And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (Mark 7:6-9)

Unorthodox And Orthodox?

As we begin this piece at Apprising Ministries, let me share a few words from a newsletter put out a few years ago by The John Ankerberg Show, which is “a ministry of the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute,” to set the stage. Although it was written in May 2005, the substance of what Dr. Ankerberg says is still dead on target:

A lot has happened since I wrote you last. Pope John Paul II died and his passing was mourned by over a billion Roman Catholics across the world. Then the world watched as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Dean of the College of Cardinals and the Vatican’s chief doctrinal watchdog for many years was chosen as the new Pope.

In light of these events, we are airing a series of debate programs between a Catholic priest and a Protestant scholar regarding nine unorthodox doctrines that the Roman Catholic church holds. My heart is saddened to see so many “professing” Christians unable to discern truth from error and believe a counterfeit Christianity instead of the genuine faith for which Christ gave His life. (copy on file)

Let’s stop here for a moment. I want to draw your attention to what Dr. Ankerberg has just said; and I’d like you to really focus on what he is saying. Remember now, Dr. Ankerberg had decided to do his nationally syndicated TV program on what he called those “nine unorthodox doctrines that the Roman Catholic church holds.” Simple logic tells us that if they are unorthodox, then they are also false beliefs because the word orthodox refers to having “correct” belief. And further, Dr. Ankerberg says he is saddened that “so many ‘professing’ Christians [are] unable to discern truth from error and believe a counterfeit Christianity instead of the genuine faith.”

The point being, Roman Catholicism is “error” and a “counterfeit” of true Christianity; and it is—in fact—a religion hatched by Satan himself. As Dr. John MacArthur has pointed out, the Roman Catholic Church is “Satan’s best front for the Kingdom of God.” So here’s the question at hand: When will the average evangelical non-protesting “Protestant” finally understand this? We are not talking about some abstract theology here; we are talking about a real-life spiritual warfare—for real souls—of real people; and we are in a real battle with the actual enemy of men’s souls, the Devil himself! When in the world is the visible church of Jesus Christ finally going to wake up and say, “Enough!” Enough with trying to reform a church—which is not a Christian church—any more than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) is a “Christian” church.

Frankly the truth is, the mainstream evangelical community has become all soft and desensitized to sin through so many years of its adulterous flirtation with the gigolo that is the world. As one theologian put it a few years ago: Evangelicals have now become “of the world while not even being in it.” What is needed today in the rapidly apostatizing evanjellyfish camp is a good dose of spiritual reality. What we need in the church of our Lord in so-called postmodern America today is to forget the Oprahfied Jesus as Gandhi with a beard social reformer and to be formally re-introduced to our Bride Groom—Christ Jesus of Nazareth. Beloved, hear Him as Jesus speaks to those religious leaders of His day who taught “unorthodox” and “counterfeit” doctrines of “error” that depended on the tradition of men such as Roman Catholic superstitions.

Thus our Lord speaks:

They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others…and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues (Matthew 23:4-6) … But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” (vv.13, 15)

“Woe to you, blind guides,… Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” (vv.16, 27-33)

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies… Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (John 8:44, 47)

There; do we remember Him now? Jesus Christ of Nazareth—the Lord of Glory is His Name! Truly God Himself in human flesh; or have we now also surrendered this truth to Satan as well? To so many of our leaders within major pillars of The Ecumenical Church of Deceit today—people-pleasing evangelicalism as they turn to Mormon Glenn Beck to lead them and the neo-liberal cult of the Emerging Church with their stupid “big tent”pseudo Christianity—here’s what our Lord of Glory would say — Get your worldly idol of Madison Avenue sales techniques to sell your own wares, and these false teachings perverting My love, and your nauseating interspiritual compromise with the other religions out of My church! How dare you turn My House into a market! (c.f. John 2:16).

The church visible seriously needs a wake up call—and right now! For the sake of our Lord; why do you think that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified? Was it really because Christ Jesus was ever so careful to make sure He kept in regular “dialogue” with each and every false teacher so that the Lord could then refine His approach so that it would not “upset” anybody? No! The Master Teacher—Whom we Christians profess to represent—knew what apparently has been all but lost in a deep, deep freeze of apathy within the very nearly spiritually comatose Christian church today: Sometimes a good ol’ spiritual two-by-four across the back is what’s needed to awaken someone from the deadly poisonous venom injected by Satan—the serpent of spiritual death, and, the father of lies.

The Eternal Value Of The Three C’s

In closing, Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) related an incident that happened early in his ministry. He was researching his doctoral thesis on the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society—better known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses—and for some of their materials he had gone to the headquarters of this non-Christian cult in Brooklyn, NY. Making a long story short, Martin met one of the Jehovah’s Witness overseers by the name of Bill Cetnar; and they soon began to argue rather vociferously. As Martin left after this tough spiritual firefight he told Cetnar — “I’m going to write about you in my book!” He also said later that he felt as though his witness ended up as a colossal waste of time because Cetnar was the most hardheaded and obstinate person he’d ever met.

However, after one of his lectures some twenty years later—during the question and answer period—a man in the audience would stand up and ask Dr. Martin a question, “Do you remember me?” I still have the audio; it turned out to be Bill Cetnar, who told Martin that for years after their encounter the Holy Spirit used one particular Scripture, which Martin had shared, to force him to try and study to refute Martin’s teaching about it. Cetnar said that he finally realized that the Watchtower was wrong; he had since surrendered to God’s call and given himself to Christ. So these two men—who had begun as such adversaries—would later embrace as Cetnar thanked his brother, Dr. Walter Martin, for being willing to make him angry enough to pursue the Truth.

Ah, but you see, the story doesn’t even end there. Bill Cetnar then went on to be a director of the fine ground-breaking Christian discernment ministry Personal Freedom Outreach; and with his wife Joan, also an ex-JW, they did their personal work against the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jesus would use Cetnar’s own expertise as a former Watchtower overseer to lead many other Jehovah’s Witnesses out of bondage and into the glorious liberty of the sons of God before he himself went home to be with his Lord in 1991. Now, only the LORD God Almighty knows how many people avoided an eternity in Hell because Dr. Martin was willing to confront Bill Cetnar with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. You may wish to consider this question; how many will be in the Kingdom of God through your lifestyle, and through your witness?

You need to understand that sometimes as you share your faith it will serve to make someone angry enough with you that they will want to go to the Bible to prove you wrong. And if I’ve done so with you here; well, you just go right on ahead! For that would be just where God wants you, friend. Now, you may find this hard to believe, but I’ve actually seen this kind of thing happen in my own ministry. O yes, believe it or not—planting my tongue firmly in the cheek—I do ahave a critic or two; and I’ve actually upset people with what I teach through this *ahem* understated way in which I often write. But as near as I can figure it, that puts me in the very best of company because my Master said — “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Now, what about you; how are you doing in this regard?

If you truly think that you are going to be a witness for Christ Jesus of Nazareth in this wicked generation, bowing before their idol of tolerance, without engaging in the “three C’s” of—confrontation—conflict—and—controversy, my friend, you are a dreamer. And you had better rub the sleep from your eyes and wake up—soon! Remember Jesus says — “And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works” (Revelation 2:23). The wise person is going to ask himself; or herself: “Just what have I done for the Lord lately?” If a person thinks that somehow God is understanding as we whine — “Sometimes I’m too busy to study the Bible” — or — “He knows that I’m just uncomfortable sharing my faith,” I’m afraid you have simply deluded yourself.

We are grateful that Jesus has already done these things perfectly for us; because of His finished work on the Cross we have the gift of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in His Name, if you ask Him Christ will give you the strength. So, if you have no interest in such things, then I exhort you to follow this Biblical advice — Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test (2 Corinthians 13:5)! As has been well-stated elsewhere: “It’s a divine law that we shall become like that which is our most cherished object of affection.” Christ Jesus put it this way to spiritual posers:

 “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” 
(Matthew 12:34-35)

As you can see, the style exhibited above by the Master is not exactly a seeker sensitive capitulation to some pouty postmodern mindset of Living Spiritual Teacher and Emergent Church guru Brian McLaren; also keep in mind here, the context is clear that Jesus was speaking publicly to the crowd as well, and not just to some religious leaders in a private conversation. So, I guess He must have missed the last “40 Days Of Purpose” seminar by Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren; yeah, apparently Jesus wasn’t enamored with the—attempt humor every other sentence—Christian stand-up routine of rock star Emerging Church pastor Rob Bell. So take a good, and honest, look around the visible church. Tell me, here in centered on the self America, how many genuine Christians do you actually see along that hazy Purpose Driven horizon; and how many under the big spiritual circus tent of Emergence Christianity?

Bill Cetnar On The John Ankerberg Show

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