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Divided We Stand
In Defense of the Faith
Monday, December 07, 2015
Pete Garcia

Our illustrative and sorely missed Jack once wrote an article entitled “Close Only Counts in Horseshoes (and Hand Grenades)".  I heard the phrase again the other day when listening to The Berean Call’s, T.A. McMahon speaking on the rise of the abuses of prophetic scripture.  Namely, the “Blood Moon” and “Shemitah” crazes that recently came and went with all the power of a gentle breeze.

Men like Jonathan Cahn, John Hagee, and Mark Biltz, and others, bilked all these supposed coincidences for all they were worth and are now doing their obligatory excuse tours on every media outlet that will allow them to explain why nothing of any apocalyptic consequence occurred last September.

It got me thinking about all the errors (eschatological or otherwise) we tolerate here in the 21st century.  I mean, even sound teachers, broadcasters, and preachers were getting on board with Jonathan Cahn promoting his views on the Harbinger and the Shemitah.  I for one quit getting excited back in 2011 with every new and passing fad that was making its rounds in the prophetic circles.  Honestly, I just got tired of getting let down by all the hype leading up to Jewish feast dates, long lost calendar corrections, Planet X, etc.  For that, I hope I don’t come across as old and crotchety, but perhaps wiser and more discerning, concerning the particulars in regards to Biblical Prophecy. 

What we need to be sure of, and perhaps I’m preaching to the choir now, but we need to know without a shadow of a doubt, that when God does do something prophetic, it will align itself perfectly with Holy Scripture.  Close doesn’t count when it comes to Bible prophecy.  It has to be perfect because God put His own stamp of approval on it and His credibility is at stake.

In regards to other Christian doctrines, the Church has remained divided over many issues.  I believe, as did Jack, that this was divinely arranged by God from the days of Babel to prevent any one group or individual, from accumulating too much power over many.  Clearly God is omniscient so He would have already foreseen the issues that would have arisen in our age but in His sovereignty still allowed them.  That doesn’t give us as believers license to remain in error, as we should strive till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:13)

What I hope to impart to you is the understanding that one of the side effects of living in the Age of Information is all the MIS-information that comes along with it.  I would venture to say, that with all the information we have available at our fingertips courtesy of Mr. Google and Mr. Bing, we can know pretty much whatever we want to know about any given particular subject or any period of time.  But that now comes at the price of sorting through the bile to find the gem of truth.

With all we can know, we can’t know is what lies ahead.  We only have ONE source on the planet that can give us divinely accurate information…which is the Holy Bible.

Satan knows this as well, and has invested significant time and effort in this misdirection, starting as early as the first century.  Paul warned the Ephesians…

For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. Acts 20:27-31

Although Satan can’t see into the future any more than we can, he does have 6,000 years of first hand human history at his disposal.  He knows without a shadow of a doubt who killed Kennedy and why.  He knows what’s on the ‘dark side of the moon’.  He knows whether Atlantis or Bigfoot really exists, and what really happened to Hitler.  He knows every mystery that has ever plagued mankind since Adam and Eve.  He’s been behind every secret society that has every crept along the shadows.  He was present at Creation so he has an intricate knowledge of how things work and why…from beyond the galaxy to the smallest molecule.  He was then, the pinnacle of God’s creatio

“You were the seal of perfection,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering:
The sardius, topaz, and diamond,
Beryl, onyx, and jasper,
Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.
The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes
Was prepared for you on the day you were created.“You were the anointed cherub who covers;

I established you;
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,
Till iniquity was found in youEzekiel 28:12-15

He was the pinnacle of God’s creation, until the day that God made man in His image and breathed the breath of life into him and gave him dominion over the entire earth. (Gen. 1:26-28)  And Satan has never let that go.  His murderous threats and lies only serve one purpose; to thwart God’s every move.  Since he was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies it only seems in keeping that he attempt to divide, pervert, corrupt, and ultimately destroy this Church that Jesus said He Himself would build.

Assessment

The trickeries and tactics of Satan are extremely clever and complex.  They are a network of lies, all built upon the premise of misdirection.  If Satan can’t get you to fall for a false belief outright, he’ll settle for getting you to compromise on an issue (say abortion or immigration) with a group you know isn’t Christian.  This has proven especially effective with political conservativism and the Tea Party.  This is how he can get Evangelical Christians to rally behind and give platform to outspoken Mormons (like Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck) because of similar political interests. 

Satan is a master of understanding the human condition and knows how to play to the things that we want; power, wealth, relevance, sex, knowledge, and prestige.  Satan is therefore, able to cast a wide net and grab many with false religions and ideologies that are blatantly antichristian in nature because they promote human work and effort; Paganism, Satanism, Islam, Atheism, Hinduism, Human Secularism, New Age, Witchcraft, etc.

Within Christendom, Satan focuses his energy on blurring the line between orthodox and unorthodox.  For the average Christian who has a working knowledge of the Bible, these groups (primarily cults) should be relatively easy to spot; Mormonism, Jehovah Witness, Roman Catholicism.  Although each of these claim Christ, they clearly depart from Biblical teachings.  These groups rely primarily on either extra-biblical sources for their primary teaching tools, or they re-write their own versions of the Bible and focus their center of attention around a person other than Jesus Christ.

Satan has been particularly successful in this next group by promoting extremes in areas such as spiritual gifts, ritualism, and merging of Christian doctrine with the ritualism found outside the boundaries of New Testament theology.  These groups don’t so much recruit from outside of Christendom, as they do from within.  Groups in this category would be many in the Charismatics, Hebrew Roots, and the Emergent Church movements.  But for the most part, they claim the essentials of Christianity, but go astray in some other key areas that make them aberrant in their theology.

But as we continue further, the errors get harder to spot because they become much more subtle and aren’t limited to groups or denominations.  These are teachings and beliefs that are trans-denominational in nature and are usually relegated with how one interprets (or misinterprets) the Bible. Examples of these would be; theological liberalism, post-modernism, higher criticism, and allegorizing hermeneutics.  

What’s unique about these, is not that they form their own groups, but tend to infect whatever denomination they already belong to.  This usually has a negative effect on that body of believers because their views ultimately stifle the ideas of Biblical inerrancy and kill the trust one has with the validity of God’s word by introducing the seed of doubt.  Examples of the by-products of these views are; Preterism, Amillennialism, and Replacement theology.

Now we come to the issues that divide many, God fearing and Godly men and women that we would consider orthodox in their views, but also stray in issues that don’t effect salvation, but stunt or limit their ability to fully mature in the faith. (Eph. 4:11-16)  Examples of these groups would be those who adhere to Lordship Salvation, King James Only, Calvinism, Reformed and Covenant theologies.

I know, some will say Calvinism?!  Hold on, I am a _ point Calvinist.  In regards to Calvinism, there are many famous evangelists and theologians like Charles Spurgeon, John MacArthur and John Piper which hold to it.  These five points are;

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)

I hold to Total Depravity and Once Saved Always Saved, but since these are Biblical concepts clearly taught in Scripture which predate John Calvin by millennia, I do not consider them exclusive to Calvinism.  My problems with Calvinism are; for example, IF Unconditional Election of Calvinism were true, and some were ‘predestinated’ to hell and wrath by a completely sovereign God who authored their inability to ever be saved, why bother with the Great White Throne Judgment? (Rev. 20:11-15)  What is there to judge if God created them specifically with the foreknowledge that they were doomed for destruction? As to only the Elect being able to receive salvation, why are we instructed to preach the Gospel unto ‘every creature’ if only the ‘elect’ can be saved?  [John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, and 2 Peter 3:9] argue soundly against ‘only the elect’ concept.

I know, Calvinism is one of those sacred cows no one wants to touch with a ten-foot pole, because so many of the greats that we look up too were and are admitted Calvinists.  But let’s be honest, the Reformers still brought a lot of baggage with them when they divorced the Roman Catholic Church.  Since then, it has divided Protestants on many issues, such as;

-Infant baptism

-Calvinism/Arminianism

-Eternal security

-Instrument/non-instrumental worship

-Speaking in tongues

-Return to observing the Mosaic Law

-The KJV is the only authorized version of Scripture

-Clericalism

-Baptismal regeneration

-Sabbath service

Conclusion

Clearly, there are many more issues that divide the Church, but the bottom line is that we’ve had around two thousand years of theological baggage tacked on to our Christian faith.  Yet, just as Christ predicted, the Church that He is building, has not disappeared.  Christ has received believers from every tongue, tribe, and nation and at some point very soon, will complete the ‘fullness of the Gentiles’ which make up the Body of Christ.  (Romans 11:25)

While God foreknew that the world would in large part, reject His free offer of Salvation, you can’t have the redeemed without the unregenerate.  Sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers all make up this total package we call the human race.  And despite well intentioned people’s efforts to make the church better, (which usually only make things worse), Christ is ultimately the author and finisher of His Church. (Matt. 16:18)  Christ appointed Paul to be the architect for New Testament theology of which the Church would grow and mature on.  He says… 

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.  Eph. 3:8-13

Even So, Maranatha!

About Pete Garcia

Last week: The 'Church of Christ' in the Last Days



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