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The Persecuted Church


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I Never Heard That!

It is not always what you hear but what you do not hear that can bring ruin to your spiritual growth.

Before Paul warns the Ephesian church about ferocious wolves rising from among the sheep, he reminds them what he himself did so they would know the model of a good teacher. “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:26-28).

Paul said he had not ignored or avoided delivering the whole counsel to them. He taught them the blessings as well as the warnings, he told them what to hate and what to love, he taught them what was necessary from the Scripture. He explained how to act with those who are divisive and what to do to keep the unity with those who adhere to the apostles doctrine.

It is unfortunate that even good teachers in the pulpit seem to avoid addressing the hard issues straight on and make it as palatable as possible so as not to enter a dispute or bring attention to certain teachings or people. Maybe its because they are unable to explain it not being educated on certain matters. Some seem to think that as long as you teach the truth you do not have to address any specific error. But the apostle’s letters are our example, and they did address error and they did name names. Many who have gone down in infamy being named in the Bible.

Proverbs 30:5-6: “Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”

The words meanings can be changed easily by adding to it but it can also be distorted by subtracting. We are all aware of those who add to Scripture and make their special revelation equal to or greater than the Scripture. Many of these we now know as cults, though they still exist and are active inside the churches walls.

It is not what someone teaches as the truth but often what is missing that can be harmful. Anyone knows that you can buy a car and it can run well until you start to put pressure on the engine. If there are any bolts missing to hold the engine to the chassis or anything crucial missing that you could not see it can be disastrous. The same can be applied to the church. What is not said or what you don’t know what a teacher believes can be hazardous to your spiritual health.

Moses warned the people “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you”(Deut. 4:2).

John writes in summing up the last written revelation to the church by an apostle “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (Rev. 22:19).

We are confronted with teachers who sporadically teach portions of truth but they do not deliver the whole counsel of God as pastors or the correct gospel as evangelists. What they do is concentrate on one doctrine i.e. prosperity, healing, or faith and neglect a balanced teaching ministry. The apostles did healings, evangelism and discipleship yet we see what they wrote and instructed the church was complete. It was by concentrating on Christ, his doctrine given to them, they gave it all to us. Otherwise we could not believe “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Let me give one more practical example: what if someone gives you a glass of water (H20), it tastes like water, it looks like water but they left out telling you there is also 1% arsenic included in it. You couldn’t tell from what it looked like and drank it. Did it matter what they did not tell you? Of course! You may not die immediately but you will die from it.

What if someone knew it was laced with arsenic and came along to tell you? Why would you believe them? You could not see it, taste it, or smell it, why should you listen. They need to give you proof. But you need to be willing to hear the proof and not just drink the water before you hear it. The Bible tells us to test all things not just ingest everything (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). Sometimes you cannot tell what is poisonous and need to rely on those who know.

What you DO NOT hear from the faith/ prosperity teachers will be detrimental to your spiritual health. That’s right, it’s not what you hear that may be right but what you don’t hear. 

What you will not hear is the gospel presented clearly or fully

If you hear a gospel that says Jesus died for your sins and hear about how Jesus will come into your life to make you prosperous and physically heal you and make everything better, is this the gospel Scripture presents? If the gospel they preach does NOT concentrate on your sins separating you from God and Christ’s death to repair this by dying for you sins and then resurrecting bodily from the dead, explaining who Christ is (God becoming man), has the gospel been accurately been presented? I think not.

Many people who are not being confronted about their lost sinful condition for Christ to save them. In its place are promises, miracles and healings. Yes God does still heal and does miracles but the gospel is about saving man from the penalty of his sinful condition and bringing him into a relationship through the knowledge of God in his Son. If men are not persuaded about knowing their sinful condition, and that Christ, God's Son is the only way to God through His work on the cross, how are they being saved? 

All one has to do is look at what Paul said to the church and what the apostles preached to the unsaved to see the difference of what is being presented today. If one reads their Bible carefully, they will notice what has changed. 

What you will not hear is the denial of the flesh and picking up ones cross

In the place of carrying the cross is the message of prosperity and comfort, success the best of the things of the world.

Luke 9:23: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Jesus said, in numerous ways deny yourself pick up your cross to follow him. “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” This is not a single decision but a lifestyle. We are to lose our life and live His, to die to ourselves so we can live for God. Instead people are taught to deny nothing and only gain. Before one can live in the new life resurrection power they must die.

To be God-dependant we are instructed by Jesus “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it”(Matthew 16:25).

“And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). It is ONLY through denying all that we are in our own abilities that we can say, “it is not I but Christ that liveth in me.” Without applying the cross daily and denying ourselves we have our old nature ruling and alive as if we do not know Christ. This becomes the spiritual battleground for our discipleship and growth. A cross-less Christian life means we are not living our spirituality like Christ told us to.

What you will not see practiced is discipling people to grow mature in the Faith

Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 9:27). Jesus did not say make converts but disciples of him (not us).

Matt 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…”

This would like Paul, teaching the WHOLE COUNSEL of God.

A true disciple is one who makes a decision to follow; they do not look back, everything becomes new. Just as “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” We were bought with a price (on the cross) we are not our own. We are now set apart to serve Christ.

The leaders are to be serving diligently so the people see examples? How can non-disciples make true disciples? Mark 8:34-36: “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?’” Look at what Jesus stated and consider what is being said today. We must lose our life for His sake and the Gospels to have eternal life.

Discipleship is costly. Jesus explained to his followers He had no place on earth to call home. Jesus is our example of a true pilgrim on earth who was heavenly minded, with an eternal perspective.

One of the ways top become mature is to learn how to discern without judging you cannot be mature Hebrews 5:13 explains, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of fall age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Judging is fundamental exercise in our faith. The writer says that by consistently using discernment one grows in the knowledge of what is good and trained to recognize evil (Matthew 7:16-17 good or evil fruit). Notice the writer says they must be actively in use, having trained them-selves in this. Those who do not exercise this ability are open to being led astray.

They do not teach that following Jesus will include loss or suffering

1 Peter 2:21: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” This is what Paul meant by fellowshipping in his sufferings. To become intimate with him through our sufferings, and we will receive resurrection power. God slowly transforms us into new persons made in His Son’s image through our trials and strengthens our faith. It goes against everything the world the flesh and the devil offer us.

“ALL who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). We are promised suffering for following Christ. “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience” (James 5:10). For even the prophets, who were types of Christ, all suffered; none had an easy life (see Hebrews 11). Jesus did not promise Paul or any other apostle a life of ease with material riches or health. In Acts 9:16, right after Paul was saved, Jesus said “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” One only has to look at the examples of the apostles to know the hardships they went through.

Paul writes Romans 8:35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Paul understood these from personal experience (1 Corinthians 4:11-12; 2 Corinthians 11:25-27). Paul concludes V.38-39: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It’s God’s love that we will never be separated from. Scripture does not promise we will avoid tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, or nakedness, or peril but in fact we see this commonplace in the early church and the apostles lives. Jesus promised that in this world you will have tribulation. If the church wants the power of the early church then we must accept how the early church lived as well.

What you will not hear is teaching on living a life of contentment

The popular teachers of the prosperity doctrine tell the church not to be satisfied with what we have; it is not enough, there is always more to obtain. So the people are taught to covet more and more under the guise of kingdom living. What they are teaching is not faith in order to get more but actually a lack of faith. The Biblical definition of faith means to trust, it contains the component of patience, we are to be satisfied with what we have. But the people are taught to be discontent--taught to get more and strive for their blessing. They are practicing the song I can’t get no satisfaction. The Word of God tells us “Godliness is a means of great gain when it is accompanied by contentment.”

“And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:8). If our basic needs are met, we should be content. We are to choose to be satisfied and not look to our circumstances, wants or even needs. This is what Jesus taught at the Sermon on the Mount. If we ask for things focusing on ourselves we are told we will not receive them from God. One needs to listen carefully to spot this teaching. This goes for ministry as well as living. You are either trusting and serving in the capacity you have or are longing to have more power, authority to expand your influence. This can easily become coveting. Do not despise the day of small beginnings. We are to show we are faithful with a small influence God has given us first. God sees and will promote you to something larger in his timing.

What you will not hear is correcting brethren who are teaching false doctrine

“That you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3).

“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16)

Of course Matthew 7:1-2 is used as a buffer zone: “Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” They do not want to be judged because they would be found false so they teach others not to judge.

Yet if we read further Jesus explains in vv.3-6 that we are to take care of the faults in us (a log) first before we try to correct our brother’s faults (speck). Jesus is saying if you are trying correct someone in a sin, you are not to be doing the sin also, you need to first correct yourself or you cannot correct others. Here’s our answer why they cannot correct those who teach false doctrine; they have a huge plank to get rid of first. They know they can’t do this, so instead they use the scripture wrongly. Jesus does not say not to take the speck out but says we are to make sure before we do. They can’t correct anyone if they are doing the same therefore they correct no one except those who try to correct them.

What you do not hear is encouraging the use of discernment and judge what is false

But the Scripture tells us I Jn 4:1-3 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits,” in other words see if they speak as the Bible teaches. For “the spirit of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” Any prophetic word needs to be tested by the words of the Old and New Testament prophets (1 Corinthians 14:32). If they speak contrary to the prophet’s writings or deny their testimony, they are false prophets. The command to test all things is given to all Christians, not only to the pastor or leadership. The Spirit of truth is known by ones adherence to the doctrine written from the apostles, it is also known by a love for the truth.

Of course if they taught people on this the people may notice they are included in this category. Jesus says in John 7:24: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” He did not say not to judge, but to judge correctly.

Gamaliel, a Pharisee, stood up and gave the following guidance: “if this plan or work is of men it will come to nothing, but if it is of God you cannot overthrow it--lest you be found to fight against God.” The very same people who use his advice will also accuse those who judge calling them Pharisees. But it doesn’t seem to bother them that they are getting their advice from a Pharisee, a non-believer. The Berean’s whom Paul commended did not use Gamaliel’s advice of wait and see. They instead searched the Scripture and judged what was right by the Word. No one in the early church used Gamaliel’s advice. Gamaliel’s advice is equal to doing nothing. Yet some take Gamaliel’s advice today as if it is God inspired Scripture to be practiced in the Church. But they do not really practice it or they would have nothing to say as well.

We are told to look out for those who preach another gospel. Paul warned about those who preached “another Jesus.... another spirit ... or another gospel” (2 Cor.11: 4). How can we know them unless we judge their Jesus, their spirit, and their gospel by the Word of God? Paul called such preachers “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:13).

Hebrews 5:13-14 says, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of fall age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” A person able to judge between good and evil shows spiritual maturity, to avoid conflict or testing shows immaturity. Paul intent was to bring the saints to maturity, what is the intent of the teachers today?

What you will not hear is a rebuke for false prophets and teachers

2 Tim 4:2; Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”

Paul writes to Titus about the insubordinate, idle talkers and deceivers “Wherefore rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:9-13).

Titus 2:15: “exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”

Of course if they did this they may lose their friends and associations, especially those whose networks they have the TV programs hosted on. But this is part of the whole counsel of God being practiced. No true teacher of the word would sit by when they see false teaching that is influencing thousands or even millions and have nothing to say, their conscience would bother them. The Holy Spirit would have them speak out to correct the church that Jesus died for.

Luke 6:26 “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” You will never hear a false teacher try to correct others with the Word except when they are trying to protect themselves and their property.

Today we have a repeat of what took place in Israel when the true prophets were laughed and scorned while the false prophets were accepted and praised. Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Jesus said “see to it no one deceives you” “Many false prophets will arise and deceive many” (Matthew 24:11) “false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, the elect.” Here in context are those who in the end time prophesy of the future and claim to do miracles, they are deceivers whose target is believers. You certainly won’t hear this addressed in its correct context.

What you will not hear is naming names of those who are the false teachers

The apostles did not fear of man and are not afraid to name names when necessary to protect the sheep. Jude names three individual apostates in the past Cain, Balaam, and Korah, to explain the activity of the present apostates among them (Jude 11). John name Diotrephes as a cult leader inside the church. The Apostle Paul publicly warned the church by naming false teachers and messengers such as Hymenaeus with Alexander and Philetus several different times in the Pastoral Epistles? He specifically named Phygellus and Hermogenes for abandoning him? It is doubtful that the majority of the church would tolerate Paul today.

What if Jesus only taught what is true and did not challenge the Pharisees false teaching? The people would not have understood that they were teaching what is false. He said you have heard it said but I say unto you. Jesus could not teach in this way because God does not teach like this. God with his commands will when necessary teach what is also wrong.

For example the very first of ten commandments Exodus 20:2-5: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” You shall have no other gods before Me.” You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” The Lord takes effort to explain to man what not to do along with what to do (this is seen in Exodus 34:14; Deut.8:19;11:16;12:31;30:17). If one looks at all the “shall not” commands and all the corrections given to Israel they cannot justify ignoring the issues that need to be addressed today in the church.

You will not hear teaching on the deity of Christ nor the Tri-unity

Jesus as the Son of God was deity equal with the Father in His nature. Instead we have a teaching that Jesus was only a man like any other man who was anointed by the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 2:5-8 tells us that He lowered (Gr.-kenoo-emptied) Himself in position, not in nature, He became a servant to the Father in heaven while on earth as aman. Jesus put aside His independent use of His power to be a servant, coming in the likeness of man. He never changed His nature he still is deity. The Scriptures themselves teach “and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, "God with us." this happened when he was born (Matthew 1:23).

Jn.1:1: “and the Word was with God and the word was God.” John write “the word became flesh.” Paul explains “It pleased the Father that in Him should dwell all the fullness”(Col.1:19). Col.2:9: “For in him dwells (lives) the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (bodily form). 1 Cor.15:47: “the first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second man is the Lord from heaven.” He was not just a man but had the nature of man and had the nature of God, being both man and God as one person (the son of man and the Son of God).

Because there are those inside the Church that Jesus left His deity in heaven and came to earth as an ordinary man (a sinless man), as prophet, making Jesus is an anointed man they have changed the Jesus of Scripture to be one like that of the cults.

The Trinity, which is essential to the foundation of any orthodox church, is also neglected. Many are non- functional Trinitarians in the church who at times espouse modalism. They teach Christ, the Son is an office as is the Father. This brings confusion to the unity of the nature of God being one, and his being three in persons.

What you will not hear is teaching on separation instead of unity

Today there is a big push to have a visible unity but we neglect that there is also commands of separation. Observing the commands for separation are for the preservation of our spiritual health. There is unity and there is separation and we need to know what not to unite with. “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge” (Proverbs 19:27). Solomon says to walk away from those who teach error.

The Apostle Paul commands believers, “Now I urge you, brethren, note (identify) them who cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them. For those are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18). Paul says the false teachers make “divisions,” not those who are protesting against their false teaching. We are to keep the unity with the faithful and separate from the faithless.

1 Corinthians 11:18-19 says, “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions (heresies) exist among you; and in part, I believe it. For there must also be heresies among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you.” Paul tells us to approve of those who are in the truth, and identify those who are not, separate from who are wrong in doctrine, so we will not listen to them nor be joined with them and receive their punishment. The same Paul who wrote about love in 1 Corinthians 13 also wrote “reject a divisive man (heretic) after the first and second admonition” (Titus 3:10). He taught us to separate from those who do not teach the doctrine of Christ. We are not to compromise by associating with people who present something other than the truth, who are false teachers or false prophets. Unity platforms give an appearance of oneness to the audience looking in from outside but to those who participate they know better, they know what the differences they have compromise on to have this outward show.

The “unity” we are to have is a spiritual unity found in Ephesians 4, It is a “unity of the Spirit” (v.3), it is a “unity of faith” (v.13) with “one Lord,” that is based on Christ’s doctrine. No true spiritual unity can exist without doctrinal unity, which is based on the person of Christ and His gospel. Paul wrote the Philippians “that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”(1:27). We are to endeavor to keep the unity. This means it takes work, effort to maintain what we already have in the Spirit. We are to have unity in defending the truth. To do this we are to withstand outside influences that would bring into the Church anything contrary to what we already have in Christ. The early Church had unity because “ they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, in fellowship, breaking of bread and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). They lived and practiced the Christian life and “they continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine, having all things in common, and the Church increased daily.”

What you will not hear is teaching how to witness to people of other faiths (the cults and other religions)

Since they do not explain or stand for the truth against falsehood they are incapable of exposing error or explain the true faith in light of other religious beliefs. They do not defend our faith when other religions challenge it. Instead they are actively trying to find common ground for reaching other monotheistic religions, this is not the way of true evangelism. Teaching the differences brings discernment and matures the believers to know what they believe in contrast to the philosophies of the day. Paul stood before a crowd of Greek philosophers in Acts 17 and challenged them openly with the gospel and then using their own former poet’s words against their idolatry,  first using the Scriptures indictment against idols and worshipping other gods. He also went into the synagogues to reason with the Jews who had a true knowledge of God but did not know whom their Messiah is. Paul is our model for evangelism along with the other apostles.

1 Peter 3:15: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” We should always be ready to give an answer of what we believe and defend our faith to anyone. Jude 3, “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” We are to spiritually react to anything that challenges the doctrine delivered to us in the Scripture. The church is to be alive, not needing to be revived.

“…a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

To summarize these points, this is why the church is not seeing an influence for Christ the way we should in the world. We have greater attendance, larger buildings, more ministries, but the teachings today for the most part can be identified as skim milk. Of course addressing these matters is often offensive to those drinking milk. Until we are willing to deal what is taking place on the inside and change it we will not have the strength we desire to see on the outside. Thus we must change ourselves before we can effectively reach those who do not know Jesus Christ.


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