The future of discernment and apologetics
by Sandy Simpson, 12/3/16
I admit that I am very skeptical about the future of discernment and apologetics ministries. I don't see the next generation coming up to replace those who have stood for the truth for so long. Fortunately many apologists have gone to be with the Lord but who will replace them? I don't see replacements coming up who will take the place of those who have been fighting the fight the years.
I run a web site where I collect articles and materials from all over the world and present them in a sort of Reader's Digest format so that people can come to one place to get the latest information on heresies in the churches as well as research past ones. What I've seen in the last couple of years is that the production of regular materials is declining to the point where it's becoming difficult to find one article for my site to post every day. Of course I write my own articles but don't have enough time to write an article on a daily basis. I am very concerned because of the tsunami of false ideas from the enemy in the churches. At the same time, unfortunately, I see a lot of younger people who don't even recognize anymore that something is wrong.
Case in point: I was listening to Joel Osteen doing a radio ad during Thanksgiving and he managed to turn the whole thing around into a prosperity/positive thinking message which disgusted me. But I doubt that most people could even hear what he has done to Christianity. He's trying to turn around thanking the Lord to basically changing our way of thinking so that we can then control God and what He gives us. What he teaches is an outgrowth of the positive thinking/confession false doctrines of people like Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, "Dad" Hagen and so many other false teachers. People have been hearing this stuff for so long on TV that they no longer recognize that there's a problem with these concepts. It's the old "frog in the pot" analogy where putting a frog in cold water and then gradually turning up the heat will not cause the frog will not jump out because it doesn't feel the change happening until it is boiled to death. To a certain extent we've all been "boiled to death" or brainwashed by modern society and also by some of the false ideas that have come into the church. The answer to protect against being deceived is to ask the Lord for wisdom and to study his Word to find out where we have gone wrong. Sometimes we might be surprised as to how far off we have wandered from what the Lord wants for us. We have all been affected by things in society and the church that are not good for us and can basically ruin our relationship with the Lord. Yet we allow these things to continue and fester among the churches.
Who is going to take up the standard and fight against these damaging ideas infiltrating virtually every church out there? Clearly the Apostasy is upon us and we need to realize that we are quickly moving toward the end of that process. We need to study hard to see how all this actually started. We need to be concerned about these things if you are planning to teach people how to discern. Even good churches tend to major on the fundamentals and never get around to the deep truths, the meat, to the Bible teachings that are things that we need to understand as Christians. Many churches are leaving Christians little babies and they are in danger of being influenced, in fact drowned, in the storms of life. We have a huge problems but unfortunately there are fewer and fewer people to address them. What do the churches need to be doing to teach people how to discern what God wants in their lives? We need to teach them how to properly study the scriptures, how to identify what is good and not good. Stop teaching them not to judge and teach them how to judge. Paul was clear that we do need to judge those inside the church (1 Cor. 5:12). So we need to learn the right ways of judging instead of practicing the wrong ways of judging. One of the problems in the churches is that what they are using wrong ways to judge while ignoring the right ways. A lot of backbiting and slander goes on behind people's backs today in many churches, exactly what Matt. 7:1 addresses, namely, hypocritical judgment. We are not to judge people based on secondary issues that are debatable. At the same time many churches are not holding on to the fundamentals, or fighting for them when they are being eroded.
The churches are being attacked by many cultic organizations. They are attacking the Trinity, the Hypostatic Union, the definition of salvation, the authority of the scriptures and the return of Christ. All of those issues are under ultimate assault today as they have never been before. Where are those who are concerned about these issues? I know some of the people who are and I'm very glad for what they are doing but unfortunately that number is declining. Most of those people are older people including myself. So I wonder who are the next people to come up? I know that I've been trying to do my part to bring up new people. Unfortunately in this generation many young people have been taught that it is not good to stand up strongly on any issue. It's all about compromise, consensus and “political correctness”. Ideas of the Emerging Church are coming in such as diaprax, which is basically the Hegelian dialectic married with praxis and in the praxis you basically come to a consensus with other people. But it's all based on human understanding and human ideas instead of what the Bible teaches. In fact they are quite clear that the Bible is outmoded and we need to have new ideas to deal with this generation. The problem is that they want Christians to become postmodernists like the culture. It doesn't help the world to become like the world. We need to have people who are going to stand on the principles of God's word for the next generation.
I hold out little hope for the generations in years to come. That's because there are not enough of those teaching people how to survive the winds of doctrine on their own. People need to learn how to survive on their own, with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Word, because they will be the ones who are caught in circumstances and ideas and they will not have their Pastor or others there to help them. That’s why it's important to be studying the word of God because in that we have everything we need through the Holy Spirit. But unfortunately many churches are handing out pabulum to people with a silver spoon. The problem is that they themselves are off and need to be tested. There's an elitist idea in the churches today that the "man in charge" is the pastor which comes from Catholicism. Catholicism has a top down structure just like the rest of the systems of the world since its inception. That's not the structure of the true Church. The structure of the Church is bottom up. Jesus Christ is the foundation. Those who serve Christ become the servant of all. But where are those servants?
I am becoming concerned that there are few servants involved in preaching the Gospel today. Many are in it for financial gain or for power. But they are not in it to serve others like they should be. I see many churches crumbling in on themselves under the weight of so many false ideas from every direction possible. The New Apostolic Reformation, Emerging Church, and many others such as Word of Faith are affecting the churches in so many different ways. As I've said before I see these ideas coming in through music, women's Bible studies, youth ministries and ecumenical conferences especially. Where are those who will stand in the path of these destructive heresies the church? I have to wonder. I believe we really need to be serious about praying that God will raise up those who can actually lead by example. I really miss certain people who have recently gone to be with the Lord such as Ray Yungen and Ken Silva and others. Pray that the Lord will raise up others to take over for those who have passed on.
With this in mind I want to remind us all what the Lord says about false prophets and false teachers. Though Jeremiah 23 is addressing the false prophets who misled Judah into thinking they would escape God’s judgment and exile, the principles are the same in the New Testament.
Jeremiah 23 (NASB)
1 Woe to the shepherds who are
destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture! declares the Lord.
This is exactly what the false shepherds of today are doing. They do not teach the unity of the Faith but they scatter the flock on the hills of their new revelations.
2 Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds, declares the Lord.
The hirelings and false teachers of today are not tending the flock of God but driving them away from the true Faith. The Lord sees that as evil. We should too.
3 Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply.
4 I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing, declares the Lord.
Yet the Lord always takes care of His faithful remnant, even as in the days of Elijah.
1 Kings 19:18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
He then gives a prophecy regarding Jesus Christ.
5 Behold, the days are coming,
declares the Lord,
When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.
6 In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell securely;
And this is His name by which He will be called,
The Lord our righteousness.
We can also look forward to the day when we will dwell securely with Him in the new heaven and new earth, if we hold firm to the end.
Hebrews 3:14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.
11 For both
prophet and priest are polluted;
Even in My house I have found their wickedness, declares the Lord.
12 Therefore their way will be like slippery paths to them,
They will be driven away into the gloom and fall down in it;
For I will bring calamity upon them,
The year of their punishment, declares the Lord.
Both those who falsely prophesy and those who lead the churches are equally guilty of being polluted by the world, the flesh and the devil. It is an awful thing to find wickedness in the churches. Calamity is coming for the false teachers and false prophets. They fall down in their pride.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
13 Moreover, among the prophets of Samaria I
saw an offensive thing:
They prophesied by Baal and led My people Israel astray.
There are Inclusivist false teachers today who teach that God can be worshipped in many names. But there is only one name under heaven by which men can be saved.
Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
14 Also among the prophets of
Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing:
The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood;
And they strengthen the hands of evildoers,
So that no one has turned back from his wickedness.
All of them have become to Me like Sodom,
And her inhabitants like Gomorrah.
Immorality and lies are also the norm for today. This is not a witness for Jesus Christ but rather it only strengthens the unbelief of evildoer. Those who continue in these things will be judged just as surely as Sodom.
15 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets,
Behold, I am going to feed them
And make them drink poisonous water,
For from the prophets of Jerusalem
Pollution has gone forth into all the land.
The false leaders will chock on their own teachings. They will go further and further into heresy but there will be no way out for them. They will be poisoned by the same pollution they have spewed over the TV and elsewhere.
16 Thus says the Lord of hosts,
Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you.
They are leading you into futility;
They speak a vision of their own [e]imagination,
Not from the mouth of the Lord.
Their visions are from their own imaginations, not from the Lord. That is proven both by the fact of their visions not being consistent with the Word and the character of God, and by the lack of fulfillment if their vision predict future events.
17 They keep saying to those who
The Lord has said, You will have peace;
And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart,
They say, Calamity will not come upon you.
18 But who has stood in the council of the Lord,
That he should see and hear His word?
Who has given heed to His word and listened?
The false prophets predict great victories and awakenings the do not happen, in direct opposition to the Apostasy predicted by the Bible. They do not heed the Word of God but they do heed their own words.
19 Behold, the storm of the Lord
has gone forth in wrath,
Even a whirling tempest;
It will swirl down on the head of the wicked.
20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back
Until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart;
In the last days you will clearly understand it.
It is interesting that the wrath of God is predicted “in the last days”. This likely has a duel fulfillment where it was talking in context about the days just before the exile. But it is also a picture of the “last days” to come where the wicked will experience the anger of the Lord. They will not be taken up in the Rapture but left behind to see the wrath of God.
21 I did not send these prophets,
But they ran.
I did not speak to them,
But they prophesied.
22 But if they had stood in My council,
Then they would have announced My words to My people,
And would have turned them back from their evil way
And from the evil of their deeds.
God does not send false prophets. He does not justify their works by allowing their prophecies to be fulfilled. He does not glorify them with their stories of healing that are not healings from the Lord. God does not speak to them. But they continue to run around everywhere saying they are speaking for God anyway.
23 Am I a God who is near, declares the Lord,
And not a God far off?
24 Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him? declares the Lord.
Do I not fill the heavens and the earth? declares the Lord.
The false prophets continue even though God sees all they do. How foolish.
25 I have heard what the prophets
have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, I
had a dream, I had a dream!
26 How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,
27 who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal?
28 The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain? declares the Lord.
Dreams are a dime a dozen today. Many books have been written with false visions. All you need to do is test them against the Word of God to see they are false. God’s written Word is Truth.
29 Is not My
word like fire? declares the Lord, and like a hammer
which shatters a rock?
30 Therefore behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal My words from each other.
31 Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who use their tongues and declare, The Lord declares.
32 Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams, declares the Lord, and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit, declares the Lord.
The Word is not only ultimate Truth but it is also a judgment on those who speak against it. The false prophets of today feed off each other and steal each other’s ideas. They are quick to say “Thus says the Lord” when they have clearly made up what they are saying out of whole cloth. They recklessly boast of miracles and prophesies coming true. But God did not send them. What they do does not benefit Christians at all.
33 Now when this people or the
prophet or a priest asks you saying, What is the
oracle of the Lord? then you shall say to them, What
oracle? The Lord declares, I will abandon you.
34 Then as for the prophet or the priest or the people who say, The oracle of the Lord, I will bring punishment upon that man and his household.
35 Thus will each of you say to his neighbor and to his brother, What has the Lord answered? or, What has the Lord spoken?
36 For you will no longer remember the oracle of the Lord, because every mans own word will become the oracle, and you have perverted the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God.
37 Thus you will say to that prophet, What has the Lord answered you? and, What has the Lord spoken?
38 For if you say, The oracle of the Lord! surely thus says the Lord, Because you said this word, The oracle of the Lord! I have also sent to you, saying, You shall not say, The oracle of the Lord!
39 Therefore behold, I will surely forget you and cast you away from My presence, along with the city which I gave you and your fathers.
40 I will put an everlasting reproach on you and an everlasting humiliation which will not be forgotten.
Finally the false prophets claim what they speak is on the same level as Scripture. They claim they are bringing the new oracles of the Lord. But they are speaking lies that mislead people. In the end they will be cast into hell away from the presence of God, and their legacy will be forever a humiliation.
So those who play at being a Christian and follow false prophets need to be aware that an awful judgment is coming on those they follow. The Lord tells us that those who follow false prophets will end up where they are going.
Jeremiah 5:31 The
prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people
love it this way. But what will you do in the end?
Jeremiah 27:15 'I have not sent them,' declares the LORD. 'They are prophesying lies in my name. Therefore, I will banish you and you will perish, both you and the prophets who prophesy to you.'"