Saturday, July 1, 2017

Guest Post: The Perfect Spiritual Storm Looming

Perfect storm defined: a mixture of seemingly varied events that converge together creating a greater magnitude of devastation.
I remember as though it were yesterday a conversation I had with Dave Hunt not too long after he had moved to Bend, Oregon. He wanted me to move to Bend also that we might continue communicating with those who had responded favorably to the book I’d had the privilege of co-authoring with him, The Seduction of ChristianityThat book and many of his later books, articles, and sermons gave insights into most of the things that would prove to be portents of the developing apostasy that we see moving ahead at overwhelming speed and in wide circulation today.
In our 25 years of ministering through The Berean Call, we have extensively covered various aspects of the apostasy. Although some of the highly promoted deviations from Scripture have had their heyday and then appeared to have faded, in fact they have simply undergone alterations, changed players, assimilated other heresies, adjusted to the times, and become more devious, i.e., hidden in plain sight. One example of this is the Word/Faith Movement (W/FM). The popular leaders of days past included Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, Sr., Charles Capps, David (formerly Paul) Yonggi Cho, and Gloria and Kenneth Copeland. The Copelands are still around, along with their followers, and are promoting the same false teaching, but the W/FM has expanded to the Faith Healing Movement, the Prosperity Teachings, the Positive Confession Movement, and the Inner Healing Movement, all of which have been raised to a new level of sophistication as major tactics of the Adversary. These perversions of the Word of God originated when Satan deceived Eve in Genesis:3:1 with his words, “Yea, hath God said…?” Questioning and then repudiating what God has declared has been Satan’s strategy from the beginning and will continue until he is thrown into the Lake of Fire.
That Deceiver and Father of Lies has also employed a host of seemingly diverse deceptions that are nevertheless connected. The Word/Faith teachings are not merely a perversion of biblical faith, but they are of late gleaned from the mind science cults, with concepts that go back to Hinduism and other Eastern mystical religions. The teachings of this movement are found within Transcendentalism and New Thought, as well as the writings of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science and Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society brought Eastern spiritual beliefs into mainstream America.
E. W. Kenyon (1867-1948) is said to be the father of the Word/Faith Movement. Many of his teachings were the product of his New England education at The Emerson School of Oratory, a hot bed of Transcendental philosophy. Some authors, such as Thoreau, gleaned beliefs from the Bhagavad-Gita, the Vedas, and other sacred Hindu texts. Kenyon’s writings and preaching were a mixture of religious science, godhood for humanity, and the Scriptures, all of which became foundational to the myriad of W/FM-connected offerings.
The relationship to Eastern mysticism is irrefutable. Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Eastern religions teach that the physical world is maya, an illusion, and thus can be manipulated by various techniques: thinking (meditation, mind power), speaking (mantras), and imagery (visualization). The supreme deity of Hinduism is an impersonal god—a spiritual energy of which everything consists. That energy force is positive and negative (yin and yang) and can be controlled by the gods, i.e., all humans. Self-realization—to realize one’s own godhood—is the goal of yoga.
Even a cursory review of the Word/Faith teachings reveals its clear connection to pagan and occult origins. Terms such as positive confession, faith as a power, negative thinking, speaking forth healing, commanding wealth, visualizing what’s being prayed for, realizing that humans are gods under God, and the like, abound in this movement that has corrupted the biblical doctrine of faith for millions. The latest development among W/FM adherents is the New Apostolic Reformation agenda, which claims to produce new Apostles and Prophets who will take over the world and turn it into a paradise, setting up Christ’s kingdom before He can return from heaven. They will minister in power as gods.
These heresies are being taught to the upcoming generation of Christian youth at schools connected with Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, and Bill Johnson’s Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, California, and their worldwide satellites.
Also related to the beliefs of the Word/Faith Movement is the teaching of Positive Mental Attitude and Possibility Thinking brought into the church primarily by Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller and advanced by “Christian” business organizations such as Amway and Mary Kay Cosmetics. Among Peale’s numerous false teachings is his endorsement of occult visualization as a biblical prayer technique; Schuller championed the building of one’s self-esteem (as presented in his book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, which was sent out to 250,000 pastors) as the primary objective of his psychologized gospel. Peale was instrumental in ushering in psychology as a means of counseling in the church, which then paved the way for the practitioners of so-called Christian psychology, whose major therapeutic methodology is the unbiblical doctrine of self-love.
As I move on to psychology, I hope you are seeing the links between the beliefs and practices that I’ve mentioned thus far. All these things have been documented in the books, articles, videos, radio programs, and talks that Dave and I have presented over the years and are archived on TBC’s website. What then of psychology? An editor for Psychology Today declared that Eastern mysticism would come to the West through the teachings of psychology. Although there are more than 50 different fields of psychology, together they pale in influence when compared to psychotherapy or psychological counseling. Though posing as science, secular researchers tell us that the methods used in psychotherapy are little different from those used by shamans and witch doctors (who are mediators between man and the spirit realm). Psychology’s spirit connection is most blatant in the field of transpersonal psychology, also known as spiritual psychotherapy. Its relationship to Eastern mysticism is undeniable. Yoga meditation, which has overtaken the West since the 1970s, has been incorporated into psychotherapeutic programs such as MindUp and Mindfulness and touted as a cure-all for life’s various problems. It is claimed that these programs are especially helpful for children.
The answers to life’s questions, we are told, are found by looking within, delving into the subconscious where the true self is found. Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung taught that it is in the subconscious where everything that has happened in one’s life resides, and those events psychically determine every aspect of that life. It is the supposed workings of the subconscious that offer a pseudo-scientific explanation for what Hindu yogis have taught for thousands of years as karma and reincarnation.
Psychology’s salvation for humanity is rooted in “self,” and its self-actualization concept is the same as the self-realization belief of Hinduism. Both have the ultimate goal of the deification of humans and the worship of self. This should come as no surprise for the biblical Christian, because the Bible tells us that self-delusion began with Lucifer in heaven, and he brought it to earth in his deception of Eve (Isaiah:14:12-14Genesis:3:1-5). Furthermore, Scripture tells us that the demonically possessed Antichrist will “sit in the temple of God, [showing] himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians:2:4). That’s the Lie.
“The Lie” takes on many forms, some far less obvious than what’s been described. Yet they can all be recognized by asking this simple question: Does what is being presented involve man displacing God by endeavoring to save himself, whether by fixing his temporal issues or securing his eternal destiny? Whatever contributes to those objectives is a form of “works salvation,” i.e., man playing God. Every religious belief system (including atheism) other than biblical Christianity is an attempt made by humanity to save itself without the help of the true and living God. Saving mankind is something that only Jesus Christ can do. Scripture calls humanity’s rebellious attempt at salvation the broad way that leads to destruction, which, tragically, many will follow (Matthew:7:13).
The lie of godhood is found in some form in all that has been noted above and in much more than this brief article can cover. It’s important, however, to have given some details to prove the Satanic connection between these numerous diverse movements. Why? Because they will converge in these last days prior to the Lord’s return for His bride and will be firmly established after the church is removed. At present, cries for unity and oneness abound, declaring that we are all connected. Their mutual beliefs and practices are components that will come together forming the perfect storm of godlessness—the religion of the Antichrist.
If the church will be removed in the Rapture (which it will!), why should we be concerned about a religion that will come together after believers are removed? First of all, the religion of the Antichristdoesn’t pop up overnight. It’s been in the works since Satan deceived Eve in the Garden. Secondly, Jesus gave the answer to His disciples when they asked about the End Times. He characterized those times by saying, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew:24:4-5). That deception about which He warned His disciples has two consequences: 1) It hinders the lost from turning to the Lord, and 2) It prevents believers from being fruitful and productive. Regarding the latter, all believers have been saved unto (not by) good works, and, in the Lord’s words, we are to “bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John:15:8).
So it would seem that diverting or wrecking a believer’s good works is Satan’s only effective stratagem against the Lord’s bride. This ploy is found in some “Christian” agendas that have duped believers into supporting programs that, in fact, contribute to setting up Christ’s kingdom before the King himself returns. A number of very influential yet diverse programs today are attempting to do that very thing in the camps of the Kingdom Dominionists, the Amillennialists, and the Ecumenists. The Bible’s timeline of events to come clearly reveals that the kingdom that will emerge following the Rapture of the church is the kingdom of the Antichrist, and thus all believers who are presently caught up in those unbiblical programs today are unwittingly and unfruitfully serving the cause of the Adversary.
It is hoped that everyone reading this is aware that conditions in the world and especially in the church have changed dramatically over the last two decades. The warnings presented in the book of Acts, in 1 & 2 Timothy, Jude, 1 & 2 Peter, and the first three chapters of Revelation, have been blatantly manifested. Verses that prophesy “when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?”; “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…and they shall turn away their ears from the truth…”; “in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves…”; “grievous wolves shall enter in among you…Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Luke:18:82 Timothy:4:3-42 Timothy:3:1-2Acts:20:29-30). In my four decades as a believer involved in observing, speaking, and writing about issues that have adversely affected the body of Christ, those verses, among so many more that could be given, seem like understatements—a high tide compared to the spiritually dark tsunami we are presently experiencing. Could a revival forestall the flood? That’s not impossible with God, but there is neither any hint of collective repentance in the world or in the church nor is there prophetic scripture to support such a hope. Therefore the apostasy will continue unabated.
How then should we deal with it? We at The Berean Call see our function as workers in a rescue operation, praying that our materials reach those “who [have] ears to hear….if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (Mark:7:162 Timothy:2:25). We want to get information regarding discernment issues to our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially encouraging one another to hold up to the light of God’s Word what they are being taught. As for those in leadership positions, we want to support them as they deal with specific erroneous doctrines and practices, influential false teachers, and extra-biblical trends and agendas that can enter into a fellowship. Our heart is with Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian elders: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts:20:28).
To this end we have developed a new “Topics” section on our website that features 25-plus years of archived resource materials. It may be accessed at Just click on “Topics” at the top of the page. There you’ll find a list of subjects with which we have dealt over the years, along with links to newsletters, Q&As, radio programs, and more, for each topic.
If you don’t have access to our website, we haven’t forgotten you! In July we plan to release our first printed “Topics” booklets. They will contain much of the same information presented on our website in an abbreviated but comprehensive format. Booklets on Mysticism, Hebrew Roots, and the Emerging Church are in the works now and, the Lord willing, will be followed by a host of other subjects. We want these inexpensive little booklets to be a great resource for those who seek information, enabling them to quickly get up to speed on a specific issue, or to share with someone else. We’re hopeful that we can become more effective in our desire to assist the body of Christ, especially those who have been called to be shepherds and are ministering to the Lord’s sheep. We covet your prayers for this endeavor.      

By: McMahon, T.A.

Sunday, June 4, 2017


Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for being here! In today’s program, we continue a series of classics from our Search the Scriptures Daily archives with the late founder of The Berean Call, Dave Hunt, and TBC executive director Tom McMahon. This week, they address the question: What Is Satan’s Greatest Ploy? And now, here’s Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re tuned in to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. In this first segment of Search the Scriptures Daily, we have been going through Dave Hunt’s book Seeking and Finding God: In Search of the True Faith. And last week we began chapter nine, titled: “What Is the Gospel?”
And, Dave, as I said, I believe it’s the most important chapter in your book, because in it you explain the gospel of salvation. And what I mean by “explain” is that you give information to help people understand what man did that separated him from God forever, and what God did (and only He could do) to reconcile mankind to Himself, of course what mankind must do to obtain salvation God has provided, which is what we are going to talk about. As a recap of what we went over last week, we noted in the first chapter of Genesis, God declares that everything He created is very good (that’s Genesis:1:31). In chapter 2, God made Adam’s obedience critical to their relationship by commanding him not to eat the fruit of a certain tree in the garden. He told Adam that the penalty for disobeying Him would be death – that is, his physical life would come to an end, and his spirit would be separated from God forever. And sometime after God’s command was given, Satan seduced Eve into disobeying it.
Now, Dave, it’s worth going over the seduction, because Satan from the beginning hasn’t changed his basic approach to deceiving mankind. He, in fact, has expanded upon it. So let me go to Genesis:3:1-6, but you stop me at any time for your comments.
“Now the serpent…” This is Genesis:3:1: “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”
Dave: Now, Tom, you said to stop you at any time. We’ve dealt with this in the past, but a lot of people will say, “A talking serpent? To begin with, I mean, this is fantasy, this is fiction.” But I would mention that we’ve got scientists, serious scientists, who are studying chimpanzees, trying to teach them the alphabet and how to communicate. There are others who claim they are communicating with porpoises and so forth. “The serpent was more subtle…” It’s not talking literally about a snake. However, probably Satan spoke through a snake…
Tom: Right.
Dave: …but this is symbolic of Satan – more than that. And somehow (and we have commented on it in the past), why does Satan love to be called a serpent? I mean, he doesn’t shun this, and he has serpent worship going on all over the world. We won’t go back into the details of that, but this is everywhere. This is the primary object of worship all over the world.
Tom: Right. And, Dave, this has to give credibility…we believe it, but it has to give credibility to the Genesis account, because not only is the serpent worshiped, as you said, but the serpent becomes the healer. It’s the absolute opposite of what the Word of God teaches, and that would follow, too. If this was a lie, if this was a deception of Satan, this is what his program is all about.
Dave: The serpent has become the symbol of wisdom – not only wisdom, but of salvation. The serpent has taken the place of God.
Tom: Right. Dave, as we’ve also mentioned, there’s a ploy here on Satan’s part. He has seduced – this is the process of seducing mankind, and it hasn’t changed from the beginning. It’s just, as I mentioned earlier, Satan has expanded upon it. But it begins with, “Yea, hath God said?” So the objective here is to…God spoke; He gave the command to Adam, and then to Eve, and we now have… “Oh, we’re going to massage it around. Did He really say that? Is that what God meant? That’s just an interpretation that some people are giving it.” But really what that means is undermining the Word of God is what was going on here.
Dave: Well, Tom, when we read – you would just have to read Psalm 119, what it says about the Word: “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” We are saved through the Word. Jesus is the living Word, and the Word of God is under attack. There are – once again, and I won’t get off on that subject, but as you know I’m writing a book at the moment: Cosmos, Creator, and Human Destiny. And one of the things you realize: this is all about atheism. Evolution is about atheism. Richard Dawkins, the chief atheist in the world says, oh, he once upon a time was a good Anglican Christian boy. But at the age of 15-16, it was Darwinism that turned him to atheism. It’s an attack upon God. You don’t need God; in fact, they come right out and say it: “You don’t need God to create anything. Nature does it.” So they’re taking us back to nature worship.
Now, Satan, in a sense, was kind of leading them in that direction. Here we’ve got a serpent – this is a part of nature, and you can see how the whole thing hangs together. But Satan is behind it because – we’re talking about salvation, eventually, when we get to verse 15 back there, if we get that far. But if we go to 1 Peter:1:23-25, it says that we are born again, and Jesus said you must be born again.
Tom: Must be born again.
Dave: Right. We are born again by the Word of God. Well, if that’s the case, Satan is going to do whatever he can to destroy the Word of God. Then it goes on a little…well, without going into the details, the verses in between – verse 25 says: “And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” So here we find out why we must preach the gospel, because if you don’t believe the gospel you are lost. You can’t be born again except through believing the gospel. It’s that simple; this is what the Bible says. So the importance of the Word of God…we are to earnestly contend for this faith that comes through the Word of God.
Tom: And, Dave, what we’re seeing today, and of course it’s a good example where you have it right here in Genesis, is that, “Well, let’s dialogue about the gospel. Let’s get into conversation about it,” and so on. Not in seeking truth, but the strategy is to undermine the truth.
Dave: Well, first of all, if you’re going to dialogue about something, obviously there’s a question as to whether it is true or false. You don’t dialogue about mathematics; we don’t dialogue about the law of gravity, or the laws of aerodynamics. While pilots are up there, pilot and co-pilot – “Well, I wonder…let’s have a little dialogue about this.” No, but you dialogue about the Word of God, they say, in order to undermine it.
Tom: And, Dave, we’re going to see this in picking up with Genesis:3:2: “And the woman said unto the serpent (here we are in dialogue), We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Now, last week we pointed out that God didn’t say, “Neither shall ye touch it,” okay? So right away when you’re in dialogue, things get massaged around, ideas are added, things are taken away – that’s the problem. If it’s the truth, there can be no change.
Dave: Let me make a little comment here, Tom.
Tom: Sure.
Dave: This is what Eugene Peterson does. Eve is giving her version of the Word of God, and she’s adding a few words of her own. Eugene Peterson does that all the time.
Tom: He, by the way, is the author of The Message Bible.
Dave: Right. But it began way back there with a man that we all respected, and it was the Living Bible. And how that began was, well, his children couldn’t quite understand the King James – I guess he was reading it to them – so he kind of rewrote it, added a few things, but he kept pretty close. He was really trying to give you what the Bible said. Eugene Peterson, he just introduces his own ideas, he literally…well, I get angry, and I better forget about it, but he literally trashes the Bible. What he says is, “God, you didn’t know how to say this. In fact, there’s a few things that You missed here and there, and I’m going to put them in there to help You out, because You didn’t foresee the kind of a society we would be living today, and let me straighten that out for You.”
Tom: Yeah, well, even if he didn’t have that intent, that’s the end product. That’s exactly what he did. You can only say, rather than “thus sayeth the Lord,” the best you can say is “thus sayeth Eugene Peterson.”
Dave: Any yet he is praised for this.
Tom: I know. Dave, picking up with Genesis:3:4: “And the serpent said unto the woman, (after this dialogue in which he, as we said, he’s undermining the Word of God) Yea hath God said…?”
Dave: Yeah, well, Tom, I’m sorry…
Tom: Go ahead.
Dave: They’re discussing now. “Well, let’s have a discussion now. You say you think this is what God said, but let me tell you, I’ll give you a new twist on it.” So now, incredibly, this is the first committee to discuss the Bible and see if they couldn’t rewrite it.
Tom: But there’s always a goal. There’s an objective, there’s an agenda, and we know he has it, and we hear it in verse 4: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:” So bottom line is he’s rejecting what God has said. He’s calling God a liar. Now it’s not just her interpretation, but he’s going right after God. This is atheism; this is the new atheism, the militant atheism, right?
Dave: Well, it’s also modernism. It’s also…I don’t know, Presbyterianism, Congregationalism – well, and a lot of Baptists do the same thing: “The Bible is old-fashioned. It really doesn’t apply. Furthermore, there are things in the Bible that we don’t like. It had to be wrong on homosexuality, and it had to be wrong on this,” and so forth. So they redo it according to what they want it to say.
Tom: And Satan’s scheme here is not only is he attacking the character of God, rejecting what God said, calling God a liar, but he’s withholding something from Adam and Eve. This is verse 5: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
Dave: We mentioned that last week, I think. He doesn’t say, “You will be God.” This is not how to become God. In fact, he puts her a notch lower. He said, “I will be like the Most High.” But he says, “You shall be as the gods, knowing good and evil.” So, well, that was an introduction of polytheism. He did away with one; I mean, how many Most Highs can you have? Obviously Satan is not so stupid that he would dare to try to push onto the human race, “These are all the Most Highs.” No, you can only have one Most High, but that becomes questionable as to who the Most High is.
And again, I don’t want to revert to this too often, Tom, but the atheists now say, “Wait a minute, Creator? Well, now we are in an infinite regress, because who created the Creator? Doesn’t the Creator need a creator, too? You’re going to explain everything by the Creator? You’re going to say He’s the one who explains everything else because He created it all? Yeah, but who created the Creator?” We won’t even get into that, Tom. It’s stupidity.
Tom: It’s absurd, of course. Well, Dave, what I find absolutely amazing here is this is the lie, Satan offers the lie to Eve – in this case, something that he deluded himself into believing when he was in heaven as Lucifer, right?
Dave: Right.
Tom: And we find this lie working its way throughout Scripture. At the end we have the Antichrist setting himself up in the temple of God, to be worshiped as God – that he is God. That’s the lie, isn’t it?
Dave: Right, yes. You can be a god, and ultimately you are God, because you could rewrite the Bible. You can redo whatever you want, and God has been pushed out of the picture.
Tom: So we not only have this in many religions, the idea – well, we have it in Mormonism, that every Mormon male wants to achieve godhood, to become a god having his own world, and so on. But we have that, Dave, in psychology. To me there is God, the Creator God transcendent, and self. Once you push God out of the way, which all of these approaches are attempting to do, then you’re left with self, and self is god. So we have not only self-love, self-esteem, all these selfisms today through psychology, but it all leads to self-deification. If there is no God, then we are God, right?
Dave: Well, this is literally what Carl Rogers said: that we have forgotten this “God,” pushed him out. By the way, he studied in a seminary.
Tom: Yeah, Union Theological Seminary. This is Carl Rogers the psychologist.
Dave: Right. But he said, “Now we look within to find the god within, and we worship at the altar of self.” Pretty clear.
Tom: Yeah, and again, it’s the lie, the lie that began in heaven – Lucifer claiming to be as the Most High, and then offering that lie to Eve, and we have it throughout history. Dave, verse 6, now, does Eve reject this? Well, I’ll read it for us.
Dave: Well, it’s a pretty great idea for her.
Tom: “And when the woman…” this is Genesis:3:6, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
Dave: How could you argue with that? It’s beautiful, it’s delicious, it’s nutritious, and it will make you wise! What more could you want? So forget this Bible.
Tom: Or obviously, she’s looking at it, and Satan must be right; God was withholding all of these things from her.
Dave: Yeah, so here we are. Here’s how man became separated from God, because God cannot allow this kind of rebellion in His universe. These are the first two that He has created. He gives them the easiest command He could give. You’ve got, I don’t know, thousands, millions of trees; take your pick. Eat your way through every one of them! You can have any one you want, but there’s just this tree here. And I think it was like any of the others – nothing special, no power in this tree. There wasn’t some magic in this tree. No, the problem was disobedience, and God gave them a test: “Just don’t eat of this one tree, okay?” And they failed the test.
Tom: Dave, the consequences, separation, which God said, we went over this. This is Genesis:2:17,18. He said, “The day you eat thereof you will surely die,” and as we mentioned, this is separation from God. This is physical death as well as spiritual separation from God.
Now, how did they respond to this, after recognizing right away that they had sinned, that they had disobeyed God? Genesis
3:7-8: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.”
Dave: Tom, let me just go back to “the day you eat thereof, you will die.” Sorry, I can’t get these things out of my mind, because there is a book I’m writing and I have to know what these people think, and so forth. But they don’t know what life is. You see, you read something about evolution… “Oh yeah, Darwinism! Oh, that’s how we find out, you know, how the species developed.” Wait a minute! Darwin’s first book was titled – part of the title was The Origin of Species. He doesn’t tell you the origin of any species, because that’s a problem! Where did the first species come from? And what is life? How can you talk about something evolving? You don’t know what life is. John 1 tells you of Jesus: He created everything. In Him was life! Science cannot tell you what life is, they just cannot!
So now we’ve got – how are you going to introduce life into this universe? God is life. “I am the way, the truth, the life.” In Him is life. Okay? So now – “the day you eat thereof you’re going to die.” That means this life is in God’s hands. It came from Him. He can take it away from you. But He’s going to take the very heart of this life away from you, and that is Himself, the relationship with Himself.
And being cut off from God, you’re cut off from life. So now we are dying: the species – every species is dying, and unless they’ve come up with some new discovery, as far as I know, doctors cannot tell you why. The moment we’re born we begin to die. Why? Because the source of life has been removed. Although we have physical life, we do not have the source of that life within ourselves, and we’re going to have to get it back from God and by entering into a right relationship with Him.
Tom: And, Dave, this was God’s command that they broke, they disobeyed.
Dave: Tom, can you imagine the chutzpah? Not just chutzpah…
Tom: Which is Yiddish, meaning “nerve?”
Dave: I mean, you’re thumbing your nose at the Creator. You’re saying, “Well, I don’t have to do what You want me to do.” It’s incredible! It’s beyond comprehension. This puny little creature who thinks he can defy the living God! That’s what disobedience is, and that’s what Adam and Eve did.
Tom: Dave, we’re out of time for this segment, but next week we are going to pick up here, and you wonder, “Well, why didn’t God just rap them on the knuckles, or kind of forgive them, or say, ‘Well, you know, it was a small deal, you know. It’s just a piece of fruit, and no big issue. We’ll work it out’”? Well, God is perfect in every attribute that He has, and one is divine justice. So the penalty had to be paid, and next week we will see how that was accomplished.
Gary: You’ve been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7 with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. The complete radio discussion of Dave’s “Seeking and Finding God” is available from The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon, 97708. Call us at 800.937.6638; or visit our website at the I’m Gary Carmichael, thanks for tuning in and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Guest Post: How's Your Walk with the Lord Going?

If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Years ago, we at the Berean Call had a board member who also pastored a church not too far from Bend, Oregon, where TBC is located. His name was Bob Zachary, and he was a true shepherd of his flock. He was highly respected in his community, and it seemed as though everyone knew Pastor Zachary. Even here in Bend, when I would go places with him, we would often run into former members of his fellowship who were now living here. His amiable greeting was always charged at some point with these words, “How’s your walk with the Lord going?” What a wonderful question that was, revealing his love and concern for his sheep, former and present, and opening the door for encouragement or conviction or correction. Bob was graciously “old school”—or perhaps I should say old “biblical” school—not influenced by the social correctness of the day or given to small talk. His conversations were concise gems of ministry, as he focused upon Jesus and His Word. He deferred to the Holy Spirit to have His way in the communication, knowing that he was simply a planter of spiritual seeds for thought or sometimes a waterer of seedlings, encouraging their growth (1 Corinthians:3:7), and that any fruitfulness that might come would be produced by God himself.
Churches in our day sorely need pastors like Bob Zachary, who is now home with the Lord, enjoying the rewards of his labor in Christ. In these times, where consumerism reigns in fellowships, where seeker-sensitive/seeker-friendly approaches, marketing surveys and strategies, and self-oriented psychotherapies are implemented for church growth, questions like “How’s your walk with the Lord going?” are anathema. Why? Because they may bring about conviction of sin, which is a turn-off for the “consumer Christian,” one who is led by things that primarily make him or her feel good. When that doesn’t happen, the consumer goes elsewhere.
This is the paradigm of our times. It’s a shift from objective truth to subjective feelings and is apparent in the world and in the church as both unwittingly contribute to the development of the “self is a god” religion of the Antichrist. Joel Osteen didn’t produce the largest church in America by preaching sin and repentance. Quite the contrary! Consumer Christians must hear what makes them happy—or, again, they’re gone. The irony of the Church Growth Movement was that its stated intention to woo the lost or “unchurched” to church didn’t increase their numbers by conversions. They simply enlarged their congregations by offering the most attractive programs! That increase, in fact, was drawn from smaller churches that couldn’t afford “feel good” offerings, such as a video arcade for the youth, a food court, theatrical programs, sports programs (including “Christianized” yoga), etc. Winning souls to Christ through conviction of sin and repentance has no place in church-growth marketing schemes. Neither does a worldly approach solve a believer’s problems that arise from living on this fallen planet.
Asking someone how his walk with the Lord is going has been, in my experience, the basis for a rapid exit in more than a few counseling sessions where I’ve ministered. Over the years, as I’ve had opportunities to help brothers-in-Christ and couples who profess to know the Lord, my initial approach has been to pass over the problems they want solved and focus on the status of their walk with Jesus. That didn’t gratify those who were merely interested in a quick fix. They missed the fact that nearly all of our problems are actually symptoms created by an anemic or worse relationship with our Lord. The basis of that alienation can be summed up in our Savior’s own words: “And why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke:6:46). Those seeking help for their marriages most often want the faults of their spouses addressed and corrected ASAP! Even if that were to take place (I’ve yet to see it happen swiftly), it never gets to the root of their problems. And by “root,” I’m not referring to their family history, childhood traumas, economic conditions, low self-esteem, lack of self-love, or the myriad of fabricated psychotherapeutic therapies. No. The root of my concern for them is where they are in their obedience and love for Jesus.
Jesus declared: “If a man love me he will keep my words…” (John:14:23). That’s hardly complex, nor does it demand months and years of “inner” therapy. If they are on track with the Lord’s exhortation, then I can guarantee that problems are going to get solved and things are going to get better for them. How quickly? That depends on the willingness of those involved to do things God’s way. Relationships don’t usually go south overnight and therefore may take time to be restored. The restoration, however, doesn’t come through session after session with a counselor—Christian, biblical, or otherwise. It comes through reading what God’s Word says…and doing it. The good news is that although we may drift away from Jesus, He is always there for us (Hebrews:13:5). Furthermore, the believer has the Holy Spirit resident within to enable him or her to repent and then do things God’s way with His help.
As believers, we need to continually evaluate where we are in terms of doing things according to God’s Word: Scripture exhorts us to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except [unless] ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians:13:5). We are told that we as followers of Jesus are in the world but not of the world. Our program is not the world’s program. Consequently that difference will create problems for us—problems that may come along for the sake of Christ. As difficult as that may be for us, such conditions are fully covered by God’s grace. In other words, nothing that happens can displace God’s loving kindnesses, tender mercies, compassion, blessings, and even the joy He has for us. James tells us that we are to  “…count it all joy” when we undergo trials and tribulations in the testing of one’s faith (James:1:2-3). Without the supernatural help of God’s grace, that joy would be impossible.
On the other hand, grace does not exempt the believer from the repercussions of doing his own thing (i.e., walking his own walk rather than following Jesus). Even so, God’s mercy is always available for His children. Sin does have consequences: “The wages of sin is death...” (Romans:6:23), meaning the resulting separation of a believer in his relationship (not his eternal security) with Jesus as well as reaping what he has sown. Even so, by God’s mercy, the repentant believer is delivered from what he has done in disobedience to God’s Word, at least to some degree. God’s mercy notwithstanding, walking our own disobedient walk will bring nothing but grief to our lives and to our loved ones, directly and/or indirectly.
The prophet Jeremiah underscores what our own sins do to us: “Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the way?...Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee…. Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart” (Jeremiah:2:17,19; 4:18).
The Word of God gives instructions that must be obeyed if our lives are to bear fruit. As we examine problematic areas in our lives, we need only check to see if what we are doing lines up with the Scriptures. Yes, some things that occur may be out of our control, but for most things, we can discover the answer regarding our problems in what we are doing or not doing. How are we ministering to our children? Why are they creating havoc in our family? Might it have something to do with our own walk, which they are observing? Are we reflecting the light and life of Christ? How are we treating our spouses? That’s one condition that can hinder answers to prayer (see 1 Peter:3:7). Are we self-serving? Has the fruit of the Spirit gone AWOL, either partially or altogether? What of Love? Joy? Peace? Longsuffering? Kindness? Goodness? Faithfulness? Gentleness? Self-control? The simple truth is that doing things man’s way leads to destruction (Proverbs:14:12; 16:25). Doing things according to God’s instructions, and with His help, leads to a fruitful temporal life and eternal rewards.
Referring to those who have received the gospel of salvation, Jesus said that the free gift was made free for us by His paying the full penalty for our sins: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John:10:10). That must include every believer’s life here on earth as well as our future life throughout eternity, or else biblical Christianity is nothing more than powerless moral and ethical platitudes, a self-help program of supposed good works. Scripture speaks continually of God’s rewards in heaven for a believer’s commitment and service to Him on earth. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter:1:10-11): “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians:1:3). Yet it also tells us of God’s blessings here on earth for those who obey His instructions. John:10:10 makes it clear that Jesus came not only to give us eternal life but life that may be lived “more abundantly.” Reactions to the lies of the so-called prosperity teachers have caused many Christians to either jump aboard their health-and-wealth gospel or disregard what the Scriptures actually teach about prosperity. When John writes in 3 John:1:2 about prosperity, his focus isn’t upon financial blessing for a believer but rather for one’s whole life in Christ—body, soul, and spirit. Wealth may indeed come, but only as it enriches the saint’s overall life in Christ. Moreover, affluence, according to God’s Word, is a more difficult condition in which to submit to the teachings of Christ. The rich young ruler of Matthew:19:16-24 and the seed of the Word being choked out by “the deceitfulness of riches” in Mark:4:19 indicate as much. It’s not impossible, but it’s not a path that many want to pursue in their desire for wealth. What we may be missing here is of what the abundant life in Christ may truly consist.
Do wealthy people have problems? Perhaps not related to finances, but there are many other problems that a more-than-adequate bank account can’t fix. Everyone has problems. Yet they can all be solved in Christ through the abundance of what He has provided for every believer. Consider what was mentioned earlier—the fruit of the Spirit. As those qualities are truly manifested in a believer’s walk with the Lord, think of the all the consequences of sin they will remedy: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians:5:22-23). “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth. Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians:5:8-11). We need to be reminded of Jeremiah’s words here: “Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you” (Jeremiah:5:25). God indeed has good things for believers that the world can neither prevent nor acquire. Beyond solving our personal problems, He wants us to be fruitful in this world, in our families, in our communities, in our workplaces. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians:2:10).
Good works, as I hope we all know, can’t save anyone. No one is saved by themWe are saved by Jesus. Yet, as His workmanship, He saved us unto good works, enabling us to live a life that is fruitful, productive, a blessing to others, and most of all—pleasing to God. All of those things are contingent upon our relationship with Jesus, our walk with Him. So….
How’s your walk with the Lord going? As we’ve indicated, that question is definitely not rhetorical. It demands self-examination. It demands a soul-searching answer, and your answer will reveal those things that you need to maintainobtainrestrain, and, in some cases, from which you must abstain. Paul’s prayer for those in the church at Colosse is a prayer that we should pray continually for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for all who claim to follow Jesus. “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians:1:9-11).