July 28, 2010
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
I want to begin a series through the book of Revelation very soon. However, prior to beginning that I must bring a teaching that the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart of late. In view of this, I am reminded of the words of Jude, Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. [Jude 1:3 KJV] Let’s examine what this verse is saying. First, it seems that Jude had initially set out to write a letter celebrating the grace and goodness of God in extending the free gift of salvation to both Jew and Gentile alike, hence our “common salvation”. However, the church in his day was under assault. Politically, the church was under assault by Rome; spiritually, the church was under attack by false teachers. It sounds a great deal like the church of today. Politically speaking, the Church of the 21st Century is under assault by anti-God, anti-Christian forces that, make no mistake about it; want to stop all public expressions of Christian faith in the name of “separation of Church and State”.
On the spiritual front, the Church of today is under assault from false teachers and religious charlatans who are making merchandise of unsuspecting and uninformed believers. Like Jude, we must earnestly contend for the faith. This sounds a lot like Philippians 1:27, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. [Phil. 1:27b NKJV] “Earnestly contend” is the Greek, epagōnizomai, and is found only here in the New Testament. It means to, “strive or contend with another”. In Jude’s day it was a fight to maintain the original faith of the gospel which was being destroyed by false teachers. [See Vs. 4] In Paul’s writing, Striving together is, sunathleō and it means, to wrestle in company with. It implies a joint effort on the part of all believers to take a stand for truth, and a stand against error. Make no mistake, contending for truth is work. It is a battle. It requires aggressively identifying and understanding what the truth is, and exposing and standing against that which is not. In Jude’s time there was an error known as gnosticism that was beginning to make inroads into the Church. The Holy Spirit was warning the believers through Jude to stand against this error before it infiltrated the church any farther. This warning was evidently not heeded, because by the time John’s epistles were penned, gnosticism was a full blown movement within the Christian Church.
Both Jude and Paul speak of the faith. This speaks of the body of revealed truth, the gospel of salvation; the gospel, if you will. This body of truth was once delivered to the saints. The implication here is that this body of Christian truth was delivered as one body of truth to all saints, for all times. This body of truth once delivered to the saints is the Word of God. The Word of God is perfect, complete, sufficient, and needs no additions or enhancements. It also must not be diminished, substituted, or subtracted from. Yet, there are those today who question the Word’s authority. They challenge its sufficiency and imply that we need things in addition to the Word. There are those who have invaded the Church of today and want to substitute the Word for therapy, psychology, and any number of “isms” supposedly that the sophisticated Christian of today needs to cope and be fulfilled in life. In response to this the scripture declares, All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. [2 Tim. 3:16, 17 NASB] Think of all of the important issues facing today’s Christians. Issues such as war, the family, marriage, finances, and a host of things that bring pressure on individuals and families. The Word of God is sufficient and addresses all of these things in either direct precept, or divine principle.
Someone might ask, What does all of this have to do with Bible prophecy? The answer is, everything! Paul in writing to Pastor Timothy in his first letter to him warned of a last days confrontation with false prophets and teachers who would bring teachings and so-called new “revelations” and demon-inspired doctrines designed to distract unwary Christians from the truth. He wrote, Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. [1 Tim. 4:1 NKJV] First, notice this word, expressly. This word translated, expressly, is the Greek rhetos. This is the only place this particular word is used in the New Testament. It is to speak in an outspoken manner. It is to speak clearly and distinctly in such a way that there can be no mistaking what is being communicated. The Holy Spirit wants this message to be understood, so he speaks in a forthright, clear matter. The next salient phrase I want you to notice is, latter times. The phrase, latter times is one of fourteen end-time terms found in the Bible. This particular term speaks of the time period just prior to the end of the present age before the Coming of Christ. You could say this term refers to the last of the Last Days. This warning from the Holy Spirit alerts us to the fact that in these last of the Last Days their would be a departure in the Church.
The word translated, depart in 1 Timothy 4:1 is the Greek aphestistemi, and means, “to remove, instigate to revolt, to become a deserter”. What could possibly cause such a condition and state within the Church? Paul warns, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. Some may wonder if it is even possible for a believer to give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons? Absolutely! It happened all of the time in the New Testament, and it certainly happens today. In fact, most of Paul’s epistles were written to correct doctrines of demons that had crept into the Church! Ask yourself, if you knew that it was a seducing, deceiving spirit you were hearing, you wouldn’t turn your head and listen to it, would you? However, Paul’s warning here is letting us know that the Last Days demons are going to become so deceiving that people will not realize they are witnessing demonic activity. And the demons are going to operate in such a tantalizing way that it will actually cause people to stop, look, and turn their head to listen and look in a different direction, rather than curse and rebuke the demons.
Turning from the faith and opening up their mind to new ideas and new revelations will be the first step to being deceived. The great evangelist D.L. Moody once said, “If it is new its not true. If it is true its not new. That is important truth to remember. Often demons come to twist the truth. They come to manifest their own teachings, and sometimes they wrap them up in spiritual terms that sound acceptable, even to the Church. How often believers get caught up in teachings that don’t matter. God is concerned about the content of teachings and manifestations. This is important to Him. I want to make it clear that I believe in dreams, visions, and the present-day manifestation of the Spirit. However, anything that we hear, or see, or read; must be measured by the standard of the written Word of God. The Bible tells us of a dream and vision that affected a New Testament church, a revelation that was received as though from God, but it was not from God. The Bible says, Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. Read that again. Now verse 19: and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Now look again at verse 18. This is what happened in the Colossian Church:
The Gnostics were in Colosse. (The word, “Gnostic” means “to know”, and this word was used to describe those who claimed superior knowledge.) The Gnostics claimed to have revelation and knowledge that no one else had. In fact, they believed that they had superior knowledge even above that possessed by the Apostle Paul.
One of their revelations went like this: God was a holy God, and the earth was an evil earth. And because God was holy and the earth was evil, the two should never meet. So, in order for God to come to earth, God would have to go through a process of de-evolution. God would have to emit a lower form of God, and that form of God emitted yet another form of God, and that another lower, and that another lower, and that another, and another, and another, and so forth, until finally the very lowest form of God that could ever be created and was born on the earth, and His name was Jesus. The gnostics believed that Jesus was the very lowest form of God. They believed there was almost no God in Him. These gnostics had a doctrine of devils! Some of these doctrines have crept into the Church today.
More next time.
The Weekly Word is found in Hebrews 13:9, Here the Bible says,
9 Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited. [Heb. 13:9 NASB]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson