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What These Preachers Are Spewing Could Kill You
By Bert Farias

There is an increasing measure of unbelief in today’s churches. Weak faith, little faith and no faith is at an all-time high. Strong faith, exceedingly great faith, and the kind of faith that causes Jesus to marvel (Matt. 8:10) is at an all-time low.

The first reason faith is now at an all-time low is because many believers don’t read or hear the pure Word of God. There’s a great mixture in our churches today. People put more faith in what the popular elevated teachers in the Christian culture say. They put more faith in man. They place their trust in logic, reasoning and the wisdom of men. Continue reading “Your Spiritual Diet Could Be Killing You!” »

The “Radical Grace” Teaching — Reformation or Deformation?
By Michael Fackerell

There is a teaching becoming popular in Christendom today which is known by some of its adherents as the “Radical Grace” message (aka, “Hyper-Grace” – Ed.). This message is being presented as a message of liberation from all the horrible legalistic bondage that “religious” Christians get caught up in when they struggle to overcome sin.

According to this message, we can relax because all we need to do is believe that Jesus has taken care of everything for us — there is really nothing for us to do in order to be saved. According to this teaching, it would be nice if we lived holy lives but it’s no big deal if we don’t — because our salvation is assured by what Christ has done for us on the cross and has nothing to do with how we live at all.

Some also teach that our sanctification is also complete and we have no sin nature once we believe in Jesus — regardless of how we live. (In theology, an unorthodox doctrine known as “eradication of the sin nature.” –Ed.) Continue reading “Hyper-Grace — Reformation or Deformation?” »

I write these words on the eve of the traditional Jewish New Year—a time of introspection, soul-searching and repentance for Jews around the world, a time when even secular Jews seek to make things right with God. At a time like this, it’s especially important to ask the question: Why did God create us and put us here on the earth?

According to a young lady named Angel, seen on a recent interview from the Charlotte pride event and self-identified as a straight Christian, “God put us on this earth to be happy, and if being gay makes someone happy, then go for it!”

That is the logic of narcissism, the logic of what has been called “Generation Me” or the “Me First” generation: “God put us on this earth to be happy, and if (fill in the blank) makes someone happy, then go for it!” Continue reading “The New Gospel of Narcissism” »

charismatic faux worshipAre you one of the many loyal and sincere church members who faithfully and cheerfully attend, support and participate in a local church, but have a nagging, persistent inward “thought” that “something is just not right here?”

Then, you begin realizing, somehow, somewhere along the line you began losing your joy, your zeal for the Lord. It used to be you could hardly wait for the services and to be involved; now it is drudgery to go at all. You used to have such a light and blissful feeling as you worshiped the Lord in the services; now you just go through the motions, feeling heavy, staring placidly toward the platform, sometimes wishing you were somewhere else. You used to be able to “look past” the leaders, and focus only on the Lord; now, all you see during the service is people, people behind the pulpit, people on the platform, and people in the pews. You used to feel God’s love and pleasure with you; now it seems all you feel is unworthiness, guilt, and that nothing you do is ever enough or pleasing to Him.

“What on earth has happened to me? What’s wrong with me?” you ask yourself. “Is it just me?” Then, you begin to look around the room and study other long-time members. You compare how they are now to how they were when they first came. Is their life, as it should be, appreciably better, or have they and their family experienced an inordinate share of tragedies, seemingly inexplicable difficulties, and reversals? By and by, you begin to realize that many of the other members have lost their “first love” too, their zeal, their enthusiasm, their joy in serving the Lord, and that, though Christians, like everyone else, certainly experience adversity, many of these members’ lives have been on a gradual, downward spiral, instead of advancement and blessing. Continue reading “33 Signs of Spiritual Abuse” »

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” (Rom. 1:16)

I’m old enough to remember a time when many promulgators of the so-called “Social Gospel” eschewed and took umbrage at the term. Over the last half a century, though, that has totally reversed. Now, proponents of the thoroughly false “gospel” embrace and rally around the assignation.

The time has come, I believe, to “speak the truth in love” but nonetheless straightforwardly about this heinously deceptive and insidious false gospel. Continue reading “The Fallacy and Ineffectiveness of the “Social Gospel”” »

It is one thing to downplay the ugliness of sin in the life of a believer. It is another thing to deny the existence of sin in the life of a believer. Yet today, there are believers who claim that they do not sin, even when they do. As scary as this deception is, the reasoning behind it is even scarier.

I first encountered this in some fringe hyper-grace circles, where the reasoning goes like this: “I am a spirit, I have a soul and I live in a body. My spirit is born-again, redeemed and perfect in God’s sight. Therefore my spirit—which is the real me—is incapable of sinning, which means that if there is sin in my life, it’s not really me committing the sin.”

Of course, there are some truths mixed into this line of thinking, but it ultimately leads to an unbiblical, very dangerous conclusion: “Yes, I sin, but it’s really not me sinning!” You can easily see where this nonsense can go.

One well-known hyper-grace teacher asks the question, “Does a daily walk of joyful, sinless existence seem like an impossibility?” He then assures his readers that it is hardly impossible at all.

A friend of mine became concerned by some teaching he was hearing in his church (a very well-known church in his region), and so he called the pastor’s right-hand man and asked him to answer a question with a yes or a no: “Do you sin?” The leader replied, “No, I don’t sin,” explaining that his spirit within him was perfect and sinless and that’s who he really was. Continue reading “A Dangerous and Deadly Deception” »

Over the course of Church history, change within the Church has been a slow—at times agonizingly slow—process. Despite the great strides the Church has made since the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in 1517 A.D. in ridding false teaching, more yet remains. And false doctrine is far from being the innocuous matter it is viewed as being by many professing believers today.

To merely call idolatry “sin,” though it certainly is, somehow seems an extreme understatement, for it is the ultimate affront unto God. Yet, arguably, it is the most pervasive sin of all today among professing believers. Contributing to the prevalence of idolatry within Christendom, no doubt, is the common perception by many that idolatry is something that occurs only in underdeveloped, far-away, foreign lands, or that it is something relegated mostly to ancient civilizations of past ages, while nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading “The True Nature of Spiritual Idolatry” »

The Problem with Cheap Grace Churches and Preaching
By Joseph Mattera

The past several decades we have seen a dramatic decline in doctrinal and biblical preaching. We have gone from theology to therapy in the pulpits. In the past decade we went from therapy to motivational speaking instead of preaching.

In addition to this, whole churches and movements have oriented themselves to a distorted understanding of the gospel by espousing a “cheap grace” approach that trickles down to not only what they preach but who they allow to minister and teach. (I was told there is even a new television station devoted to this view of “grace.”)

Furthermore, many churches and preachers refuse to take a stand against sin and rarely if ever mention the need for repentance and topics like hell and judgment! For example, I heard from one leader that in our recent battle against same-sex marriage he only knows of one evangelical leader who actually spoke against same-sex marriage from the pulpit. This is in spite of same-sex marriage being the most important cultural battle of our generation besides abortion! Many of these same churches allow people to minister in music, as small group leaders, and even as ministers with no personal accountability while looking the other way when they are living sexually immoral lives and regularly engaged in drunkenness! Continue reading “The Problem with Cheap Grace Churches and Preaching” »

[Editor’s note: This article is adapted from the book, CHARISMATIC CAPTIVATION, by Dr. Steven Lambert, himself a Charismatic minister. The book exposes the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse in Neo-Pentecostal church-groups, and explains how it became infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of the Neo-Pentecostal church, emerging out of a false movement known as the Discipleship/Shepherding Movement (1970-77). References to “Discipleship” or “Shepherding” (and variables) doctrines, teachings, proponents and participants, and so forth, allude to those pertinences that arose out of that movement. The content of this article is contextual to the entirety of the book, and is best understood by reading the book. A small portion of the book’s content is published in the posted articles listed and linked at the end of this article.
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This post is a continuation of the previous post, which you should read to understand the context.

The adulterated concept of “spiritual covering” itself is problematic enough. Yet, its negative effect is increased by the fact that it is the predicate for several other, related elements of error comprising the heretical Discipleship/Shepherding doctrines and practices, one of which is the matter of “personal pastors.” Indeed, this element has been the basis for at least as much excess, errancy, and authoritarian abuse as the others discussed in this series of articles concerning those doctrines and practices. To those who employ these practices for sordid purposes or with less than pure motives, the perverted concept of “spiritual covering” is sanction for a most insidious kind of unauthorized personal domination and control of their subjects under the auspices of this very delusive and destructive version of “personal shepherding.” Continue reading “The Fallacy of Personal Pastors (Part 2)” »

[Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from the book, CHARISMATIC CAPTIVATION, by Steven Lambert. The book exposes the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse in Neo-Pentecostal church-groups, and explains how it became infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of the Neo-Pentecostal church arising out of a false movement known as the Discipleship/Shepherding Movement (1970-77). References to “Discipleship” or “Shepherding” (and variables) doctrines, teachings, proponents and participants, and so forth, allude to those pertinences that arose out of that movement. The content of this article is contextual to the entirety of the book, and is best understood by reading the book. A small portion of the book’s content is published in the posted articles listed and linked at the end of this article.]
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The adulterated concept of “spiritual covering” itself is problematic enough (for more on that subject, read the previous two posts). Yet, its negative effect is increased by the fact that it is the predicate for several other, related elements of error comprising the heretical Discipleship/Shepherding doctrines and practices, one of which is the matter of “personal pastors.” Indeed, this element has been the basis for at least as much excess, errancy, and authoritarian abuse as the others discussed in this series of articles concerning those doctrines and practices. To those who employ these practices for sordid purposes or with less than pure motives, the perverted concept of “spiritual covering” is license for a most insidious kind of unauthorized personal domination and control of their subjects under the auspices of this very delusive and destructive version of “personal shepherding.” Continue reading “The Fallacy of Personal Pastors (Part 1)” »

[Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from the book, CHARISMATIC CAPTIVATION. The book exposes the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse in Neo-Pentecostal church-groups, and explains how it became infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of the Neo-Pentecostal church arising out of a false movement known as the Discipleship/Shepherding Movement (1970-77). References to “Discipleship” or “Shepherding” (and variables) doctrines, teachings, proponents and participants, and so forth, allude to those pertinences that arose out of that “movement.” The content of this article is contextual to the entirety of the book, and is best understood by reading the book. A small portion of the book’s content is published in the posted articles listed and linked at the end of this article.]

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in MY WORD, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will make you FREE.” (John 8:31,32; NASB)

It was for FREEDOM that Christ set us FREE; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a YOKE OF SLAVERY. (Galatians 5:1; NASB)

Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of Me; and that COVER with A COVERING, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into EGYPT [symbol of captivity in Scripture], and have not asked at My mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh [symbol of Satan and autocratic dictators in Scripture], and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your CONFUSION. For his princes were at Zoan [aka, Goshen, where Pharaoh met with Moses and Aaron; Easton’s Bible Dictionary], and his ambassadors came to Hanes. They were all ashamed of a people that could not PROFIT them, nor be an help nor PROFIT, but a shame, and also a reproach. (Isaiah 30:1-5; KJV; emphases and parentheses added)

The second primary conceptual error on which the heretical hyper-authoritarian Discipleship/Shepherding doctrines are established, is the matter of “spiritual covering.” Indeed, so-called “spiritual covering” is the very centerpiece of these wholly unbiblical teachings and the authoritarian abuse they engender, which is absolutely endemic in Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal (Charismatic, “third wave,” and New Apostolic Reformation) sects. Over the course of the 20th Century it became institutionally infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of these groups, meaning in their protodenomination and network organizations. Virtually none of those in existence today are free from the influence and attitudes of domination and control over their adherents. It is witchcraft of the highest order for the basest of motivations—mammon—the love of money and self-aggrandizement. Continue reading “The Myth of Spiritual Covering (Part 1)” »

A rather ironic and curious characteristic of the idolatry of false teaching is that essentially it is “zeal without knowledge.” It is quite common for those caught in the throes of deception and false doctrine to be quite zealous and ardent in their spiritual pursuits.

Wherever false teaching is being promulgated, the perpetrators and adherents commonly are fervently dedicated to their church-group and its purposes, beliefs, and goals. In fact, it is this zealousness by participants in aberrant and cult-like religious groups that makes it extremely difficult for concerned observers to: one, fully recognize and realize the existence of error and errancy; two, to take serious the potential for spiritual and psychological injury and ruin; and, three, to recognize the need for and actually effect appropriate remedial action.

Certainly, this is the case with those who are being duped by the fallacious Discipleship/Shepherding doctrines. They are often very zealous and even marginally fanatical in their spiritual pursuits. And, in a day when there is far too little fervency for the things of God, most any of us are understandably reluctant to do anything that might douse the fire of someone who is on fire, ostensibly, for God.

The Apostle Paul, speaking of his fellow countrymen, the Jews, said, “For I bear them witness that they have a ZEAL FOR GOD…” (Rom. 10:2). He was saying that the Jews’ zeal for God was genuine and sincere, and certainly no people had more religious zeal than the Jews until then. Nevertheless, their zeal, he went on to say, was “not in accordance with knowledge.” They had “zeal without knowledge.” Their zeal, though extremely fervent, genuine, and unquestionably sincere, nonetheless, was not founded upon Truth. Continuing, the former Hebrew of Hebrews and Pharisee of Pharisees said:

For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish THEIR OWN, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (vv. 3,4)

How profound and profoundly apropos the issue Paul addresses here is to the matter of idolatrous false teaching in that he specifically juxtaposes “zeal for God” against “the righteousness of God,” which actually is referring to “rightstanding with God,” or in other words how one obtains rightstanding with God.

When Jesus of Nazareth at the age of thirty was revealed as and took on the role of the Christ, He truly became THE (only) Way [to God], THE (only) Truth [all spiritual truth, wisdom, and understanding), and THE (only) [Eternal] Life [in communion and fellowship with God] (Jn. 14:6). From the moment Jesus was revealed as the Christ, the Messiah, the Door into fellowship with the Father, from that very moment, Judaism and the Old Covenant (not to be confused with the Old Testament books of the Bible) was made obsolete. That is to say that from the moment the Christ was manifested, faith in Christ was the ONLY way to rightstanding with God. The absolution of our sins through Jesus’ shed blood became the NEW Covenant, the “new and living way” (Heb. 10:20) by which those who believed in Him were granted free and equal access unto and communion with God.

From then on, the Old Covenant, wherein rightstanding with God was attained by strict adherence to the ordinances of the Mosaic Law, was no longer in effect. Thus, the statement: “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). Christ’s manifestation meant the end of the law in regard to obtaining righteousness, or rightstanding, with God through it. Now, “everyone who BELIEVES has rightstanding with God, “by grace… through faith” (Eph. 2:8).

The obsolescence of the Old Covenant and its replacement by the New Covenant does not mean, however, as some ignorantly surmise, that the Truth God revealed in the writings comprising the books of the Old Testament section of the Bible are now null and void. It was not God or His Truth that changed between the Old Covenant era and the New Covenant era, but rather only the WAY we get to God, that is, the way of attaining unto rightstanding with God.

I always find it fascinating and more than a little ironic that in the very last Old Testament Book, Malachi, God resoundingly declares: “For I am the Lord, I change not !” (Mal. 3:6, KJV). I think the Lord strategically planted that statement in that Book for the very purpose of debunking all the religious theorists’ claims that somehow He changed between the Old and New Covenants. He did not. As the verse implies, He cannot change, because He is the Sovereign and Perfectly Holy Lord. If God were to change His Nature, which is what He is, which is in turn His Word, He could not be God, for mutability signifies prior imperfection. Yet, He is perfectly perfect, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, without any “shadow of turning.”

Because of the perfection and immutability of the Divine Nature, what God said in the Old Testament writings is just as true and trustworthy now in the New Testament age. “Not one word of ALL his good promises have ever failed” — whether they are in New or Old Testament writings, and regardless of what era He said it in. I unabashedly repeat that the only thing that has changed between the Old Testament and the New is the WAY by which we attain rightstanding with God. Otherwise, what He said and established in the Old Testament is still true in the New Testament dispensation.

If anything God said or established in the Old Testament were to have changed, He surely would have told us. Generally speaking, however, God is not given to superfluity. Redundancy is not a requirement in the realm of God, which is to say that it is not mandatory that God reiterate in the New Testament writings something He said in the Old Testament writings in order for it to be effectual in the New Testament Age. Anything He has ever said is forever settled in Heaven; it is immutable Divine Law, unless He changes it, and when He changes something He publishes that change brazenly and unmistakably. And, the implications and applications of this irrefutable assertion are great in a number of important areas of doctrine under debate and in dispute today in which mere human opinion and religious bias and tradition are being exalted by some above the revealed knowledge of God.

Getting back to the main point inherent in the Apostle Paul’s allusion to the Jews’ “zeal without knowledge,” he said, “not knowing about GOD’S righteousness,” that is to say, the way God had established for the attaining of rightstanding with Him, which is through faith in Jesus the Messiah, not knowing about that, the Jews sought “to establish THEIR OWN,” and “they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” Now this is the ultimate problem with the idolatry of false teaching and indeed every kind of idolatry — it replaces God’s method for gaining rightstanding with Him, which method is clearly revealed in His Word, with a contrived and incongruous doctrine which has been fashioned and formed in someone’s own human mind.

Not knowing about God’s righteousness, and not wanting to subject themselves to the specific requisites of God’s righteousness, they seek to establish their own. That is precisely what all idolatry is, substituting a false gospel for the true, a false religion for God’s method for righteousness, a false god for the One and Only True God, making a god out of one’s own religious thoughts and contrived religious methodologies. It is genuine zeal for wanting to attain unto God-likeness, but on one’s own terms, without whole surrender and submission unto God Himself and the Way He has established for attainment of that very status.

It is, I understand, difficult to think of zeal as being anything other than a most commendable and desirable trait. But, not always! In fact, there are case stories in the Bible that illustrate very vividly that misplaced zeal can be quite deadly! A prime example is that of King David who with great zealousness for God in attempting to accomplish the extremely noble and virtuous goal of retrieving the Ark of the Covenant and returning it to its proper place of veneration caused one of his most loyal and beloved servants, Uzza, to be struck down dead by God Himself in an outburst of holy wrath, all because David violated certain particulars of God’s established ordinance regarding the method for transportation of the Ark.

David was full of zeal, and his zeal was not for some worldly or self-aggrandizing achievement, but for THE THINGS OF GOD! Nevertheless, his misdirected zeal got a beloved friend killed and invoked the wrath of God, despite all the pageantry, and pomp and circumstance, as David along with all of Israel were praising and “celebrating before God with all their might, even with songs and with lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and with trumpets” (1 Chron. 13:8).

God tells us that the real life incidences that occurred in Old Testament days “happened to them as an example and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11). The poignant moral of this story to all of us living at “the ends of the ages” is that as needful and desirable as the fervency of zeal is, zeal, no matter how fervent and fiery, cannot and will not ever supersede the necessity of obedience to God’s already established Word, Will, and Ways, that is, His ordinances.

Even all that we do for and as an offering unto God, must be done or offered up according to the ordinances, according to His Word, Will, and Way. We cannot do it our own way, and have rightstanding with God. Neither can we seek and serve Him according to our own doctrines for seeking and serving Him, and have rightstanding with Him.

When the fleeting vapor of our natural life is over, and we stand before the Righteous Judge to be judged on the basis of our deeds (Rom. 2:6, et al.), faithfulness and obedience to Him will be the standard, not how emotional, fervent, or zealous we were. Zeal never overrides or negates the necessity for obedience of the specific requisites of God’s ordinances. It’s either HIS Way, or NO way!###

Five other highly recommended related articles on Spirit Life Magazine:

[Original Post Date on Real Truth Digest E-zine: 12/19/99]

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from the book, CHARISMATIC CAPTIVATION, by Dr. Steven Lambert. The book exposes the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse in Neo-Pentecostal church-groups, and explains how it became infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of the Neo-Pentecostal church arising out of a false movement known as the Discipleship/Shepherding Movement (1970-77). References to “Discipleship” or “Shepherding” (and variables) doctrines, teachings, proponents and participants, and so forth, allude to the pertinences associated with that movement.

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