Sunday, 16 November 2014

False Teachers: Conclusion and Exhortation

In the last couple articles I revealed a number of false teachers and their error. Some may be familiar with them, some not. Now I come to the final person and some thoughts on where this stems from. This is not an exhaustive list of false teachers, nor an exhaustive list of solutions but it is a start and I do want to move on to other issues.

We close this series and come to a person and church that has only fairly recently come to light in the mainstream which we will come to. Steven Furtick and his Elevation Church. Charlotte Observer way back in 2008 described it as "a pop culture-friendly church with an orthodox Christian message.” You can immediately see a problem here but wait, there is more. Fast forward a few years to 2012 and you see them starting the new year off with a conference with speakers such as  T. D. Jakes of the Potters House and who was more widely known as an advisor to current American President Barack Obama. Also present was Joel Osteen. Though supposedly from the Southern Baptist denomination, many practices in the church mirror that of North Korea than anything else. An infographic emerged in February 2014 giving 29 reasons why Elevation is the best place to work. Innocent enough until you see that four of the reasons are as follows:

1. We serve a Lead Pastor who seeks and hears from God.
3. We serve a Lead Pastor we can trust.
7. We serve a Lead Pastor who pours into us spiritually and professionally.
16. We serve a Lead Pastor who goes first.

It may as well say Great Leader and the pastor’s name may as well be Kim Jong-Un! All four points reak of communist, dictatorial propaganda, but it is the last one that is the most serious.  A pastor who has been truly called of God will not go first at all, but rather reflect Christ as we all should. Don’t misunderstand me, he certainly has authority and this must be respected and honored, but to have any statement like that made public with the consent of the Pastor is a woeful misrepresentation of his role in the church. Steven Furtick is little more than a brand name of a product he is selling and it isn't God’s message. Not that one should even entertain the idea of selling the gospel for profit. It is freely given by God and should be freely given out by us.

What is he selling? He is selling glorification of himself. He is something special. He is so special he is able to save and mass baptize people. The teacher of a Baptist University was quoted as saying “This church has obviously discovered what we in the industry call the ‘Disneyfication’ of religious services.”

So what goes on in this show? Is it a model of accountability, reverencing the first act of obedience after salvation? Of course not. It’s fake, staged, and totally dishonest. People are so blind, Elevation church actually advertises how they con people. They have created a ‘kit’ and it tells you quite plainly, “Fifteen people will sit in the worship experience and be the first ones to move when Pastor gives the call. Move intentionally through the highest visibility areas and the longest walk...” as well as, “Pick young energetic people, not necessarily those who are there first.” The host team is directed to “Start in the hallway smiling, clapping and creating an atmosphere of excitement and help direct people to the changing rooms.” So we clearly have manipulation in overdrive with people being driven to being virtually drunk on their own emotions much like the music of the charismatics.

This along with the very obvious communist, dictatorial vibes make this a dangerous snare for any unsuspecting person who, when joining the church is taught to revere the greater leader Steve Furtick almost as though he were God. Such is the scale of the church’s apostasy that even secular news services consider this con-job performance worthy of mentioning. It makes one wonder how many are in hell as a result of this abhorant departure from the God-given method for baptism which is supposed to be an outward expression of one's belief in Jesus Christ.  

There are several general indicators whether when encountering pastors, churches, and other groups that call themselves Christians, including cults. They will deny key doctrines, such as the deity of Christ, The Trinity, sinful nature of man, or typically something crucial enough they cannot be Christians at all. Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer fall into this category. The second group are more subtle. They may outwardly be good, may preach a good sermon and may well be right in many areas including many doctrinal areas, but it is still quite possible to discern they are just as false and just as dangerous.

Such men like Rick Warren have sincere Christians who follow them and even Steve Furtick may well have baptized genuine believers. The problem arises when they refuse any form of accountability, are investigated by the IRS due to financial issues, and other things which are certainly not God honouring. Don’t misunderstand, I have no problem with riches, but our use of them should leave the observer in no doubt that money is not our God. Jesus Himself said you cannot serve God and money at the same time. Our conduct as His ambassadors should be impeccable. The problem with many preachers today is, while they themselves may be of reasonable character, those they endorse may not be. Once a person falls into the trap of ‘just win people to Jesus’ they are on a slippery slope. Winning souls is, of course, of paramount importance, but likewise so is the method. All around us we see acronyms, cute phrases, programs, schemes, and the list goes on. But all of these, while having their place, should not and cannot even come remotely close to diluting the gospel, nor should they cause us to endorse, or work with those who do not hold to sound Bible doctrine. But why is this Ecumenical Movement so bad?

The Encyclopedia Britanica defines it as, the movement or tendency toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation. The term, of recent origin, emphasizes what is viewed as the universality of the Christian churches.” Furthermore, even clear and obvious unbelievers are supportive of this, including the highly secretive Masonic Lodge. Albert Pike, former Supreme Pontiff of Universal Freemasonry said, "Masonry [is that religion] around whose altars the Christian, the Hebrew, the Muslim, the Brahman [Hindu], the followers of Confucius and Zoroaster, can assemble as brethren and unite in prayer

This was written way back in 1906, long before the Ecumenical movement as we know it started. Yet, sure enough, it’s reared it’s head time and time again. Recently the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Reformed Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Christian Reformed Church in North America, and the United Church of Christ all signed what they called the ‘Common Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Baptism.’ The document ignores all manner of common sense in that it is oblivious to the doctrinal differences and oblivious to the fact the god of the Catholic church is a false, pagan god, and the fact that they believe a false gospel of works.

Nevertheless, the Christian Post reported these five groups as saying, “Together we affirm that, by the sacrament of Baptism, a person is truly incorporated into the body of Christ, the church. Baptism establishes the bond of unity existing among all who are part of Christ's body and is therefore the sacramental basis for our efforts to move towards visible unity, we rejoice at the common faith we share and affirm in this document.

I must confess it’s difficult to put into words the revolution and horror I have at such wickedness. The idea that any church could collaborate with a false religion blinding millions and sending people to hell does nothing but please the very first deceiver, Satan, who is a liar, and the father of lies. It is no wonder, then, that Paul told Timothy, “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;
He is proud, knowing nothing….” (I Timothy 6:3-4a)

General Dwight Eisenhower once said (and it is unfortunate the source is unknown), “War is a terrible thing. But if you’re going to get into it, you’ve got to get into it all the way.” He’s right. The Apostle Paul, time and again, exhorted his readers to watch out, and stand firm.
In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10-11 AMP).
Yes, the battle is fierce, the battle is long and hard and,
“...the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour” (1 Peter 5:8b AMP)
Yet as powerful as he is, he can do nothing without the permission of God. Remember Job? I’m sure many of you do but take a look for a moment at Job 1:6-13. While there is insufficient space to quote the passage in full, we see Satan laughed at God and alleged Job feared God because he had riches. What happened? God limited Satan and prevented him from harming Job (vs. 12) later on we see he is allowed to do so but then was commanded to spare his life (2:6). This is certain proof that God is in control and our anchor is sure if our Anchor is indeed Christ and we are His children.

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