Category Archives: Bible

Amazing promises from Jesus’ messages to the churches in Revelation chapters 2 & 3

In this post I want to focus on the promises Jesus makes to those who conquer (or, as some translations say, overcome).   In other words, if you persevere to the end you get these astounding benefits (they aren’t just for martyrs).  Please read closely and be encouraged!  And remember the good news that if you are truly among his sheep that you will persevere to the end (John 10:25–30 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”)

Rev. 2 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Jesus is promising you that you’ll get to eat from the tree of life.  Whatever the best meal you’ve ever had has been, this will obviously trump that.  And you’ll be eating it in the paradise of God, which is Heaven.  And you’ll be eating it with countless other joyful believers.

Rev 2 11 The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.

There will be a second death – incredibly and permanently painful for many, but as a believer you won’t be hurt by it at all.  All your sins are already forgiven.

Rev 2 17 To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

This section has a double promise.  I was just reading through Exodus and wondering what manna tasted like, and this reminds me that we’ll get to know some day.  The mystery will be solved!  It actually sounds like my kind of food.

And the white stone with a unique name written on it is an interesting gift.  I think that some people think we forget other relationships in Heaven or that it is just some mass of humanity, but this is a clear reminder that in addition to joyful, corporate worship we will also have a unique, one-on-one relationship with Jesus and He will give you a special stone and name.

Rev 2 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

It isn’t clear exactly how we’ll rule in the millennium, but it will clearly be an honor and a responsibility.  I couldn’t find anything explaining what the morning star is, but if Jesus promised it you know it is good.

Rev 3 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

There wasn’t a lot of good news for Sardis, but Jesus did promise that you would be made perfectly righteous and that He would acknowledge you before Heaven.

Rev 3 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

We won’t be literal pillars, of course, but He promises that we’ll be permanent members with him and be forever aligned with the one true God.

Rev 3 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”

We will actually eat and rule with Jesus for eternity!

There you go!  Always look for promises when reading scripture.  You can barely go a chapter in the New Testament without finding one.  Keep this in mind as you persevere through whatever challenges God, in his perfect sovereignty, is laying before you.

Serious warnings from Jesus’ messages to the churches in Revelation chapters 2 & 3

Do not miss this warnings.  When Jesus says something, He means it.  I firmly believe that they apply to churches and individuals.

To the Church in Ephesus

Rev 2 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

The church in Ephesus did some most excellent things.  They sounded like the perfect church.  But because they abandoned the love they had Jesus said He would remove their lampstand – i.e., their church.  That’s serious.  Do you still love the Lord like you used to?  If not, heed his warning and repent!

The Church in Smyrna had no warnings — good for them!

To the Church in Pergamum

Rev 2 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.

There are so many churches enticing people into sexual immorality these days, either directly by mocking God’s word or indirectly by ignoring the issue and being afraid to preach about divorce and fornication.  It is the opposite of loving God and your neighbor. They love the world more than they love God, and they don’t really trust his word, and it will not end well for them.

Jesus wants churches to purge themselves of false teachers.  The church was doing so well otherwise, but that wasn’t good enough.  The Methodist church we left was like that.  The preacher knew the truth but tolerated a guy teaching classes that the preacher himself called a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The church Ephesus in Ephesus didn’t love what God loved, and churches like those in Pergamum and Thyatira didn’t hate what God hated: false teachings and sexual immorality.

This is where knowing the Old Testament comes in handy.  Balaam seemed to get off to a good start by not cursing the Israelites, but he ultimately harmed them.  This is also referenced in Jude, where it speaks of false teachers abandoning themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error.

To the Church in Thyatira

Rev 2 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.  24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.

And here’s another church that was already promoting sexual immorality.  Jesus had some serious punishments in mind for them.  This has the “Christian” Left written all over it.  And what they are doing isn’t insignificant at all.  Jesus himself says that those promoting sexual immorality have learned the deep things of Satan.  Keep that in mind the next time some “Christian” Leftist says that LGBTQX behavior or heterosexual fornication is acceptable.

The lack of church discipline is a key problem today.  Churches are afraid to call people out who are sinning.

To the Church in Sardis

Rev 3  . . . ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.

They sound a little frozen chosen-ish and Jesus is not happy with that.  Faith without works is still dead.  There are so many ways to serve.  Find something and do it, as churches and as individuals.

The Church in Philadelphia  also had no issues.  Good for them – it can be done!

To the Church in Laodicea

Rev 3  15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

Not much good going on in Laodicea.  Jesus jumped right into his warnings against them to turn back to him.

Again, I think those were warnings to the real churches at that time but also timeless challenges to every church and individual Christian to stay strong, remember our first love and to never lose sight of our mission.  Do we really love and trust God?  We’ll hold fast to his word and not apologize for it, and we’ll find ways to love our neighbors.

Revelation Chapters 2 & 3 – Jesus’ message to the churches – and to us

I’ve been memorizing chapters  2 and 3 of Revelation and truly enjoying it.  I believe that all scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit and that the original writings turned just as He and the human authors intended, but it does seem like these  chapters don’t get the same weight as, say, Paul’s pastoral epistles.  I’m going to write this overview then do separate posts on the warnings and promises threaded throughout these sections.  I encourage you to read the Bible passages closely and really meditate on these eternal truths.

One thing I love about memorizing using the Bible Memory app is that it slows me down to notice countless things that I’d otherwise minimize or miss.  This has been completely true with these passages.

I think it helps to back up a bit to chapter 1.  We find the apostle John, who used to have a much more casual relationship with Jesus, being greatly humbled by the glorified Jesus.  And then in v. 20 there is a good lesson about interpreting things in Revelation (not my strong suit, to be sure, especially in later chapters).  But note how symbolism is used then John immediately explains what the symbols mean.  We don’t need to overthink some of these things.

Revelation 1:17–20 (ESV)  17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

I’m not big on numerology, as some people get mischievous with it, but when memorizing you notice things like John using the word seven a total of seven times in v. 20, as if it is important or something . . .

Now to the messages!  There is a general pattern, with a message to the angel (or possibly church leader . . . I’ve read different views and would appreciate any of your insights) of each church.  Then there is usually a positive, a negative with a warning, and a promise, though there are exceptions.

While there are apparently different views on this, I think a few things are obvious: These were seven real churches that Jesus was addressing.  His promises and warnings were as serious and true as could be.  There have been churches throughout history through today that fit these molds (e.g., the U.S. is probably similar to Laodicea, but others have attributes of us as well).  And I think they also apply to us as individuals.  I see myself in the good and the bad of many of these.

Revelation 2–3 (ESV) To the Church in Ephesus

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Each section notes one or more traits of Jesus.  In this case, that He is the one who holds angels of the churches in his hand (the seven stars) and walks among the churches (the seven golden lampstands).  Jesus is here among our churches!

Again, I’ll cover the warnings and promises more in subsequent posts, but note how Ephesus sounds fantastic (works, toil, endurance, calling out false teachers) until Jesus points out that they have lost their love.  Then He threatens to remove their church!  We should not get complacent just because we do some things well.

To the Church in Smyrna

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

“ ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

V. 8 points to Jesus’ divinity, being first and last, and has a brief but powerful statement of his true resurrection.  The “Christian” Leftists like to claim that He was just resurrected in our hearts or some such nonsense, but the Bible never even hints at that.

Jesus had no issues with Smyrna.  He promised them the crown of life for enduring to the end, which we will also get.  But He also promised them tribulation and noted that despite their poverty they were actually rich.

Trivia fact: Polycarp, a mid-2nd century martyr, was the Bishop of Smyrna.

To the Church in Pergamum

12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

13 “ ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

V. 12 notes that Jesus has a sharp two-edged sword.  He isn’t the “how about a hug and a cookie” Jesus that the “Christian” Left portrays him as.

Just a side note: In passing the massive Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Houston once my youngest daughter said, “I’m pretty sure Satan lives there.” That came to mind when Jesus said the Satan dwelt in Pergamum.

To the Church in Thyatira

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

The words about Jesus’ features, including the sword coming out of his mouth in chapter 1, can be confusing if people take them too literally.  But they don’t describe what He looks like (He obviously doesn’t have a literally sword coming out of his mouth as He speaks) but as what He is like.

19 “ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Again, Jesus is depicted as having eyes of flame and feet of burnished bronze and not some doting grandfather.  He is not soft of sexual immorality.  He calls it out repeatedly in the strongest possible terms.  Yet much of the church ignores and even mocks this today.

To the Church in Sardis

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

“ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

If Jesus says you are dead or dying, that’s a bad sign.

For believers, Jesus will actually confess your specific name before the Father.

To the Church in Philadelphia

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

“ ‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

The part about patient endurance is noted four times in these message, such as in v. 10 above.  It is obviously a major issue to Jesus.  Will we endure patiently through trials and still hold fast to his word and not deny his name?

To the Church in Laodicea

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”

If Jesus says something once, you ought to obey.  But if He says something seven times, such as, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” then perhaps we should really pay close attention.

P.S. After reading the text many times along with study notes from the Bible Knowledge Commentary, I really enjoyed this series of talks from a conference covering this passage.

My favorite Bible reading / prayer / memorization routine

There is nothing like reading a chapter of the Bible in the morning and a chapter at night, along with some study notes.  I did that the first time I read through the Bible back in 1996 and it was life-changing.  Hey, God’s word does what it promises.  Who knew?

While I’ve never stopped reading completely, I’ve had different patterns over the years, usually just once a day.  But late last year I started back with the twice a day routine and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.  It is just the perfect set of bookends for the day.

I don’t try to get through the entire Bible in a year.  Nothing wrong with that, of course.  I’ve done it before, and even listened to it over just a few months when I’d play it in the car regularly.  The pace I’m on now is a “read the Bible in 20 months” plan.

I’ve always loved the chronological approach, but I do like a mix of Old and New Testament as well.  But I think my favorite will be this plan I came across in Logos, where you cycle through 7 different books.  Currently I’m going through a few chapters each of Genesis, Ruth, Psalms, Job, Isaiah, Matthew and 1 Corinthians.  It is a great mix, where every day or two I’m reading from a different book.

For prayer, I made a personal translation of the Valley of Vision Puritan prayers, where I converted them from old English poetry form to contemporary prose.  I read one a day. (I wish I could get it published, as it is so much more accessible than the original, but the copyright owners didn’t even respond to my request.)

I also just started using the PrayerMate prayer app, which is an easy way to keep track of various prayer categories.

Finally, I love the Bible Memory app.  I cycle through a batch of verses at least once a day, sometimes more often.  When I come across a new verse or passage I add it to the list.  Whenever I am bored or distracted I am inclined to reach for my phone to do something.  But having taken off social media apps, I now go to the Bible Memory app and do a few verses instead.  Aside from being a great part of your devotional time, it is helpful if you are out waiting for something like an oil change or whatever.  It really redeems the time.

And while I am not good at memorizing, this app has helped me memorize so many more verses, passages and even whole chapters than I ever thought possible.  My challenge is not to just go through them and not think about them.  For example, I’ve gone through Jude so many times that I can recite it without thinking about it, so I need to challenge myself to slow down and meditate on what it says.

So that’s it.  Morning: Prayer, then reading a chapter of the Bible and the accompanying study notes, then some memory verses.  Evening: Another chapter.  And perhaps more memory verses at breaks during the day.

I love this routine and its results.  Your mileage may vary.

Some people are busier than ever during this pandemic, but others have lots of time on their hands.  For the latter, this is a great time to establish good habits in this area.  If you can’t do it now, when will you?

And remember that even if you are very busy, you can listen to the word of God on audio – for free!  Redeem your commute!  Each chapter is only about 4 minutes, so you’ll be surprised at how much ground you can cover.  Of course you can’t look at study notes and such, but the word of God is what really matters.  And if you get distracted there is always the rewind button.

And if you still say you don’t have time, ask yourself how much entertainment you consume each day, and why God designed the world in such a way that you never have time for his daily bread.

Be blessed!

The ending of the book of Job is in the Bible for a reason

And the rest of the Bible is also there for a reason.

People often have legitimate questions about suffering or all sorts of big picture questions about God, such as why He did or didn’t do this or that.  Sometimes the questions are natural and from reasonable motives, but they are often smokescreens.  Never forget Romans 1.  People know there is a God but they suppress the truth in unrighteousness.  I know, I used to be one of them!

Romans 1:18–21 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

In talking to a few skeptical Kairos prison ministry participants once they had lots of questions like that.  They were looking for reasons not to believe.  My strategy in situations like that is to give a quick answer then point to greater truths.

Example: One asked, “What if Adam hadn’t sinned?”  I could tell from the conversation to that point that it wasn’t coming from faith or genuine concern, but from skepticism. You could waste a lot of time on that sort of hypothetical, so I just smiled and said, “If Adam hadn’t sinned and ruined everything, then I would have.”  They got the joke and it gave me a chance to segue to the gospel.

Back to Job: As you probably know, Job had lots of things he wanted to know from God, but when God showed up and asked questions then Job got quiet very quickly.  He didn’t get the answers he wanted, just like we often don’t get answers we want.  It is important to acknowledge that to people without apology.

Job 38:1–7 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

And it goes on from there.

But as I like to say, the end of the book of Job is in the Bible for a reason: We don’t get to know everything.  Job was more devout than any of us but he didn’t get answers (at least at that time).

But the rest of the Bible is there for a reason as well: God reveals countless profound things about himself to us that we do need to know, including his remarkably gracious terms for saving our wretched souls.  Of course we can’t know everything about God, but we can know a lot.  So point people to what we do know and don’t get caught up in what we may never know (at least not in this life).

I also like this passage.  It reminds me that when there are things I don’t or can’t know I should just follow Jesus:

John 21:22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

And this is a classic.  People forget that our default destination is Hell.   They think the default is Heaven and that you only go to Hell if you are “really” bad.

Romans 9:18–20 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

We just can’t fully comprehend his greatness!

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Instead of apologizing for God when bad things happen, as some “Christian” Leftists do when pretending that God isn’t completely sovereign, we should switch the narrative.  When people ask where is God, include something like this: “God is where He has always been: Ready and willing to forgive repentant sinners.  He is also still withholding his wrath from those who completely deserve it right now: People who have killed their own children, who have sex out of wedlock with impunity, who mock his created order with every sort of perversion – including pretending they are a different gender, who are greedy, who are unkind, who are liars, and on and on.  Namely, everyone, including me!  So repent now and accept his gracious forgiveness.”

God is not soft on evil.  The cross was simultaneously the great act of evil ever (fallen man killing God in the flesh) and the greatest act of good (saving those who couldn’t save themselves).

More about knowing God:

1 Corinthians 2:11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

Isaiah 55:8–11 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

P.S. I liked this comment from the Bible Knowledge Commentary:

Like a deaf critic of Bach or a blind critic of Raphael is the unregenerate critic of God’s Word.

The absurdity of the “Christian” Left

By pretending that we don’t know what parts of the Bible God “really” inspired, they imply the additional portions in italics:

Matthew 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ But we don’t know which words came from the mouth of God, so what I just said was pointless.  Never mind.

2 Timothy 3:16–17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  But we don’t know what “all scripture” really is, so we don’t know what is profitable for teaching, etc., and the man of God can’t be complete and equipped.  Oh, and that just triggered me by not mentioning women, and triggered me even more by pretending there are two genders!

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Except that we don’t know what the word of God really is, so never mind. 

You could literally do this for many hundreds of passages.  These people only thrive because of biblical illiteracy, a severe lack of common sense and a insatiable love of the world.  While they are busy abusing the scriptures, may God open their eyes to truth that it all turned out just as He wanted it to!


Also see Leopard Theology: Not as fun as it sounds, where I analyze how the “Christian” Left believes that the Bible is only inspired in spots and that they are inspired to spot the spots.

John 10:25-30 – so many eternal truths in one short passage

I’ve been focusing on this passage a lot as I added it to my Bible Memory list.  It has one fascinating and important truth after another.  The context is the “Good Shepherd” narrative where Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees.  He was asked if He was really the Christ, but they didn’t want the answer.

John 10:25–30 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

It is crucial to note that these people have seen Jesus face-to-face many times and even seen his miracles firsthand, yet they still don’t believe.

John 10:25 I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe . . .

Keep that in mind when skeptics say they’d believe if only they got a sign from God.  The Bible says they have already been given plenty of signs to know about God:

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

And Jesus warned against asking for signs:

Matthew 16:4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

And just ask atheists if they’d worship God even if they were provided evidence that met their standards.  Many will admit that they still wouldn’t follow him.

Why didn’t the listeners believe even when they talked to the incarnate Christ in person and saw his miracles?  Because they weren’t his.  The Father hadn’t given them to Jesus.  And as Stan noted in the comments section, they believed because they were his sheep.  They didn’t believe and then become his sheep.

but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep . . . My Father, who has given them to me . . .

How are his sheep identified?  They believe Jesus, they follow Jesus and they persevere over time.

but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

So when “Christian” Leftists and other false teachers deny the Bible – which Jesus affirmed (the Old Testament) and authorized (the New Testament), then you can know they are wolves.  They don’t believe Jesus.   They don’t follow him, they follow the world.

One of the hidden blessings of the LGBTQX movement is that it makes a clear distinction between sheep and goats.  No one will have an excuse as to why they followed a false teacher.

This is an important truth for evangelism.  We should scatter the seed of the Gospel broadly and not try to guess who is and isn’t in Jesus’ flock.  We’ve all seen people who seemed highly unlikely to believe (I witness that monthly doing prison ministry) as well as those who you’d think would believe but don’t.  It glorifies God to proclaim the truth about Jesus regardless of whether people accept him.  But if people are hostile to the Gospel, then they either aren’t his sheep or it isn’t their time to believe.

And note the double assurance of perseverance: No one will snatch you out of Jesus’ hand or the Father’s hand.  You didn’t save yourself, you won’t un-save yourself, and no one else will un-save you.  That isn’t to say that you should never test yourself, just that if you have repented, believed and trust his Word then your default setting should be set on assurance.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

If you work really hard you can ignore the concept of predestination and salvation by grace and not works in this and other passages :-).  There is no hint that Jesus thinks that if He just badgers them some more that they will become his sheep.  Also this:

My Father, who has given them to me . . .

And note Jesus’ divinity here.  His hand = the Father’s hands. And this:

I and the Father are one.

The whole passage is so clear about sheep, goats, evidence, evangelism, predestination, perseverance of the saints and salvation by grace.  It is no accident that the “Christian” Left works overtime to dismiss the authority of the Gospel of John (and more).  Every time they do so they prove Jesus’ points.

Meditate on this passage today and enjoy the beautiful truths!

About those open and closed doors . . .

Many Christians get borderline  – or over the line – superstitious* when it comes to “open” and “closed” doors and making important decisions.  They should be using the wisdom model of decision making, as the Bible teaches it, because there are zero Bible verses even hinting that God drops us little clues that have to decipher less we mess up his plans.  Not only does the wisdom model result in better decisions, but you get to enjoy your freedom in Christ and stop second-guessing everything.

If something looks easy, people sometimes think of that as an open door that they should go through, or if it looks hard it means that God has closed the door.  Maybe, but maybe not.  Consider these two passages.

1 Corinthians 16:8–9 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

One might think that if there are “many adversaries” that it would be a closed door.  Yet Paul explicitly calls the door wide, so he plans to persevere through the opportunity.  But sometimes God does close doors – at least temporarily — such as when Jesus commands us not to throw pearls before pigs.  The key is discernment and knowing when to start and when to stop.

I realize the books were written at different times, but note how just two chapters later in the Bible later we get this:

2 Corinthians 2:12–13 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.

So you’re the Apostle Paul and you know that the real Lord Jesus has opened a door for you in Troas — but you go on to Macedonia because you miss your friend Titus!  Could it be that the Lord opened multiple doors for Paul and he used his freedom in Christ to choose a different one?  Note that there is no hint that Paul was being disobedient here.

Remember that while we don’t have access to God’s sovereign will for individual decisions, He has clearly revealed his moral will to us and has promised to give us wisdom if we ask.  So as long as you aren’t violating his moral will, then ask for wisdom, read the Bible, talk to wise people, consider your personal preferences (i.e., don’t be a martyr) and then choose with freedom. 

 

 

 

 

 

If God has a sovereign plan to do something in your life then you can trust that will happen.  In the mean time, don’t be paralyzed or make bad decisions because you reverse-engineered some decision based on what you thought God was saying when it was really just you rationalizing what you wanted.


*The word superstitious reminds me of this (I’m not even a little stitious).

The Office Michael Scott GIF - TheOffice MichaelScott NotSuperstitious GIFs

What would the Apostle Paul say about the Social Gospel?

This:

Galatians 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Any gospel with an adjective in front of it would merit that response.

Why do people claiming the name of Christ preach other gospels?  Paul answers it in the next verse.

Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Just stick to the real Gospel.  If that isn’t enough for someone, he doesn’t understand it.

1 Corinthians 15:3–5 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

 

Don’t be like King Hezekiah

Our society is decaying at an increasingly rapid rate.  The concept of “same-sex marriage” is younger than the cell phone, yet look how quickly and firmly it has taken hold in the Leftist culture.  And “transanity” has moved even more quickly, as even middle ground people are too fearful and/or indoctrinated to push back on things as evil and sickening as telling young children they may not really be their genetic gender.

But we Christians shouldn’t fall prey to that level of cowardice.  Sure, if we are older, then these things may not impact us directly.  But if we love our neighbors – which includes our descendants – we need to speak the truth even if it costs us and we need to fight for what is right.

King Hezekiah did a lot of good things, but at the end of his reign in Judah he foolishly showed off the country’s treasures to visitors from Babylon.  Isaiah the prophet chastised Hezekiah and said that eventually it would all be taken away by the Babylonians.  Hezekiah responded in a most selfish manner:

Isaiah 39:8 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.”

May God keep us from being selfish and complacent.

The “Christian” Left can’t make it past the first chapter of the New Testament without rejecting essential doctrines

I say that without exaggeration.  If you were reading a book that claimed to be the word of God and the explanation for this life and for eternity and for how to be on right terms with God, yet you completely rejected two of the religion’s foundational premises in the very first chapter, wouldn’t you just give it up and find another religion?  Not the “Christian” Left.  Consider these simple passages, clearly not written as illustrations but as specific truth claims (they immediately follow the genealogy of Jesus so it would be a non sequitur to shift genres).

Matthew 1 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

So we have two claims that the father is not human but that the conception was from the Holy Spirit.  The Left’s opposition to the virgin birth isn’t some side issue, because it goes to Jesus’ claims of deity that they typically deny.  Wolves like Mark Sandlin explicitly deny his divinity.

Then there is Jesus’ purpose for entering his creation.

21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

So Jesus’ purpose was explicitly stated: To save his people from their sins.  Yes, He came for other reasons, but the opening of this Gospel focused on the main reason.  Also note the additional claim to the virgin birth.

Of course, the more you read the Bible, the worse it gets.  The “Christian” Left thinks they like the Sermon on the Mount, but they’d hate it if they understood it.  They only agree with a few parts of it because they get them wrong.

Run, don’t walk, from the “Christian” Left.  Their beliefs are indistinguishable from the world’s.

Leopard Theology: Not as fun as it sounds

Leopard on tree stump
Image via Wikipedia

Many Christians teach Leopard Theology*, because they believe that the Bible is only inspired in spots and that they are inspired to spot the spots.   They don’t call it that, but that is exactly what their theology is founded upon.  And, like the leopard, they camouflage themselves and they are dangerous predators.  They take on church leadership roles even though they teach the opposite of the Bible.

Saying the Bible isn’t fully inspired by God may seem like a humble premise, but it actually makes several strong and unfounded claims.

It implies that God couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver His word to us in a reliable way, and that despite God’s alleged failings flawed humans are able to discern which parts were inspired and which parts were not.  Are we to believe that humans are to correct for God’s errors?

Why is this a serious problem?  It is hard enough to follow the teachings of the Bible without having “Christians” choose what “really” came from God.  Worse yet, they ignore some parts of scripture so they can teach that the opposite is not only acceptable but desirable.  Some may do it accidentally or out of laziness but others are just blatant false teachers.  They have made up their own god and their own religion.

If someone claims the Bible is only partly inspired, ask a few questions:

  • How did they come to this conclusion?
  • Do they think their favorite verses are inspired?  If so,  how do they know?  How about John 3:16?  How about “love your neighbor?”  Whenever “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is quoted, I never hear the liberal theologians question whether Jesus really said that.
  • If the Bible is only partly inspired, how can they be sure that their preferred verses aren’t the ones that are uninspired and the ones they don’t like are the “real” verses?
  • Why is it that God couldn’t inspire the original writings of forty writers, but He can inspire billions of people to properly determine which parts are right and which aren’t?
  • If He couldn’t get Paul, Luke, Matthew, John, etc.  to record his word accurately, how can He get you to do it?
  • Why should I trust your “inspiration” over those who penned the Bible, or over my “inspiration?”

Then there is Advanced Leopard Theology.  It is just like basic Leopard Theology, except God is also changing spots and adding or removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.   They use phrases such as “God is still speaking,” but they don’t mean He still speaks through his Word (that would be a true statement).  They think He is still revealing new truths to the church and changing doctrines taught in the Bible.  They may also say things like, “The Holy Spirit is moving in a new direction.”  Indeed.

Here’s an example: A Methodist pastor named Laurie Hays Coffman did a pro-gay theology piece that made the argument that she wants to “unfurl our corporate sails to catch today’s winds as the Spirit blows afresh.”  She said she was challenged by the vision God gave to Peter in Acts 10-11 where God makes it clear that the Gospel is for the Gentiles, too, and that the Israelites’ ceremonial dietary laws are no longer in force.  Her reasoning is that in the same way that God overturned those laws that He is now overturning the prohibitions against homosexual behavior.  If that looks like a non sequitur to you then you are correct.  The problem is her poor Biblical analysis.  There are at least nine things wrong with this view:

  1. The person with the revelation was Peter, one of Jesus’ inner circle and a key leader in the early church.  It wasn’t made to you, me or someone like Ms. Coffman.  That doesn’t mean God couldn’t reveal something important like this to us, just that it is highly unlikely.
  2. The visions were clear and emphatic.  Peter was given the vision three times and the incident is mentioned twice.
  3. Peter was inclined to reject the meaning of the vision, whereas these Advanced Leopard Theologians have views on human sexuality that are virtually indistinguishable from the prevailing culture and they are glad to accept this allegedly new revelation.
  4. There was external validation for Peter from the Roman centurion, which also included a supernatural intervention.
  5. This lesson showed up in the Bible, not outside it.  I’m not saying miracles don’t happen outside the Bible.  It is just that things appear in the Bible for a reason.  God communicating that the ceremonial laws had been fulfilled was one of those “big deals.”
  6. This vision overturned a ceremonial law, not a moral law.  There are zero examples in the Bible of God reversing his moral laws.  In fact, the more Jesus talked the stricter the laws seemed to get, because He emphasized the spirit of the law and not just the letter (i.e., lust was akin to committing adultery, anger was akin to murder, etc.).  The dietary laws never applied to Gentiles.
  7. The “God has changed his mind view” is primarily being “revealed” to theologically liberal Christians in the U.S. . . . the very ones who often deny the authority of his Word to begin with!  So we can’t trust the accurate transmission of the original writings but we can trust their new revelations?  I’m skeptical.
  8. If God is revealing a change, why is it necessarily more liberal?  Why couldn’t God make his laws more stringent?
  9. The Bible gives strong warnings not to add or take away from its teachings.

But the orthodox can fall prey to this in a more subtle way by claiming full inspiration but conveniently ignoring passages we don’t like.  Consider this passage on church leadership, where some exaggerate “not given to drunkenness” to mean no alcohol whatsoever but ignore the “must manage his own family well . . .” part.

1 Timothy 3:2-4 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.

Another example is correctly teaching about the sin of homosexual behavior while neglecting to give proper emphasis to Biblical admonitions against divorce, adultery and fornication.  We need to teach all of scripture with balance.  Grandstanding on sins that aren’t temptations to us and soft-pedaling those that are are not attractive or Christian things to do.

There are plenty of reasons and resources to defend the accuracy and integrity of all of the original scriptures.  We don’t need to get sloppy and just follow the parts we like.  And we truly miss out when we cast doubts on every passage and question if it is really the word of God.

I’ll close with some friendly advice: Don’t mess with God’s Word.

Deuteronomy 4:2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

Proverbs 30:5–6 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Revelation 22:18–19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

*Also known as Dalmatian Theology.

Also see

The one good thing about The Passion Bible “Translation” . . .

. . . is that it will make it easy to spot wolves.  It is bad as The Message, just for different reasons.  From GotQuestions.org:

The most important problem with The Passion Translation of the Bible (TPT) is actually found in its name—specifically, the term translation. In truth, The Passion Translation is a re-worded and re-written Bible, apparently intended to support a particular strain of theology. If the same material was marketed as a “commentary” or as a “study guide,” it would still be concerning. As it is, The Passion Translation cannot honestly be called a translation or even a paraphrase. The TPT goes well beyond the idea of “translation” and reimagines the Bible as one human author thinks it ought to be written.

The article goes on to list many of the places where the book makes huge translation errors to fit bad theology.  It was written by one guy, which a red flag.  But here’s the biggest problem to me: The author, Brian Simmons, insists that his changes were divinely inspired.

The work, according to Simmons, was commissioned directly by the Lord in a spiritual encounter. Simmons explained that in the encounter, God breathed upon him and spoke to him, clearly commissioning him to do this work. Jesus promised Simmons he would help him, there would be persecutions and misunderstandings because of the work, but he would be with him.

I’m skeptical.  Then again, it was endorsed by Hillsong and Bill Johnson of Bethel Church, so there’s that . . .

Seriously, run from this translation and avoid any church or teacher who uses it.

Most charismatics are closet cessationists

Until recently I was a fence-sitter on the continuation/cessation of spiritual gifts debate topic, never really researching it enough to pick a side.  My position was that while the gifts could continue, I’d never seen them done properly (e.g., those enamored with the gift of tongues never obeyed the handful of verses governing their use, the faith healers were obvious fakes, etc.).  Other than some “sloppy God talk” that I’ve addressed many times, I never went to a church where leaders took things too far (e.g., the Benny Hinn / Bill Johnson – Bethel / etc. nonsense).  And most importantly, I didn’t understand that the point of cessationism isn’t that all gifts ceased, just the apostolic gifts.

Now that I’ve done more research (including reading Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship by John MacArthur) and understand the history and Bible verses better, I’m a cessationist.

But in a very real and relevant sense, both sides are cessasionists, just with one side being less so than the other.  Many who believe in the continuation of the “sign” gifts (healings, tongues, prophecies) are very sound when it comes to the essentials of the faith, the inerrancy of scripture, etc. , yet they concede that many things have indeed ceased since the 1st century.  Consider these:

  • The canon of scripture is closed.  Even when you point out the claims made by books like Jesus Calling, which insist that the authors heard directly from Jesus, the continuationists don’t think that anything should be added to the Bible.
  • The New Testament-style healings have ceased.  The healings of Jesus and his apostles were vastly different from what charismatics claim to do today.  Biblical healings were 100% successful, immediate and public.  The continuationists explicitly redefine “healings” to be private, partial and not always successful — and of course, dependent on the faith of the healer and/or the sick person.
  • Things like Philip’s miraculous transportation to see the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 ceased.  If Charismatic leaders thought that sort of thing continued they wouldn’t ask for money to buy top end jets.
  • Things like Paul’s encounter with the snake in Acts 28 have ceased.  Wait, I take that back . . . some Pentecostal pastor did try to replicate that.  And died.
  • Church discipline a la Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 has ceased.  Ironically, if it hadn’t ceased, these Charismatic leaders would be the first to be slain for lying about the Holy Spirit.
  • The office of apostle has ceased.  Even charlatans like Bill Johnson and Bethel don’t embrace the “New Apostolic Reformation” tag (although their buddies consider them part of it).
  • The gift of foreign language tongues has ceased.  In Acts 2, people miraculously spoke in foreign languages that they previously didn’t know, and the other references to tongues use the same terms.  Continuationists explicitly redefine what “speaking in tongues” means because none of them have that gift of speaking in foreign languages.  That is why their “tongues” aren’t recognizable to anyone.
  • Infallible prophets ceased.  Continuationists explicitly redefine what prophecy is to allow for the obvious errors of their “prophets.” In the Bible, prophets had to be 100% right 100% of the time – and the penalties for being wrong were severe.  The charismatic “prophets” readily concede many errors and can’t name a single infallible prophet among them, yet they cling to their belief that their random correct “prophesies” are divinely inspired.  They have to ignore 2 Peter 1:21 and more to do that (For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit).
  • The receiving of gifts has also been redefined.  In the Bible, the gifts were immediate and full.  With the continuationists you usually need to be trained to heal, prophesy or speak in tongues — hence the Harry Potter Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (it makes up for its cost by being unaccredited).

That is a significant list of things that we agree have ceased or significantly changed.  So there is no debate with these folks that some things have ceased, just about what other things have ceased.

And I think it is significant that, as noted above, they have had to redefine healings, tongues and fallability of prophets from the original biblical definitions and even the nature of what a gift is.  That is a huge liability for them.   If the three main things they focus on don’t resemble what we see in the Bible and now you have to be trained in the “gifts,” have they truly continued?

And even with the redefined gifts, did they really continue?  No.  History is clear that they did not, so the continuationists need to twist scripture to say that they did cease for 19 centuries but are back now.  Again, most agree that even the redefined gifts didn’t exist during that time frame.

Other considerations:

  • If babble tongues (my term for non-real foreign language tongues)  is a gift of the spirit, why do some fringe Catholics and many other non-Christians practice them?  Since when does the Holy Spirit give supernatural gifts to non-believers?
  • These healing ministries unwittingly breed contempt for those without enough “faith” to be healed.  The sick and hurting people feel pressure to at least show some improvement so they don’t let the healers down or give “evidence” of a lack of faith.    Then groups like Bethel chalk up those improvements (not even full healings) as miracles.
  • John Piper acknowledged that one charismatic leader was completely wrong about multiple prophecies about him, but then was impressed when the guy got one right about someone else.  But the prophecy was about a guy who was nervous about whether a visa was going to come through.  How do people like Piper forget about Satan and his demons?!   The man’s visa issues were easily known to the demons, and the “prophet” got one right.  So what?  But Piper et al have let the charismatics’ redefinition of a prophet stand, so they can’t be dismissed even when they get loads of prophesies wrong.
  • If the gifts have really continued, why would the charismatics have to argue for their position and not just show us with legitimate signs and wonders?

So many things have ceased and even those that allegedly continued have significantly different definitions, which would make them more like new gifts — if real — than continued ones.  How is that biblical?

One of the biggest problems with the continuationist/charismatic movement is that it conditions people to look outside the Bible for new revelations and experiences.  It also encourages people to speak for God when He hasn’t spoken.  And it makes newer believers question their faith unnecessarily since God isn’t “speaking” to them that way. Those things are dangerous and blasphemous.  The movement claims to be all about the Holy Spirit but they ignore what He really does and fixate on things that He doesn’t do.   Giving lip service to the Bible while constantly seeking experiences and allegedly new revelations from God is not Christianity.

Even if the gifts of prophecy and/or tongues continue . . .

  1. It doesn’t mean that you can give someone else the gift.  Only the Holy Spirit does that.
  2. It doesn’t mean you need to be trained to use the gift.  Gifts, by definition, are ready to use.
  3. It doesn’t mean the gift of prophecy would involve telling the future.  The context of 1 Corinthians 14 is that the prophecies are immediately assessed by the church body.   Even if they did involve the future, they wouldn’t necessarily always have good news.
  4. It doesn’t mean that you’d get vague messages from the Holy Spirit about possibly “living on the East coast” or that you “had financial problems” in the past.  Those are about as meaningful as “prophesying” that someone is a carbon-based life form.  Those are Psychic 101 tricks.
  5. It doesn’t mean that non-believers would have the gifts.
  6. It definitely doesn’t mean that you’d give affirming “God is proud of you / no need to change anything / don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise” type prophesies to non-believers (that literally happened to a self-identified unrepentant, polyamorous, pagan witch).

The Continuationists I’ve come across get most or all of those wrong.

Once again, you should start with the gift of discernment.  If you don’t have it, ask God for wisdom and He’ll grant it.