Volume 13, Number 1 January/February 2002
TRUTH: Foundation of our Faith
Dr. Opal Reddin
In the September 11 Special Edition of TIME, Nancy Gibbs wrote:
IF YOU WANT TO HUMBLE AN EMPIRE it makes sense to maim its cathedrals. They are the symbols of its faith, and when they crumple and burn, it tells us we are not so powerful and we can’t be safe. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center…and the Pentagon…are the sanctuaries of money and power that our enemies may imagine define us. But that assumes our faith rests on what we can buy and build and that has never been America’s true God.
Gibbs is right in her implication that America was founded on a basic trust in the God of the Bible. For over a century the Bible was a part of every public school curriculum, and all institutions of higher learning were founded for the purpose of training ministers. Engraved over the entrance to Harvard are these words: "You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free." Do Americans "know the Truth" today, when the Bible cannot be a part of our schools and our institutions of higher learning foster doubt of God’s Word? Could it be that our enemies are perceptive when they think money and power have become our sanctuaries?
We could not help being reminded of a time described in Revelation 18: "…that might city! For in one hour is thy judgment come….For in one hour so great riches is come to nought" (vv.10,17). We know the complete fulfillment of this Scripture is yet in the future, but were we not given a preview of how it will happen? Our two outstanding American symbols of power and prosperity were smitten in one hour. This reminds us that when everything that can be shaken will be shaken, only that which is built on the solid Rock of Truth will remain (Heb. 12:26-29; Matt. 7:24-27).
Truth has to be absolute, eternal, and unchanging or it is not Truth! Only infinite God can give us Ultimate Truth and He has done so, both in a Person and in a book. Jesus is Truth Incarnate (John 14:6). The Bible is Truth written (John 17:17). It is the Word of God, inspired, inerrant, and "forever settled in Heaven" (Psalm 119:89).
The Bible tells us that we can know the Truth: (1) propositionally as it is written in understandable terms; (2) personally because Jesus is Truth (3) pneumatically because the Holy Spirit brings the personal and the prepositional together for us; (4) practically because what we believe determines what we do.
Propositional truth is the foundation by which all of our experiences are judged. At the same time, propositional truth is not given in order to make documents, it is given because God wants to have a personal relationship with us. The Holy Spirit brings the prepositional and the personal together in our knowledge and our experience. When either is neglected, there is a loss of truth.
KNOWING PROPOSITIONAL TRUTH
Every revival movement is the result of new apprehension of Truth, both in knowledge and experience. Since the closing of the Canon, there is no new truth; there are, however, sovereign moves of God to restore truths that have been neglected or lost. The Assemblies of God is the result of such a move at the turn of the century. Organized in 1914, we adopted sixteen "fundamental truths" as tenets of faith. The adoption of such tenets is based on the belief that, since the Bible is Truth, we can derive propositional truths from it.
Two things are occurring today that motivate us to re-examine the state of our Movement theologically. First, some of our leaders are calling for a reemphasis of the truths as they are written. These leaders know that when the members of a denomination fail to experience what their creed describes, that denomination is destined to decline, failing to fufill God's purpose.
Secondly and conversely, there are some who are telling us that our tenets of faith are negotiable in order to have unity with all denominations. Some even say it is impossible to formulate propositional truths. They tell us that readers can never know the author's intention, and that the words of Scripture have no objective meaning. When I hear such theories, I am reminded of the little boy who was stopped by a group of men. They inquired if he knew the location of the Chamber of Commerce; he did not. Asked if he knew the way to the Court House, he did not. One of the men, thinking to have a bit of fun at the little fellow's expense, said, "You just don't know much, do you?" Unruffled, the little fellow replied, "No, sir, but I'm not the one who's lost!"
God has given a book that simple readers can understand, and yet the wisest scholar can never know exhaustively. That is why we need statements of truths.
Jesus placed His seal of Truth on the Scriptures, assuring us of their inerrancy (Matt.5:18) and their immutability (Matt.24:35). He spoke truths that all could understand. Only those who rejected truth could not understand. He said, "Father . . . Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes" (Matt.11:25). The Gospels are replete with propositional truths that were well understood by all who desired Truth.
We see propositional truths in the Epistles. Paul wrote to Timothy, "These things I write to you . . . that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the pillar and ground of Truth." Then he gave a short paradigm of "the mystery of godliness": God was manifest in the flesh, jutified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up to glory"(1 Tim.3:14-16).
Paul then warned that some would depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1), because they do not love the Truth (2 Thess.2:10). He exhorted, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle" (2 Thess. 2:15).
Scripture makes clear that we certainly can know "the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error" (1 John 4:6). John stated a valid test of Truth versus error; he said, "Whoever does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God" (3 John 9). Some sell out for money, "teaching contrary to sound doctrine, destitute of Truth" (1 Tim. 6:3-5). Some are "ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth" (2 Tim. 3:7). The servant of the Lord must be able to teach, so "that God will grant repentance unto Truth" (2 Tim. 2:24,25).
Truth is non-negotiable! John warned his readers: "If you bless those of Truth you do well" but "if anyone does not bring right doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor wish him well. If you bless him you share in his evil deeds" (3 John 6-10).
Having seen that our Lord and the apostles contended for propositional truths, let us now consider the application of those truths to us personally
KNOWING TRUTH PERSONALLY
Jesus declared that He Himself is Truth. He said, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free" (John 8:31,32). He identified Himself as that Truth: "If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed" (8:36).
Jesus is the living Word incarnate. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory . . . full of grace and truth" (John 1:1,14). Truth the Person is received. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the children of God" (John. 1:12). The little child who knows Jesus is wiser than the philosopher who does not know God.
As Truth incarnate, He reveals hearts by His presence. To Pilate He said, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the Truth. Everyone that is of the Truth hears My voice" (John 18:37). Pilate had a priceless opportunity to receive Him, but he mockingly replied, "What is truth?"
Paul said, "I know Whom I have believed" (2 Tim.1:12). His was no mere "intellectual conversion" nor "emotional experience" nor simply an act of his will making "a decision." The whole person is involved in conversion, and "he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit" (1 Cor.6:17).
As Truth in Person, Jesus divides all who are of the Truth from those who are not. He told the unbelieving Jews, "If God were your father, you would love Me; you are of your father the devil...a liar...and father of lies. Because I tell you the Truth you do not believe Me" (John 8:42-45). Jesus could not compromise Truth; if He had been ecumenical He would have escaped the cross and we would be lost eternally.
Because He died and because He lives, we can know Truth personally and propositionally. Let us now consider the Spirit of Truth Who is active in the earth to make these truths ours.
KNOWING TRUTH PNEUMATICALLY
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John. 14:16,17). It is He Who takes the objective, propositional truths of Scripture and makes them real to us in personal experience. Peter tells us, "You have purified your souls in obeying the Truth through theSpirit, . . being born again . . by the Word of God" (1 Pet.1:22-23).
Only the Holy Spirit can bring a proper integration and balance of propositional and personal truth in us. It is impossible to know Truth apart from the help of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-16); He guides us "into all Truth" (John 16:13).
In John's first epistle, he writes some very pungent truths. Speaking of those who had an antichrist spirit, he said, "They went out from us, for if they had been of us they would have continued with us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the Truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the Truth" (2:20,21). "The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; the same anointing is true and is not a lie" (2:27).
We may not fully understand all these verses mean. One thing we can know is that the readers knew the Truth. Likewise, we can know the Truth. The Holy Spirit leads all who will allow Him to do so. If we are sincere, He checks our spirit when we hear error.
The Holy Spirit also helps us in the communication of Truth. Paul told the church in Corinth that we proclaim the Truth "in words taught by the Spirit" (1 Cor.2:9).
KNOWING TRUTH PRACTICALLY
Our apprehension of truth will be revealed in our behavior. Jesus said, "He who does the Truth comes to the light" (John 3:21); John tells us, "If we say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the Truth" (1 John 1:6).
Paul asked the Galatians, "Who bewitched you that you should not obey the Truth?" (Gal. 3:1). John was glad to see the children of the elect lady "walking in Truth" (2 John 4) and stated to Gaius that he had "no greater joy than to hear my children walk in Truth" (3 John 4). Our theology will determine our practices.
Pragmatism denies that there is objective truth, saying "Whatever works for you is truth for you." We sometimes hear the same fallacy in the church: "Well, it must be all right; it is working. We will have to accept more diversity in doctrine and more pluralism in practics as time goes by." We can be pragmatic about the color of carpet or brand of clothes we wear, but we dare not be pragmatic about doctrine. And–our apprehension of Truth will be revealed in our actions
It was Peter's practice, contrary to Truth, that Paul rebuked severely and publicly at Antioch (Gal.2:11-16). Peter received the rebuke, knowing Paul was right; he then brought his practice into line with the Truth God had revealed to him (Acts 15:7-11).
How signally blessed we are to know Truth: propositionally, personally, pneumatically, and practically! We know the Truth both objectively and subjectively–objectively because we have it written in a book and subjectively because we know Jesus personally.
We also recognize that Truth is retained at great cost. Jesus’ witness to the Truth took Him to Calvary. Truth is no more popular today than on the day He was crucified. As I have pondered our responsibility in this trying hour, I have been reminded of the words of a great American poet-statesman, James Russell Lowell (1819-1891). In "The Vision of Sir Launfal," a metaphor for the search for virtue, he wrote:
Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness ‘twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne.--
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own (ll. 36-40).
On September 23, we saw a spectacle of high treason against the Truth of the Word. In the "Prayer Meeting" in Yankee Stadium, NYC, ministers who claim to know Jesus Christ joined with Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus under the umbrella that all have Truth. I shuddered as I wondered if God might send instant judgment on such mockery of Him. God told us He will "send strong delusion that they should believe a lie" because they did not believe and love His Truth (2 Thess. 2:11-12).
Truth requires the constant teaching of sound doctrine. A knowledgeable leader said to me, "Our ministers are not interested in theology today; they just want to know how they can get people to come to their church and how to keep them coming. And the people do not want to hear doctrine." I hope he is mistaken! The Truth simply is not user-friendly until hearers align themselves with it. We are tempted constantly to compromise Truth for the sake of Unity based on "love." To quote Lowell again: "They enslave their children’s children who make compromise with sin" (l. 45).
When we are tempted to keep silent while Biblical doctrines are being discarded, let us think of our posterity. More importantly let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Paul knew Him; he feared being unfaithful more than he feared death Shortly before his imminent martyrdom, he wrote: "...the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine . . .they shall turn away their ears from the Truth" [but] "I have fought a good fight . . .I have kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:3-7).
We are at a crisis of Truth. Now is the time to let America and the world know there is only one foundation for our faith, the eternal, immutable Truth of the Word of God--written in a unique holy BOOK and revealed in the only begotten SON OF GOD, our Lord Jesus Christ! .
Article used with permission
What Every Christian Needs to Know About the New Age
It isn’t necessarily what every Christian wants to know! How much easier it is just to pretend that everything is fine and continue to play church! "New Age" is not just ‘out there’ somewhere. We will be endeavoring to inform believers on the nature of the New Age as it is now operating inside the church. There is a philosophy of movements operating within the church that we need to understand. This issue is dealing with the foundations. As we begin our thirteenth year of publishing, it seems strange to go back to the foundation. Many who call themselves "Christians" have moved far away from the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ and have become entranced with other doctrines and teachings that have led them away from their First Love.
Our desire above all else is to lift up the name of Jesus. His work on Calvary for even the chiefest of sinners can never be minimized.
In this issue we are going to consider the philosophies of movements like humanism, inter-faith, ecumenical, environmental organizations and their influence on the church.
With permission, I am going to quote from a recent SENTINEL newsletter which is published in South Africa (An Interdenominational Evangelization Outreach of the Dutch Reformed Church-Edleen) The author of the article is one of the Editors, Japie Grobler .
"At the heart of the philosophies of the above mentioned movements we find basic humanism in its three forms: secular humanism, cosmic humanism and in the philosophical sense, Christian humanism.
Secular Humanism denies the reality of a personal God; man is seen as the highest order of intelligence in the universe, the product of billions of years of evolution.
Cosmic Humanism forms the basis of the New Age movement and related religious expressions, particularly Eastern Mysticism. It says that man is evolving toward a state of higher consciousness that will result in the attainment of godhood.
Christian Humanism recognizes the inherent values of Scripture, while denying its total inerrancy. Many even deny the basic tenets of the true Christian faith. It masquerades as Christianity by espousing biblical ethics while adopting a pluralistic attitude toward other forms of religious expression. Out of Christian humanism comes a wide spectrum of psuedo-Christian thought from liberation theology to modern ecumenism to positive thinking. These comprise what is called ‘New Wave theology,’ and all are primarily concerned with the preservation of civilization, and the existing world system under a moralistic system of laws.
"The more liberal Christian humanists see man as intrinsically good, and regard references to man’s sin nature as detrimental to the positive self-image.
Christian humanists are principally responsible for introducing psychology into the Church, specifically techniques such as inner, healing, holistic health practices, and various forms of psychological counseling. Many adherents to these practices, however, are not aware of their underlying philosophy. They perceive only the surface good they believe can be accomplished." (VENGEANCE IS OURS, The Church in Dominion, Albert J. Dager, Sword Publishers, 1990:12,13).
There is a tendency in the Church today to largely preach a gospel of love and this synchronizes nicely with that of the humanists, but let us once again consider history: "…there is a ‘love Gospel’ about, which confines itself exclusively to what is called ‘the positive’. It is claimed that as long as Jesus Christ is proclaimed as Savior and Lord, we are all as one in Him. Differences over doctrine must not be allowed to get in the way of this. We can affirm truth, but not confront error. The Protestant martyrs, godly and loving men, could have taken this same position within the Church of their day. They could have confined themselves to avoiding all controversy and to agreeing with their persecutors about many of the ‘positives’. But, the Scripture commanded them to ‘exhort and by sound doctrine’ and to ‘flee from idolatry’. They obeyed; they saw the error and the idolatry, and as responsible leaders, as pastors trusted to guide their flocks into green pastures, they exposed and opposed it! They could easily have chosen to look the other way and concentrated on the many truths of the Christian faith which were common ground. They could have elected to please men, rather than please God.
"Had they done so, the Church and our country (UK) would have remained in the grip of a religious regime centered on superstition and idolatry." (De Semlyen: 13,14).
Another expression of Christian humanism is that which is found among Bible believers – those who hold strongly to most of the essential tenets of the Faith. They have been influenced by liberalism to the degree that they have accepted the validity of psychology and positive self-imaging. Many have also adopted a form of cosmic humanism, believing that they are capable of achieving the same anointing of Christhood that Jesus had.
"In all forms of humanism we find the fundamental concept: man is (or one day will become) God, or a ‘god’.
To the esotercists (theosophists, deists, etc.) bent upon uniting mankind, Christianity is anathema, and its adherents must be converted to accept all religious expressions as valid. Since the Church alone as the spiritual power to resist this deception Satan must make it believe his lies. When the churches are sufficiently corrupted or neutralized, Satan will have a clear path toward uniting the world against Jesus Christ.
Disregard of biblical truth is essential to bringing Christianity into unity with all religions. . .It isn’t important to Satan that everyone believe the same thing or belong to the same religious institution. All that’s necessary is that the Gospel is diluted sufficiently so as to render it ineffective. Unity in diversity is the goal toward which the world’s religions are working. . . This disregard for doctrine, and the subsequent acceptance of every aberration that goes by the name of Christian, is necessary for the eventual unification of all religious thought. Therefore, opposition to deception in the Church is being stifled under the pretense that those who expose deceivers are sowing discord among the brethren and hindering unity. A result of this tactic is that many Christians have been discouraged from judging error in the Church for fear of hindering the unity sought by religious leaders." (Ibid, 13,14 & 18).
In Pollitt’s book, The Inter-Faith Movement, we read on page 84: "The World Council of Churches went far beyond an expression of solidarity with the oppressed when its Commission on World Evangelism organized a conference on ‘Salvation Today’ at Bangkok (1972-1973), which defined humanization in almost exclusively social, economic political terms and hailed Chairman Mao (Tse Tung) as a contemporary savior. At Nairobi, there was no discussion on the Second Coming of Christ and eschatology was seen as realized in the struggle of the contemporary world for liberation and human development. The ideologies of unbelievers were considered as other living faiths with which the Council should enter into dialogue. A basic conviction of the World Council of Churches was that there could be no separation of the sacred and the secular. Christ was in all history, and more than ever all history was seen as salvation history. The church should therefore become involved in the world and its needs and problems, and on a global scale, because the world had become one and its needs and problems were global. The World Council of Churches as in all this of one mind with the pluralists and the papacy. The Christian mind had become imbued with a pragmatic humanitarianism at a time when its consciousness of its distinctiveness had been eroded by an increasing theological liberalism. Dialogue, not proclamation, was to be the order of the day."
At an assembly of the WCC in Canberra, Australia, Pollitt writes on page 97 that the main impression was that of universal salvation. "Its Director of Inter Faith Dialogue, Dr. Wesley Ariarajah was reported as saying; ‘It is inconceivable to me that a Hindu or a Buddhist, or anybody, is outside God. My understanding of God’s love is too broad for me to believe that only this narrow segment called the Christian church will be saved. If you are a Christian, you must be open and broad, not narrow and exclusive."
"The Papacy may succeed in doing more than reviving the old Holy Roman Empire. As Professor Malachi Martin reasons, ‘The Papacy is best placed to run any world government which may emerge.’ If tomorrow or next week by a sudden miracle, a one-world government were established, the Roman Church stands alone….as the first fully realized, fully practicing and totally independent geopolitical force in the current world arena. And the Pope is by definition the world’s first and fully fledged geopolitical leader." (De Semlyen:88)
Believe and Do Good!
During a very interesting radio program in Afrikaans, Die Bybel in ons lewe (The Bible in our lives). On August 12, three senior theologians and lecturers discussed what will happen at the last judgment. When we all appear before the throne, what will be God’s requirement for allowing people into heaven? It was said that people will go to heaven because they believed and have done good to others. Reference was made to various Bible verses. In Matthew 25 we read of the separation of the sheep and the goats. To the sheep was said that they must stand on His right hand because they had done good deeds, and the goats were assigned to the left for not having done so. The same message is found in John 5 – those who had done good will be raised to life. Revelation 20 speaks about Books that are opened:
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." (Verses 11,12).
They stressed that this must not be understood incorrectly though. The first requirement is, people must believe and then do good works as a consequence. For support they refer to James’ epistle and the great faith chapter in Hebrews (11). In summary, they said that God will ask us whether we believed in the first place and will then look to see if we have done good works.
At no time during this discussion was any reference made to the unique sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross which underscores what was said in the aforementioned. If they are correct, then we can say with confidence that Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, Pagans, Muslims, New Agers and whoever believes in whatever and does good works to others will also hear the words: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matt. 25:21).
If this is correct, then Mother Theresa was also correct when she said before her death that all that is required to go to heaven is how good a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian or Jew you were while on earth. Whatever happened to: "They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is non that doeth good, no, not one." Ps. 14:3; 53:4; Rom. 3:12. Did the Holy Spirit deceive David and Paul when they penned these words?
Sin just doesn’t seem to feature – yet it is the eternal wall separating man from God. There is no mention of God’s eternal holiness and righteousness that requires judgment for sin. His eternal punishment and damnation of all men could only be replaced by a sacrifice that was acceptable to Him. This sacrifice was effectively brought once for all time on a cross on Golgotha some 2,000 years ago:
But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things of the future, through this greater and better Tent, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this world, And has gone once and for ever into the holy place, having got eternal salvation, not through the blood of goats and young oxen, but through his blood. For if the blood of goats and oxen, and the dust from the burning of a young cow, being put on the unclean, make the flesh clean: How much more will the blood of Christ, who, being without sin, made an offering of himself to God through the Holy Spirit, make your hearts clean from dead works to be servants of the living God? And for this cause it is through him that a new agreement has come into being, so that after the erros under the first agreement had been taken away by his death, the word of God might have effect for those who were marked out for an eternal heritage….but now he has come to us at the end of the old order, to put away sin by the offering of himself. (Heb. 9:11-15,26b, Bible in Basic English) "His blood cleanses us from ALL sin." (I John 1:7b).
Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer puts it so clearly: "If God could have forgiven one sin of one person as a mere act of kindness. He would have compromised His own holiness which demands judgment for sin. Having thus compromised Himself with sin, He would need Himself to be saved because of the unrighteous thing He had done. He would, by such supposed kindness, have established a principle by which He could forgive all human sin as an act of divine clemency, and thus the death of Christ is rendered unnecessary. This truth must not be overlooked if the doctrine of eternal retribution is to be understood at all. Let it be restated here, If God could save one soul from one sin by mere generosity, He could save all souls from sin by generosity and the death of Christ thus becomes the greatest divine blunder." (Systematic Theology, Dallas Seminary Press 1971, Vol. 4:444432-433).
"[We find] in the Bible a God who is just, holy and loving, and a God who did not find a third party on whom to wreak vengeance, but a God who satisfied his love, justice and holiness by becoming a man in order himself to do justice to his holiness and to express his heart of love for man by taking the just penalty for man’s sin upon himself." (Politt:179).
The Christian humanists’ views that God will give people access to His heaven out of love and because they have lived a good life ridicules the cross of Jesus Christ that stands in the forefront at this time for Christians. Let I Cor. 1:17-31 serve as a reminder and warning to those who consider themselves wise:
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ would be made of non effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 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? 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. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 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; 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: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Christians can rightfully ask of those who profess and support these views of universal salvation through the philosophies of men and their various efforts to achieve it, whether God made a mistake when He, even before the fall of man in Eden when man swayed before the temptations of Satan, already had the solution in place for the salvation of man (Gen. 3:5; Eph. 1:4). Was His intervention out of grace and all the pain, scorn, derision and suffering that Jesus Christ had to endure before His death all for nothing? (Phil 2:7,8). Did Jesus hallucinate when He cried out, "It is finished!" and then "bowed his head and gave up the ghost." (John 19:30). Did Jesus deceive people when He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6). Was God wrong when He said, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:9-11). Did the Holy Spirit mislead the apostle Luke when he wrote under inspiration, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [but the name of Jesus] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).
"The inter-faith movement seeks to add to it [the light of Christ] by searching for further light where there are only glimmerings shrouded by darkness. There are glimmerings of light in other faiths because they reflect the obscure image of God in fallen man, but they are glimmering in the darkness which they cannot dissipate, because ‘the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them’ (2 Cor 4:4). In no-one else shall we find the very brightness of the glory of God (Heb. 1:3). To whom else can we go? To whom else can we point the nations, from all of which he is calling out his church?" (Pollitt:192).
May Jesus’ prayer in Luke 10:21 continually serve as inspiration to us as "simple" Christians and let us never forget that the founders of the Church in New Testament times were all simple men who were willing to die and did die for what they had received despite all kinds of resistance: In the same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit, and said, I praise You, Father, Lord of Heaven and of earth, that You hid these things from the sophisticated and cunning and revealed them to babes: yes, Father, because so it was pleasing before You." (Green’s Literal Translation).
"We are living in a climate of increased indifference towards our history. People believe ‘today is what matters, yesterday is not relevant’. The spirit of the age has tuned us in to what is now and what is new. Materialism and a comfortable life seduces us into the conviction that we have progressed and evolved as human beings. This illusion is being fed by TV, today’s household god, which is convincing us that we are in control of our planet and our destiny. Our advance as a civilization is not only in expertise and technology, but also in our approach to religion also. The church has caught hold of this new dynamic, perhaps from the world; the Lord is ‘doing a new thing.’ Renewal has rescued the Christians from the past, from all unpleasantness, the strife and the bloodletting. The old conflicts over doctrine are no longer relevant. Those things which caused such division almost throughout the whole Christian era have no place on the agenda today. There is no need to think about them, or to talk about them or to teach our children about them. It is divisive and unloving to do so." (De Semlyen: 140).
Concerned Christians might be encouraged by "Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland’s Clerk to the Synod, Revd. Donald Maclean’s letter to The TIMES 11 November, 1988: ‘The Ecumenical movement which you [a world-renowned evangelist] praise is the greatest disaster to affect the Christian church this century. It has reduced the professing churches of this country to a collection of bloodless, spineless and boneless organizations, which can hardly raise a whimper on the side of Christ and His Truth. Small wonder that evil progresses as it does, and spiritual darkness becomes more intense as the years go by. You appear to regard a body of professing Christians, of sober conduct, and deep spirituality of mind, as fanatical and bigoted. If this be so then eminent men of God as John Knox of Scotland, John Calvin and Martin Luther on the Continent, and Archbishop Cranmer of England were bigots in their contest with the errors of Popery. We are glad to be in such company." (De Semlyen: 175).
Either the Christian faith has the only message of true salvation or all faiths have something of the truth, both cannot be right!
Let us truly rejoice at this time and enter the new year with hope and enthusiasm for we know that we have the message of true salvation for a lost and searching world and are driven out of love to proclaim it.
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THERE is a new multi-faith religion in California known as Agape Church. The New Age Movement has discovered the Church Growth Movement. 1,500 worshippers sing praise songs and old-time Gospel hymns. There are many testimonies and membership is up to 7,000. Intermixed with the hymns, however, are the "Oms" of Eastern meditation. The bookstores carries the Bible and also books by gurus, self-proclaimed goddesses and mystical pop-psychologists.
Christ is seen as the ultimate stumbling block, an obstacle to growth in this new "trans-denominationalism". Naturally, they blame the terrorist attacks not on Islam but intolerance. So, an orthodox Christian will be thrown into the same category as the Taliban. A number of commentators are already framing the issue in this way. Columnist Thomas Friedman says that "World War II and the Cold War were fought to defeat secular totalitarianism." This new world war, he says, is against "religious totalitarianism."
He defines religious totalitarianism as "the view that one faith must reign supreme and can be affirmed and held passionately only if all others are negated." Conservative Christians and Jews hold to this view, he says, as well as Muslims.
In a new book, The Spiritual Society: What Lurks Beyond Postmodernism, Frederic Baue predicts the rise of a new syncretic religion, based on the premise that all of the world’s religions must be combined into one. Reported by WORLD, Dec. 15, 2001
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THE LUTHERAN, January 2002 reports that Gerald Kieschnick, president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, is facing formal charges for his support of Sept. 11-related worship event with people unaffiliated with the LCMS. The charges against Kieschnick can typically lead to removal from the denomination, but his critics say their main goal is for the president to repent.
It seems that the LCMS constitution renounces "unionism or syncretism" and by allowing Atlantic District President David Benke to participate in the Yankee Stadium prayer service, they were not following the scripture about "not being yoked with unbelievers".
However, Kieschnick believes he will be exonerated. He believed the service was an opportunity to encourage fellow Christians who also faced a long challenge as caregivers for New Yorkers after Sept. 11.
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FEATHERS are flying in Los Angeles as Trinity Broadcasting Network won the flip of a coin to take control of this year’s Easter sunrise service at the Hollywood Bowl. The executives at TBN dismissed fears that their evangelical style would corrupt the program’s ecumenical tradition. They said they would have every Christian denomination represented. Eighty years of tradition have been broken and the community is finding it offensive that a "ministry" that is known by expansive wealth is taking the place of the thousands of people that participated in the local event.
Critics of Paul and Jan Crouch are irked that the couple enjoys expensive houses, including a new Newport Beach estate reported to cost $5 million. According to their 2000 tax documents the Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana, Inc had $444 million in net assets.Some Christians believe the Crouches are "peddling spiritual cyanide by the megadose". Reported in The Tennessean, Jan. 27, 2002
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