Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (John 8:42-47).

Does God Look Upon Us And Smile?

It seemed the safest way to continue our examination of this critical subject speaking the Truth in love would be by looking at how the living Truth–Christ Jesus of Nazareth–God Himself in human flesh did so. And as we have previously pointed out 1 John 4:8 says – He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love, which would mean of course, that Jesus would then be the greatest Example of speaking the Truth in love that we could ever have. However, what we are dealing with in postmodern America today is a Christian community with a heavily romanticized version of Who Jesus really is, and this in spite of the eyewitness accounts of His life we find in the New Testament. Years of indoctrination by ostensibly well-meaning Christian teachers has caused us to see Christ Jesus through the eyes of our human concept of love, and this unfortunately has led us to compromise an important part of our mission as the Body of Christ, speaking the absolute Truth in love.

Here’s a quick example from something I happened to come across today. As I read the following words the Holy Spirit began to prompt me that something was just not quite right about them. See what you think as you now read them:

A man in a psychiatrist’s office was overheard saying, “Make me sure that there is a God of love and I shall go away a well man.” His cry is the cry of all of us: make us sure there is a God of love… One of the most difficult Christian doctrines to believe is the incredible value of human beings. It is difficult for many of us to accept God’s love to believe that God looks upon us and smiles… What we long to know is that we are loved. To be more specific, we hunger to know that we are accepted as we are, forgiven for all we have done, and cared for by a gracious loving God. When we know this we walk away well (Nick Harrison, 365 WWJD, p.5).

No we don’t “walk away well,” we walk away deluded into thinking “God looks down on us and smiles” and that “we are forgiven for all we have done” while we are still on the broad path that ends in destruction. These words of humanistic reasoning were written by James Bryan Smith, and as I read them I was thinking that this sounds just like what I recently read in Emergent Church pastor Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis. It was then not surprising when I looked up who Smith is and found out that he: “works with author Richard Foster in the RENOVARE organization.” This information tells me that he is part of the people teaching contemplative prayer, who believe that Christ died to save all of mankind as well as the planet itself, and who are spreading these false understandings of God’s love, who obscure what actually happened at the cross, and misinform others about our own degenerate human nature. And as I write this from the study hall I supervise at the local secular high school the morning announcement ends with a quote from Mother Theresa about how all the world really needs is more “love.” But this is to think as men think, and not as God thinks.

The Imaginary Jesus Of The New Christianity

The great Bible scholar, Dr. F.F. Bruce, was right when he said that people have constructed a Jesus largely of imagination Who was so inoffensive that no one would have bothered to crucify Him. And then he went on to point out that in the Gospel records we actually meet a Jesus Who was anything but that. Take for example our text above. We must realize that our Lord is speaking at this point to the leaders of the world religion of Judaism, who believed that their heritage alone made them the children of the promise of Abraham, and yet in this section of John’s Gospel the very Christ they should have expected has begun telling them that they were really not children of God at all. Then in verse 44 the Master literally says to them – “Ye are of your father the Devil.” As you might imagine this upset them a bit, which becomes pretty obvious by verse 59 where – they picked up stones to stone Him. We can be sure they weren’t going down to take Him down to the Sea of Galilee to see who could skip a rock across the water the most times.

If we put this into a modern context, just imagine walking into the ostentatious papal apartments in the Vatican to meet with the Pope and then explaining to him that even though he sees himself as the Vicar of Christ, the universal Bishop in charge of the entire Christian Church, that he’s really teaching antichrist doctrine. You can probably imagine this wouldn’t sit very well with him and you’re next conversation is likely to be with the Swiss Guard as they quickly escort you to the door. We‘ve all heard the phrase “the truth hurts.” This is what I am talking about as we look at this critical topic; to tell someone the truth in love will oftentimes be the source of friction, and not end up being a pleasant task at all. However, this is the assignment our Master has given to us whether we like it or not. When you reported for duty in the Christian Church this is exactly what you signed up for. You enlisted in the Army of our Lord Who is currently at war, and we’ve not done anyone any favors by not explaining this to people while we are “begging” them to “accept Christ.” Better for them to know what they would really be getting into than to continue to try and coerce them into some phantom land of peace and properity.

This misunderstanding of God’s love and of the actual mission of the Church of our Lord as ambassadors for Christ in a world hostile to Him (see–2 Corinthians 5:20) has actually caused the Evangelical camp to turn the preaching of the Gospel backward. The thing we have to ask ourselves is: Am I trying to bring people to the real Christ to keep them from spending an eternity in Hell, or am I “winning souls” to put yet another notch on my spiritual belt, or to boast of how “baptisms” we had last year, or to announce how many people our ministry has “reached” for Christ. Is that why we lowered the standards; is that why we haven’t been wiling to tell people everything Jesus said? Like, for instance, that nasty ol’ “take up your cross of the denial of self” thing? Are Rick Warren and Brian McLaren or Joel Osteen really doing people a good service by letting them think they have been saved from the absolute reality of Hellfire with their “stealth evangelism?” As I monitor ministries that purport to be Christian I hear this all the time, and from more of them than you think: “If we can just get people into the Church, then we can give them the Gospel message without them even knowing it.”

Well, here’s a wake-up call from reality: How can someone actually receive a message without realizing that they have heard it? And if this was the true Christian message, then why don’t we see this example from Christ. Why did He literally call people children of the Devil? Don’t you see, this is the deadly flaw in all these types of humanistic Schuller-Hybels-Warrenisms that have now become so ingrained in Christian teachings? Can you see now where this whole Church Growth Movement was immediately derailed when it jumped our Lord’s track of confronting evil and instead decided to speed along the track of mankind’s thinking straight into this violation of God’s Word – See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8). And yes, I am well aware of the alleged “differences” between these various sects within the CGM, but if they aren’t in line with Christ, didn’t He say – He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Peas in a pod, you know.

The New Traditions Of Men

Here’s Colossians 2:8 once again from the King James VersionBeware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Now let’s look at what Jesus Himself had to say to the religious leaders of His Own day:

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! (Mark 7:6-9)

Can you see these are almost identical words to those we read in Colossians 2:8? But let’s stop and think here for a minute. Isaiah originally spoke these words quoted by Jesus here in Mark 7 to the people of his own time, did he not? Then it is obvious that this kind of “junk worship” was going on in Isaiah’s time as well. Let me share something that you may wish to take to the Lord in prayer. I find it interesting to look at how Scripture shows us Adam and Eve are in the Garden with God in the beginning. So, for instance, they would have initially known exactly what God’s triune nature is like, they were able to be in His presence prior to the fall. However, by only the sixth chapter of Genesis we read – And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth (v.7). A Being of pure Love is so grieved with mankind that He is going to destroy them. How does this Truth fit with the wishful musings of James Bryan Smith above? It doesn’t, because it is a fantasy–a myth.

It is actually the rotten fruit of the seeker sensitive man-centered Evangelical preaching that men like A.W. Tozer began trying to warn the Body of Christ about by the late 1940’s. And it may also be the beginning of the final fulfillment of the absolute truth of this prophesy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 – For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. And since I have no desire to be found among these “knuckleheads,” then I am constrained to speak the Truth in love as I point these things out to you. You see, I must speak in the love I have for my God Who saved me–as does every true doulos of Christ–regardless of how human beings perceive it. That we must leave to the LORD God Almighty Himself.

Because the pastor-teacher’s job is spelled out very clearly in Holy Scripture just one verse prior to those we just looked at in 2 Timothy – Preach the Word. The word “preach” in the original Greek is keryxon from kerusso and literally means “to proclaim as a herald.” So we have the image here of the old “Town Criers” going through the city proclaiming their messages. And Dr. Ralph Earle is absolutely correct in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary when he says – “The preacher is not to air his own opinions but to proclaim God’s eternal, authoritative Word of truth.” Since this is a classic commentary set, it’s not as if Evangelical preachers have lacked this information, and James 3:1 shows they will be held accountable for it. I shared before that Dr. John MacArthur gave a great answer when he was asked why it was he only quoted Scripture and didn’t give more of his own opinions when he preached. The great expositor replied: “God’s opinion is my opinion.”

A Sad Circular Reasoning

I will close out this particular teaching in a rare case where I will share my opinion on this matter of a sad circular pattern I see in mankind’s flawed reasoning that I do believe is based of solid Biblical study. I mentioned Adam and Eve in their initial perfected state as knowing exactly Who God is prior to their fall into sin. We then moved ahead to the devastating effect of sin upon the condition of mankind until the LORD God Almighty finally destroys all but eight people in the Great Flood. So we go along from that time until the Creator Himself comes into His Own creation as a Man and stands right in front of the leaders of the chosen people of God in our text from John’s Gospel. Think with me now, here is the very LORD God revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures, which they had been entrusted with, now literally standing there in front of them and they haven’t even a clue as to Who He is. They had misunderstood the Scripture about Who God is and what He wants from mankind, and so the Master has to say to them – “You belong to your father, the devil.”

And now I offer this to you; do you think that is just possible that in this seeker sensitive movement in New Evangelicalism we are seeing this same type of misunderstanding about Who Jesus is and what He has sent us to do in His world? You must keep in mind here that Jesus is the LORD God Almighty of the Old Testament in human form. Could it be that this type of sentimental “brotherly love” taught by men like Rick Warren and Brian McLaren and Joel Osteen is actually a false human concept of love? The motivation as to why these men preach this is irrelevant, the question before us is simply: Is this possibly the seed for the ultimate deception of the Devil to convince mankind that what God wants is for everyone to live in peace and harmony and to be a “universal brotherhood” leading all the world to work together to usher in their own flawed view of “the kingdom of Heaven?” Did you ever think that this is really the root of the coming deception that the Bible speaks of as preceding the Antichrist which is already growing through this apostasy?

What if we are so smug and self-satisfied in our “New Christianity” that we are being deceived into thinking we have it all figured out with our favorite eschatological views and our theology of this mush God of “love” Who just smiles as He watches us ignore the millions who remain trapped behind the Gates of Hades that aren’t supposed to be able to withstand the forceful onslaught of Christ’s Church militant? (see–Matthew 11:12; 16:18) What if this new ecumenical kingdom of NAE president Ted Haggard is a major tool Satan is going to use to accomplish setting up the One World global family necessary for the Antichrist to rule? And could it be that because we have attempted to avoid at all costs the persecution that seemed to be promised by Christ to all of His true followers (see–John 15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12), that this is also what Jesus is referring to when He says – “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:10).

Did you ever think that our Lord is not just talking about after the rapture of His Church; have you not read – the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword? If we take into account the sad cyclical pattern of how mankind’s sin nature causes him to lose track of Who God really is, might it help us better understand these Words of Christ – So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of My mouth (Revelation 3:16), and – Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in (v.20). We need to remember that in context Jesus is speaking to the historic church at Laodicea, and as we then take into account this continual forgetting about how God really is, and what He really wants us to do, might this now lead us to a fuller understanding of these verses as we consider the other side of God’s double-edged Sword here?

Men and women, as this apostasy grows it seems to me that we had best give ourselves to some serious prayerful study of God’s Word lest we be taken in by the increasing lies and accelerating deceptions. You know the single most ridiculous assertion I have heard against the work I do here through Apprising Ministries is that I am doing this to create a following, and then to make money from it. But it looks to me like there is a whole other ecumenical purpose driven, and inclusive emergent message about God’s love that I could declare with words of faith just as the rest of the “fraternity” is doing if I wanted to do that. So let me just show you something found in Isaiah chapter 6; and we need to keep in mind here that what we will read is also speaking the Truth in love, because these Words are spoken by the LORD God Almighty Himself:

“Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed” (vv.9-10).

Before you dismiss this all too quickly or before you are tempted to keep pointing fingers, let me just ask you a question brother pastor: If the Lord were to tell you up front that this would be your ministry, would you have gone?