"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

EMERGENT is REGURGITANT – Part Two:

By James Fire

SECTION ONE -

SAME OL’ SAME OL’


The title of this series reveals my view of the Emergent Church Movement (ECM) as being the same old, tired doubt and denigration of God’s Word that has been occurring in our world ever since the garden of Eden when the Serpent first said, “Yea, hath God said . . .?” but has returned in our day with new vigor and ambition.

The Gnostics proposed the same question.
Various esoteric societies revealed in the world for these many centuries have asked the same question.
Religious Institutions that have sought to usurp the authority of God’s Word with their own dogma and traditions have aggressively asked this same question (Like the Roman Catholic religion which we touched on in part One).
The liberal so-called Higher Critics and Bible scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries (we took a brief look at these in part One) have raised this same question.
And now we have the same question regurgitated by these Emergent Church advocates and leaders.
~*Their suppositions and assertions presume that the Holy Scriptures are somewhat in doubt as to which are authentic and which are not. Even the authentic portions are only revelations given to those writers of “the story” as they understood it, but that this story is evolving in deeper and greater revelations now all the time by dialogue and communing (and meditating in mystical practices)* not just with Christians with other views, but with all the world’s religions and their divergent views – is a stock Emergent doctrine: that together they are discovering ‘new’ truths never before revealed.

* An interesting point of fact is that the Sufi Muslims, the transcendentalists of the religion of Islam likewise believe that by contemplative meditation of their own variety, they too receive greater and deeper revelation in the Quran. Hindus routinely receive revelation from their pantheon of gods through meditative practices as do shamans and Wiccans in various nature worship religions. I believe that mysticism will be the global glue that will bind the religions of the world together synergistically as the global religion that worships the Beast. For more on this read Ray Yungen’s book A Time of Departing or read The RED PILL Consortium article entitled “Global Glue”.

Here is a 10 min, 19 sec clip from the film presentation WIDE IS THE GATE that amply demonstrates this heresy and apostate practice.

For the full length version, please go here - 1:01:54 running time; (preliminary discussion between Caryl Matrisciana and Noah Hutchings of SWBM continues until about 24 mins into the broadcast where the actual film begins).

Getting back to new revelations and new truths, I suppose that this is why the ECM is finding a worthy ally in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) which itself believes ‘by the Spirit’ greater revelations are being brought to the church via the new apostles of this movement. Both movements believe that it’s their objective to proliferate their ‘new’ paradigm across the globe for a “new kind of Christianity” which employs “a generous orthodoxy”.

For more about this, read Brannon Howse's article:

The OPEN MARRIAGE of the Emergent Movement and the New Apostolic Reformation.

The OPTION OF COMPROMISE – Literal or Liberal

Are all Emergent churches, or those that are in ‘dialogue’ with such churches bad? Are there some that have at least some good things to be gleaned from them? Should we “throw out the baby with the bathwater” as is the common expression? Do we really need to separate ourselves from such a movement as this at the risk of being seen as divisive, judgmental and unloving? Do we have to have such a strict adherence to the Scriptures with no leeway or entertaining alternate and new interpretations at all?

Can’t we borrow from the world, its philosophies and other religions that which would prove useful for the church as the Emergent Movement suggests and practices itself?

There are some valid observations and concerns from some within the ECM ranks regarding the contemporary church and its problems and deficiencies, that much is true (We will see this in the upcoming articles). However, their solutions to these properly identified problems and deficiencies are not good ones, but in fact are worse than the problems themselves!
I liken this to a doctor who has rightly diagnosed a case of lung cancer, but then went on to prescribe a case of cigarettes every twenty four hours!

No, even though some within the ECM may have some good insight, to glean anything from this movement only opens one’s mind to entertaining more of the same, running the risk of ideological infection. Such dogma and practices should be quarantined from the church at large; yet because Emergent teachings confront us everywhere, there is only one wise course of action...

Carter Conlon has this to say to us in this matter: RUN! 4 mins, 22 secs or for the complete sermon go here; 1:13:03

If we look in the pages of Scripture, can we find even one instance in which there was ever a compromise made where the Word of God was concerned? Did any of the prophets or apostles, ever once after declaring the revelation of God’s Word turn aside after pressure from others, and compromise what was revealed? If there is even one example, I’d like to know about it, because I’ve read the Bible for well over thirty years and have never found one single incident of such.

One’s hermeneutic (how to interpret the Bible) view of the Scriptures themselves will determine one’s beliefs. If we interpret the Bible in a historic/grammatical-propositional and objective sense, as the inspired, inerrant, infallible and veritable Word of God – we will take it as it is, literally; with the understanding of course that the Bible quite often uses various linguistic forms of expression and figures of speech such as allegories, analogies, metaphors, puns, symbolism, and types as well as prophetic visions and revelations in the Scriptures which convey literal truth.

Generally however, the Bible needs very little interpretation but can be read straightforward and can be readily understood by anyone born of God’s Spirit or at the least, guided by God’s Spirit (Who alone can bring the understanding of the Gospel to the unbeliever). Where interpretation is necessary, it must be done within the context of the entire revelation of God’s Word (in other words, we let the Bible interpret the Bible – though this is a work comprised of 66 different books, written by more than 40 writers, it’s actually a singular Book whose Author is God Himself, and we can readily use the Light of God’s revealed truth in one book to shed light upon another book [using the book of Hebrews for example to interpret Leviticus; or the book of Daniel to interpret Revelation, etc.]).

When one takes a liberal view of the Scriptures however, one tends to take (to one degree or another) a less literal view and leans more heavily on the idea that the Scriptures themselves are allegorical and not to be taken literally. That everything in the Bible has a spiritual meaning (which sounds good, but in actuality means that “it says that in the Bible, yes, but that’s not what it really means; you have to look at it spiritually before you can really know the true meaning.”
Such is an extremely subjective method of interpretation and one can therefore make the Bible mean whatever one wishes) rather than a literal meaning (with spiritual truths revealed by them).


Those with a literal view of Scripture believe that this is a work you don’t tamper with, or express an alternate meaning other than what was intended within the full counsel of God’s Word. One never takes ‘literary license’ with the Word of the LORD! One cannot and does not compromise anything of the Truth as represented in the Scriptures!

Yet as we can readily observe, those with a liberal view of the Word have no problem in assigning alternate meanings and, or ‘new truths’ to the Scriptures and its due to this propensity that the ECM has found welcome in the ranks of Christendom; this illegitimate hermeneutic will become obvious as we examine the articles produced by these Emergent folks.

There is one source of Truth – just one; and this of course is the Holy Bible. Its provision of ontological truth (type in “Got Truth?” in the TTUF search engine for articles about this) is entirely necessary and sufficient for every need that the disciple of Christ will ever require:

2 Peter 1:2-4
2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.


2 Tim. 3: 15-17
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works
.


Also we must not be passive about the ECM or any other “false way” but actively confront (not with aggression, but with grace and truth) and faithfully contend it.

Jude 1:3
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
.


The FALSE CHRIST, The FALSE CHURCH –
2 Timothy 3: 1-7
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth
.


I’ve read this passage countless numbers of times before, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that I obtained a fuller appreciation for vs. 5. This is one of the key passages that talk about the apostasy (“shall depart from the faith” 1 Tim. 4:1) which is happening in our day – “the last days”.

In verse five it states that these who apostatize will still retain a form of godliness, but that they will also deny the power thereof. We understand that the only One who can impart godliness is the Holy Spirit. In this verse we know that these have a false form of godliness, or not genuine godliness – we know this because they “deny the power thereof”. I used to look at this phrase in a somewhat abstract sense, but lately I’ve come to understand that this is the veritably vicious spirit of anti-Christ.

Just as the anti-Christ will have a ‘form’ of the genuine Jesus Christ but in reality deny Him, so too the false church (The “Whore of Babylon”) that will worship him will likewise be of the same form and function (that is, possessing the spirit of anti-Christ). I believe this ECM is the formative seed that is rapidly growing into what the Scriptures portray in Revelation 17 and 18.

It’s interesting to point out that those in the ECM are most fond of learning, ever and always learning more and more spiritual things, but never daring to claim to know the truth, the whole truth as revealed in Scripture (they assume all ‘spiritual things’ are true and valid). They despise and see any who claim such certainty in their possession of the truth as lacking humility and arrogant, though Scripture readily testifies that such is not only possible, but inevitable as one is born of God’s Spirit (John 14:17; 1 Tim. 2:4; 1 Jn. 2:21).

They are not above making blasphemous statements either, but see such as merely expressions of new truth or new insight. Take for example Brian McLaren’s belief that the person of Jesus could be elevated as high as a Martin Luther King or Gandhi (Watch this youtube clip for this unbelievable statement made by this ECM leader, beginning about 4:50 min!).

In this interview, Leif Erikson (pastor of Wooddale Church) the host of the show makes the statement that “Paul [the apostle] never mentioned the idea” of the Deity of Christ. I suppose he never read 1 Tim 3:16 or if he did, he most likely also read the liberal Bible scholars that state that in the original Greek it doesn’t say “God” but rather “he was manifested in the flesh. . .” yet the vast majority of extant evidences in textual fragments agree that the word used is “Theos” – in the Westcott and Hort text it reads “he”.


IS ALL WISDOM TRULY GODLY WISDOM?

Before we get into these articles, I would like the reader to prayerfully consider the following passages found in 1 Corinthians, chapters one, two and three. This will provide you with the biblical insight in contrast to the very premise of the ECM – that the wisdom of man in all of his spheres of knowledge – scientific, philosophic, sociological, anthropological, historical, psychological (even mystical) – is a legitimate source for the church and in understanding God and His purpose(s) when in all actuality we are entirely dependent on the wisdom of God ALONE as THE legitimate source!

1 Corinthians 1: 17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 2: 1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 3: 18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are your's;
22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your's;
23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's
.

SECTION TWO -

EXAMINING THAT WHICH HAS EMERGED –


In reading these articles one continual thread of reasoning and interaction seems to come through relationally; the predominant emphasis in these writings is ‘horizontal’ in nature rather than ‘vertical’.
By this I mean to say that the relationships of these people who are self proclaimed Emergents of the church focus on themselves and their fellow ‘believers’ (of all faiths and religions) and the wisdom of the world that each imparts to the others.

Rather, each individual member of the body of Christ and their relationship to God is the appropriate focus and as a result of that supernatural relationship form a basis with those of like relationship and thus impart (by the Spirit) that wisdom that is from God alone (James 3:13-18). This will become evident to you the reader, I am sure, as we examine these articles.


Tony Jones, co-editor for the book makes the Introduction: Friendship, Faith and Going Somewhere Together and attempts to define the well nigh un-definable term “Emergent Village” by explaining that it was more than a network, but not a denomination, nor a think tank but he resorts to the word “friendship” and desires to “invest it with theological meaning”.

He expressed that friendships can be “hard”, that he had struggled through friendships [as we all do at times] and that he was kept “humble about the prospect of more and better and longer-lasting friendships.” He goes on to say, that upon meeting this group of people in a shabby Arlington, Texas Hotel lobby he felt that these people would prove different, that he “had a sense that this was the group of men and women who would take the church into its next iteration and [was] convinced that we were going to do it together.” He mentions the Leadership Network [LN – which we have discussed in part one of this article] as “a church-assistance foundation . . . to develop a network of innovative young pastors.”


One must ask the question, Why would it be necessary to take the church into any “iteration” when it’s always been most effective when founded solidly upon the Rock, the LORD Jesus Christ?

“You might think of Emergent Village in general, and this book in particular as a choir with no conductor. Of course the Christian faith is based on a sacred text that has a similar trajectory. At times the Bible seems contradictory and out of harmony with itself. But on the whole, it is beautiful in its grand sweep, and those disharmonious parts, in fact, help establish the beauty of the whole. Our hope is that this book, in a small way, is a reflection of the disharmonious beauty of the Christian Story.”


Suffice it to say that any local or the universal (invisible) church is not without a conductor: the Head and LORD of the church is the One that it was founded upon (Matt. 16:18), Jesus Christ. He loves, directs, leads, motivates, empowers, encourages, reproves, rebukes and chastens His body – the corporate church and its individual members as He sees fit. Without Him, the church would be as chaotic and graceless as an orchestra or “a choir” without a conductor – a cacophony of unpleasant and raucous noise, certainly as disharmonious as a body suffering from epilepsy.


Yet this seems to Mr. Jones to be a thing of beauty [he later asks the rhetorical question: “What is Emergent Village? A mess. A beautiful, good mess.” akin to his imperfect but productive home garden] “. . . that has a similar trajectory. . .” to what he calls “the Christian Story” or the Bible.

Was this story completed upon the last sentence written in Revelation? Or has it continued throughout our history and continues today? And are the ‘continuing chapters’ today as authoritative for doctrine and practices as those chapters between Genesis to Revelation?

Emergents would say, yes! The story is evolving and becoming greater and broader and revelations today would be considered even greater than previous ones due to this spiritual evolution.

The very notion of contradiction in the Scriptures (and disharmony) would suggest that the Bible only contains the Word of God, but is not itself the very Word of God but rather a mixture of God’s words and human being's words (a sentiment long held by liberal theologians); that some parts are inspired, and others are not – thus creating a disunity and artificial contradictions of liberal origin.

Yet just as the LORD Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, He is also the Word Incarnate that brought to us the Word Inspired that doesn’t contradict itself any more than our LORD did during His earthly ministry.

Of the various contributing writers in this book, Mr. Jones states: “Be mindful that in this book a wide variety of authors are gathered, not unlike Emergent Village itself. And each author comes from a different field and values a different expertise. One is a missionary, another a philosopher, another is a beat poet, and another a writer. Each of these activities carries its own rationality [care for some “worldly wisdom” anyone?] – or its own internal way of thinking and doing – and as such, each has its own way of judging what is good (and what is bad). So it’s a bit artificial for us to ask each of these individuals to write three thousand words of prose to be fitted into this book. How do you explain where you fit in the Emergent friendship in three thousand words? Or worse yet, how do you describe your hopes and dreams for the future of God’s kingdom and your cooperation in it in as many words?”


Are our individual rationalities viable in knowing and practicing the ways of God, or in understanding or explaining His purposes? Scripture tells us:

Isaiah 55: 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts
.
See also 1 Cor. 2:16; Col. 3: 9-11; Eph. 4:23 as well as:


Romans 12: 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God
.


Furthermore can the rationality and conceptual understanding of the mind of human beings discern or “[judge] what is good (and what is bad)” spiritually? What can a missionary, depending on his own rationality and internal way of thinking, apart from the wisdom of God, achieve in discerning what is good or bad in the spiritual domain, which is itself the purview of the church? Much less, a philosopher or a beat poet?

The natural or human mind apart from the Spirit of God cannot understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14) and so we are required to submit to the counsel of Scripture in order to rightly judge or discern that which is good (and that which is bad):

Heb. 4: 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Heb. 5: 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 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
.


As for the kingdom of God, how could our own “hopes and dreams” have any bearing on God’s plan of the ages and His “determinate counsel and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23) for what He will accomplish? We have no need to lean upon such subjective and spurious hopes and dreams when we have the very vision of God (the Holy Scriptures) as our mandate and ‘blueprint’ in which to fulfill HIS will, not ours, in our lives!

Doug Pagitt, co-editor of the book begins Part 1: A People of Hope. Emergent – A Generative Friendship of Missional Christians.

Doug Pagitt likewise indulges in the idea of friendship and the intimidation that can sometimes be associated with entering into them, and “may be especially true of being friends with Jesus” – he notes that while some are comfortable with Jesus as a Friend relationally, others are not, but are more “comfortable [with] . . . Lord, Savior, Creator”.

Certainly we may call ourselves friends of Jesus (as He also referred to us; John 15:15) and also His brethren (which He is not ashamed to call us; John 20:17; Heb. 2:11), but primarily He is indeed our Creator, Lord and Savior and not a ‘buddy’ that we can slap on the back.

In many ways however, the ‘Jesus my friend’ motif in Emergent circles tends to diminish His glory and lofty exaltation. He is seldom referred to as “the Way” to the Father, but rather He becomes “the way show-er” or as it’s also said “in the way of Jesus”.

And this friendship among Emergent seekers and leaders is often described just as Doug Pagitt does here: “We want to be friends in the Jesus way, and we need others to transform us so that we may find and join in God’s hopes and dreams for the world.”
This single sentence is pregnant with meaning, but as far as having any promise of genuine life in it, I fear there will be a miscarriage.

Why is it that we need others to be transformed, when the Scripture emphatically states that we are transformed (metamorphoo in the Greek; an inward translation performed miraculously by God, bringing expression of in character and conduct) “by the renewing of the mind” (Rom. 12:1-2). God by His Spirit is able to influence such radical, total and complete change in us that can not be accomplished by any other means. All humanity (“others”) can do is work upon our minds, our emotions, our ‘outer man’ in a work of reformation (external, temporal changes that will last at best the length of our lifetime here).

Also, what is this regarding “God’s hopes” and “dreams”? As we read materials on Emergent theology and philosophy we see this term expressed repeatedly (“God’s dream”) but what is meant by this? The Holy One never sleeps nor slumbers (Ps. 121:4), thus He would never dream in an actual sense. A dream as in having a ‘vision’ must then therefore be relegated to those visions which have been imparted to the prophets and apostles from the very God who is the Author of such:

Amos 3:7
7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets
.

Numbers 12:6
And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream
.
Of course just as certainly as there are true visions, there are also false:

Jeremiah 14:14-15a
Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.
15 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not
. . .


And what is the criterion to decide which visions (and dreams) are true and which are not?

Isaiah 8: 19-20
And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?
20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them
.


I would submit that Emergent teachers and leaders who express a ‘low view’ of Scripture (Doug Pagitt in a phone interview with Todd Friel on his show Wretched referred to the Scriptures quoted by Friel as “pop phrases”) would have no compunctions whatsoever to express what they believe to be ‘God’s dream’ with little (if any) scriptural support which can be readily evident in the reading of any of their books (this will become evident in these articles).

Yet we have already received God’s dream, as it were, or His vision, in the recorded Scripture that tells all His heart for humanity in this given age of mankind.

“Friendship . . . means putting aside our own agendas for the passion of another [Like the LORD for example?]. Most friendships are held together by a hope of what can be as much as a history that has been created. But even in the midst of these hope-filled failings, there is a realization that we need to pursue friendship not as an addition to faith but as a necessity of it,” says Doug Pagitt.


Did you observe the ‘horizontal’ tendency here at work?
What do the Scriptures say is a necessity of faith?

Romans 10: 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Gal. 5: 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love
.


Faith comes from hearing (understanding) and we get our spiritual understanding by the Word of God; faith operates by the power of love, denotatively speaking, the love of God. Abraham placed his faith in the word of the LORD and by that act, was considered righteous before the God of Israel (Rom. 4:3).

No where in Scripture does it say that friendships in and of themselves are necessary for faith. Certainly we can be blessed by the “mutual faith” of the saints (Rom. 1:12) and be “comforted” or strengthened by it, but we know that the Word of God and the love of God are what is truly necessary.

So the Emergent friendship desires “. . . to bring together, not pull apart. To create something new [a new church as opposed to the one that is founded on the Rock, the LORD Jesus Christ?], not rehash old divisions” [‘there is one Lord, one body” Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Cor. 1:13]. "The following chapters serve as a call into a friendship, are the results of friendship. So read with this invitation to mind, and read with the grace needed by those who seek friendship through faith, hope and love.” ~ Doug Pagitt.


Observing the ECM for over a decade now, I am not merely dubious, but cautious and even alarmed to see what this movement is “bring[ing] together”: Rob Bell and Doug Pagitt involved in an Inter-spiritual Compassion Event with the Dalai Lama. . .

. . .and Brian McLaren associating with New Agers – as well as Muslims, Hindus and people in other religions:

“I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts … rather than resolving the paradox via pronouncements on the eternal destiny of people more convinced by or loyal to other religions than ours, we simply move on … To help Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else experience life to the full in the way of Jesus (while learning it better myself), I would gladly become one of them (whoever they are), to whatever degree I can, to embrace them, to join them, to enter into their world without judgment but with saving love as mine has been entered by the Lord (A Generous Orthodoxy, 260, 262, 264). [emphasis mine]”

Above quote taken from wikipedia.

We are well on our way in examining the many difficulties, biases and doctrinal errors of the EMC; again – this is not to be hyper-critical or unloving (certainly not an attack on anyone) but simply an evaluation of what is true and what is not. We must be discerning, watchful, prayerful and diligent to keep the Word of Truth and live by it and nothing else as disciples of Jesus Christ our Lord!
Here ends part Two of this series.

In the next article we begin with chapter One and a Mr. Mark Scandrette’s article from An Emergent Manifesto: Growing Pains – The Messy and Fertile Process of Becoming.

Until then saints, KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE SKIES and DON'T BELIEVE THE LIES! JESUS RETURNS SOON, FROM ON HIGH!
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Monday, April 16, 2012

EMERGENT is REGURGITANT – Part One

By James Fire

PRELIMINARY INTRODUCTION and EXAMINATION –

A few months ago I was perusing the site, Christian Book Distributors (CBD) and discovered an Emergent book (sadly, lots of these on CBD these days) by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones entitled An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, Baker Books, 2007. It comprises a series of articles (25 in number) written by various Emergent advocates and leaders.

Realizing that most of all our articles for TTUF and its associate sites that focus on the Emergent Church Movement are based on critiques, evaluations and information provided by other Christian discernment ministries, I decided to ‘go to the horses’ mouth’ as it were and examine one of these books for myself.

I purchased this book (retail price was $16.99, but I got it for a mere $3.99 – so I felt good about spending so little on it) and once it arrived, began to digest it (talk about some serious indigestion!).

Once I started, jotting notes and Scripture references in the margins (a rather easy task as this was a trade paperback with wide margins), I quickly understood that I would have to address a couple of issues before diving into my own critique of these Emergent folk.
~*First of all, we all recognize the fact that this movement didn’t spring up spontaneously, though it seems to have since the mid 90’s, with very little mention of it prior; there were formative influences and factors that led up to it, stretching back to the 19th century. This movement makes the claim that because we live in a ‘post-modern’ world, the church must therefore adapt its methods and means of relating to the world with an equally post-modern approach to the Gospel and Christianity in general. Obviously what preceded the post-modern paradigm was the Modernist movement.

The Modernist movement was a time of human rationality, skepticism, and science with a materialist, evolutionist, non-spiritual world view. It was during this time that beliefs of a religious orientation were at the least marginalized or more likely disparaged and ridiculed as irrational and with no basis of relevancy regarding humanity that became increasingly secularized. Religion was something studied from a sociological, psychological and, or philosophical view and believed to be something that evolved from mankind’s supposed need for something ‘larger than himself’. The idea that “man created God in his own image” summarizes the Modernist view of religion rather succinctly.

It was during this time that the Bible came under the scrutiny of ‘Higher Critics’, who were predominantly (at the time) German scholars that saw the Scriptures as a product of humanity and not Divine in origin at all; authors of the various books contained in the Bible were denounced as their legitimate writers, miracles were seen as impossible, Old Testament history was largely perceived as mere stories and legend with no historicity whatsoever, Jesus was merely a Jewish sage who started his own religion and was no more divinely inspired (much less Divine) than any other religious leader in the world.

According to Canon Dyson Hague’s (Rector of the Memorial Church, London, Ontario) essay entitled “The History of the Higher Criticism” (the opening chapter found in The Fundamentals, edited by R.A. Torrey), the very term ‘Higher Criticism’ was not in itself a liberal view or movement, but was originally meant to denote an academic term that contrasted with ‘Lower Criticism’. Dr. Hague comments:

“One of the most important branches of theology is called the science of Biblical criticism, which has for its object the study of the history and contents, and origins and purposes of the various books of the Bible. In the early stages of the science, Biblical criticism was devoted to two great branches, the Lower and the Higher. The Lower Criticism was employed to designate the study of the text of the Scripture and included the investigation of the manuscripts, and the different readings in the various versions and codices and manuscripts in order that we may be sure we have the original words as they were written by the Divinely inspired writers (Textual Criticism, ‘Lower Critics’ and its scholars such as Beza, Erasmus, Bengal and [others of an entirely different sort like] Tischendorff, Scrivener, Westcott and Hort. . .)”.

“The Higher Criticism on the contrary was employed to designate the study of the historic origins, the dates, the authorship of the various books of the Bible and that great branch of study which in the technical language of modern theology is known as Introduction. It is a very valuable branch of Biblical science, and is of the highest importance as an auxiliary in the interpretation of the Word of God. By its researches floods of light may be thrown on the Scriptures.”

Dr. Hague proceeds to tell us that Higher Criticism was not at all initially a vehicle used by scholars to attack the veracity of Scripture from a liberal point of view; that this School was something that required the employment of “. . . so devout a spirit and so exalted a faith in the supernatural as the pursuit of Higher Criticism. It demands at once the ability of the scholar and the simplicity of the believing child of God. For without faith no one can explain the Holy Scriptures, and without scholarship no one can investigate historic origins.”
The School of Higher Critics was simply invaded and inundated with a preponderance of (German) liberal theologians who “. . . [have gone] in the direction of the subjective and of the conjectural. For hypothesis-weaving and speculation, the German theological professor is unsurpassed . . . they are so preoccupied with a theory that their conclusions seem to the average mind, curiously warped.” One reputable scholar wrote a letter to Descartes with this observation regarding such liberal thinkers of 19th century Germany: “When men sitting in their closet and consulting only their books attempt disquisitions into the Bible, they may indeed tell how they would have made the Book, if God had given them that commission. That is, they may describe chimeras which correspond to the fatuity of their own minds, but without an understanding truly Divine they can never form such an idea to themselves as the Deity had in creating it.”
Dr. Hague briefly outlines the beginnings of the Higher Critics movement, but lists in broad terms its origins as follows:

1. The French-Dutch: speculative, if not skeptical, whose findings are axiomatic by the subsequent Schools; its prevailing authority was seen as Spinoza, the rationalist Dutch philosopher (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670).
2. The German: Proceeded where the French-Dutch movement left off with such prominent names as Eichhorn, Vater, Hartmann, DeWette, Vatke and Leopold George (both Hegelians) and Julius Wellhausen.
3. The British-American: populated by such liberal scholars as Dr. Samuel Davidson. Dr. Robertson Smith (Scottish). Dr. S.R. Driver and Dr. C.A. Briggs, among others.

All three Schools were dominated by rationalists and those who compromised the integrity of the Word of God and who were intent on influencing the church with their views and have done a rather complete job of it in our modern form of Christianity (consider for a moment all of the solid, reputable seminaries that were founded upon the Truth of God’s Word (Fuller for example, at least in its beginning) and its faithful study, but have since gone liberal, adopting a less than literal view of the infallible, inerrant Scriptures).

For your consideration have a look at these articles that explain some things about the Higher Critics, their foundation and views and what they have to say regarding the Scriptures:

Criticizing the book of Exodus

Wellhausen: Higher Critic, Religious Liberal Excerpted from The Seven Men That Rule the World From the Grave by Dr. David Breese.

“Religious liberals spawned by Wellhausen and others accepted biological evolution as a fact (we know that Westcott and Hort likewise found the theory “unanswerable”). They carried evolution to a next rational step: Man’s ideas have evolved upward from the primitive to the complex. And so, the religious liberal says that our ideas of God have evolved and are continuing to evolve. Religious change is the evolution of ideas, part of the natural order and survival of the fittest. We used to think of God as a judgmental ruler of the universe, but now know Him as a God of love. Hence, there is no sin of violation of God’s law. To the liberal theologian, sin is only lack of maturity, lack of proper evolution. The answer to sin is not the redemption of Jesus Christ, but education, man directing and controlling his own evolution. As mankind is enlightened, we will do away with war, hatred, famine and greed (see J.G. Machen, Christianity and Liberalism).”

For more on this subject, I highly recommend the book New Evangelicalism by Paul Smith; here is a review by Thomas Ice.

And another review from Anne Kisly, co-writer of TTUF:

When one ponders the above assertions, it becomes an easy task to see where the Emergent Church Movement gets its ideology from. Being devoted to such ideas means that the ‘evolvement’ of Christianity means that improvements apart from and transcendence above the doctrines and beliefs of biblical Christianity are not only possible, but also progressive.

Biblical narrative is reduced to mere story (whether factual or not is immaterial to the Emergent advocate, it’s the moral ideal that’s important, just so long as the application is palatable to Emergent sensibilities). Biblical truth becomes uncertain because such developments are always transitory and never fully developed because of continual religious evolution.
PETER DRUCKER and THE CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP NETWORK –

There was much that happened between the 19th and 20th centuries that likewise affected Christianity, the church and the prevailing view of the Bible, but something immediately previous to the Emergent Church movement that was its very own seedbed was something called the Christian Leadership Network (CLN) founded by Peter Drucker.

For excellent information on Drucker, The CLN and the Emergent Church Movement (ECM), I submit to you the book by Roger Oakland Faith Undone.

According to Roger Oakland, Peter Drucker and his associates were the steering force behind the Christian Leadership Network, forerunner to the ECM:

“Contrary to what many believe, the current emerging church movement was not initiated by a group of disillusioned young people. In reality, the movement was largely the inspiration of a successful business guru whose ideas on an emerging church were catapulted into existence by other successful businessmen, and thus it became the influential religious force it is today. Backed by multi-million dollar corporations and entities, its very core has been influenced dramatically by those with mystical affinities.”

“To understand the significance of Leadership Network’s role in the Emerging church, we need to look briefly at the structure and makeup of that organization, which began in 1984 by Bob Buford. At the time Buford was the owner of a successful cable television company in Texas. With the help of Harold Myra and Paul Robbins of Christianity Today, Buford introduced Leadership Network as a ‘resource broker’ to churches, hoping to help leaders of ‘innovative churches’ connect.”

In constructing this network, Buford consulted with Peter Drucker and eventually brought in the prominent voices of what is now the Emergent Church movement: Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren, Chris Seay, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, Andrew Jones and many, many others.

“Drucker was born in 1909 in Austria . . . and rose to a position of great respect for his contributions to management and business . . . he was greatly influenced by existential philosopher and mystic Soren Kierkengaard and referred to him as ‘a prophet’ and being so impressed with [him] he studied Danish in order to read Kierkengaard’s yet untranslated works.”

Drucker stated himself in his book Landmarks of Tomorrow (1957) in its introduction “This Post-Modern World:

At some unmarked point during the last twenty years we imperceptibly moved out of the Modern Age and into a new, as yet nameless era. Our view of the world [has] changed . . . There is a new spiritual center to human existence.”

“We thus live in an age of transition, an age of overlap, in which the old ‘modern’ of yesterday no longer acts effectively . . . while the new, the ‘post-modern’ . . . effectively controls our actions and impact.”

“We still need the great imaginer, the great creative thinker, the great innovator, of a new synthesis [Hegelian idea] of a new philosophy. This is a new view, different alike from the traditional.”

Roger Oakland observes: “Words like ‘purpose’, ‘emergence’, ‘new frontiers’, and ‘disciplines’ fill the pages of Landmarks of Tomorrow” and also states: “Drucker felt a strong bond not only with Kierkengaard but also with a pantheistic/mystic named Martin Buber (1878 – 1965) who embraced the teachings of Hasidism (Jewish mysticism). Buber believed that a ‘divine spark’ exists within every human and within everything in creation. He spoke of the relationship which ‘must exist between individuals and everything on the planet’ and has said of himself, ‘Since 1900 I had first been under the influence of German mysticism from Meister Eckhart [mystic]. . . then I had been under the influence of the later Kabalah [also Jewish mysticism] and Hasidism’.”

Drucker established the Leader to Leader Institute (1990) as “an interspiritual thought forum which to this day includes Buddhist sympathizers, globalists, evangelicals and New Age sympathizers.”

Both Drucker and Bob Buford were instrumental in bringing many so-called Christian leaders into the Christian Leadership Network, including Leif Anderson, pastor of Wooddale Church (where Doug Pagitt served as youth pastor):

“The only way to cope and be effective during this period of structural change in society is to change some of the ways we view our world and the church. It is what some call a paradigm shift – a new way of looking at something. Such a shift will allow us to view our chainging world with new perspective. It is like a map. Old maps from 1950 may have sufficed before the construction of interstate highways and the expansion of major cities, but new maps are needed now. Likewise, we need a paradigm shift for the future.”
Leif Anderson, A Church for the 21st Century (1992)

Others involved with the CLN are Erwin McManus, Leonard Sweet (futurist, professor of Evangelism at Drew University, New Age sympathizer and author of many books such as Soul Tsunami and Quantum Spirituality (here is a review of this book by Lighthouse Trails ministry)Brian McLaren and others.

MORE MYSTICS to MESMERIZE the ECM –

Another mystic that heavily influenced Drucker and as a result influenced CLN and EMC (in the form of contemplative spirituality) is Martin Buber; Roger Oakland states that “...mysticism is the very steam that drives the emerging church [and is] the real danger of the movement. Interestingly, today’s evangelical leaders often quote and refer to Buber (like Max Lucado in his book Care for the Common Life where he quotes Buber as saying “a divine spark lives in every being and thing.” The Way of Man, 1950). Also by Martin Buber:

Ecstatic Confessions: The Heart of Mysticism

“There is no God apart from the world, nor a world apart from God . . . In the highest mystical ecstasy the Ego experiences that it has become God . . . Why not? . . . There ceases to be a difference between the world and myself, That I became God, why not?”

Emergent author and leader, Tony Jones (former Protestant youth pastor) fellow editor of the book to be examined, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope) wrote the book, The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life. He visited the Jesuit Communication Center in Dublin, Ireland and spent time at Taize, a contemplative ecumenical community in southern France:

“I voraciously read authors and books that they didn’t assign in seminary: St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila . . . I took a long hike in the Red Mountains of Utah with a shaman. . . Centering Prayer grew out of the reflections and writings of the Desert Fathers . . . The pray-er is encouraged to choose a simple monosyllabic word like “love” or “God”. Maybe it’s that there’s something mystical and mysterious about these ancient rites, like we’re tapping into some pre-technical, pre-industrial treasury of the Spirit.”

In an article entitled The Emergence of Mysticism in the Emergent Church Ron Rhodes encompasses the breadth and width of how mysticism is replete in the ECM and is invading the evangelical world like a destructive tsunami.

Also from the ministry of Amos 3:7, Richard Bennett, former Roman Catholic priest, now born again believer in Jesus Christ wrote an article: Can Mysticism Lead to God?

If you would like to read more about “contemplative prayer”, simply type this phrase in the search engine of The RED PILL Consortium for several articles on this subject.

The ROMAN CATHOLIC CONNECTION –

There are many that assert (Roger Oakland among them) that the Roman Catholic Church, via it’s Jesuitical Jesus Society is subtly leading Protestants and Evangelicals back into the fold of the Holy Mother Church (Roman Catholicism) by means of this movement (ECM) which they themselves initiated covertly.

Certainly there are a number of Christian leaders who are promoting Roman Catholic and ‘early church (desert) fathers and their dogma as something entirely compatible with fundamental, biblical Christianity. Among these is Robert Webber.

The affinity for such practices as candles, incense, bells, icons (statues for the purpose of veneration of various (Roman Catholic) saints), darkened sanctuaries, chants (as in Gregorian), making the sign of the Cross, etc. have found their ways into the ECM – but why incorporate such things unless the intent is to create an ecumenical unity with Rome? These ‘ancient-future’ ways as Robert Webber described them are heretical practices that those in the ECM view as ‘vintage Christianity/spirituality’ and are eagerly employed as a valuable means of achieving spirituality that has “been lost” for all these centuries and only recently re-discovered by seekers and leaders within the ECM.

The following article on The RED PILL Consortium deal with this:

Holy Ways or Heresies?

Roger Oakland’s own article regarding this subject and the connections between Rome and the ECM:

“While I do not plan to comment on the entirety of McLaren’s explanation of what the Emerging Church is, or is not, I will attempt to deal with one particular topic that few Emerging Church critics are exposing. This is the area dealing with what McLaren calls the “post-protestant-pro-catholic-contemplative-mystical” form of Christianity. It is this aspect of the Emerging Church that troubles me the most.

“To set the record straight, my introduction to the Emerging Church, followed the research I did for the book Another Jesus? The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization. In the process of doing the research for this book, I became aware of the Roman Catholic “new evangelization program” to win the “separated brethren” back to the “Mother of All Churches.” When I saw the numerous experiential attractions being promoted by the Emerging Church (candles, icons, statues, prayer stations, incense, liturgy, the sacraments, particularly the Sacrament of the Eucharist) it became evident to me what was happening. Another road to Rome was being prepared. Few seemed to be aware. Some, who were aware, simply did not care.”

This connection has even extended to the Calvary Chapel movement and the likes it’s the founder’s son, Chuck Smith Jr. (Who has been removed from CC ministries, and yet there are other CC churches that seem to be gravitating towards a friendly, open approach and acceptance of the Roman Catholic Church; for example, this article from TRPC: Roman Catholic Infiltration).

I have submitted this information (in the above article) in email several time to the CC pastors mentioned, and to date I have never received a response from any of them, and William Boykin continues to speak from pulpits and platforms of CC ministries).

“For example, consider the following quote taken from [Chuck] Smith [Jr.’s] book, There Is a Season:

“The postmodern church will very likely see a revival of rituals ceremonies and sacraments. In their zeal to cut out anything superfluous from Christian faith, the Reformers streamlined the seven holy sacraments of Roman Catholicism and reduced them to just two: baptism and the Lord’s Supper… Postmodern Christians already are revisiting the discarded sacraments, and we have much to gain by looking again for the sacred, worshipful aspects of marriage, repentance and confirmation as a rite of passage. The non-rational element of rituals and ceremonies appeal to the postmodern soul.”


READY FOR ANALYSIS –

With all this said, laying a preliminary foundation for the examination and critical analysis of the beliefs, statements and directives by these twenty five contributing writers of the book, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope we will proceed in the following series of articles in the hopes that more light will be shed on this pervasive movement that is leading too many into apostasy and perdition.

One of the primary reasons for this series (when so much has already been written about the dangers of the ECM) is that this phenomenon has become so diverse and expansive; it’s not always recognizable when one is examining this neo-dogmatism and identify it as emergent.

Each of the twenty five writers present a different view of ‘what is emergent’ and by taking a look at these, our ability to ‘I.D.’ these ideologies within the overall ideology of the ECM will become relatively easier for us common people who love God and His Holy Word and are unwilling to compromise one iota of Holy Writ and desire to remain pure from any seductive entanglements that would steer us away from our First Love which is JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOR!

See Also: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
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Monday, April 9, 2012

OUR ALPHA is NOT LIKE THEIR ALPHA

~ ~ By James Fire
The LORD Jesus Christ declared in the book of Revelation:

Revelation 1:8
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty
.

This confirms the fact that Jesus is indeed God, Who declared much the same in the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah:

Isaiah 44:6
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God
.

Recently I heard about this ‘Alpha course’ and saw a sign in a church that announced that the course would be conducted there; I was rather curious. Is this about THE Alpha and Omega, the LORD Jesus Himself? I supposed it was, but I wanted to check it out for myself. A cursory search on the Internet brought forth some disturbing results.

If one visits the web site for this ministry, the explanation for the vision and purpose of this course seems somewhat biblical, if simplistic; however a deeper look reveals some fundamental flaws in its tenets, even to the point of unbiblical teaching and practices that only adds to the pervasive apostasy that is rapidly overtaking nearly everything that claims to be Christian or biblical.

What does Alpha course have to say for itself?
~*“Alpha gives everyone the opportunity to explore the meaning of life in a relaxed, friendly setting. The Alpha course usually meets once a week for 10 weeks, including a one-day or weekend getaway. Sessions begin with a meal, followed by a short talk and time to discuss what's been taught.

“During the discussion, everyone is welcome to contribute their opinions and no question is considered hostile or too simple. Questions might include—Is there a God? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going?”

It asks the basic questions of “Is there a God and if so, does He really care? Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus die? How does God guide us? Why and how do I pray? Why and how should I read the Bible?” among other questions. Here is a video that says pretty much the same thing: Alpha Course Promo Video

Where did this all begin?
“The Alpha course has been running for more than 30 years. It began at Holy Trinity Brompton in central London, England in the late 1970s, as a means of presenting the basic principles of the Christian faith to new Christians in a relaxed and informal setting. By 1990, when former lawyer Nicky Gumbel took over the course, Alpha was a central feature of the church's life. While leading his second Alpha course, Nicky realized this course could also appeal to non-churchgoers and he adapted it, making it welcoming and suitable for such individuals.”

Apparently this started out in the late ‘70’s in England as a means of getting new believers familiar to biblical principles and Christian faith, but then it was adapted to get the Gospel out to the ‘non-churchgoer’ but is this course really a proper venue to disciple new believers, or present the genuine and true Gospel to those outside of the body of Christ?

This course is both highly ecumenical: 44 different denominations were asked to examine the course and raise any objections to any of its teachings; none of them raised any such objections, including the Roman Catholic church.

Here is an interview conducted with a Roman Catholic priest that endorses this program: Note his use of the term “post-modern” –8 mins. 10. The Roman Catholic position is that certain supplements be added that would suit their particular denominational views.

The Alpha Course is also highly charismatic (Its leadership and its practices are very much akin with the likes of John Wimber and the Toronto Blessing and Brownsville fellowship experiences*).

* “. . . on January 20, 1994, at a concrete church next to Toronto airport, 80% of the congregation . . . suddenly fell to the floor and began writhing around, apparently singing in tongues and convulsing violently. Rumours about this milestone - which became known as the Toronto Blessing - quickly spread to Britain. Nicky [Gumbel] flew to Toronto to see it for himself. Was it mass hysteria or a miracle, a real experience of the Holy Spirit?

‘I don't talk about it now,’ says Nicky. ‘It divides people. It splits churches. It is very controversial. But I'll tell you - I think the Toronto Blessing was a wonderful, wonderful thing.’ Nicky returned from Canada, spoke passionately at HTB about the Toronto Blessing and, lo and behold, his congregation, too, began rolling on the floor, etc. The services soon became so popular, with queues around the block, that they were compelled to introduce two Sunday-evening sittings - and still not everyone could get in.”

In the ‘90’s this Alpha course spread across England and around the world.

“During the 1990s, the Alpha course spread – first throughout the UK and then internationally - as more churches and groups found it a helpful way to answer people’s questions about the Christian faith. Now, there are more than 60,000 courses run in 169 countries and an estimated 18 million people have now attended a course globally. The Alpha course is supported by all major denominations.”

(Quotes taken directly from the official web site:
http://www.alphausa.org/

How Did Alpha Start?

Who leads this movement known as the Alpha Course? That would be Nicky Gumbel:

“Nicky Gumbel is vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, a Church of England church in central London. He studied law at Trinity College, Cambridge, from1973-1975 (M.A. Cantab) and practised as a barrister from 1977-1983.
“In 1983, he went to Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, to read theology (M.A. Oxon) and to train for ordination in the Church of England. He was awarded an honorary doctorate (Hon D. Phil) from the University of Gloucestershire in 2007 for his contribution to church life. He joined Holy Trinity Brompton as curate to Sandy Millar in 1986. He took over the running of Holy Trinity Brompton's Alpha course - a practical introduction to the Christian faith - in October 1990. The course grew rapidly and attracted wide interest. The first Alpha conference was held at Holy Trinity Brompton in May 1993 and in 1996 the Bishop of London appointed Nicky as an Alpha Chaplain. In 2005 he was appointed vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton as successor to Sandy Millar. He became Vice President of Tear Fund in 2008.”

According to Gumbel’s bio more than 210,000 leaders have been trained in the Alpha Course and 55,000 courses have run across the globe, with 16 million people having completed the course by the late ‘90’s.

“Nicky Gumbel has written several books. Questions of Life - the Alpha course in book form - was published in 1993 and is the Alpha course syllabus in book format. It was declared 'Christian Book of the Year 1994' at the Christian Booksellers Convention and has sold more than a million copies world-wide. The evangelistic booklet Why Jesus? and its sister publication Why Christmas? have sold more than four million copies.
Nicky speaks regularly at national and international Alpha conferences.”

Nicky Gumbels Bio

What can be said about The Alpha Course? Much, as shall be shown here now:

From Webtruth.com we have the following statements in an article written by Michael J. Penfold: The Gospel According to Gumbel (Read the entire article here:

“Alpha is fully ecumenical1 and thoroughly charismatic in content. Three of the fifteen talks centre on the Holy Spirit – including a primer on ‘tongues’ – with another entirely dedicated to ‘healing’. Only two talks focus on Jesus Christ, with none at all on God the Father. Literally millions of people have completed the course, which is currently running in thousands of churches worldwide, Protestant and Catholic.2 The format, with its social meals, ‘weekend away’ and opportunity for small-group discussion after each session, have helped ensure its continuing popularity as a major medium for modern church evangelism.”

Ecumenism has long been a format for compromise of biblical truth, and a media used by those who disregard biblical authority in favor of church tradition and authority, as well as philosophy and mystical, spiritual experiences.

Of course the Charismatic movement is a haven for such mystical, spiritual experiences that lead people into deception and spiritual bondage with all sorts of unbiblical beliefs and practices. Such organizations as the United Council of Churches are prime examples of ecumenism which invariably results in biblical compromise and even rejection of foundational biblical truths.

“Alpha’s actual ‘gospel’ content is minimal . . . talk three, entitled ‘Why Did Jesus Die?’ as the only direct gospel section in the whole course. From this chapter, the ‘gospel according to Gumbel’ can be summarized as follows:

• The root cause of sin is a broken relationship with God.
• Everyone has done bad things and consequently our lives are in a mess.
• Sin has polluted us and will ultimately lead to eternal isolation from God [Yet Gumbel never expresses the biblical truth of damnation or an eternal hell].
• God loves us and longs to restore our lost relationship with Him.
• In Christ, God self-substituted Himself, paying sin’s penalty on the cross.
• To become Christians and receive all the benefits of the cross, we must pray to God, saying sorry for our wrong-doing, thanking Jesus for dying for us and asking Him to come into our lives and fill us with His Spirit.3”

The issue of our sin nature and our need of salvation by repentance and receiving Jesus Christ as a propitiatory sacrifice is unclear at times and in regards to the doctrinal issues of sin nature and repentance, these are almost ignored:

“Although Gumbel mentions sin over thirty times in talk three, he presents it almost entirely as something people do, omitting an explanation of what people are by nature. People do what they do because they are what they are. They sin because they are sinners. Yet, apart from writing Gen 3 in brackets at one point, Gumbel skips any exposition of the doctrine of original sin.”

“Gumbel invites his millions of viewers to pray a prayer saying ‘sorry for sin’ and asking Jesus to come into their lives. Yet, in reality, the dire need of his audience has never really been exposed. They may willingly say a very earnest and sincere ‘sorry’ to God for all their wrong doings, without ever having understood by the convicting power of the Spirit through God’s word, that they are by nature incurably bad, unfit for heaven and undeserving of . . . mercy, while the just wrath of a holy and righteous God hangs over their head . . . Gumbel neglects to emphasize that every single sin is against God and constitutes an act of rebellion (Psalm 51:4). Many sincere people are deeply upset about their sins, who have never once realised that their sin is against God . . .”

“Gumbel never expounds the foundational truth of salvation ‘by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone’. Catholic Bishop Ambrose Griffiths commends Alpha for being a “powerful evangelistic tool...it doesn’t contain anything that is contrary to Catholic doctrine” [emphasis mine]. Thousands of Roman Catholics have completed Alpha, said the sinner’s prayer, received the ‘spirit’ and spoken in tongues, without ever realising that the rosary, prayers to Mary, confession to a priest and the seven Romish sacraments are all unscriptural ‘good works’, that not only play no part in salvation, but are an abomination to God.”

And on conviction of sin and repentance:

“Despite majoring on the Holy Spirit, Gumbel never mentions His work of convicting of sin (John 16:8). But what is conviction of sin? . . . Conviction of sin is not:

• the ordinary smiting of a guilty conscience
• a mere head knowledge of what the Bible says about sin
• a shallow acknowledgement that ‘‘I’ve made a lot of mistakes.’’
• a mere fear of going to hell
• even an admission of sin (Pharoah, Saul, Balaam and Judas all said “I have sinned.” and went to hell).


“True Holy Spirit conviction is a proper sense of the dreadfulness of one’s [sinfulness] and sin against God (Psa 51:4, Lu 15:18). It is when a person inwardly feels and owns the wickedness and rebellion of their depraved heart. A stranger to conviction is a stranger to repentance; and a stranger to repentance must be a stranger to salvation for, “Unless you repent you will all perish” (Lu 13:5).
"Which raises another term that is little understood throughout evangelicalism, namely repentance. Gumbel gives it one brief mention, also using the synonym ‘turn’ a couple of times – but he neither develops nor emphasizes this vital theme. Repentance was John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus’ first spoken word in public ministry (Matt 3:1, Mk 1:15). Paul defined the very gospel itself as ‘repentance and faith’, and summarized the message he had preached throughout his entire life as simply, “repent and turn to God ” (Acts 20:21, 26:20). But theological terms need to be defined carefully.”

Biblical repentance is acknowledgement that we have sinned against God, and that we recognize our own unworthiness of God because of our sin nature, and despises the sins that are an offense to the Holy LORD and desires to change, that is, to turn away from our sins and our sin nature and turn completely to the LORD in unconditional surrender, seeking salvation by placing faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross and receiving Him as LORD and SAVIOR. Repentance, contrary to Alpha Course is not merely feeling ‘sorry for our sin’ and being ‘sorry for hurting God’s feelings’ or a self-determination to not commit a particular sin.

Or as Michael J. Penfold expresses it:

Repentance is not –

• Penance or restitution
• Mere tears and trembling (Acts 24:25)
• Fear of judgment. Multitudes desire to be saved from hell (the natural instinct of self-preservation) who are quite unwilling to be saved from sin. Yea, there are tens of thousands who have been deluded into thinking that they have ‘accepted Christ as their Saviour’ whose lives plainly show that they have rejected Him as their Lord. For a sinner to obtain the pardon of God, he must forsake his way.8
• Remorse ...we must all learn to distinguish between the sorrow that comes from being caught & the sorrow that comes from a deep, inward hatred of sin and longing for the glory of God that is the distinguishing feature of the regenerate person."9
• Confession or admission of sin. Salvation is never promised to those who confess their sin (1 John 1:9 is a promise to Christians).
• Reformation or turning over a new leaf.

From another ministry, Deception in the Church with Sandy Simpson we have the following article about the Alpha Course:

The Dangers of the Alpha Course (Read the entire article at the link provided) –

Mr. Simpson states:

“The Alpha Course is a course that has been used by many as a way to attempt to introduce the false doctrines and practices of the Third Wave into mainstream denominations.
I was dumbfounded when I found out some of the people who endorse this course. Among them were the Salvation Army and, most notably, Luis Palau. Here is his endorsement that is featured on the Alpha Course web page:

"Alpha seems especially blessed in that the Lord is using it to reach all sorts of people in all sorts of spiritual condition." http://www.alphana.org/alendo01.htm

The Alpha Course, though teaching some truth, also lays truth alongside error . . . introducing error secretly (pareisaxousinin in Greek) the result of which will ruin the faith of the believer in the end. The wooing of people using the gospel message, only to later enslave them in ritualism, works salvation, and occult manifestations is one of the great deceptions of our time. . .”
In the article by Mr. Simpson, he posted two emails from people who have made some key observations about The Alpha Course; here is the first:

“Blessings!

“The foundations of the Alpha course were originally laid in 1979 through the work of Charles Marnham. During his time at Holy Trinity Brompton in west London (one of the main proponants of the Toronto "Blessing" and where Steve Hill of Brownsville picked up his ability to "slay people in the spirit"), he sought to devise a course to look at the basics of the Christian faith in a way that would be helpful to new Christians.

“After Marnham's initial input, Alpha gradually evolved. One of the key figures in this and the main architect of the Alpha course as it now exists is Nicky Gumbel, currently curate at Holy Trinity Brompton. It was through Gumbel's vision and work that Alpha grew to have the impact it has today.

“Alpha has some well-known champions and supporters...

George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury
David Hope, the Archbishop of York
Alistair McGrath of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and Regent College, Vancouver
Luis Palau, international evangelist
J.I. Packer of Regent College, Vancouver
The late John Wimber of the Vineyard churches
R.T. Kendall of Westminster Chapel
Joel Edwards of the Evangelical Alliance
Interesting to say the least...beloved let us discern the times!”

And here is the second email sent to Mr. Sandy Simpson:


“Dear Friends,
“The plot thickens and yet becomes at the same time more clear. This note concerns what we already know about Alpha courses, and two recent reports in the Daily Telegraph. The first DT item was on 30th Sept. p10, about the World Council of Churches. The second on 1st. Oct., about the Church of Rome and the Eucharist.

“We all (I hope) know that Alpha has become a front for both Ecumenism and Toronto [Blessing]. It is therefore not surprising that its Theological content is lacking in many respects. Any course that can appeal to the range of traditions and denominations that Alpha does; must of necessity sacrifice many essential truths. It is to be expected, and yet sad to observe, so many "evangelicals" going happily and willingly down this "broad" road. This fact alone, of course, begs the question; just exactly what is an evangelical today? It is suggested by this aspect of Alpha alone, that every evangelical participating in Alpha, is betraying the very Gospel they claim to uphold. When people ask me how can I be so critical of something of which I have no personal experience; my usual reply is that I do not need to put my hand into a fire to prove if it will burn.

“The second aspect of my note is about the Roman Catholic position in ecumenical matters. Here again most evangelicals must be either blind or ignorant of Rome's way of doing things. Rome has never changed one iota of the articles of the Council of Trent. Her attitude has always been one of waiting and persuading all to return to the "One True Church". While everyone else it seems is only too willing to compromise in the ecumenical cause, Rome has steadfastly given nothing away. It never ceases to amaze me, that so many think Rome is somehow different since Vatican II. This is the cleverness of the Roman system. She lulls everyone into a sense of false security before swallowing them up. Just look at how many of our institutional churches and others are making overtures to Rome, and you begin to see how successful Rome has been . . . This is why Alpha is a ready tool for Rome to exploit. While everyone is enjoying a meal and warm company, totally unaware of what is really going on under their very noses.”

LOOKING At The ALPHA Course – by Tricia Tillin

(These are excerpts; to read the full article “Dangers of the Alpha Course” please visit the web site article from DECEPTION in the CHURCH (link above):

“A WOMAN has walked out of her church and is holding services in her living room, because she says she cannot bring herself to "snort like a pig and bark like a dog" on a Church of England course. Angie Golding, 50, claims she was denied confirmation unless she signed up for the Alpha course, which she says is a "brainwashing" exercise where participants speak in tongues, make
animal noises and then fall over.”

“One difficulty in pinning down the problems with the Alpha Course is that each church running the course will use the materials in a different way. Thus it is feasible, in theory at least, that a church might avoid all controversy and simply use the course to preach the gospel to unbelievers. This does leave unanswered the question - why does any church need to buy a course to be able to preach the gospel?”

“. . . as the course progresses, some of the talks tend to wander
off into lengthy accounts of HTB's experiences of the Toronto Blessing and associated ministries, novel exegeses of various Biblical passages common amongst pro-Toronto preachers, calls for unity despite truth and an over-emphasis on the Holy Spirit, all of which are less than helpful, to say the least, to potential Christians.

“Clearly the aim is to bring as many into God's Kingdom as possible but by the end of the course I cannot help feeling that the Toronto Blessing may have been the greater beneficiary.”

Nicky Gumbel relates the following:

"Ellie Mumford told us a little bit of what she had seen in Toronto . . . it was obvious that Ellie was just dying to pray for all of us.. then she said 'Now we'll invite the Holy Spirit to come.' and the moment she said that one of the people there was thrown, literally, across the room and was lying on the floor, just howling and laughing...making the most incredible noise...I experienced the power of the Spirit in a way I hadn't experienced for years, like massive electricity going through my body... One of the guys was prophesying. He was just lying there prophesying. . ."

"I believe it is no coincidence that the present movement of the Holy Spirit [TB] has come at the same time as the explosion of the Alpha Courses. I think the two go together." [Nicky Gumbel, 'The Spirit and Evangelism', Renewal, May 1995, p15].

“Alpha also promotes, as does the leadership of the TB, 'unity' between Protestants and Roman Catholics, with no consideration, or perhaps realisation, of the unreconcileable doctrines of the two Churches, and so another concern is its trend towards ecumenism.”

“Nicky Gumbel is aware of this paradigm shift from reason to experience:






"In the Enlightenment reason ruled supreme and explanation led to experience. In the present transitional culture, with its 'pick-and-mix' worldview in which the New Age movement is a potent strand, experiences lead to explanation".
[Nicky Gumbel, Telling Others, p19].”

“Post-Christian neo-mysticism is already so pervasive that virtually every non-christian participant of Alpha - or any other evangelistic initiative – will reflect to some degree New Age thinking. In New Age philosophy "experiences leading to explanation" yet, like the Toronto Experience, the thrust of Alpha is towards the experiential, not the written Word. One pastor who has made use of The Alpha course writes:

"One of the problems of proclaiming the gospel in a post-modern world is that culture itself warms much more readily to lifestyle than to the doctrine. But the Christian lifestyle is not Christian faith...I am sure that many people are being converted through the Alpha course, but I have a suspicion that some of those people are being converted to a Christian lifestyle rather than to Christ.” [emphasis mine]

Ian Lewis, 'The Alpha Course', Evangelicals Now, Dec. 1995”


Suffice it to say that the Alpha Course is very superficial on the Gospel, negligent in presenting the clear message of repentance, quite careful not to disrupt denominational and ecumenical sensibilities; it includes unity with the Roman Catholic church and is completely open to spiritual experiences that are both deceptive and leads to further deception. Another brick in the Tower of Babel that stands for the coming one world religion!

The thematic question asked in The Alpha Course is, "What am I doing here?" A question that could validly be asked, and should be asked concerning this movement itself into the church - "What are you doing here in the church?"

In its desire to ‘bring people to Christ’ what it seems to actually be doing is bringing the world and unbiblical spiritual practices into the church with very little evidence of genuine repentance, conversion and spiritual life in Jesus Christ in accord with His Most Holy Word, our Guide and Light and spiritual nourishment for all things concerning a godliness.

2 Peter 1: 2 – 5

2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

2 Timothy 3: 14 - 17

14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works
.
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Sunday, April 8, 2012

GETTING REAL ABOUT THE RESURRECTION

~ ~ by James Fire


Looking at a chart known mostly as “the harmony of the Gospels” we see that in the four Gospel accounts, there are different events recorded; they don’t all record the same things for the most part. There are however, a few incidences that all four Gospel accounts do record. Such as the early Galilean ministry, the feeding of the five thousands, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the declaration of Judas as the betrayer, the agony at Gethsemane, and the other major events that take place immediately thereafter in what’s known as ‘the passion week’.

Then of course there are the accounts of the crucifixion, the burial and the RESURRECTION! Here are all four accounts specifically of the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Matthew 28: 1 – 14; Mark 16: 1 – 14; Luke 24: 1 – 32; and John 20: 1 – 31.
~*Are these four different versions of the Resurrection account, or four different aspects of the same account? As in any event when there are multiple witnesses, each witness may bring out different details, but if their testimony is real and accurate, the details will never contradict the overview of the entire event, and no two accounts are precisely the same (that would intimate collusion).

So likewise with the four Gospel accounts recorded in these four books; each presents certain details that the others either expand upon, or simply verify, minimize or even leave out altogether. Yet here are four voices, four different accounts that lend credence to this Blessed Event, along with a tomb that is quite vacated, all of which proclaims that, “HE IS RISEN!”

UPDATE: 4/14/12 The Proof and Power of the Resurrection by Eric Barger in his TAKE A STAND ministries Radio program, presented here in archived information.
~ ~ end of UPDATE

Dr. C.I. Scofield has developed a kind of ‘harmony of the resurrection’ in a time line which utilizes all four Gospel accounts in the notes recorded in the study Bible that bears his name:

1) Mark 16: 2-3 – Early morning, three women come to the tomb of Jesus to anoint His body, but they wondered who would roll the stone away for them.
NOTE: In your desire to serve Jesus, the Risen LORD, as these lady saints sought to serve Jesus, the sleeping LORD, resting in His grave any obstacle that stands in your way will surely be moved by the hand of God.

2) Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10 – These three women are named: Mary Magdalene (who was delivered from demons by Jesus), Mary the mother of James and John (the apostles), and Salome. These three were followed by other women who came to the garden tomb later (Luke 23:55-24:1).
3) Matt. 28:2 – These women discover that the stone is ALREADY rolled away – not to let Jesus out, but to let these women in, and witness the truth that He is RISEN and already left the empty tomb!

4) John 20:2-4 – Mary Magdalene runs off to go tell Peter and John.

5) Matt. 28: 1-8 – The other women at the tomb enter the area, see the angel who rolled back the stone (a very huge and heavy object!) and then sat on top of it! The Roman guards sent by the Sanhedrin to keep the body of Jesus from being stolen by His disciples in some sort of ‘resurrection hoax’ are paralyzed with fear – but Jesus is already gone! The angel declares that Jesus is alive, presents the empty tomb to them, and in fear and great joy they also race off to go tell the disciples!

6) John 20: 4-10 – A bit later, Peter and John show up at the tomb and inspect inside. NOTE: The linen clothes are still all there, but the ‘head wrap’ is folded neatly and apart from the other linens. This shows that the body of Jesus was not stolen, or stolen in haste. No robber would waste time folding linen with Roman guards posted outside with order to protect the dead body of Jesus with their lives! Peter and Jon then leave, but John leaves there with the belief that JESUS IS RISEN (John 20:8)!

7) John 20: 11-18 – Now Mary Magdalene returns to the tomb, and is weeping; yet Jesus is revealed to her! NOTE: Before Jesus reveals His presence, Mary looks into the tomb and sees two other angels sitting at the head and at the foot of the stone slab where the body of Jesus had previously been laid down – is this a ‘type’ of the ark of the covenant or is the ark of the covenant a type in foreshadowing this Blessed Event! I believe the latter is true!
Mary supposes Jesus to be the gardener and doesn’t recognize Him, that is, until He speaks her name; John 10: 2 – 4.

8) Matt. 28: 9 – 10 – These other women who ran from the tomb are on their way to tell the disciples the good news when Jesus appears to them! NOTE: in verse 10, the LORD Jesus tells the women “Go tell my brothers I’ll meet them in Galilee.” He doesn’t call them servants at this point, or even friends (John 15:15) but brothers!

Since sin is now paid for by the blood of Jesus, since sin and death are defeated by the RESURRECTION of JESUS CHRIST, the Way is now open for souls to become part of God’s eternal family! John 1: 12 – 13.

The LORD Jesus Christ appears on TEN DIFFERENT OCCASIONS during His last forty days after His resurrection and before His ascension into heaven. See Acts 1: 1 – 3 and take note of the phrase “many infallible proofs” in regards to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

1) To Mary Magdalene;
2) The other women . . . as previously mentioned above.
3) Luke 24:34 – Jesus appears privately to Simon (Simeon) Peter.
4) Mark 16: 12; Luke 24: 13 – 32 – Two disciples on the road to Emmaeus encounter the living Christ.
5) Mark 16: 14; Luke 24: 36 – 43; John 20: 19 – 25 – Jesus appears to His eleven disciples, but minus Thomas (so really ten).
6) John 20: 26-31; 1 Cor. 15:5 – Jesus appears to His eleven, but this time Thomas is with them, and note what Thomas declares on vs. 28: “My Lord and my God”! A plain declaration to the deity of Jesus Christ!
7) The Risen LORD and Savior also appears to seven of His eleven disciples by the sea of Galilee in John chapter 21.
8) Matt. 28: 16-20; Mark 16: 15-18; 1 Cor. 15:6 – Jesus again appears to His apostles as well as to five hundred people all at once!
9) 1 Cor. 15:7 – He appears to the son of Joseph and Mary (the mother of Jesus): James, the half brother of Jesus our LORD.
10) Mark 16: 19-20; Luke 24: 44-53 and Acts 1: 4-11.

DOES GOD POSSESS TWO DIFFERENT KINGDOMS?

Jesus is the Christ; and ‘Christ’ in the Hebrew language is what? “Messiah”, right? Now, the Messiah according to all the Old Testament prophecies and revelation from the Old Testament prophets and books is the King and ruler of Israel (We’ll be getting more into the kingdom of Israel, covenants God made with Abraham and David and why Israel is important to biblical Christians in another article (and a sermon to be delivered online sometime, LORD permitting)).

The apostles had great hopes of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel and the reign of the MESSIAH, the Son of David who is JESUS of Nazareth, but One who was born in Bethlehem, the birthplace of David, according to a prophecy in Micah.

Yet when Jesus died on the cross, these hopes were destroyed in the minds of the apostles and turned to ashes and dust. However, HE ROSE from the dead!

In Acts 1:3, Jesus spoke of “the kingdom of God” and in verse 6 the apostles asked if the Messiah Jesus would now “restore the kingdom to Israel” now that He has RISEN from the dead. Are they the same thing, or something different? And if different, are they both legitimate or has one of these kingdoms become obsolete?

Jesus did NOT say, “That’s all over with now; now we have the church instead.”

We must remember that the nation and kingdom of Israel and the church are two entirely different things. Both are important and part of God’s plan – just different parts of His overall plan for the ages.

Jesus said, “That’s for the Father to know, not you” in verse 7.

So when will the kingdom be restored to Israel?

Acts 1: 10 – 11




And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven
.


When Jesus returns and touches down on the Mount of Olives, right where He left and ascended into heaven, and His physical return to planet Earth occurs, this will precede the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.

Yet this event of Jesus touching down on the Mount of Olives takes place only AFTER the battle of Armageddon where Satan, the Beast and the armies of the world attack Jesus who arrives from the clouds (2 Thess. 1:7-9; Psalm 2) and He takes them all out (Satan is bound and cast into the abyss; the Beast and the False Prophet go immediately into the Lake of Fire or Gehenna).

Armageddon takes place AT THE END of the Seven Year period known as Daniel’s 70th week, the time of Jacob’s Trouble, or more commonly (though somewhat inaccurately) as the Great Tribulation period. During these seven years the Beast rules the world as absolute ruler.

The 70th week of Daniel (the Great Tribulation) BEGINS only after the church is raptured, taken out of this world – those members of the true church that are among the living as well as the dead (1 Thess. 4:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-56) – and we finally meet our precious LORD and SAVIOR face to Face!

But once all this is done with, that’s when the Messiah Jesus will rebuild the Kingdom of Israel (This will be covered in the previously mentioned article/sermon) . . . and this chain of events commences like falling domino’s once the rapture takes place – and when does the rapture happen? We don’t know the day, only that it takes place prior to Daniel’s 70th week.

Since the Resurrection and Ascension of the LORD Jesus Christ, the church has been busy about seeking first the kingdom of God, and by the Gospel, preaching salvation through Jesus Christ, seeing people “added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

The REALITY of the RESURRECTION –

Skeptics have certain objections about the resurrections, objections that are unfounded when confronted by the facts (Here are three of the most popular objections):

They say:

1) Jesus didn’t really die – on the cross; He just fainted, and was taken down off the cross, laid in the tomb, revived in the cool temperatures and fought passed trained Roman soldiers after budging a two-ton stone! This was after Jesus was severely dehydrated, beaten, whipped with a cat-o’-nine tails that was known to so shred a person’s tissues that they would be disemboweled, and then nailed to the cross where His wrists and ankles would be rendered useless due to the thick nails that they were pierced with.
Skeptics rightly state that dead bodies don’t bleed, and they claim Jesus did not die because of the following observation made by John the apostle:

John 19: 33-35

But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:
But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
And he that saw it bare record and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe
.


People who died by crucifixion ended up dying either by suffocation or some form of cardiac arrest. The fact that clear fluid or “water” (plasma) and “blood” (blood cells called placates) flowed from the spear wound shows that the plasma filled the cardial cavity in the chest, which happens when the body is under severe distress and extreme constriction.

See the following article on this subject:

A Physician Analyzes The Crucifixion


2) Jesus’ body was stolen by His disciples. It’s claimed that the resurrection was a hoax perpetrated by His followers, and that they disposed of the body somehow, which would make them accomplices in a deceitful plot and bold face liars.

Matthew 27: 62 – 66

Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch
.


This “watch” which Pilate provided for the Sanhedrin comprised of a unit of Roman soldiers, numbering somewhere between four and sixteen men; being Roman soldiers they were professionally trained, well skilled in weapons and some of the most formidable warriors of all time.

It’s been said that a single Roman soldier, with competent skill of a machira (a short sword, roughly two feet in length, with a double edged blade) could defend himself against four opponents and more often than not defeat them!

From the web site “Life of Jesus.org” we have the following (The Jesus Tomb Page):

1. The Roman soldiers were under strict orders and their being asleep would mean their death, so it was impossible for them to take that liberty to fall asleep.

2. There were at least 4 Roman soldiers, and if it was a regular Roman watch, like in Acts 12:4, they were changed every 3 hours, so the possibility of all 4 getting asleep at one time is below zero.

3. A cord was stretched across the stone and an official seal with clay was fastened at each end, so it could be detected if the grave was opened.

4. The disciples themselves, who were grieving and were afraid of what would happen next, when they saw the empty tomb of Jesus and Him resurrected after that, they became so bold, that they did not anymore fear about their lives [though they were tortured and threatened with death, and even martyred – they never recanted their proclamation that Jesus has risen indeed from the dead!]. Had they stolen the body, their "faith" would not stand the test of being able and more than ready to give their life for a cause they knew was a fraud. It had to be for real!

3) Jesus didn’t really physically rise from the dead – He was a hallucination, His followers suffered delusions or at best He was raised up but only as a spirit without a body.

No two people share the same hallucination, yet multiple witnesses from two to five hundred people saw Him at once. Mass hysteria? He was also seen by single witnesses such as Mary Magdalene, Peter and James.

Any suffering from a psychological disorder of delusions end up deteriorating until a complete mental breakdown occurs if such delusions persist. Yet Jesus appeared to His followers for 40 days and these witnesses proceeded boldly with joy to proclaim fearlessly of the risen LORD!


Luke 24: 36 – 43 –

36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43 And he took it, and did eat before them.


1 John 1:1 – 3 –

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ
.

Here is an article FROM The MIND of FIRE that I think would be appropriate right now, entitled The Shortest, Longest Line

Excellent books that address the issue of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:

The Resurrection Factor – by Josh McDowell
The Case for the Resurrection – Lee Strobel
Who Moved the Stone – Frank Morrison
The Resurrection Debate – Gary Habermas/ Antony Flew


Because our precious LORD and SAVIOR has RISEN FROM THE DEAD, ALIVE FOREVER MORE, we have the steadfast hope and assurance that our sins are forgiven, and paid for; and also that eternal life is ours through the LAMB of GOD Who was slain. And such eternal life that we will share with our Abba Father and our LORD Jesus Christ “world without end”! HALLELUJAH!


Romans 6: 8 - 10

8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.


Hebrews 9: 24 - 28

24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.


1 Peter 3: 18

18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:


1 Corinthians 15: 20 - 21

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead
.


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