.”

When we consider Colossians 1:15-20, we should think of the firstborn son being the heir of his father’s estate. The governments of Heaven and Earth are Christ’s Father’s estate. Jesus Christ is “the firstborn of every creature” (verse 15) in that He is the Man who holds the place of headship over His Father’s house. Christ is the leader of both groups of creatures—redeemed Israel and the Church the Body of Christ—who will reign in their respective offices in eternity future. Father God has appointed His Son Jesus Christ as head of all governmental offices in Heaven and Earth. It is through the nation Israel and the Church the Body of Christ—both of whom He is the Head—that Jesus Christ reigns in Earth and in Heaven throughout the endless ages to come.

Jesus Christ was “declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). When Colossians 1:18 says He is “the firstborn from the dead,” it refers to Him being resurrected to subsequently reign as King over Heaven and Earth. Having shed His sinless blood to form the redeemed nation Israel and the Church the Body of Christ, the offices of government in Heaven and Earth will return to His Father’s authority (and no longer under the control of Satan and sinful man). Post-resurrection, Christ possesses His Father’s governmental power or political strength. Consider these two passages from the Book of Hebrews. Pay attention to Christ’s death and resurrection, and how His reign follows.

Hebrews chapter 1: “[3] [His Son, verse 2] Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; [4] Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. [5] For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? [6] And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

“[7] And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. [8] But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. [9] Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. [10] And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: [11] They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; [12] And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. [13] But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Verse 12 is the change in governmental officials, saints replacing sinners in both Heaven and Earth.)

Hebrews chapter 2: “[5] For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. [6] But one in a certain place testified [Psalm 8:4-6], saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? [7] Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: [8] Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. [9] But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. [10] For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (The “sons” of verse 10 are Israel’s believing remnant, the Little Flock of Luke 12:32.)

Here is the government in the heavenly places to follow Christ’s resurrection as regarding us, the Church the Body of Christ. Ephesians chapter 1: “[19] And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, [20] Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, [21] Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: [22] And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, [23] Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

Of course, the actual reigning of Christ in Heaven and Earth has yet to be brought to pass. He is currently a royal exile in Heaven, where He has been for the last 2,000 years since Israel rejected and crucified Him. Yet, in due time, the Dispensation of Grace will close, the Church the Body of Christ will be complete, and we will be brought up to reign in the Heavens (at the Rapture). Then, the nation Israel will be redeemed to reign in the Earth (at the Second Coming). It is Father God’s will that all power in Heaven and Earth be consolidated in one Man—the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell” (Colossians 1:19). “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18).

Ephesians chapter 1 thus summarizes: “[8] Wherein he [Father God] hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: [11] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: [12] That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” (The purpose of our salvation from Hell to Heaven, verses 11-12, is to make us be in the heavenly places the corresponding unit to redeemed Israel in the earthly realm, verses 9-10! Yes, it is God’s wise and prudent plan.)

SUPPLEMENTAL: COLOSSIANS 1 AND “THE NEW WORLD TRANSLATION”

It is no secret that the “Jehovah’s Witnesses”—better termed “the Russellites,” after their founder Charles Taze Russell—consider Jesus Christ “a god” and not JEHOVAH God. This is apparent in their controversial rendering of John 1:1: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (cf. King James Bible: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”) The official Russellite position is Jesus Christ is a mere created being, Someone who is not co-equal and not co-eternal with God the Father. Allegedly, God created Jesus Christ, then God used Christ to create “everything else.” They use a depraved version of Colossians 1:16-20 to justify this claim. To them, Jesus is the “firstborn” of every creature in that He was the first being “Jehovah God” created. What nonsense!

Without any manuscript evidence whatsoever anywhere, they add the word “other” to the passage five times in their “New World Translation:” “[15] He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; [16] because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. [17] Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist,…. [20] and through him to reconcile again to himself all [other] things by making peace through the blood [he shed] on the torture stake, no matter whether they are the things upon the earth or the things in the heavens.” (Bold emphasis mine. Notice “by” has been changed to “through,” which is how modern English versions—including NKJV—read here as well. Also, did you see how the New World Translation did not use “cross” but “torture stake?” Jesus dying on a pole or stake is another unorthodox or peculiar belief of the Russellites.)

Their insertion of “other” five times is an unmistakable indication of their spiritual blindness. The Holy Spirit did not inspire or originate such garbage. “Things” in this context does not refer to any creatures (check verse 16). The noun “things” points to governmental positions or offices. Could Jesus Christ be “another throne?” Could He be “another dominion/lordship?” “Another principality/government?” “Another power/authority?” The language refers to the political influence being exercised, not the people exercising that influence.

“Other” is completely unnecessary; hence, the Greek Bible never had it! The Russellites translators added it—not once but five times. Such is nothing but a deliberate alteration to teach a pet denominational idea. It is awkward language, a sure testament to the false doctrine found among the Russellites and their authority (their sectarian “bible,” the New World Translation). No matter the cost—even if it means perverting God’s eternal words and diminishing the Lord Jesus Christ—they will keep their “traditions of men!” Again, the Holy Spirit would certainly not be involved in such a translation or denomination. When approaching Colossians 1:15-20, be careful not to fall in this trap!

Also see:
» Did Jesus Christ ever claim to be God?
» Is Jesus Christ God’s “one and only Son” or “only begotten Son?”
» What do you mean—“the prophetic program” and “the mystery program?”

Does Satan whisper evil words to us?

DOES SATAN WHISPER EVIL WORDS TO US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Superstition flourishes to the degree that Bible ignorance abounds. Irrational fears permeate so much of “Christian” thought that the general public is simply unable to distinguish truth from error. This is exemplified in the words of a lady this author visited sometime ago. She claims to be a believer in Jesus Christ (although her testimony is somewhat nebulous, as she is heavily Charismatic in doctrine, claiming to possess the spiritual gifts of healing and tongues). Many times she has great difficulty even articulating the pure Gospel of Grace. Her emotions have so dominated her that she exhibits behavior unbecoming for a Christian. (Details of such ridiculous conduct will be skipped here.)

On this particular occasion, the dear lady was describing something this author completely unexpected. Allegedly, when her ailing (dying) daughter was complaining of having evil thoughts, that mother would tell the daughter that it was Satan himself speaking to her. Is that possible? Does Satan whisper words into our ears? If we sit alone, and hear a voice talking to us about something bad, would that actually be Satan’s voice? Could it be someone else? In this study, we will carefully consider such matters.

A genius can devise a way to accomplish something seemingly “insurmountable.” The greater genius, however, can achieve that end while appearing to be doing something else. For example, a genius thief will not only take, but will take while operating under the guise of honesty (that thief will likely be the most trusted relative, friend, employee, et cetera). Here is a genius supreme, but there is someone wiser. Satan is the wisest of God’s creatures (Ezekiel 28:12), although he is certainly no match for God’s intellect. Millions of people—especially Christians (both professing and genuine)—assume they can positively identify and avoid Satan’s policy of evil. They have been led to believe they are able to flee his influence. However, they really have no idea as to the depths of his demented wisdom. The Bible speaks of Satan’s “wiles” or schemes, stratagems designed to outwit Christians. Oftentimes, he does outsmart them too!

Ephesians 6:11 orders us, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The Greek word translated “wiles” is “methodeia,” which is obviously the source of our English term “method” (as in “systematic course; procedure”). It is rendered “lie in wait” in chapter 4 and verse 14: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;….”

These Scriptures indicate that Satan himself does not need to whisper directly into our ears. No, his evil world system uses “men”human religious leaders—to deceive us. The poor lady all worked up about spiritual warfare is actually caught in her own trap—and she does not even know it! (See also Matthew chapter 23 and John chapter 8 for Israel’s spiritual dilemma… brought on by her corrupt religious leaders.) People in Christendom have been listening to denominational preachers spout speculations, but have not been turning pages in the Bible to see for themselves what is true and what is not!! This was ancient Israel’s downfall, and this contributes to so many wrecked Christian lives even now.

Turn to 1 Timothy chapter 4: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; [3] Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. [4] For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: [5] For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

What leads to this mass apostasy, departure from the truth? It is individuals listening to “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (verse 1). Who are these? They are the voices of those who are “speaking lies in hypocrisy” (verse 2). Remember, the genius of Satan’s evil world system is doing wrong while appearing to be good. For religious purposes, they will enforce celibacy and dietary restrictions (verse 3). Does this sound familiar? Friend, would you happen to know any such religious groups?! This has nothing to do with listening to the voices of evil spirits but rather people listening to the voices of heretical and apostate church leaders.

If we sit by ourselves, and we hear a “voice,” then there is one of three possibilities. Firstly, we may suffer from mental illness. Secondly, we can “hear” ourselves think. We are talking to ourselves, and we may not be aware of it. Lastly, our brains have recorded texts we have read, sermons we have heard, and images we have seen in our lifetime. Consciously or subconsciously, we can access these mental files and “play” them. If we use our memory, we can “re-hear” all sorts of things we have heard—voices of loved ones long gone, our favorite music being sung, and so on. This information can be good or bad, but it has nothing to do with Satan actually speaking into our ear or given us some supernatural glance into his realm. Here would be the superstitious nonsense that we will embrace if we are not holding to the written (!) Word of God, especially approaching it “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15). The reason we have evil thoughts is we have not let sound Bible doctrine renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:9-11)!! We have been listening to false doctrine in church, and it will not leave our memory unless we reprogram our minds.

Someone once spoke of the inexperienced person going against an expert as a game of a “checkers child” challenging a “chess grandmaster.” Unfortunately, this is where most professing Christians and most genuine Christians are in their Bible understanding. They attend local churches where men use the Bible as Satan himself would, and are thus vulnerable to Satan’s evil world system! While they assume they are not aligned with Satan, it is (in fact) a faulty assumption. No doubt, he will “beat” them because they have come unprepared.

Yes, Satan knows the Bible, and he quoted the Bible to the Lord Jesus (see Matthew 4:5-7; Luke 4:9-13). Never forget that, friend!!!!! The reality is Satan misquoted God’s Word—adding to it, taking from it, watering it down—and even ripped verses from their dispensational setting. Christ knew Psalm 91 is not a First Coming passage but a Second Coming passage, and refused to follow it in Matthew and Luke. It was not time for that passage to be fulfilled, so the Lord Jesus did not obey it. Even now, Satan encourages us to follow the Bible, so long as we do not use it dispensationally. Instead of going to Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, God’s current dealings with man, Satan’s evil world system has us going to everything else in the Bible. Again, these are stratagems, and we know they are so effectual because over two billion people quote Scripture today and are still confused about God’s will for them. They are too busy following God’s will for someone else in Scripture!

No, Satan has no reason to whisper evil words to us. We do that pretty good by ourselves—listening to false doctrine in religious settings and later repeating it in our sinful minds.

Also see:
» What is the difference between apostasy and heresy?
» What are Satan’s current operations?
» Why does God let Satan exist?

Who is speaking in Proverbs 8:22?

WHO IS SPEAKING IN PROVERBS 8:22?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old,” says Proverbs 8:22. Who is the “me?” Is it Jesus Christ, as often assumed?

In the first few centuries A.D., there arose a heresy by the name of Arianism. Supposedly, the Lord Jesus Christ was a created being, a “begotten God,” rather than the eternal JEHOVAH God of the Bible. You hear a modern-day form of this nonsense when a so-called “Jehovah’s Witness”—better termed a “Russellite” (follower of Charles Taze Russell)—tells you that Jesus Christ is “a god” rather than “God.” In fact, their New World Translation was rendered in John 1:1 so as to reflect their unorthodox theology: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (Our King James Bible, or Authorized Version, reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”)

Furthermore, John 1:18 says in the New World Translation, “No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him.” (Our King James Bible has, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”) The “conservative” New American Standard Version agrees in John 1:18 “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” Friends, we could not have a more liberal translation here!!!!

Where the King James Bible and its underlying manuscripts read “Son” (“only begotten Son”), some manuscripts have “God” (“only begotten God”). This latter set of manuscripts is the source of the New American Standard Version (NASV) and the New World Translation (NWT). From where did this ancient error originate? One church father and major Bible manuscript editor, Origen (A.D. 185–A.D. 254), held to Arianism. He likely perverted John 1:18 in some ancient Bible texts, among other mutilated textual passages. That would also make Origin responsible for the resultant English translations found in the NASV and NWT. “Son” was changed to “God,” and we can see how heresy has actually crept into certain English Bibles!

In light of the above confusion, some have appealed to other Bible verses to strain to find “Scriptural” evidence that Jesus was a created being, someone who has not existed eternally (as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit have). Proverbs 8:22 is one of their “proof-text” verses—although the wording in the King James Bible cannot be used to teach Arianism. “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old,” says Proverbs 8:22 in the Authorized Version. Read the verse in the following popular modern English versions, and note how they have unnecessarily added the verb “created”/“made”/”formed,” or the concept of creation or bringing something (someone?) into being:

  • New International Version: “The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;”
  • Amplified Bible: “The Lord created and possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old [were accomplished].”
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible: “The Lord made me at the beginning of His creation, before His works of long ago.”
  • New Living Translation: “The LORD formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else.”
  • New Revised Standard Version: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.”
  • Good News to Modern Man: “The LORD created me first of all, the first of his works, long ago.
  • The Living Bible: “The Lord formed me in the beginning, before he created anything else.”
  • Common English Bible: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his way, before his deeds long in the past.”
  • The Message: “GOD sovereignly made me—the first, the basic—before he did anything else.”
  • The New English Translation: “The LORD created me as the beginning of his works, before his deeds of long ago.”
  • The Voice: “The Eternal created me; it happened when His work was beginning, one of His first acts long ago.”
  • Revised Standard Version: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.”

Some interpret Proverbs 8:22 as Father God speaking of Jesus Christ. Then, the verse is made to read (using modern versions): “God created Jesus Christ at the beginning of creation….” However, this is not only heresy, it violates the context of Proverbs 8:22. The context was set in verse 1 (“Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?”) and in verse 12 (“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.”) The speaker of Proverbs 8:22 is not Jesus Christ; wisdom is the speaker. Wisdom is personified, given the trait of a living being, and it talks in order to issue counsel.

“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.” It would be so awkward to say, “The LORD possessed Jesus Christ in the beginning of His way.” What nonsense! “Me” here is wisdom. Proverbs 8:22 is simply teaching that Almighty God—actually Jesus Christ the Son (Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2)—exercised wisdom during the Creation Week. Contrary to what most scientists tell us, the heaven and the earth are not the result of some nebulous, random explosion and expansion of matter. Creation is the work of a wise God, a Supreme Being who had a plan and then brought it into existence by His spoken Word. He had knowledge about time, space, and matter—and then He had wisdom to bring it about. What an awesome God we Christians serve, brethren!

Also see:
» What does the Bible say about blood transfusions?
» Which Bible version should I use?
» “But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!”

Can you explain, “They be blind leaders of the blind?”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE EXPRESSION, “THEY BE BLIND LEADERS OF THE BLIND?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he [the Lord Jesus Christ] answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:12-14). Do the blind still lead the blind? (Yes, they do!)

We have an English expression derived from the above passage. Physical blindness is not under discussion. It is spiritual blindness. Those in the position of leading others to God have no idea how to reach God themselves. While they may hold a religious title, they are just as clueless about spiritual truths as skeptics!

Long ago, there was an evangelist who had “preached the Gospel” for over two decades in his particular denomination. Now facing death, he paced the floor, worrying aloud, “Am I going to Heaven when I die?” (Where did all this man’s followers go upon death? In all those years, had he ever preached to them a pure Gospel of Grace? That is quite scary! If he was worried about eternity, what peace had he offered them?!) Stop and think, dear friends, of how damaging denominationalism truly is. It does not matter what group or sect. People are so confused about even such basic Bible facts as a clear Gospel message. Yet, they would not hesitate to announce, “I am a Christian, and I know Jesus!”

The Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24) is found mostly succinctly in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” We do not have to wonder if we will make it to Heaven. If we rely on or trust the simple truth that Jesus Christ at Calvary paid our sin debt in full, that makes us fit for Heaven. We are showing God we as sinners cannot please Him. We are admitting that He had to do for us what we simply cannot do for ourselves. Alas, leave it to sinful man to complicate it!

Without question, the Lord Jesus did not hesitate to tell the truth about the religious leaders of His nation. These educated men had been entrusted with the Old Testament Scriptures, but they were evil. They hid God’s Word from the common people. Frankly, despite their godly appearance, they were enemies of the truth. They claimed to be serving the God of Abraham but were anything but!

Jesus, in Matthew 15:12-14, said Father God would judge those wicked priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and so on. According to Jeremiah chapter 23 and Ezekiel chapter 34, corrupt religious leaders had been a pervasive problem in Israel for centuries. Unfortunately, a similar condition has largely crippled the Body of Christ for nearly 2,000 years. Today, most Bible colleges, seminaries, and denominations train shallow Bible users and perverted Gospel preachers. These graduates matriculated through courses and classes, took and passed examinations, received certifications, and underwent ordinations. Philosophies learned, committees satisfied, and denominations approved. But, does God endorse them? Are they even members of the Church the Body of Christ? Or, just members of manmade denominations? Is the Spirit of God leading them? Or, is it simply the spirit of man? Did they learn the Bible? Or just suppositions, speculations, and hypotheses about Scripture?

Consider the leading “scholars” in Christendom today. They are experts in church history, fluent in Greek and Hebrew and Latin, longtime seminary professors, popular counselors, best-selling authors, members of denominational churches, and hosts to large television and radio audiences. However, how many have actually trusted Jesus Christ exclusively as their personal Saviour? Are they nothing but Christians in name only? Since much of the processing church is clueless about the Scriptures, they exalt non-Christians as Christians and pagan teaching as Christian. Indeed, “they be blind leaders of the blind.”

Notice Israel’s religious leaders. They misquoted Micah 5:2 in Matthew 2:6, and were willfully ignorant of other Old Testament passages and truths (Matthew 12:3-5; Matthew 19:4; Matthew 22:31; Mark 12:10,26; Luke 6:3; John 7:52). Even after witnessing numerous miracles, they asked Jesus to perform more (Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:4). They were content in their unbelief! The Lord exposed the fact that they had set aside God’s Word so as to keep their church traditions (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13).

They pretended not to know the truth, so as to conceal their unbelief (Matthew 21:24-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8). On three occasions, to no avail, they attempted to trick Jesus (Matthew 22:15-46; Mark 12:13-34; Luke 20:40). They actually looked for false witnesses to accuse Christ to condemn Him to death (Matthew 26:59-62)! Read His scathing rebukes of them as found in Matthew chapter 23, Luke chapter 11, and John chapter 8. They even lied to cover up His resurrection (Matthew 28:11-15).

Even today, those in “church leadership” are often unfit to lead God’s people. This author can honestly tell you that most of the so-called “Christian clergy” he has encountered these past 10-plus years could not identify Christian teaching. In fact, some have taken scoffer’s (!) positions at times—the preacher who did not take the Bible literally, the priest who outright laughed at Scripture, and so on. This author recalls the “Christian” lady who refused to hear him read the Bible to her. Never will he forget the church members who had attended denominational services for decades and were still biblically illiterate. Long ago, this author too was an ignorant Christian leader—one of the many blind leading the many blind. However, when he learned about dispensational Bible study, he left his denomination and never returned to it! Indeed, the blind do not have to stay blind.

In Matthew 15:12-14, the Lord said, “And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” What exactly is this “ditch?” That deep hole into which Israel will fall had already been predicted in Proverbs chapter 23: “[26] My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. [27] For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit. [28] She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men.” There is something more than physical prostitution here.

Notice the spiritual whoredom in Revelation chapter 17: “[1] And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: [2] With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. [3] So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. [4] And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: [5] And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

Since Israel’s religious leaders had taken her away from God’s truth, the nation would fall for the Antichrist’s false religious system (still future). Likewise, Christendom’s leaders have lured billions of church members into Satan’s trap. Greek, Hebrew, and Latin literacy are no substitute for the indwelling Holy Spirit! Familiarity with theology, church history, and denominational tenets are no replacement for sound Bible doctrine! Yet, the Holy Spirit and sound Bible doctrine are usually ignored when evaluating and choosing local church leaders. Followers of such ministries “carry on the tradition” by using those faulty criteria to assess life!

Read the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians. These saints exalted “scholarship,” believing that philosophy was key to learning God’s wisdom. First Corinthians chapter 2: “[11] For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. [13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [14] But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Sadly, the professing church today has yet to learn these truths. Most preachers and teachers are filled with the world’s wisdom. Very few are filled with the Holy Spirit, thinking as He would have them think. They do not approach the Bible dispensationally. They do not use the right Bible text (the manuscript family of the King James Bible). We can meet the people resulting from those ministries. They are copies of the confused souls who taught them. All this perplexity leads to atheism, agnosticism, and more denominations. Indeed, the blind are leading the blind! (And God is not to blame!)

Also see:
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?”
» I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?

Why did the Lord Jesus never tell jokes?

WHY DID THE LORD JESUS NEVER TELL JOKES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Why did Christ never tell jokes? (This question implies that He did not have a sense of humor. He did!)

The Lord was not a standup comedian but He was willing to “tell it like it was”—even if it meant employing amusing language to expose religious nonsense. Since we have a written record (and not audio), we cannot identify with certainty the tone in which these statements were made. Still, they are especially ridiculous, said in such a way as to pinpoint spiritual silliness in Israel’s midst. Similar words could be used to describe today’s religious absurdities.

STRAINING AT A GNAT, SWALLOWING A CAMEL

Matthew 23:24: “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” Is not this a most preposterous idea? Israel’s religious leaders are utterly insane as concerning priorities. They consider it utterly repulsive to find a tiny gnat in their wine, so do their best to filter it out before they eat it. Yet, they let a gigantic camel remain therein and proceed to swallow it with the wine! They willfully lack spiritual discernment: instead, they emphasize the minor and ignore the major. Moreover, as leaders, they are misguiding others to repeat their errors. They had the Word of God (Old Testament Scriptures), but they did not care to believe them. In fact, they had Jesus Christ in their midst and they did not want to hear Divine truth from His lips either.

ATTRACTIVE TOMBS, HIDEOUS CORPSES

Matthew chapter 23: “[27] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. [28] Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” On the outside, these religious leaders looked like they were God’s servants. They had a nice outward appearance wearing their gorgeous clothing, performing their humbling ceremonies, and working in sumptuous buildings… but it was all an act, a duplicitous show. On the inside, they had ugly hearts of sin, unbelief, and spiritual death. (For more information, see our “fig tree” study linked at the end of this article.)

LARGE CAMEL, SMALL EYE

Matthew chapter 19: “[23] Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. [24] And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Mark chapter 10: “[23] And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! [24] And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! [25] It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Luke chapter 18: “[24] And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! [25] For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

The idea of trying to fit a camel through a needle’s eye is another ridiculous scenario. Christ was intentionally absurd to prove a simple point. Wealthy people in Israel’s program—if given the opportunity to choose between their riches and faith in God—they would invariably decide to keep their wealth. Read the contexts of these verses: an affluent man was so materialistic he rejected Jesus in order to retain his fortune. The idolatrous wealthy would be as able to enter God’s kingdom as the camel could pass through the needle’s eye. Impossible! (See our related study linked below.)

Also see:
» Why did Jesus curse the “poor” fig tree?
» What is “the eye of the needle” in Matthew 19:24?
» Should we be “fruit inspectors?”