Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

Reality Check: Do Not Just Believe Everything You Hear About God

Truthfully—if I might be allowed that term—the only way we will have any real effect on those around us in pagan postmodern America, and in helping our young people see through this smokescreen of relativism, is to pray fervently for the Lord to help us.  Frankly nothing else we do will be of much use without seeking God in prayer, because we cannot convert anyone, no matter how brilliant we may think we are; and no matter how much we personally believe with all our heart that our cherished opinions are true.

This critical lack of proper Biblical understanding is exactly what’s missing in the man-centered pragmatism of the whole seeker sensitive Church Growth Movement, and particularly in the warped Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism central to the egregiously ecumenical Emerging Church aka Emergent Church—currently morphing into Emergence Christianity—(EC), which people tend to forget is itself an off-shoot of that Church Growth Movement.

And from where I sit the Purpose Driven Church ala Rick Warren and the EC ala Rob Bell have been allowed by Christ into His visible church as 1 Peter 4:17 judgments for our being content in attempting to do a spiritual job by our own natural means. Anyone who reads the Gospels and the Book of Acts should come away with the incontrovertible fact that it is God the Holy Spirit Who’s the One Who convicting of sin, and being the Source of power for the supernatural life of the Christian; it’s also God the Holy Spirit Who is actually the One to convert someone to Christ.

Our text undoubtedly tells us do not believe every spirit, which is why as a Christian I must then test the spirits; whether I want to do this or not. Which brings us to the other thing we had best be doing as this spiritual darkness grows, and that is to really learn how to handle the Sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God. Just like our Master Christ Jesus did, we need to let those around us know what God has said. Just as we hear our Lord say in Matthew 4:4, now it’s our time to tell others — “It is written.” And more importantly the time has now arrived where we ourselves must do what is written.

Readers of Apprising Ministries have often seen me refer to the current apostasy in which we find ourselves; so let me quickly say that this idea of the evangelical community being in the midst of a wide-spread apostasy was first brought to my attention by Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) back in the late 1970’s. And Dr. Martin was hardly someone ever considered a radical; in fact, the extremely benign Billy Graham even called him “the most articulate spokesman for evangelical Christianity I know.”

Here is our text once again, this time from the NASB — Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. The verse surely appears pretty straight forward; do not simply believe everyone who claims to speak from God; be wary, on your guard. Test them by Scripture—check out their teachings because there are many false “prophets; those who will proclaim what God has supposedly said—both past and future—loose in the world.

False Teachers Absolutely Insure That There Will Be Division In The Church

First, we have to ask ourselves: “Is this only a historic fact, or could this also continue to happen today?” We do know from history that the Apostle John was speaking about first century Gnostic teachers, and what is not generally taken into consideration here, is that these people were also claiming to be Christians. Posing as genuine believers with the “true” interpretation of the teachings of Christ; not unlike e.g. the dubious duo of the EC Tony Jones and his quasi-universal pastor Doug Pagitt with their News Christians And A Christianity Worth Believing are doing now.

I don’t have space to get into specifics here, I just want to bring to the reader’s attention the fact that there were also various “factions” in the ancient church also considering themselves Christians, which would eventually necessitate the various Creeds of Christendom. Taking our text verse at face value, we can clearly see that the Bible is teaching—or more correctly—God Himself is saying in essence: “Everyone who claims to teach something about Me has not necessarily been sent from Me; ‘many’ of these ‘prophets’ are actually false.”

Notice we’re told that many false prophets were loose back then. Now let’s think about something John would have literally heard Christ Jesus Himself teach — “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15). After all John had walked with the Master for three years; he left everything to follow Him, and it is clear that he was in an “inner circle” often highlighted in the Gospels. Notice how many times when some important event was to happen in Christ’s earthly life where our Lord involves Peter, James and John.

For instance, the night Jesus was to be arrested we read from the historical account from Matthew, in chapter 26 and verse 37 — He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him. Peter’s assistant Mark also tells us Peter remembered that when they went to a place called Gethsemane, in addition to himself, Jesus also took James and John along with Him. There really is no doubt from the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus of Nazareth that these three men were closer to Him than the others—not loved any more—just closer in relationship.

There’s another lesson in that, which Lord willing, AM will be around to explore another time. However, the point relevant to our study of 1 John 4:1 here is that the Apostle who wrote this letter—under the direct inspiration of God the Holy Spirit—would be in a very good position to recall our Lord talking about those false prophets [who] come to you in sheep’s clothing. This would also seem a good place for me to let you know, in no uncertain terms, that I personally don’t happen to like this particular idea that there are counterfeit teachers.

But no one who really reads the New Testament can possibly come away without seeing numerous warnings within it that have to do with false prophets and false teachers. And this is to let alone the Old Testament, which itself is also full of these false prophets/teachers. The fact of the matter is, for reasons we don’t fully understand, God did decide to allow many false prophets and counterfeit teachers to go out into the world; but at least He told us that many times they would come as wolves in sheep’s clothing. And by that Jesus means they are going to appear as true believers.

The Closer The Counterfeit Looks Genuine, The Better The Deception

Now I can also tell you that I would rather not have to be in a controversial online apologetics and discernment ministry trying to alert people as to just who these false prophets claiming to be Christians may be in the visible church today. Believe it or not, I really don’t particularly like doing this type of work. Well I don’t; I was quite pleased to be involved on a local level in apologetics answering questions for people who were professed unbelievers, and with doing counter-cult evangelism in an attempt to free those trapped in Satan’s kingdom of the cults.

However in His infinite wisdom, Jesus did not choose to consult me about whether or not I liked the idea of AM or that the Lord chose to allow many spirits to be sent into the world, which would claim to be Christian, and then try to devour the flock of Christ as wolves sent by Satan. The hugely mistaken—and eternally damning idea—that’s growing right now in this fickle and whimsical generation is: Everything is going to just work out fine if we’d all just put aside our differences and be willing to learn from each other’s religions.

This is what is behind the stupid idea in the EC, which they refer to as “finding God in the Other,” and what they also are talking about when they talk about being “followers of Jesus in the Kingdom of God.” The latter is the right idea, but it is quite backward in approach. One cannot get into the Kingdom of God (synonymous with Kingdom of Heaven) until he is “born again” i.e. regenerated by God the Holy Spirit. Another falsehood put forth by this highly schismatic EC postliberal cult is that orthodox Christianity hasn’t been concerned with the social aspect of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But the fact remains that, for example, virtually every—now spiritually dead—Ivy League university was established by orthodox “Bible-believing” Christians who held the very same doctrine that I—and many others like me—have been, and are, teaching. Tragically, these initially Christian schools would later be murdered spiritually by the very same liberal theology that these parasites of the EC are reimagining [read” reinterpreting] and then dragging back into the mainstream evangelical camp of our Lord’s visible church.

It’s so unfortunate that if such as these would only be willing to listen, but they aren’t, they would see that this whole “pie in the sky” musing that people will all live together in harmony in the church is actually destroyed right here in our text verse alone. Think about it a moment, if it had been God’s intention for life here on His earth to be one where all people would come to a harmonious understanding of Who He is and what the genuine Gospel is, then quite obviously He would never have allowed that — Many false prophets are gone out into the world.

The Only Way Back To Proper Preaching

You see, the pernicious brood of vipers within Cult of Liberal Theology—so labeled by Dr. Martin—has already tried the preaching the absolute foolishness of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man; but the only way they could try to make that pabulum fly was to cast doubt upon the verbal and plenary inspiration of Scripture. This is because the Bible is replete with references such as that in our text, and the one I have cited from Christ Himself as quoted from an eyewitness account of what the Master taught us.

Now the reason that what I preach and teach falls right in line with men like Edwards and MacArthur and Spurgeon is because this correct concept of the true Christian faith is derived from what the Bible actually says; and since Holy Scripture was written by God Himself, then men who base their doctrine upon the Word of God will always agree with each other in the essential doctrines. And the serious problem, which then becomes immediately evident with all false teaching, is that for it to be successful it has to first question the Bible; as you’ll hear done by Jay Bakker in his sermon yesterday.

Oddly enough, since I am teaching what the Bible says, my detractors will then also have to include the men to which I have referred to above as preaching proper doctrine. Well, I think that I could rather enjoy being placed in their neighborhood;  but you won’t hear a Bell or a Bakker cite them. What makes me a bit different from many writing on these subjects is that I am also conscious in my work of something Martin often stressed, “A large part of the pastor’s job is also to foretell what God is saying now, as well as to forth tell what God has said in the past.”

This is one of the main reasons that the evangelical community in this nation is so riddled with false teaching right now; a real failure on the part of more pastors to pray that the Lord would help them to preach in their prophetic role and seek God in order to tell people—based upon Scripture, Sola Scriptura—what He wants said to His sheep right now. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia does correctly define that a “prophet” is “a speaker of or for God”; and it is in this sense that I have used that term.

After all, we do say that we pray for God to “give Your Words to our pastor; speak through him, and use him as Your vessel”; and the question you will face today is: Do you really believe this; or do you not. For this is the test that our Lord is giving this evanjellyfish generation, and it is not going to be easy to take for our highly independent American culture; but following is the only way we will see Christ once again send power into His Church:

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. (Hebrews 13:15-18)

…he who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Church…and obey Him…to obey is better than sacrifice…

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