BUYING THE TRUTH
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The Lord Jesus warned us there would be much deception in the last days. His prophecy has come to pass. Deception is arising on every hand, even among Christians. The elect are being deceived!
Table of Contents
Not Taking Up Our Cross and Following the Lord Jesus
Working For Christ Instead of Abiding In Christ
Running Ahead of God
Other Reasons for Deception
Practices and Traps That Lead Us Away From Truth
Some Prevailing Deceptions
BUYING THE TRUTH
Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. (Proverbs 23:23)
The Lord Jesus warned us there would be much deception in the last days. His prophecy has come to pass. Deception is arising on every hand, even among Christians. The elect are being deceived!
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:24)
We have not as yet seen the fullness of the “great signs and wonders” that the Lord mentioned. No doubt these satanic miracles will cause tremendous deception in the future. Even today there is widespread willingness on the part of Charismatic believers to accept any minister who states the name of Jesus and performs miracles. The minister’s doctrine often is not examined closely.
There are many reasons why people are susceptible to being led astray and several methods Satan uses to guide us into unfruitful areas. Since these reasons for susceptibility and methods of leading us astray overlap and interact we are not able to separate them into neat categories. We ask the reader’s indulgence as we express some of these thoughts when he recognizes there is overlap or lack of separation into clearly defined categories.
Not Taking Up Our Cross and Following the Lord Jesus
Perhaps the main reason believers become deceived is they are trying to find some way around their personal cross. They just cannot believe that the Lord would deny them something they desire so fervently. Not realizing mankind and the earth are still under the Divine curse they attempt to make a paradise of their present circumstances instead of looking for the Kingdom of God to come in the future. They are not willing to look past the grave for the fulfillment of their dreams.
The Lord Jesus told us to take up our cross and follow Him. He said no man can be His disciple apart from forsaking the world and all he holds dear.
The Christian must, of course, diligently fulfill all of his family obligations. The believer who in a fit of religious fanaticism hides himself from his own flesh and blood, not fulfilling his obligations to his family, will not be blessed by the Lord. The Lord Jesus was speaking rather of the individual who does not in faithfulness follow after the Him in self-denial. He or she is not worthy of the Lord and cannot be His disciple.
The personal cross of the believer is his strongest defense against deception.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37,38)
How many Christians do you know who are obeying the above command? They and they alone are the true Christians. The remainder are susceptible to deception because they do not receive the love of the truth. In fact, God Himself shall deceive them.
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (II Thessalonians 2:10,11)
We understand that the above passage could be viewed as applying only to the unsaved who are unwilling to make a profession of Christ. But it applies also to believers. Salvation always is past, present, and future. We were saved, we are being saved, and we are pressing toward salvation in the future. At any point we can drop out and not be made a partaker of Christ.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14)
Many teachers of today would deny the truth of Hebrews 3:14. This is because they are deceived. They have sold the truth in order to buy the approval of people.
If we want to know the truth, we must do what Christ has said. We must present our physical body a living sacrifice to the Lord, waiting on His will each day of our life. When we do not present our body a living sacrifice we make ourselves vulnerable to the deceptions of the enemy, and God Himself sends delusion on us because of our turning away from the truth.
Working For Christ Instead of Abiding In Christ
The history of the Christian churches has been one of working for Christ instead of in and with Christ. There have been notable exceptions. But to the present hour believers run ahead of the Lord for various reasons. The believers are supposed to be bearing fruit by abiding in Christ and waiting on His will, not by going forth to work for Christ, unless He directs them to do so.
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (Mark 16:20)
“The Lord working with them.” How can the Lord work with us unless we are doing what He desires? And how can we do what He desires unless we are hearing from Him?
The seven feasts of the Lord are presented in Leviticus chapter 23. Each of the feasts represents an area of salvation. When introducing a new feast, the Lord often commanded the Israelites not to work.
And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. (Leviticus 23:28-31)
There are times during our discipleship when we are to wait until we hear from the Lord.
We may observe that from the days of the Protestant Reformers there have been several major moves of the Spirit of God. Each move has been characterized by a return to godliness on the part of the believers, by worldwide evangelism, and by an increase in our understanding of the doctrine of the Apostles. The twentieth century has witnessed the Pentecostal revival. There has been a renewal of interest in godly behavior, worldwide evangelism, and an increase in our understanding of the doctrine of the Apostles.
In the present hour we are being prepared for the greatest of all renewals—the climax of the latter-rain revival, as symbolized by the two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11. There will be a renewal of interest in godly behavior, worldwide evangelism, and an increase in our understanding of the doctrine of the Apostles as a result of this unprecedented outpouring.
The problem is, whenever the Spirit of God moves, the custodians of the previous revival, the denominations, the seminaries, the authors of texts, view the new move with suspicion, fear, and hatred. The work of the Holy Spirit is seen as coming from Satan. The reason for this is that the entrenched believers are working for the Lord instead of abiding in Him and working with Him. They are working when they should be listening. Therefore they are not aware when God moves in a new way. We cannot work in and with the Lord unless we are listening to Him carefully moment by moment.
There is a time to listen and then a time to work. To work during the hour of listening may produce some good, but there will not be the accompanying interest in righteousness, the work of evangelism will turn into that of proselyting, and there will be little unveiling of scriptural truth.
Today is an hour of listening. This does not mean we are not to continue in normal, necessary business but it does indicate we are to cease from planning endless programs and listen! listen! listen to what the Spirit is saying! It is a time for much prayer!
God is ready to move us past Pentecost to the last three feasts of the Lord: Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. We are to be listening and not inventing new programs of our own to save the world. God is going to fulfill these convocations in His own manner. We are not to go out and attempt to stick the bones together. We are to prophesy the Word of the Lord to the bones. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this!
To wait on the Lord and listen for His voice is one of the most joyful, peaceful experiences of all. But to grind at the mill of denominational kingdom building is to bring oneself to weariness, frustration, and discouragement.
The waters of Shiloah run softly. There is no need to exercise the flesh in order to make proselytes. We will succeed only in making them twice the child of Hell we ourselves are, to quote the Lord Jesus.
What is God saying today? Do you know?
We open ourselves to the deceptions of the enemy when we are working for the Lord instead of abiding in the Lord and waiting on Him.
One of the best actions any church or denomination could take would be to periodically shut down and ask the Lord if their program should be continued. Denominations, churches, and movements continue forever—long, long after their usefulness has terminated. The path through the wilderness is strewn with sepulchers filled with relics. Is your church a sepulcher that is working for the Lord instead of abiding in the Lord? More to the point, is your ministry a sepulcher instead of a life-giving flow of water from the Throne of God?
If we want to buy the truth, we must pause frequently and listen to what God is saying. It is best to take nothing for granted. Remember Joshua and the Gibeonites! (Read Joshua chapter 9.)
Running Ahead of God
Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. (Joshua 1:3)
The above verse can be construed to mean we should go out and “do great things for God.” But when we look at the next verse, and then think about how spies were sent out, about the placing of stones in certain positions, how the captain of the Lord’s army appeared to Joshua, about the time of circumcision, about the ceasing of the manna, about the specific directions concerning Jericho, we begin to realize that it is not a case of just rushing out and trying to take land for God.
God has a specific plan for all we are to do. We are to walk as He directs, not according to our own wisdom and desires.
If one is looking for a verse to verify that we are to go out and do something for the Lord, Joshua 1:3 would be hard to equal. It takes its stand along with “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”; “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations”; “you shall say to this mountain, be cast into the sea, and it shall obey you.” These invitations to action are found in the holy Scriptures. All are of the Holy Spirit. All serve as a scriptural “support” for the individual who wishes to “do great things for God.” But there is another way! Instead of using such promises and commands, we can go to the Lord to find out what He wants us to do; how He desires that we fulfill His Scriptures.
Are we to read the Scriptures and attempt to work for the Lord, or are we to look to the Lord and wait on Him for direction? Which is the best way to find the truth?
When we first are saved there is much we are to do that is practical and straightforward, such as reading our Bible, praying, attending the assembling of the saints, giving, and serving as we have opportunity. When we receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit we are to covet earnestly the best gifts, seeking to excel to the building up of the Body of Christ.
Now God is calling us to a further step toward the rest of God (described in Hebrews chapter 4). We are to learn how to work with the Lord instead of for Him. It requires faith to enter the rest of God—faith that God is in control and knows what He is doing. God is building His Church. God is reaching out and saving people from all walks of life. Our task as we enter the rest of God, into our inheritance in the Lord, is to be obedient to what God is telling us.
When we take our position on the cross, waiting on the Lord, refusing to jump off the roof of the temple, there are many voices that will challenge us to come down and do something. “Get busy and work for the Lord. The King’s business requires haste.” Now we have a choice to make. Do we refer to verses such as Joshua 1:3 and set out to see how much land we are able to possess, or do we turn to the Lord and seek to find His will, even though many years of waiting may be required before we hear?
How do you feel about this? What decision will you make?
We always must be practical and do diligently what is set before us. But taking matters into our own hands versus looking to the Lord Jesus for wisdom and direction are two distinctly different approaches to the Christian life.
Would Church history have been different if men and women had looked to the Lord instead of trying to build the Kingdom of God by their own wisdom and energy? Would Christians have persecuted one another if all were waiting on the Lord?
This fundamental decision is facing us today. God is moving in a new, fresh manner. Will we, after having gained a small glimpse of the direction God is taking, rush forward to build a new institution, or will we wait patiently for the Lord to indicate what He desires we do each day?
Now back to Joshua:
Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. (Joshua 1:3)
When we consider the history of the wilderness wandering, how God first appeared to Moses in the burning bush and then promised him God would deliver His people from Egyptian slavery and bring them into a marvelous land, and the numerous events that took place during the journey from Egypt to Canaan, we realize Joshua 1:3 is one tiny part of a very large canvas.
God is not saying, “Wherever you go I will give the land to you. You can take off in any direction because the whole universe is yours.” The events that came before and after Joshua 1:3 reveal God was speaking in terms of a conquest He would direct step by step into a land promised to Abraham hundreds of years previously.
We hear people say God has given us a blank check. “Whatever we ask in Jesus’ name we shall receive.” We are to “step out” on the promises and go forth and do “big things for God” by faith. Yet in Hebrews chapter 11, the “faith chapter,” there is no indication whatever that any of the patriarchs were trying to do “big things for God.” The faith of Hebrews 11 is the faith of stern obedience to the revealed will of God coupled with belief that God is good and there is a reward for seeking and pleasing Him.
Personal ambition quickly turns to presumption. We jump off the top of the temple by faith. We try to cash our check when it is not covered by enough funds. Because of this attitude we are candidates for deception. Denominations compete against each other because they are convinced they are correct and the others are not quite as worthy. Often, however, neither knows for certain what the Lord is saying and doing.
Why do we turn aside from the truth in this manner? Because our heart is wrong. We are seeking our own glory. This has been true from the days of the building of the Tower of Babel.
In the present hour we are reflecting a culture in which people love themselves and want to express themselves. We are not to serve God or minister gifts of the Spirit or serve in the church because we want to express ourselves. The cure for the desire to express ourselves in our religion is plenty of suffering and persecution.
Why is our heart wrong? Because we are not willing to take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus. We love ourselves and not the Lord, and that is why we are vulnerable to deception.
What are we to do about it? We must present ourselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord. We must take up our personal cross and follow the Lord wherever He leads us. If we do not, God will not answer us with truth, but will answer according to the idols of our heart. We must ask God to give us the truth today!
What powers drive us so we work for the Lord instead of with the Lord? Without doubt one of the principal driving forces of people who are working for the Lord instead of with the Lord is personal ambition, a desire to be prominent, to be seen, to be important, to be successful. This is glory-lust.
We witness this in today’s emphasis on building churches. Each pastor wants more people in his church than in his brother’s church, even if it means taking people away from his brother’s church. Such a motivation is so obviously wrong it needs no further discussion. Yet the emphasis on numbers of people is widespread, and multitudes in attendance at worship services have become the proof of God’s blessing and success in the ministry.
We know of two chapels in Switzerland, one devoted to the worship of God and one devoted to the austerity of God. There are two people who worship in the one and two people who worship in the other. This they do each day to the praise and glory of God. The chapels are under the auspices of the Evangelical Sisters of Mary. Such saints put us to shame with their dedication and integrity.
If the world saw more of this kind of selfless behavior there would be moral change. People would glorify God.
The person who is working with the Lord Jesus instead of for Him is not driven by a lust for a large audience. He knows how willing the Lord is to spend years working with a handful of people without regard for “crowds.”
When the minister is driven by a need for large numbers in attendance he will compromise the demands of discipleship. A minister will say, “I know I should present the demands of discipleship, but if I do the people will leave. If they leave I cannot minister to them at all.” Is this individual working with the Lord or for the Lord?
The minister working for the Lord, who is “employed in the Lord’s work,” is open to deception. He will accept doctrines that are not sound provided they fill the building with people who seem to be worshiping Jesus.
The “prosperity” and “faith” gospels are examples of false doctrines that have found widespread acceptance because they draw people into the churches. The people come in droves because they love themselves. They want to be healed or become wealthy. They have no intention of taking up their cross and following the Lord Jesus. They and their minister are in deception. They are no threat to Satan. They are useless for the Kingdom purposes of God.
“Imaging,” that is using our imagination to activate faith or to bring to pass what we wish God would perform, is a soulish, metaphysical practice. Imagining what we desire to be true in the spirit realm and portraying by action what we are imagining contains the power of suggestion and is related to hypnosis. The “life” we then feel is coming from the soul, not from the Lord in Heaven.
Many times our motivations are not apparent to us. When God sets out to purify His servant and cause him to grow, God may take away his ministry altogether. If the minister looks to God and blesses Him, rather than fretting and fuming because he cannot minister, God may reveal to him that his motivations are in need of refinement. He actually was building his own kingdom without realizing it.
There are many accounts in the history of the Christian Church of ministers of the Gospel whose contribution was greatly enhanced because of a severe trial. He or she came forth from the trial with a much clearer understanding of the forces driving him or her.
Every one of us who ministers must keep in mind we are being prepared to serve God throughout eternity. Our successful (or “unsuccessful”) work in this life has as its first purpose our own perfecting as God’s eternal witness. This is why we must never, never, never sacrifice our personal integrity or continue in destructive relationships with people in order to “accomplish something for God.” Paul’s concern was that after having been used mightily by the Holy Spirit he himself would be disqualified. We have lost the race. The Lord does not know us even though we have performed many miracles in His name.
Wrong motivations make us vulnerable to deception!
Other Reasons for Deception
Sin and idols in our life. When we have sin and idols in our life, God does not give us truth and wisdom. God Himself deceives us even when we are asking the prophet for truth.
Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; (Ezekiel 14:3,4)
When we have lust, or covetousness, or adultery, or malice, or unforgiveness in our heart, and then seek truth from God, God Himself deceives us.
And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. (Ezekiel 14:9)
We cannot hear truth when our heart is not right before God.
Laziness and disinterest in spiritual matters. In our American culture we speak of being “laid back.” This means we do not apply ourselves energetically to the things of the Lord. We are at ease in Zion. We may or may not attend the assembling of believers. We may or may not be on time at religious functions. We may or may not apply ourselves to seeking to build up the Body of Christ. We are “laid back.”
The parable of the servant who buried his talent, found in Matthew chapter 25, tells us of the horrible end of the lazy servant. The lazy, disinterested believer will continue in deception until he finds himself in the outer darkness.
Being in love with ourselves. When we are in love with ourselves we will not be willing to suffer the pain and denial of our fervent desires that is part of being a true disciple of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus Himself is Truth, and when we do not follow patiently after Him, denying ourselves, we do not receive the truth. We have no love for the truth because the truth often is grievous to our adamic nature.
Truth is purchased at the expense of our being able to make a paradise out of the present sin-cursed earth.
The love of riches. The surest way to kill our spiritual life is to become involved in the pursuit of riches. The love of money blinds our eyes. Those who are prophesying riches to God’s people in our day are false prophets. Yet numerous Charismatic people, who ought to know better, are willing to be deluded by those who are promising them material wealth.
It is only as we live a righteous, holy, sternly obedient life that we are able to receive truth from the Lord. We have a nation filled with deceived believers! They refuse to believe that God would ever permit them to suffer or deny them anything they really wanted, and so God has deceived them because they did not receive the love of the truth.
They believe God loves them in a human manner and is hovering over them like a kindly grandfather, ready to give them their every desire. The truth is, horrible days are ahead for the Christians in the United States of America.
Taking things for granted without asking the Lord. This is how Joshua was deceived. He took the word of the Gibeonites for granted without going to the Lord. Yet the Lord had been speaking to Joshua about the details of entering the land. But Joshua became careless and did not look to the Lord on this occasion.
We may have been walking with God for many years and believe we cannot be deceived. To think in this manner is to be deceived already! We are in the last days, in the period of which the Lord warned us. The land is filled with religious deception. It appears that few are hearing truth from God. The outstanding Charismatic leaders of our day are being deceived. The power of Antichrist is reaching into the heavens and tearing down the army of the Lord!
Let none of us take anything for granted but seek the Lord for every detail. I believe it was Jessie Penn-Lewis who remarked that when we begin to doubt an experience we have had, the doubt itself may be the beginning of light. We hardly can be too careful in the present hour. We must pray about everything!
We must learn to be willing to wait until we know God’s will. We prove God’s will by offering our body a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). This means time spent in prayer and meditating in the Scriptures. It also is helpful to begin every prayer with the request that God keep us from deception and temptation, show us if our heart is wrong, correct our errors, and strengthen that which is of Himself in us.
Never be afraid to doubt that something is from the Lord. God has commanded us to test the spirits (I John 4:1). The truth that comes from God is always peaceful, full of mercy and good fruit, never accompanied by haste, anxiety, fear. The truth of God is gentle and easy to be entreated. You can test the spirits as much as you like without offending the Holy Spirit of God. When you feel unrest in some area, this often is an indication that God has further truth for you along this line.
Practices and Traps That Lead Us Away From Truth
There are many practices of the believers, and traps of the enemy, that prevent us from cutting a straight course in God’s Word. Let us think about some of the ways we get off the track, and how we can stay on target.
Favorite beliefs. First of all, when emphasizing our favorite beliefs, we need to ask ourselves, do my favorite doctrines and terms lie clearly in the New Testament? Are they of the bulk of the admonitions of the Apostles or are they scarcely mentioned?
In numerous Christian churches the so-called pre-tribulation rapture of the believers is one of the principal (if not the principal) doctrines being advanced. The “rapture” is a primary emphasis of today’s teaching. Let us stop and think. Does the catching up of the believers into the air form a major part of the Epistles? The catching up (rapture) is not even mentioned in First Corinthians chapter 15, the “resurrection chapter” of the Bible. The doctrine of the catching up of the believers should be mentioned in its context, which is to comfort the living believers concerning those who have passed away. It is an excellent text for a funeral sermon. But if it were preached in terms of its importance in the Epistles it would seldom be mentioned. Are our traditions more important to us than truth?
Topical preaching. Most sermons are topical in nature. The minister chooses a subject, such as abortion, drugs, family problems, or whatever, and then selects passages to prove his point. This can lead to harmful emphasis. Preaching should often be expository, this is to say, the minister should select a passage and teach the passage, being careful to keep his meaning within the sense of the writer. Certainly the Apostle Paul would want his letters to the churches to be treated in this manner.
Much error would be prevented if ministers would carefully explain the text of the Scriptures keeping all interpretation within the obvious sense of the context! In the case of the New Testament Epistles, the context is the entire epistle.
An example of what can happen with topical preaching occurred in connection with the leg-lengthening that was fashionable a few years ago. The advocates of this practice supported their efforts with the following passage:
The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools. (Proverbs 26:7)
It is our point of view that actual correction of legs took place in numerous instances during the recent emphasis. Yet, leg-lengthening hardly could be viewed as a primary doctrine of the New Testament.
We who preach need to ask ourselves: Am I trying to use the Scriptures to prove my point of view? Is my special belief that I am emphasizing the main sense of Romans, First Corinthians, Hebrews, or am I “selling” some teaching that has come to me from tradition, or is popular, or brings people into the church, or keeps the members happy and attending?
Topical preaching may lead us to take one or a few verses and build a doctrine on them. The next step is to prove our point of view by taking other verses out of context.
The idea that we are saved to go to live in a mansion in heaven has been the subject of numerous sermons. The only verse in the Scriptures that suggests (from the King James Version) that the Lord Jesus is building mansions for us is John 14:2. Yet a preacher may draw from many parts of the Bible as he declares stoutly that we are on our way to a mansion.
Romans 6:23 has been a favorite of evangelists.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
This verse is not directed toward the unsaved but is warning Christians that if they do not become slaves of righteousness they will die spiritually.
Another favorite is Hebrews 2:3.
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:3)
This verse would have only a secondary application to the unsaved. It is addressing seasoned believers who were beginning to fall away. They were not pressing toward the rest of God. They were neglecting the great salvation which they had so fervently begun to seek.
Interpreting the Bible by mental effort. The Scriptures can be interpreted correctly only by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. This is especially true of the Prophets in the Old Testament and Revelation.
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (Ephesians 1:17)
How many differing charts of the Book of Revelation have been constructed? Are all the chart-makers wrong except one? How can we tell? The truth is, the Book of Revelation does not lend itself to a chart because it is not chronological. The events do not follow in order of historical time. The charts are proceeding from well-meaning scholars who are employing the human mind to interpret that which was given to holy people by the Spirit of God.
Theologians did not write the Scriptures and theologians cannot interpret mystical utterances correctly. We must have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation if we want to cut a straight course in the Word of truth.
Using unscriptural terminology. Sometimes a name is given to a favorite doctrine and then the doctrine takes on a life of its own totally apart from the context of the Scriptures. Sometimes the specific name is not found in the Scriptures, which always is a red flag when we are seeking truth.
One example is the “rapture.” Another is “inner healing.” A third is the current “laughing revival.” It is our point of view that the “laughing revival” may possibly be a refreshing touch of God; but it is rapidly becoming a “special doctrine” instead of a Presence of the Lord that may lead as quickly to weeping as to laughing. Some have been searching the Scriptures to find support for the “laughing” revival and have seized upon verses that have little or nothing to do with the current experience. Notice in the following verse that Sarah was not laughing as an isolated spiritual experience but because God had fulfilled a long-held, fervent desire.
And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. (Genesis 21:6)
As far as we know, the word “laugh” is used but once in the New Testament, in which instance a woe is pronounced on the one who laughs (Luke 6:25). There is not sufficient usage to either endorse or condemn laughing. One must go back into the Old Testament to gain support for the topic of “laughing.” No such support for a current movement is needed unless one is creating a special doctrine.
It always is in order for the Lord to draw near to His people and to bless them. No peculiar names should be given to the blessing of the Lord.
It is maintained that the term “rapture,” for example, means the same as the “caught up” of I Thessalonians 4:17. We understand this. But it is always safer to use scriptural terms because sometimes our term is misleading. Here are some common unscriptural expressions:
- “Go to heaven” (or “going to heaven”)
- “Win souls for Christ”
- “Make a decision for Christ” (or “accept Christ”)
- “Save souls from a devil’s Hell” (or “save souls from Hell”)
- “A passion for souls”
These expressions are traditional and no doubt have been helpful in the salvation of numerous individuals. However there always is death in the pot when we emphasize again and again terms and expressions not found in the Scriptures. When we are buying truth, we are on safer ground when we use the terminology of the Scriptures.
The Taylor commentary (we do not say “translation”) by its use of such unscriptural traditional expressions, leads the reader far astray in some instances. The following quotation from Taylor (Tyndale House Publishers. Living Letters by Kenneth N. Taylor), quoted in The New Testament from 26 Translations, is a comment on Romans 3:21: “But now God has shown us a different way to heaven—not by being ‘good enough’ and trying to keep his laws….” Finding the way to Heaven is never presented by Paul as being the goal of salvation. Going to Heaven has nothing to do with the context of Romans 3:21. The Gentile reader would understand “not by being ‘good enough’ and trying to keep his laws” to mean God has given us a plan of salvation that is an alternative to godly behavior. There is death here! It is best to stay with scriptural expressions no matter how confident we are that our expressions are synonymous with the words of the Apostles.
Traditional, erroneous interpretations of the Scripture. No recent edition of the Scriptures we have read correctly interprets the first few verses of the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. Because of the recent overemphasis on grace and “eternal security,” all editors and publishers rush to join the majority position, proclaiming that the writer of Hebrews could not possibly be addressing backsliding believers when he warns them it is impossible to renew them to repentance.
The manner in which devout, competent scholarship leaps about in order to prove that the text of Hebrews 6:4-6 does not mean what it says is scandalous. It is ignoring the fact that many verses of the Book of Hebrews are clear warnings to these veteran Christians that they were in danger of dying in the wilderness. Among these warnings and exhortations are these verses immediately preceding chapter 6:
Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, (Hebrews 5:11-6:1)
Since the author of Hebrews did not write in chapters, we would assume that Hebrews 6:4-9 is continuing with the theme of exhortation and warning concerning the neglect of their salvation that was characterizing the Hebrews believers.
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. (Hebrews 6:4-9)
If there is one editor who does not follow the “party line” by insisting that the passage could never refer to a genuine Christian, and one publisher who dares to print the editor’s point of view, we would like to send each of them a present.
We do not care at this point to dwell on the statements in various sets of footnotes, such as the position that the people who were once enlightened, and had tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and had tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come, were not genuine Christians but mere professors (talkers) who never had truly received the Lord.
The truth is, the Jewish believers to whom the Book of Hebrews was addressed were much farther along in Christ than we are today. This is why they could not be brought again to repentance. It would be to crucify Christ once again. Christ will never be crucified again (thank God!) and so there remains no further sacrifice for sin for the disciple who, after having known the Lord, turns away and goes back into the world.
The new covenant, unlike the Mosaic covenant, provides only one eternal offering for sin. It makes no provision for our dipping in and out of sin.
We know from Gospel work done in the jails of America that there are inmates (sometimes the majority) who have “made a decision for Christ” three or four times previously. Now they are in jail making another “decision for Christ.” Can they continue to be renewed to repentance? Yes, they can, because they have never really begun the race. The preaching addressed to them has been so shallow they merely have decided in favor of Jesus but never have walked in the Spirit or known the powers of the age to come. They are in waters to the ankles and dash in and out of the surf.
Appealing to the original languages. One well-intentioned technique of ministers of the Gospel is to appeal to the original languages in order to prove a special point of view.
Sometimes scholars refer to the Greek language in order to substantiate certain points of view. Let us once again use the opening statements Hebrews chapter 6 as an example of warped interpretation. Hebrews contains strong warnings to experienced Christians concerning the need to persevere in Christ after being saved and filled with the Spirit of God, and after having lived for a while as a believer. It is terribly unfortunate that God’s warnings in Hebrews have been warped and discounted.
The first few verses of Hebrews chapter 6 present difficulties of interpretation for those who support the “faith without works” theory, who tend to overemphasize the role of justification at the expense of sanctification.
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:3-6)
A teacher may be tempted to appeal to the Greek language to prove that the passage could not mean that it is possible to be lost after one has been saved (saved according to the current “four steps of salvation”).
Sometimes the thought is advanced that the writer of Hebrews in these verses is presenting a hypothetical idea. Our point of view is that the writer is not presenting a hypothetical idea but is warning the Hebrew saints because they were falling away.
A teacher, by appealing to the Greek text, may conclude that the passage actually is proving that it is impossible to fall away. Apparently this conclusion can be forced by examining verb forms and so forth. The truth is, the writer of Hebrews is not stating it is impossible to fall away, but that if one does fall away it is impossible to renew him or her to repentance. This is an example of employing the Greek text to prove a point of view opposite from the plain language of the epistle.
Many of us are unable to fully appreciate the application of the Greek nouns, verbs, and participles since we have not learned that language. But we do know that if a conclusion is drawn, by referring to subtle points of Greek grammar, that is contrary to the obvious meaning of the specific text and to the thesis of the Book of Hebrews, we should not bow in deference to the scholar’s special knowledge of the original language but should, perhaps after examining two or three English translations, reject the altering of the plain sense of the passage.
After comparing several translations of the New Testament and examining a Greek interlinear version, we have come to the conclusion that they all are very much the same and that interpretation should be derived from the bulk of the texts themselves, employing ordinary reasoning such as one would use in interpreting any document, without an appeal to Greek grammatical principles.
The Scriptures came as holy people were moved by the Holy Spirit. We think that the Scriptures can best be interpreted by holy people who are trusting in the Holy Spirit for the meaning as well as using their own sense of the ordinary usage of language.
If an individual were to read our own writings two thousand years from now he probably would derive the sense more clearly if he used the ordinary flow of language rather than attempting to probe more deeply into our meaning by examining the Latin, French, German, and other origins of the words we use or by studying Middle English.
No doubt the Apostle Paul would be amazed if he were presented with a scholarly exegesis of His epistles. One cannot arrive at the splendor of a Beethoven Sonata by making a spectroscopic analysis of the strings of the piano.
Our own intelligence blessed by the Spirit of God is especially useful in understanding the Epistles. However, the Prophets as well as the Book of Revelation are so mystical and symbolic that the Spirit of God must explain the burden of the utterance.
Much truth mixed with a little error. One trap we need to be aware of is doctrine that is ninety percent sound but contains ten percent of that which is questionable. Someone (I think it was an acquaintance, Stanley Howard Frodsham) gave a prophecy a few years ago that one of Satan’s devices in the last days would be to present doctrine that was largely correct but contained small quantities of deadly error. We need to be careful of any teaching or experience that has small portions of something that makes us uncomfortable. Best to put the whole business on the back burner until we are sure of what we are doing.
Seizing on one aspect of a seeming contradiction. The Bible contains many seeming contradictions, such as free will and predestination, justification by faith and justification by works, freedom from judgment and exposure to judgment, taking a sword and not taking a sword. Christian theology contains many errors because the scholars accept the aspect of the seeming contradiction that agrees with their thinking and reject the other aspect.
The tendency sometimes is to stress a few favorite passages and ignore those that appear to contradict our axiom. God’s Word contains seeming contradictions because the Divine truth is so great in scope. In prior years it was fashionable to stress God’s wrath and minimize the importance of God’s love. Today the reverse is true. In prior years it was fashionable to emphasize election and overlook the part that human choice plays. Today the reverse often is true.
We will never arrive at truth until we are willing to accept all that the Word states, even though at first there appear to be contradictions.
Divine election is wholly true and human choice is wholly true. We are free from judgment and yet we shall be judged. God’s love is beyond our understanding and God’s wrath is beyond our understanding. Let us be quick to accept the whole counsel of God. Then we will not be as prone to error.
The only way to know which aspect of the seeming contradiction to apply in a given situation is to pray. We need to hear from the Spirit whether to turn the other cheek or to resist; whether to give to people what they request of us or whether to refrain. The New Testament is not a book of recipes; it must be interpreted by the Spirit of God.
Reasoning leads into error. It may be noticed that Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, approach us with reasoning. It is easy to be drawn into reasoning instead of focusing on the Lord Jesus. A good way to keep from being led astray by reasoning is to stop and pray to the Lord Jesus, keeping our gaze fixed on Him. When we do this, the reasoning is seen as what it is—the pursuit of knowledge apart from the Holy Spirit.
C. S. Lewis said somewhere that demons love to reason. Our experience tells us this is true.
God always is ready to reason with us concerning sin and righteousness. We note in the Book of Acts that Paul reasoned with the Jews concerning Christ and the Kingdom of God (Acts 17:2). But when reasoning becomes philosophical debate or leads away from Christian fundamentals it produces more sin than righteousness.
Not waiting on the Lord. We fall into error when we are unwilling to wait until God reveals His will to us, when we are not spending enough time in prayer or meditating in the Word.
Dispensationalism. One of the major sources of error of our day is the model of biblical interpretation called Dispensationalism. If you tried to develop a scheme that would lead Christians astray, you could not improve on Dispensationalism. The entire concept of a dispensation of grace that is different from previous covenants in that it provides an alternative to keeping God’s commandments, and sets forth a difference between Jews and Gentiles in the Kingdom of God, may well be the most destructive idea ever to infiltrate Christendom.
In addition to immoral grace, the model of Dispensation contains the ideas of Gentile Christians in Heaven and a Jewish kingdom on the earth; two brides of the Lamb; the catching up of Gentile believers to Heaven while the Jews are left to face the Antichrist without the Holy Spirit. Christians have little or no idea of their eternal destiny because the theory of dispensationalism has cut them off from the promises of the Old Testament Prophets.
A good working knowledge of the New Testament reveals instantly that Dispensationalism is alien to the thinking of the Apostles of the Lamb. Yet Christianity is saturated with Dispensational theory.
He who wants to buy the truth should avoid Dispensationalism. Let the New Testament speak for itself. It means exactly what it says. God will give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to whomever will come to Him with a pure heart and ask for truth. There is no need to continue in the errors that have destroyed Christian morality in the United States of America and other so-called “Christian nations.”
Some Prevailing Deceptions
Divine grace as an alternative to righteous behavior, and faith alone. It is our point of view that the major deception among Christians in our day is the concept that Divine grace is an alternative to godly living, that our attempts to live righteously are an affront to the Lord’s “grace,” are “works,” and proceed from a legalistic, pharisaic spirit.
One reason for the present error is that the Protestant Reformers were protesting the works of penance of the Roman Catholic Church. Because of the practice of penance the Reformers emphasized that we are justified by faith and not by works. Whenever we are fighting against something we usually overreact. This is what has taken place concerning the balance between imputed righteousness and actual righteousness of behavior.
A reason for the stress on “faith alone” is the interpretation of the writings of the Apostle Paul as meaning we are saved by grace and faith apart from righteous behavior. In actuality, Paul was comparing faith with the works of the Law of Moses, not with righteous behavior. In several instances Paul claims that believers who practice unrighteousness will not inherit the Kingdom but will slay their own resurrection life. Modern Christian teachers simply will not accept Paul’s warnings as applying to Christians, only to the unsaved. But every principle of biblical interpretation demands that Paul’s warnings apply to Christians, not to the unconverted.
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)
Faith alone is a modern form of the ancient heresy called Gnosticism in which salvation consists of specialized knowledge rather than a change in behavior.
Many of today’s errors, such as the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture, would lose much of their force apart from the basic error that Christian grace is a way of attaining eternal residence in the spirit Paradise apart from serving the Lord.
The doctrine of salvation “by faith alone” is totally unscriptural, totally destructive.
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (James 2:17)
Other contemporary errors. Some of the modern errors are as follows: the use of “faith” and “imaging” to speak into reality whatever we desire; the use of “faith” to become wealthy; replacement theology, that is the idea that the Christian Church has replaced the physical land and people of Israel in God’s program; and reconstructionism.
Reconstructionism, as we understand it, is a plan to bring Christian people into positions of political leadership so that the secular nations are compelled to obey the laws of biblical morality. Perhaps reconstructionism is somewhat post-millennial in concept in that we are to bring in the Kingdom of God today so that when the Lord returns the job already will have been done.
The truth is, God’s Kingdom is not of this world. All attempts to force unsaved people to obey God’s moral laws will result in the persecution of Christians. Our task in the present hour is to bear witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, not to change society by force.
In fact, the Scriptures teach clearly that the world will become increasingly foul until the Lord returns with His army, casts Antichrist and the False Prophet into the Lake of Fire, and an angel of God chains Satan and throws him into the bottomless pit. Then the Lord Jesus and His saints will bring righteousness, peace, and joy into the material creation. This is the truth. All other visions of the end time are contrary to the Scriptures.
The Good News of the Kingdom of God is that the Lord Jesus will return and by the power of God will establish righteousness on the earth. To be saved in the primary sense is to be admitted to the Kingdom of God when the Lord returns. To be saved in the fullest sense is to be transformed into the image of the Lord Jesus and brought into untroubled union with the Father through the Lord Jesus. Heaven is not our goal; Jesus is our goal. Much error can be avoided by viewing salvation as our change from Satan to Jesus rather than forgiveness for the purpose of leaving the earth and living forever in a mansion in Heaven.
If we want to buy truth, we must return to the original Gospel preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles of the Lamb. The original Gospel is: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. If we are to be saved we must believe and be baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then we will not be destroyed when the Kingdom of God comes to the earth. In the meantime we are to live as a pilgrim and stranger on the earth.”
Being “saved” refers to what happens to us in the Day of the Lord, not when we die. Think about the following:
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5)
“That the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” This is what it means to be saved. The emphasis is not what happens to us when we die but when the Lord returns. Notice also that whether the man was saved or not depended on the moral change that would be brought on him by great suffering in his flesh.
Did you ever hear I Corinthians 5:5 explained like that—that we suffer in the flesh so that we may be saved in the Day of the Lord? Perhaps you never did. The rejection of suffering as a major aspect of redemption has come about because of the influence of the philosophy of humanism. Much of today’s Christian teaching and preaching is strongly influenced by the man-centeredness of humanism.
It is possible that if the pastors and evangelists began to preach the truth of God and of discipleship in the churches of America, over half of the church members would leave. We are in just that kind of spiritual confusion and coldness.
We think the Holy Spirit is sending blessings in many places today and is calling God’s people to repentance. Because of the prevailing Christian belief that Jesus “did it all” and God sees us only through Jesus, there is no sound theological basis for sincere repentance. If we have the righteousness of Christ, what are we to repent of?
However, people are willing to live with compartmentalized thinking. They profess to possess the imputed (legally ascribed) righteousness of Christ on the one hand, and on the other they speak of the need for repentance. But there is no Kingdom problem here. God does not measure us in terms of our theological knowledge but whether we are walking in righteousness, holiness, and stern obedience to God.
It is those who are living by the body and blood of the Lord who will be raised in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:5), not those who possess accurate theological knowledge.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)
God’s people are perishing today because of lack of knowledge. Hopefully our brief article will stir some pastor, evangelist, or teacher to search and see if what we are speaking is the truth; and if they find it to be truth, that they will stand with us as we seek to “buy the truth and sell it not.”
(“Buying the Truth”, 3441-1, proofed 20190301)