Friday, November 2, 2018

Guest Post: Preparation for Antichrist

We noted in the last newsletter that since the Antichrist is a counterfeit "Christ" there must be a large "Christian" church on earth to recognize, support and worship him. Of course, this is where the apostasy which is now gathering momentum leads: to the formation of just such a church, which will be the apostate bride of the Antichrist, as the true church is the Bride of Christ. The religion of ancient Catholic Rome—paganism under a thin veneer of "Christianity"—must become the world religion in partnership with Antichrist's world government through the prophesied political revival of the Roman Empire. The partnership between emperor (Antichrist) and the pope must be revived as well.
The Antichrist will be worshiped by the entire world. To make this possible, apostate "Christianity" must enter into union with all of the world's religions—while at the same time there must be a recognition of the importance of "spirituality" by the secularists. As one syndicated columnist put it in an article titled, "What Part Will Religion Play in Emerging Global Struggles?":
In Chicago, which was once considered the heart of Midwestern America, there are now more Muslims than Methodists, more Buddhists than Presbyterians, more Hindus than Congregationalists....In the future, the majority of Christians will be living in the Third World....It's not particularly chic to mix talk about religion and politics, but there is a connection.
An ecumenical union of all religions is seen to be essential, for there can be no political peace without religious peace as well.
The ecumenical movement that will unite the entire world under the Antichrist has now gathered irresistible momentum. Following up the mention of some of the leading ecumenical groups in the May newsletterthe magnitude and prestige of this movement can be seen in one dominant organization: The Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival. Its stated purpose is to "combine legislative common sense with eternal spiritual values."
The Global Forum began in October 1985. While the United Nations was celebrating its 40th anniversary, ten "spiritual leaders," two each from the world's five major religions, and eight elected officials from parliaments on five continents, met together at psychology's New Age center in Tarrytown, New York to explore ideas for ecological salvation and world peace. Out of this meeting grew a working partnership between the world's religious and political leaders—something which had been unthinkable since ancient Rome.
The politicians belonged to the Global Committee of Parliamentarians on Population and Development. The religious leaders had been invited by the Temple of Understanding, long headquartered at the "Very Reverend" James Parks Morton's infamous Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. As early as 1975 the Temple (Morton is president), known as "the spiritual UN," had sponsored a week-long "Spiritual Summit Conference" which culminated in "addresses at the United Nations by representatives of five major faiths," with Mother Teresa as the keynote speaker (May 1990 TBC).
The interrelationship of vast networks of ecumenical groups may be seen in the fact that Temple of Understanding director Daniel L. Anderson also heads the North American Interfaith Network, while Morton is a co-chairman of Global Forum. NAIN sponsors, among other things, the annual North American Assisi, one of many similar conferences now held around the world as follow-ups to Pope John Paul II's October 1986 gathering of representatives of 12 world religions in Assisi, Italy for a day of world prayer for peace. Assisi was a deliberately ecumenical and New Age addition to Catholicism's day of prayer for world peace traditionally called by the popes on the "Feast of the Holy Mother of God."
That first exploratory meeting in Tarrytown in 1985 was followed by the April 1988 Global Survival Conference in Oxford, England, which brought together about 200 spiritual and legislative leaders from 52 countries. "For five days parliamentarians and cabinet members met with cardinals, swamis, bishops, rabbis, imams, monks....Among them: the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, the Archbishop of Canterbury...Cardinal Koenig of Vienna...Carl Sagan, Vice-Chairman of the Soviet Academy of Sciences Evguenij Velikhov, Gaia scientist James Lovelock ...Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova." The conference was covered by media teams from 35 countries.
Conferees issued a joint "Final Statement of the Conference," which declared: "We have met at Oxford bringing together our individual experience from the parliaments and religious traditions of the world ...brought together by a common concern for global survival, and have entered into a new dialogue on our common future....We have derived from our meeting a vivid awareness of the essential oneness of humanity...the realization that each human person has both a spiritual and a political dimension. We acknowledge the inadequacy of attitudes and institutions within all our traditions [including Christianity] to deal with our present global crisis....We have explored the nature of the relationship between political and religious life, and...have agreed that we [political and religious leaders] both need and desire to work together...and shall promote at regional, national and local levels all possible collaboration between spiritual leaders and parliamentarians....Each one of us has been changed by our Oxford experience...and [we] have undertaken commitments that are irrevocable."
Global Forum next sponsored a four-day symposium at the Aspen Institute in June 1989. It brought together 21 of the world's leading journalists to dialogue with experts, political and religious leaders on global survival issues. Harvard University and Global Forum are hosting a further ongoing series of seminars. As a recent history of this remarkable movement declared, "The momentum is growing: The Global Forum dialogue of spiritual and parliamentary leaders now is being replicated worldwide at local, national and regional levels."
The latest major gathering was the January 15-19, 1990 Moscow Forum co-hosted by what the program called a "unique alliance": "the Supreme Soviet, the country's first freely elected parliament; all faith communities of the USSR, coordinated by the Russian Orthodox Church; the USSR Academy of Sciences; and the International Foundation for the Survival and Development of Humanity." Moscow saw more than 1,000 participants from 83 countries call for a "new planetary perspective" involving a "new spiritual and ethical basis for human activities on earth." In his address to the Forum, Mikhail Gorbachev called it "a major step in the ecological consciousness of humanity." He drew cheers from delegates when he pledged "to ban nuclear tests completely, for all times, and at any moment, if the U.S. does the same...[and] to open our territory for inspection...."
Laying the foundation for the coming world religion, ecological concerns are being expressed increasingly in pantheistic/New Age terms as though the universe were a living and even conscious entity (the Gaia hypothesis) with whom we must make peace and live in harmony. Calling spirituality"common to all humanity," New Age physicist Fritjof Capra defined it at the Moscow Global Forum as "the experience of being connected to the cosmos as a whole...a sense of belonging that gives meaning to life." Capra recently founded The Elmwood Institute, dedicated to "the convergence of politics, ecology and spirituality."
In his keynote speech at Moscow, U.S. Senator Al Gore declared: "I do not see how the environmental problem can be solved without reference to spiritual values found in every faith." He is not referring to biblical Christianity, but to an ecumenical world "spirituality" based upon what he called a "new faith in the future of life on earth...[providing] higher values in the conduct of human affairs." The final "Moscow Declaration" called for "a global council of spiritual leaders" and the "creation of an inter-faith prayer...." It declared, "We must find a new spiritual and ethical basis for human activities on Earth: Humankind must enter into a new communion with nature...."
In his address to the Moscow Forum, Gorbachev had called for "a new contemporary attitude to Nature...returning to Man a sense of being a part of Nature." Global Forum's newsletter, Shared Vision, declared that "we need to remember our natural origins and re-learn how to love and respect nature. The love of our eternal parents, Earth Mother and Sky Father, is all embracing...."
Using similar pantheistic/New Age language, John Paul II has promoted a kindred concept in numerous speeches. In his 1990 World Peace Day message on the Feast of the Holy Mother of God, the Pope said, "A harmonious universe is a cosmos endowed with its own integrity, its own internal, dynamic balance." Addressing a prayer gathering of "Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and others, he told participants that their efforts were unleashing profound spiritual energies in the world and bringing about a "new climate" of peace. The Pope pledged that "the Catholic Church intends to 'share in and promote' such ecumenical and interreligious cooperation."
Testifying how far the Catholic Church has already gone in promoting "ecumenical and inter-religious cooperation," the entire May/June 1990 edition of The Catholic World is devoted to Buddhism. Articles include "The Buddha Revered as a Christian Saint" and a flattering biography of "His Holiness the Dalai Lama." The Tibetan Buddhist leader has frequent contact with Catholic leaders. He met twice with Pope Paul VI and five or more times with John Paul II, whom he calls "an old friend." "Both of us have the same aim," says the Dalai Lama, who was also, of course, present at Assisi.
The Pope's September 1989 speech to Catholic and Buddhist monks, who had been visiting one another's monasteries in order to further Catholic/Buddhist "dialogue," was revealing. He told the Buddhists: "You were welcomed by Benedictine monks whose motto is precisely PAX—peace. You have encouraged one another to promote this peace of which our world is in such dire need. All human persons...must commit themselves to the cause of peace....You, as monks, make use of...prayer and the search for interior peace....Your dialogue at the monastic level is truly a religious experience, a meeting in the depths of the heart...."
Writing in The Tibetan Review (and quoted in Catholic World), a Buddhist monk evaluated the goals of this "dialogue":
The unity of religion promoted by the Holy Father Pope John Paul II and approved by His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not a goal to be achieved immediately, but a day may come when the love and compassion which both Buddha and Christ preached so eloquently will unite the world in a common effort to save humanity from senseless destruction, by leading it toward the light in which we all believe.
A month before his death, Catholic monk Thomas Merton had told an ecumenical conference in Calcutta, "My dear brothers, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to discover is our original unity." Merton had earlier written that "Buddhism and Christianity are alike in making use of ordinary everyday human existence as material for a radical transformation of consciousness." He was convinced that the transformation of consciousness which Zen Buddhism calls "the Great Death" was identical to what Christians call "dying and rising with Christ"that both led to the same "death of self" and to a "new life" not found in some future paradise, but in "living here and now."
Of course, the obvious difference is Christ himself and His historical death, burial and resurrection on this planet for our sins, to reconcile us to God. It is this essential uniqueness which ecumenism eventually denies. Paul didn't try to die to self through mystical techniques popular not only among Catholics/Buddhists/Hindus/New Agers but increasingly so among evangelical Christians. His death to self came about by faith in the finished work of Christ: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me...." (Gal:2:20).
In a Time interview (5/28/90) concerning his two audiences with the Pope, Billy Graham said, "I have spent considerable time with the people around [John Paul II]. I could sense they recognize that they have an affinity with Evangelicals. They have suddenly realized that these are the people who are closest to them theologically." In fact, the Pope, at the same time he tells Graham, "We are brothers," has been warning Catholics against nonecumenical evangelicals. Meanwhile, Pat Robertson is recruiting "conservative Catholics and evangelical Christians" as the "invisible army" of a new Christian Coalition that he hopes will turn America back to God and eventually land him in the White House.
Earlier this year at its annual convention the Michigan Episcopal Diocese refused to vote upon the resolution that "Jesus is the Christ, 'the only name given under heaven by which we may be saved.'" The resolution was called "flawed because it presumes to define the ways in which God is able to work," and "divisive and demeaning to people whose faith in God is as strong as ours though it is differently defined." A substitute resolution was voted upon and passed to the effect that Episcopalians would recommit themselves to proclaim a "Good News" that offended no one.
The apostate church is growing in all denominations. "Positive Christianity" is the enemy of souls. Do not seek to please anyone except our Lord himself. And do not be afraid of the cost, for "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe" (Pro:29:25).  TBC
By Dave Hunt

Friday, October 5, 2018

Guest Post: Christ & Antichrist

Anti is a Greek prefix which not only means "opposed to" but "in the place of." Antichrist  will indeed oppose Christ, but in the most diabolically clever way possible: by pretending to be Christ. For the world to follow and worship him, a false antichrist "Christianity" must become the world religion—a "Christianity" that all religions can accept and which embraces all religions into "one faith." Hence the necessity for today's growing apostasy: to create an apostate church to be the Antichrist's earthly bride, just as the true church is Christ's heavenly bride. Such is the important role of the New Age movement and the many accelerating delusions and seductions in these "last days."
Through a false gospel, false prophets, occultic religious practices and lying "signs and wonders," today's churches are being filled with millions who call themselves Christians, but who are not. Left behind at the Rapture, and happy that the "negative" influence of the vanished troublemakers has been removed, they will worship and follow the Antichrist, thinking he is the true Christ and that they have "never had it so good." An ecumenized "Christianity," in partnership with all religions, will carry on and prosper even more after the Rapture than before. The unifying factor will be concern for Mother Earth. Working for peace and ecological wholeness will have replaced truth as the basis of Christianity, as the World Council of Churches has already decreed.
Far from being a cop-out invented by those who desire to escape persecution (which could become very severe in America before the Rapture), a pretribulation Rapture is essential for a number of reasons: first of all, to remove the true Christians from earth. If they were present when Antichristwas revealed, they would oppose and expose him. Such opposition must be removed in order to give Satan and man, under Antichrist's leadership, full freedom to prove that this earth can be turned back into a garden paradise without God. The Holy Spirit, who is omnipresent, will still convict and draw many to Christ during the Great Tribulation. The restraining influence, however, which He has wielded in this world through the millions of true Christians, will have suddenly been removed, leaving a moral and spiritual vacuum in homes, neighborhoods, businesses, and schools such as we cannot even imagine.
A pretrib Rapture is also necessary because the Antichrist will be given authority by God "to make war with the saints, and to overcome them" (Rev:13:7). Such a fate could not befall the church, for Christ said that the "gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Mat:16:18). Moreover, true Christians have authority and power to "resist the devil" and "he will flee" (James:4:7), for "greater is he that is in [us], than he that is in the world" (1 Jn:4:4). So the fact that Antichrist is given power by God "to make war with the saints and to overcome [i.e., kill] them" is proof that the true church is no longer present.
The "saints" mentioned are those who have not heard and rejected the gospel prior to the Rapture and who believe in Christ during the Great Tribulation. They will pay for their faith with their lives. Those who take the mark of the beast suffer the wrath of the Lamb, while those who don't are slain by Antichrist. Thus a post-trib rapture would be a classic nonevent, for there would be very few if any surviving believers to be raptured at that time. And surely those Christians who were left alive, seeing the judgment of God poured out upon mankind and earth's armies gathered for the battle of Armageddon in an attempt to destroy Israel, would know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Second Coming was about to occur—and would be watching for their Lord to appear. Yet Christ declared that He would return at a time of such ease that even the "five wise virgins" would "slumber and sleep." He warned, "[F]or in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Mat:24:44). Hardly likely in the midst of the greatest tribulation and destruction the world has ever seen or ever will see!
To understand how the stage is being set for the final conflict between Christ and Antichrist, it is helpful to consider some comparisons and contrasts between these two antagonists. First of all, the procession of events is in God's hands. While we cannot know the day or hour of our Lord's return, the Bible does give us many clues as to the general timing of this great occurrence.
There is a precise time for Christ's second coming just as there was for the first: "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son..." (Gal:4:4). The same is true of the Antichrist. Though already present in the world and waiting in the wings, this "man of sin" known as "that Wicked [one]" (2 Thes:2:3,8) can only take power when it is God's time: "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time" (2:6).
Interestingly, the Roman Empire plays an integral part in the timing for the revelation both of God's Messiah and Satan's. Ancient Rome set the stage for Christ's birth: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed" (Lk 2:1). It was this decree that caused Joseph and Mary to be in Bethlehem so that Christ would be born there in fulfillment of Micah:5:2. And of course He also had to be executed during the time of the Roman Empire, which introduced crucifixion, in order to fulfill Psalm 22.
For Christ to return, the Roman Empire must be revived. This is clear from Daniel's interpretation that the distinct parts of the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar "...head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron" (Dan:2:32-33) represented four world kingdoms: the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian and Roman. That the "feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron" (2:41) represent the fourth world kingdom revived in the last days is clear from the statement, "And in the days of these kings [i.e., represented by the ten toes] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed ...[and] it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (2:44).
Christ did not establish His kingdom the first time He came, so He must come again to do so. When? "In the days of those kings"—i.e., when the Roman Empire has been revived, out of which the Antichrist will arise. No longer "as a lamb to the slaughter" (Isa:53:7), but now returning in power and glory to execute judgment upon those who crucified Him, Christ will destroy this evil empire in its revived form at His second coming. So although the date is not given, the timing of Christ's return is clearly indicated.
It is also essential for the Roman Empire to be revived in order for the Antichrist to appear. Daniel prophesied that "the people of the prince that shall come [i.e., Antichrist] shall destroy the city and the sanctuary..." (Dan:9:26). The Roman armies under the command of Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in a.d.70. It is therefore from these people that the Antichrist must arise. That doesn't necessarily mean that he has to be Roman, since her legions came from many parts of the Empire. It does mean, however, that he must come from that world kingdom—and for that to happen the Roman Empire must be revived. We are seeing the fulfillment of this most remarkable prophecy in our day.
Calling Antichrist "the prince that shall come" indicates that he, like the ancient Caesars, will rule the Empire when it is revived. Moreover, the ancient Roman Empire was not only a political, economic and military entity, but also a religious one with the god-emperor the head of the pagan priesthood. So in conjunction with a world government, a world religion headed by the new Caesar, the Antichrist, must be established in the last days exactly as Revelation 13 indicates.
During the periodic waves of Roman persecution which the early Christians endured, all citizens of the Empire were required to bow down to an image of the current Caesar and worship him as god. Those who did not were killed. Such will also be the case under Antichrist in the revived Roman Empire: "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life...[and] as many as would not worship the image of the beast [Antichrist] should be killed" (Rev:13:8,15).
The contrasts between Christ and Antichrist are also instructive. Our Lord was despised and rejected by Israel and by the world: the Antichrist will be hailed and embraced. Christ was mocked and jeered: the Antichrist will be praised. The cry of those who rejected Christ was, "We'll not have this man to reign over us!" It is awesome to realize that in contrast the Antichrist will be accepted not only by the world but by Israel as well. Jesus told the Jewish leaders in His day, "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive" (Jn:5:43).
Christ's kingdom of light and truth is heavenly ("My kingdom is not of this world"- Jn:18:36); Antichrist's kingdom of darkness is built upon a lie and is totally of this world. It is sad to see so many evangelical Christians becoming increasingly entangled in this world, joining with Catholics, Mormons and other cultists and occultists to pursue its political and social agendas—and in the process losing their hope of heaven. It was characteristic of the early church that they knew they were the ekklesia, the called-out ones who were no longer of this world (Jn:17:6,14,16) but were eagerly waiting (1 Thes:1:10) and watching for Christ to return to take them to heaven (Heb:9:28Jn:14:2-3). That hope must be awakened!
Mystery surrounds both Christ and Antichrist. Of Christ, Paul wrote, "great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh..." (1 Tim:3:16). And of Antichrist he wrote, "[T]he mystery of iniquity doth already work" (2 Thes:2:7). Each has a mysterious bride, one a virgin, the other a harlot. The mystery of godliness, which will be revealed in Christ's bride, the church, has been "kept secret since the world began" (Rom:16:25) and is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col:1:27). It can only be fully revealed at the last time (1 Pt 1:5).
The mystery of iniquity, which could conversely be called "Satan in you, the hope of damnation," will also be revealed through a bride, the Antichrist's. She is called "mystery, babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth" (Rev:17:5). As Christ loves and preserves His bride, so Satan will "hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire" (Rev:17:16).
That the second coming of Christ in power and glory to rescue Israel, destroy the armies that are about to destroy her, and to set up His kingdom upon the throne of His father David is a separate event from the rapture of His bride, the church, is very clear. Some try to make them one event by suggesting that we will be "caught up to meet the Lord in the air" on His way to earth and will immediately turn around and accompany Him to the Mount of Olives and His intervention at Armageddon. However, Revelation:19:7-14 tells of Christ's marriage to His bride in heaven before He comes to earth to execute judgment and set up His kingdom.
A major purpose of the Second Coming is to destroy Antichrist: "whom the Lord shall...destroy with the brightness of his coming (2 Thes:2:8). Thus it is clear that the Second Coming cannot take place until the Antichrist has been revealed and has established his kingdom upon earth. If the Rapture were not a separate event from the Second Coming before the Antichrist is revealed, then Christians would not be watching, waiting and looking for Christ, but for the Antichrist, which is unthinkable!
One of the growing delusions today is the belief that the church is not to be raptured at all, but that when we have taken over the world (and not until then) Christ will return to reign over the kingdom we have established for Him. Yet Christ promised, "And if I go and prepare a place for you [in heaven], I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (Jn:14:3). Paul wrote that "the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air [obviously to be taken home to His Father's house of many mansions]: and so shall we ever be with the Lord [in heaven, where He has gone to prepare a place for us]" (1 Thes:4:16-17).
Instead, many who claim to be Christians are looking forward to meeting a "Christ" with their feet planted firmly on planet earth—a "Christ" who has not arrived to take them to heaven but to reign over the kingdom they have established for him. What a delusion! Such have not been working for the true Christ, but for the counterfeit, the Antichrist. They have not been "lay[ing] up...treasures in heaven" (Mat:6:20), but have been building an earthly kingdom. May our Bridegroom reawaken our love for Him, and may our hearts, as it should be with a bride, long to see and be with Him! TBC
By Dave Hunt

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Guest Post: The Problem of Self-Love

The last two months we have pointed out examples indicating a sad fulfillment in our day of Paul's warning that in the last days prior to Christ's return sound doctrine would be scorned and in its place professing Christians would turn to myths. We noted that as a result there is a diminishing biblical and increasing humanistic content in Christian books and sermons. The very foundations of the Christian faith are being undermined by many of those who are looked to as its chief defenders. Yet at the same time, most if not all of those involved in this destructive process stoutly and sincerely insist that what they teach is "biblical."
How is such delusion possible? It has been accomplished by a subtle redefinition. Whereas to be "biblical" used to mean that a teaching was derived from Scripture, it now means that it may be derived from anywhere so long as it can somehow be interpreted as being compatible with Scripture. Thus the Bible and Christ the Living Word are no longer "The Truth" as Scripture so clearly claims. Instead, under the specious slogan that "all truth is God's truth," Holy Writ is now seen as only one of many ingredients in a new recipe for happiness to which anything may be added so long as the mixture still tastes somewhat "biblical." As a result, Christians are losing their taste and appetite for unadulterated Truth.
This accelerating erosion of spiritual discernment is compounded by the fact that exegesis of Scripture has fallen into disfavor with both shepherds and sheep. Ears are being tickled instead with humanistic concepts which are introduced as allegedly necessary and helpful supplements to God's Word, complete and sufficient though it is in itself. Far from being helpful, however, these "supplements" subtly effect reinterpretations of Scripture—and a generation grows up with a "Christianity" whose foundations have been undermined without their knowing it.
Let's take a simple example. Jesus commanded His disciples, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things [food, clothing, shelter] shall be added unto you" (Mt 6:25-33). From humanistic psychology, however (now a legitimate source of revelation according to the "all truth is God's truth" thesis) so-called "Christian psychologists" have borrowed another myth: Abraham Maslow's "hierarchy of needs." It states that man's physical needs for such things as food, clothing and shelter must first be met, then so-called psychological needs, and last of all spiritual needs. Although it blatantly turns Christ's command upside down, Maslow's theory and its derivatives now permeate the books and sermons of many church leaders and influence evangelism. Biblical exegesis has been abandoned for a new source of "truth."
Let's take one more example. Paul solemnly warns, " the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves..." (2 Tim:3:1-2). Then follows a list of sins which peculiarly characterize our world today and all of which have their root in self-love. Once again from humanistic psychology, however, "Christian" psychologists have borrowed the seductive myth that self-love (along with its concomitant self-esteem/worth/acceptance, etc.) is a vital ingredient for "mental health." Thus, instead of the prevalence of self-love, as the Bible declares, a lack of it is now stated to be the root of the sins listed in verses 2-4, which have been redefined as "behavior problems" requiring newly discovered "psychological solutions."
As we have so often noted and documented, this pop psychology myth, having been introduced into Christianity by leaders of impeccable reputation, has become so popular that today it is the prevailing belief throughout the church. It is as though Paul actually wrote, " the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be haters of their own selves, and as a consequence will need to undergo therapy and attend seminars in order to learn to love themselves properly...." Such mutilations would be required before one could derive the current self-love/self-worth fad from Scripture.
Acceptance of psychology's delusion that a lack of self-love is our major problem meant that Christ's statement to "love your neighbor as yourself" had to be re-interpreted as a command to love ourselves. Why would Christ command us, if we all lack self-love, to love our neighbors as we [fail to] love ourselves? Christ's apparent error is now corrected by books and seminars teaching us how to first of all love self so that we can fulfill His command.
In contrast, simple exegesis of Christ's command to "love your neighbor as yourself" would derive from Scripture the following: (1) clearly we must already love ourselves, or such a command would be foolish; (2) this is confirmed by Ephesians:5:29 ("For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it....), which is substantiated by the obvious fact that we feed, clothe and care for ourselves and seek to satisfy our own desires; (3) we are thus commanded to manifest love for our neighbors in the same way; ie., by caring for them as we care for ourselves; and (4) the fact that this command is necessary indicates that, rather than lacking in self-love, our problem is an excessive amount of it, which causes us to be selfish and thus to neglect caring for others. It is this self-centeredness that Christ seeks to correct. Such had been the consistent interpretation of this Scripture for 1,900 years until humanistic psychology was embraced as a valid source of "God's truth."
As a result, Christian leaders now promote the very love of self that Paul warned would characterize men in the last days and from which Christ came to deliver us by His cross!
That we must derive Truth from the Bible itself and from no other source is clear from Christ's statement: "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" (Jn:8:31-32). Simple exegesis indicates that the Truth which alone sets us free from sin and self is (1) revealed only through His Word; (2) understood only by those who "are of God" and obey ("if ye continue") His Word; and (3) hidden to all others (see vv 43-47). Each of these points is denied by the "all truth is God's truth" myth. It credits those "not of God" with revelations of "God's truth" which supplement the very Word of God which they oppose.
Solomon wrote, "My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit" (Prov:23:26-27). Here we have the simple ingredients of a godly life. There must first of all be the relationship to God as children ("My son...") born into His family by His Spirit. Then follows surrender of our hearts to Him ("give me thine heart"), which involves both love and commitment. Next we observe His ways, follow His example, obey His Word. How can we do this? Motivation comes through our love for Him and the wisdom imparted by His Word. No matter how pleasurable for the moment, unfaithfulness to God (as to one's spouse) and disobedience to His Word eventually become a deep ditch and a narrow pit bitter as death itself.
Why should husband and wife be faithful to one another? Why not so-called free sex? For one thing, sex is never "free," but always carries obligations and consequences that cannot be escaped. Of course it is possible for a husband or wife to "tire" of each other and to "fall in love" with someone else—but that is not real love. God's Word tells us that "love" is more than sexual passion or pleasure. The God-ordained relationship between male and female (like our relationship to Him) involves total commitment. The man who cheats on his wife or divorces her to marry a "more attractive" woman may enjoy what seems to be pleasure and fulfillment for a time. Eventually, however, the remorse for having broken his marriage vows and having dishonored the God who created him will turn illicit pleasure into great pain. Obedience to God's Word gives joy now and eternally. Exchanging that deep and lasting satisfaction for temporary pleasure is a bad bargain indeed.
Psychology allows one to say, "I can't love my wife or husband or parent." Yet we are commanded to love: first of all God, then neighbor as ourselves, and finally even our enemies. True love comes from obedience to God's Word and is thus based upon commitment to sound doctrine. Nor is there any excuse under any circumstances for not loving spouse or parent, friend or foe, whether they mistreat or even hate us. The same is true of all of the ingredients of a happy, productive, fruitful, victorious life: they come from obedience to sound doctrine. Far from being divisive as some complain, doctrine is our very life. Those who will not endure it delude themselves with a false "Christianity" that will be severely judged for its fundamental disobedience.
The Bible does not say, "Rejoice in the Lord always...unless you are unable to do so because of an unhappy childhood, a bout of 'depression,' or adverse circumstances." It does not say, "Be anxious for nothing...unless you have a nervous disposition." It does not say, "Forgive...unless you are unable to because of abuse, etc." We are not excused from obeying the command, "Be not afraid," because we happen to be timid and fearful. Nor are we excused from the command, "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts," because we have been diagnosed as susceptible to stress. Nor are we excused from the command to love because we find certain people unlovable. Unfortunately, however, the simple obedience to God's Word that sound doctrine compels has been undermined by psychological "counseling" that nourishes unbelief and rebellion. Therapy then offers to justify our disobedience, to comfort us in our rebellion, and to provide the peace and joy that only God can give to those who trust and obey Him.
Love, joy, peace, etc. are clearly declared to be the fruit not of therapy but of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. How? Through some magic process by which God "zaps" us and we are transformed? No, but as God's Truth so grips our hearts that we are fully persuaded to be ruled by His Word, to obey Him and to trust Him to fulfill in us what He has promised. This is not to deny the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit powerfully in our hearts and through us in others, in ways beyond human comprehension. It is merely to say that the Bible clearly declares that God works in our lives through our obedience to His Word. As Jesus said, "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" (Jn:8:31-32).
The litmus test of truth for victorious Christian living must be: Is it derived from Scripture, or is it the wisdom of this world, packaged in Christian terminology in order to make it appear to be compatiblewith Scripture? This test should not only be applied to the sermons and writings of others, but to ourselves. We should each get on our knees and ask God, "How much of my daily life is rooted in Your Word, and how much is rooted in the world? When I am happiest, is it because I know I have pleased my Heavenly Father, am rejoicing in His grace and love, and 'the joy of the Lord is my strength' (Neh:8:10); or is it because I have achieved worldly goals that bring the same joy to those who 'know not God and obey not the gospel'?"
Jesus accused the Pharisees of establishing traditions that nullified Scripture. Even the clear command to "Honour thy father and mother" had been turned completely around by the Pharisees (Mt 15:1-6). Christ indicted them with their having established a system of religion that allowed men seemingly to honor God outwardly while in their hearts they remained committed to self. What left men's hearts far from God while their lips seemed to praise Him? Christ summed up His indictment by declaring that Israel's religious leaders had substituted the traditions of men for the true doctrine of God's Word (vv 7-9). This same "leaven of the Pharisees" is fermenting in today's church. May God help us to boldly expose it and to stand uncompromisingly for obedience to His Word. TBC
By Dave Hunt