A Whole Lot Of Wishful Thinking These Days
by Sandy Simpson, 2/5/10


In this article I want to detail a number of beliefs people have these days that have no basis in Scripture.  I am going to roam all over the map, so to speak, and try to give fairly short answers on a number of topics and also give you useful links to articles that will help you deal with any particular issue.  It is truly amazing how many false ideas people cling to without giving a thought to what the Bible has to say on the subject.

"There Is No Hell"

This is certainly wishful thinking at its worst and most destructive.  The Bible is replete with warnings about the lake of fire and who will follow the AntiChrist, False Prophet (Rev. 19:20) and Satan and his demons (Rev. 20:10)... that is all unbelievers (Rev. 21:8).  Those who believe there is no hell are those who do not believe in what Jesus Christ and the Apostles warned us about in the Bible.  Among those who teach against the Biblical teaching on hell are many of the leadership of the Emerging Church movement including Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren,

"For many Christians, their faith is primarily about what happens to people after they die. That distracts them from seeking justice and living in a compassionate way while we're still alive in this life. We need to go back and take another look at Jesus' teachings about hell. For so many people, the conventional teaching about hell makes God seem vicious. That's not something we should let stand." (Beyond Business-as-Usual Christianity - Brian McLaren talks about hell, the emerging church, and seeker Christians who are fed up with traditional Christianity, Interview by Sherry Huang, Beliefnet, http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2005/05/Beyond-Business-As-Usual-Christianity.aspx)

"[T]his is one of the huge problems with the traditional understanding of hell, because if the Cross is in line with Jesus' teaching, then I won't say the only and I certainly won't say ... or even the primary or a primary meaning of the Cross ... is that the Kingdom of God doesn't come like the kingdoms of this world by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes thru suffering and willing voluntary sacrifice right? But in an ironic way the doctrine of hell basically says no, that's not really true. At the end God get's his way thru coercion and violence and intimidation and uh domination just like every other kingdom does. The Cross isn't the center then, the Cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God." (Brian McLaren speaking, http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3?www.enteuxis.org/leifh/bleedingpurple21b.mp3)

“… all who do not consciously and decisively accept Jesus as their personal savior will burn forever in hell.” … “That phrase raises concerns for me, because based on the Scriptures, I believe Jesus primarily came not to proclaim a way out of hell for some after death, but rather a way into a better life for all before death not to constrict but rather to expand the dimensions of who could be welcomed into the kingdom of God, of who could be accepted in the people of God. So my understanding of Jesus’ essential message tells me that ‘exclusivity of’ should generally precede ‘the Pharisees’ or ‘the judgmental’ or ‘the hypocrites,’ and never ‘Christ.’ (Brian McLaren, “A Reading of John 14:6,” http://www.brianmclaren.net/emc/archives/McLaren %20- %20John%2014.6.pdf )

The Bible and Jesus Christ are clear that those who do not believe and live in sin are destined for hell (Mt 5:22, 5:29, 5:30, 10:28, 16:18, 18:9, 23:15, 23:33, Mr 9:43, 9:45, 9:46, 9:47, Lu 12:5, 16:23, Jas 3:6, 2 Pet. 2:4) or the lake of fire (2 Pet. 3:7, Jude 1:7, Rev. 20:14-15 etc.) along with the AntiChrist, False Prophet, Satan and his angels.  As to eternal torment, the Bible is also clear.
Re 14:11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."
Jude 1:7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
Heb 6:2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
Mt 25:46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Mt 25:41 "Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Articles to read:

Hell (http://www.carm.org/christianity/christian-doctrine/hell)
Hell (http://www.letusreason.org/doct12.htm)
Is there a Hell? (http://www.letusreason.org/biblexp39.htm)

Purgatory

There is a holding place called Hades where unbelievers are held till the day of judgment.  Old Testament believers were taken with Christ upon His death when He went to the part of Hades called "Abraham's bosom" and emptied it by taking those there to heaven with Him.  By the way, Jesus did not go to hell but to Hades to tell everyone there what He had done by His death and coming resurrection.  Today Hades is only populated by unbelievers.  Purgatory is a manmade idea from the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church and has no support in Scripture.  Since there are no believers there since today all believer's spirits immediately go to be with Christ in the third heaven or Paradise, then there is no such place as Purgatory where either sinful believers or unbelievers can do penance and be prayed out of there by living believers.

Articles to read:

Doctrine of Purgatory (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/cat1030.html)
Is There Really Such a Place as Purgatory? (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/1280)
Purgatory a Spiritual Bermuda Triangle (http://www.letusreason.org/rc9.htm)
The Roman Catholic Bible Has The Answer (http://www.christian-witness.org/rcc/rc_bible_has_answer.htm)
Purgatory: Purifying Fire or Fatal Fable (http://pro-gospel.org/x2/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=62)

Confession Doctrine

Also known as "blab it an grab it", "positive confession", "name it and claim it" and other names this idea is solely without merit in Scripture.  We are not little gods as Word of Faith proponents extol, since that is the original lie of Satan (Gen. 3:5).  We cannot create something out of nothing as only God can.

Rom. 4:17  As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." {Gen. 17:5} He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
Only God can create something out of nothing.  We may ask God for His help but we do not command God. We may ask, seek and knock (Matt. 7:7) if we do so according to His will (1 Jn. 5:14) as long as His words remain in us (John 15:7).
Do not say "Lord if it be thy will". (Robert Tilton, Success in Life, recorded 12/14/91)
We cannot speak a car or money into existence from nothing.  Yet that is what they claim.
What do you need? Start creating it. Start speaking about it. Start speaking it into being. Speak to your billfold. Say, ‘You big, thick billfold full of money.’ Speak to your checkbook. Say, ‘You, checkbook, you. You've never been so prosperous since I owned you. You're just jammed full of money.’ Say to your body, ‘You're whole, body! Why, you just function so beautifully and so well. Why, body, you never have any problems. You're a strong, healthy body.’ Or speak to your leg, or speak to your foot, or speak to your neck, or speak to your back. … Speak to your wife, speak to your husband, speak to your circumstances; and speak faith to them to create in them and God will create what you are speaking.” (Marilyn Hickey, quoted in Hanegraaff, Crisis, 63).

(Paul Yongi) Cho's concept of fourth-dimensional thinking is nothing short of occultism. In his best-selling book "The Fourth Dimension", Cho unveils his departure from historic Christian theology and his entry into the world of the occult. Cho lists four steps in his incubation formula: 1) Visualize a clear-cut goal or idea in your mind; 2) have a burning desire for your objective; 3) pray until you get the guarantee or assurance from God that what you desire is already yours; 4) speak or confess the end result into existence. (Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis, 1993 citing Paul Yonggi Cho, The Fourth Dimension, Volume One (So. Plainfield, NJ: Bridge Publishing, 1979), 9-35; vol. 2, 18-33)

Many of the phrases popularized by present-day prosperity preachers, such as "What I confess, I possess," were originally coined by Kenyon. Kenneth Hagin ... plagiarized much of Kenyon's work, including the statement, "Every man who has been 'born again' is an Incarnation, and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an Incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth." (E. W. Kenyon, The Father and His Family, 17th ed. (Lynnwood, WA: Kenyon's Gospel Publishing Society, 1964), 100; cf. Kenneth E. Hagin, "The Incarnation," The Word of Faith, December 1980, 14)

Confession doctrine is probably the quintessential "wishful thinking" gimmick of our time.  This is what "The Secret", Oprah Winfrey and other New Age gurus have been advocating for a long time.  So have hundreds of Word of Faith teachers who hearken back to Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland.

Articles to read:

Preaching a False-Positive with a Smile (http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac29.htm)
I have what I think and say I have (http://www.letusreason.org/Wf8.htm)
A Profile Of The Word-Faith Movement (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/wf-10.txt)
Danger and Apostasy! The Signs and Wonders of Kenneth Copeland (http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/church-issues/false-prophets/danger-and-apostasy-the-signs-and-wonders-of-kenneth-copeland)
Four Current Movements Within The Church (http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/church-issues/false-prophets/four-current-movements-within-the-church)
Revisit to "The Seduction of Christianity" Part One (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/6856)

Drunk In The Spirit

There is a Latter Rain teaching that has floated around now for many decades through many counterfeit revivals.  It is the idea that Christians should seek to be "drunk in the spirit" usually through a transferable impartation.  The justification for this practice is from the teachings of Rodney Howard-Browne and others where they claim that the disciples were drunk in the Spirit at Pentecost.  But this teaching is exactly backwards.

Acts 2:5-16  Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs— we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine." {Or sweet wine} Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
Peter explained to them that their mocking remarks about the disciples were incorrect, they were not drunk.  They were filled with the Spirit and speaking tongues lucidly, proclaiming the Gospel message.  And yet drunkenness is equated by Latter Rain proponents as being filled with the Spirit.
"I mean people say, "How can Dr. Wagner at his age be with all these weird people.  He's been on a fourteen year drunk.  It's the only way to explain it.  He's not been sober for years. ... when you sober up and all of a sudden you're not cross-eyed, your pastor doesn't look what you thought, man that person you've been praying with irritates you and you don't like their personality, you've got one choice. Get drunk again!  And let me tell you (cheers) if we're going to make it in this hour, if we're going to make it in this hour, we have got to stay filled with the spirit." (Jim Laffoon, NSOP, 5/00)
The Bible not only says not to be drunk but it contrast being drunk with being filled with the Spirit.
Eph 5:18  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
Being filled with the Spirit is the exact opposite of getting drunk and putting oneself in an altered state of consciousness.  Being filled with the spirit is the ultimate in soberness and self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Articles to read:

Drunk on the new wine (http://www.letusreason.org/Pent21.htm)
Whooping it up under the new anointing (http://www.letusreason.org/Pent17.htm)
Drunk in the spirit (http://www.apologeticsindex.org/d43.html)
Resolution on the Brownsville Assembly "Revival" Movement (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/opposition.htm)

Spiritual disciplines

It is being taught that if you do certain pragmatic exercises you can get closer to God or have a better relationship with God.  But this is the same misguided methodology practiced by false religions and cults.  Yet many in the Emerging Church movement are trying to take people back to the practices of the early Roman Catholic "desert fathers", monks who instead of getting out and preaching the Gospel has sequestered themselves away from people in order to mystically get closer to God.  So EC proponents want Christians to follow the practices and teachings of men who were fundamentally disobedient to the Great Commission.  Going into trance states, contemplating your belly button, doing labyrinth prayer repeating some word over and over, standing under a waterfall for hours, subjecting your body to rigorous exercise or grueling self-inflicted punishment will do absolutely nothing to get you closer to God.

Col. 2:22-23; 3:1-2  These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Mt 6:7  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
Spiritual disciplines ultimately focus our attention on earthly things, get us further into self and emotion.  If we would but follow the practices of the first century Christians we would benefit.
Acts 2:42-47   They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Articles to read:

Journey Into Wholeness or Journey Into Worldliness? (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/intowholeness.html)
Pragmatic Methodology versus Practical Theology (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/intowholeness2.html)
New Spiritual Discipline from Ancient Roman Catholic Sources (http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/catholicism/new-spiritual-discipline-from-ancient-roman-catholic-sources)
Ancient-Future Heresies (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/6535)
Life with God, Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation by Richard J. Foster (http://www.svchapel.org/resources/book-reviews/4-christian-living/618-life-with-god-reading-the-bible-for-spiritual-transformation-by-richard-j-foster)
Contemplative and Spiritual Formation (http://www.lighthousetrails.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=LTP&Category_Code=CTMP)

Dominionism

It is such a popular wishful thinking today that it has infiltrated most churches.  That is the false doctrine of "Dominionism" that has doctrinal streams going back to the Latter Rain, Kingdom Now, Reformed Theology (in the form of "Reconstructionism"), and other false teachings.  If you are a Preterist/Amillenialist/Postmillenialist and you believe that prophecies in Daniel, Revelation and other places have already taken place in the past, then you have to replace the silence of the Bible with regard to the present age with a new manufactured unbiblical mandate such as "taking dominion over the world".  If you think that there are restored foundational apostles in the Church today, then they must "rule" and part of that "rule" is organizing the takeover of every aspect of life such as business, politics, government, education, etc.  Dominionism fits well with "save the planet" green ideology but does not fit with the Bible at all.  The biblical mandate of true believers is to preach the Gospel to all nations (Mr. 16:15) and disciple believers from those places (Mt. 28:19).  We are to help with social and physical problems in the world (James 1:27), but we are not here to solve them.  Jesus Christ will solve all problems when He physically returns (John 14:3) to rule from the throne of David (1 Kings 2:45, 9:5) for 1000 years (Rev. 20:4-6) before the end (Rev. 20:7-15; 21:1).  Until that time we are to do what we have been commissioned to do and not act like we can solve the world's problems, like Rick Warren has claimed in his P.E.A.C.E. plan (1) , or teach that Jesus Christ cannot return to the world until we as the Church rise up and take it back from the devil.  That is unbiblical nonsense.

Articles to read:

(1) A Global Peace Plan (http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac26.htm)
Reject Kingdom-Dominion (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/tenreasons.html)
Dominionism Exposed (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/dominionismexposed.html)
Dominionism And The Rise Of Christian Imperialism (http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/uncategorized/dominionism-and-the-rise-of-christian-imperialism)
Kingdom Dominionism (http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain12.htm)
Peter Wagner-Let's take Dominion (http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain33.htm)

Pets Going To Heaven

The Bible is silent on this subject but we can infer the answer if we just think this subject through.  I know what I am about to say will be highly unpopular with some people who have lost a beloved pet.  I have lost many in my lifetime.  First of all pets do not have spirits.  They have body and soul (mind) but not spirit.  Only people who are tripartite beings made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) have body, soul and spirit (1 Thes. 5:23).  In Gen. 1:27 it only mentions that humans were made in the image of God.  The problem with a lot of people, including many Christians, is that they are not tripartitists but rather dualists.  Only human beings who have a spirit and have been born again in the Spirit go to heaven (John 3:3).  Pets cannot be born again because (a) they have life but no eternal spirit and (b) they cannot make a conscious choice to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.  God will set things right in the Millennial Kingdom and there are obviously animals there but that is not heaven.  Horses are mentioned as coming from heaven but there is no mention of animals going there in the resurrection.  Again, only human beings who have made a choice to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will be part of the resurrection to life and eternity.

Articles to read (we do not necessarily endorse the web sites where we found these articles):

Do Pets Go To Heaven? (http://www.clarifyingchristianity.com/pets.shtml)
Do All Dogs Go to Heaven? Will Our Pets Be With Us in Heaven? (http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/pets_in_heaven.html#1oPd2Kz5AieI)
Pets in Heaven? (http://www.lamblion.us/2009/03/pets-in-heaven-3-views-no.html)
Do animals and pets go to heaven? (http://www.biblestudy.org/question/are-there-animals-pets-in-heaven.html)

"God Is Restoring Foundational Apostles To The Church"

God does not restore foundations when the Church building project is, figuratively, on the steeple.  There are no foundational apostles today.

The gift of foundational Apostleship is no longer our concern as no one today fits the criteria to be a foundational apostle. The teachings of the foundational Apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20) are what the Church is built upon, Christ being the chief Cornerstone and Foundation (1 Cor. 3:10-11).  The Apostles were those who saw the Lord while He was on earth before he ascended into heaven (1 Cor. 9:1) and the Lord did true signs, wonders and miracles through them to authenticate their ministries (2 Cor. 12:12). They wrote Scriptures (Matthew, John, Peter, Paul, etc.). They were persecuted and all but one (John) were martyred for the Faith (1 Cor. 4:9 and the Pre Nicene Fathers writings). Finally, Paul said that he was the last, in sequence, of the original foundational Apostles (1 Cor. 15:7-8).  We are to use the Word of God, through Jesus Christ, taught to us by the Apostles and prophets, as the basis for our Christian life (2 Peter 3:2, Jude 17).  There is no one today who can meet the biblical criteria to be a foundational Apostle.  But there are "apostles" in the Church today, "sent out" ones, messengers, mainly church planting missionaries, but they are not foundational to the Church. (Why Were The Grace Gifts Of Servant Leadership Given? by Sandy Simpson, 9/26/02, http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/gracegifts.html)

It is a pipe dream of many today to be foundational Apostles.  But Paul was clear when he stated that if anyone claimed to be a foundational apostle like the true Apostles, they were actually a "false apostle".

2 Cor. 11:12-15  And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
So those aspiring to the position of foundational apostle are actually driven by another spirit.

Articles to read:

Why Were The Grace Gifts Of Servant Leadership Given? (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/gracegifts.html)
False Apostles! - The False Apostles of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/allfalseapostles.html)
The Apostles Are Coming To Your City, Ready or Not (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/orrel3.html)
Do you want to be an apostle (http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain20.htm)
Apostles & Prophets (http://www.letusreason.org/Pent1.htm)

Prayers to Mary and Saints

The problem with these wishful prayers is more than that they are praying to the wrong people for help.  They are praying to DEAD people.  This sin of necromancy is expressly forbidden in the Bible (De. 18:10-13).  Necromancy is defined as: "conjuration of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events." (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/necromancy).  That means anything asked of dead people is communicating with them in order to influence the course of events.  The reason this is forbidden in the Bible is because it gives the enemy a big opening to deceive people.  Yet the Roman Catholic Church has been promoting this practice for centuries!  There is only one God and His Son is alive sitting at the right hand of God.  Christians are to pray to our living Savior.  Mary recognized her Son as her Savior (Luke 1:47).  Therefore it is useless to pray to a dead woman who has no power to do anything for the living.  She is to be remembered for that fact the God chose her to bear His Son, but she is not to be venerated and worshipped.  The same goes for dead Christians.  By the way, every Christian is a "saint" (Col. 1:26, Eph. 3:18) not those installed by the Pope and his Cardinals.

Articles to read:

Doctrines of the Rosary And Prayers To Mary (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/cat971.html)
Prayers From The Dead (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/cat956.html)
Prayers For The Dead (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/cat958.html)
Roman Catholicism Compared To Biblical Christianity (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/rcc.html)
Praying to Mary and the Saints (http://www.letusreason.org/RC7.htm)
The "Evangelical" Seduction (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/5829)
History & Development of Mariolatry (http://www.christian-witness.org/archives/cetf2004/mary_mary27.html)

"God has many names and can be worshipped under other names as long as he is identified in the culture as a 'supreme being'"

There is an immediate problem with this idea.

Ac 4:12  Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
That name is Jesus Christ and He is the only way to eternal life and the Father (John 14:6).  God gave Moses His name when He asked Him.  It is "I Am That I Am" or YHWH (YHVH).  That is His name and Yeshua is a derivative of Yahweh.  He does not go by the name of Baal, or Allah, or Osirus, or any other name.
Joh 20:31  But these are written that you may {Some manuscripts may continue to} believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Mt 12:21  In his name the nations will put their hope." {Isaiah 42:1-4}
Mike Oppenheimer and I wrote a very important book on this subject called "Idolatry In Their Hearts".  I hope many Christians will read this book to remind them about what the Bible tells us about YHWH.  The fact that many Bible translation organization as substituting the general term of "God" in the Bible for the specific false god called "Allah" has already gotten people killed in Muslim countries.  YHWH is not Allah.

Articles to read:

Is Allah The Same As YHWH? (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/allahyhwh.html)
Allah of Islam, Is He Yahweh God of the Bible? (http://www.answering-islam.org/Responses/Abualrub/allahs_identity.htm)
IPM False Teaching About The Names Of God (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/ipmnamesofgod.html)
Is Allah God's name (http://www.letusreason.org/islam6.htm)
Io- The Hawaiian Supreme God (http://www.letusreason.org/Current68.htm)
"Blasphemizing" The Bible (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/blasphemizingthebible.html)

People who claim to have visited heaven or hell

I'm not sure if this qualifies more as wishful thinking so much as trying to play spiritual oneupsmanship.  In any case we can dispatch this subject in short order.  Let's deal with visits to hell first.  No one is in hell, the lake of fire (Hades being a seperate issue).  The AntiChrist will be the first to be thrown there (Rev. 19:20).  Satan is not the king of hell.  He knows it is his final destination and wants to stay away from it as long as possible.  So people who claim to have been taken to hell or had a vision where they visit hell are liars or simply deluded.  God is not going to take people on a hell tour and anyone else, including Satan, cannot.  But the enemy can deceive people into thinking they have been there for various reasons.  In the same way, the only way to go to heaven is to die in Christ (Luke 23:43, 2 Cor. 5:8).  It is true that Paul said of himself that he was either taken to the third heaven or was allowed to see Jesus there (2 Cor. 12:2-4).  The answer has to be the second one because, on further reflection of Scripture, we discover that no physical human body may enter heaven.  The spirit must be born again and the spirits of those who have believed on Jesus Christ and die are kept in heaven until the resurrection.  The resurrection is necessary, just as spiritual rebirth, in order to get rid of the corrupt seed (the seed of Adam) and replace it with the incorruptible seed (that of God) in order that his followers can live forever in the new heaven and new earth where there can be no sin.  This brings us to our final point.  In testing visions and alleged trips to heaven we must compare what is said to have been seen there with what the Bible tells us about it.  One man claimed to have died and been brought back to life and while dead he visited both heaven and hell.  In hell he saw a sign over the alleged gate to hell that read "Welcome to hell".  A simple test of logic would dictate that God does not want to send anyone there, the devil is not there, in fact no one is there right now, so who put up the sign?  Buzzer!  This vision is a lie.  Benny Hinn claimed he went to heaven and to the throne room of God, and among other absurd statements, said that when he got to the throne room God wasn't there on the throne.  Buzzer!  The symbolism of God on a throne, whether there is an actual throne in heaven or not, is symbolic of his authority.  If God was not on the throne that means He was not in control.  We must test everything, hold on to the good (1 Thes. 5:21).  We must test all reports of supernatural trips with the written Word of God and rebuke those who are telling these stories to further their careers and make money selling books.

Articles to read:

Evaluation of Mr. Wiese's book, 23 Minutes In Hell (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/8315)
The “Heavenly Hash” of Mary K. Baxter (http://www.pfo.org/heavenly.htm)
Divine Revelation of Hell (http://www.letusreason.org/BookR2%20.htm)
The Final Answer (http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac20.htm)
Jesse Duplantis (http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac12.htm)
Raised From The Dead! by Reinhard Bonnke - Oh Really? (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/bonnke2.html)
Examination of Life After Death Experiences (http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/22-contemporary-issues/519-examination-of-life-after-death-experiences)

Satan, Ruler of Hell

Related to the topic above, Satan is not in hell, the lake of fire.  He will be thrown there after the AntiChrist and False prophet (Rev. 19:20), and before the demons (Rev. 20:10) and the rest of the unbelievers (Rev. 21:8).  Dante's "Inferno" is not a Biblically accurate picture of hell.  Where is Satan now?  Is he bound in the Abyss as the Amillennialists claim?  No, he is roaming the earth seeking those he may devour (Old Testament: Job 1:7, New Testament: 1 Pet. 5:8).  Yet this is a teaching in Word of Faith and other false versions of Christianity.  In fact the Word of Faith teachers state that Jesus Christ was taken to hell by Satan, tortured there, and was born again in hell.  But we will deal with that subject later in this article.  Satan does not take anyone to hell.  He tempts people and if they give in to those temptations and walk away from Christ they guarantee their own punishment.  Satan simply wants to corrupt as many people are possible since it is his only way to get back at God.

Articles to read:

Did Jesus Die Spiritually, His Spirit Become Re-Created, And He Become Born Again? (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/word-faith2.html)
Was Jesus Tortured In Hell? (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/1925)
Did Jesus take the keys from Satan? (http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp14.htm)
Divine Revelation of Hell (http://www.letusreason.org/BookR2%20.htm)

"Discernment is not needed or, at least, optional"

Since discernment is the very Biblical definition of maturity in Christ, it cannot be optional.

Heb 5:14  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Eph. 4:13-14  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Those who apply Matt. 7:1 to everything ("judge not") when it is clearly talking about hypocritical judgment, leave people who buy into this argument defenseless against both the enemy and the deceitful scheming of men.  We are to test, judge rightly, discern and keep alert at all times, particularly against false teaching and false prophecy.  Here are just a few verses on discernment to consider:
Titus 3:10  A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; (KJV)
2 Peter 2:1  But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-- bringing swift destruction on themselves.
Galatians 1:8-9  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Acts 17:11  Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
1 Corinthians 4:6  Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.
Phil. 1:9-11 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-- to the glory and praise of God.
Proverbs 15:14  The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
Proverbs 17:24  A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
Proverbs 18:15  The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.
Proverbs 28:7  He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father
Proverbs 3:21  My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight;
2 Timothy 4:3  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
Titus 1:9  He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Titus 2:1  You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.
1 Timothy 1:10  for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers -- and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine
1 John 4:1  Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Romans 12:2  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will.
2 Corinthians 13:5  Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you-- unless, of course, you fail the test?
Galatians 6:4  Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test everything. Hold on to the good.
1 Corinthians 10:15  I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.
1 Corinthians 6:3  Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
1 Corinthians 5:12-13  What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."
Articles to read:

How To Discern, Test and Judge Rightly (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/discerntestjudge.html)
Let's Take A Look At The Judge Not Argument For A Moment! (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/letstakealook.html)
Judge Not? (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/judgenot.html)
Discernment Toolkit (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/toolkitbook.html & http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/toolkitdvd.html)
Discernment And The Watchman (http://www.moriel.org/Teaching/Others/Discernment_and_the_Watchman.pdf)
Exercising discernment (http://www.letusreason.org/Wf5.htm)
Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense (http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/23-doctrine/638-discernment-ministry-a-biblical-defense)

Predestination without regard to foreknowledge

Predestination is a Biblical reality, but when taught without the concept of foreknowledge, upon which predestination is based, you end up with a "god" who is a despot.

1Pe 1:2  who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Ro 8:29-30  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Those who teach predestination without going back one step and teaching foreknowledge or the omniscience of God are teaching a type of Calvinism that even Calvin clearly did not believe.  If your basis of teaching leaves out foreknowledge, then you will not have a true understanding of the nature of God.  God is not willing that any should perish.
2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us–ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
That statement would not be true if God predestined some to heaven and some to hell without regard to His foreknowledge of whether or not they would believe in Jesus Christ when convicted by the Holy Spirit.  Strict Calvinism also lays the blame of sending people to hell on God, when the blame rests squarely on the decision of a person whether or not to believe in Jesus Christ.  There are other false teachings that stem from this fundamental error and this is why a few of the points of Calvinism are totally wrong.  Arminianism is also wrong in at least one point because the Bible clearly states that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  But I will deal with that error later.

Articles to read:

The Doctrines Fueling The Third Wave (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/osas2.html)
Predestination (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/Ephesians-1.html)
Dave Hunt's Response to James White (http://www.thebereancall.org/calbook.htm)
What Love Is This? (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/4937)

"There is good in all people"

The problem with this statement is that it often becomes a defense that doing good will result in people going to heaven.  It is true that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  The problem is, they already knew good.  What they added was evil and a sin nature that is passed down to all humanity.  Man is capable to doing both good and evil, but our measuring rod is the goodness of God, and if we do not measure up then we cannot be reconciled to Him and be with Him for eternity.  The only way for man to be good enough to please God is to be found "in Christ" who is God Himself.

2Pe 1:17  For he (Jesus Christ) received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
God is not pleased at all by sin and every human being is sinful.  The Bible is clear that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Ro 11:6  And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
Eph. 2:8-9  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no-one can boast.
Christ was sinless, therefore when His righteousness is imputed to us, we become pleasing to God.
Heb 4:15  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.
Isa 53:6  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
So good works cannot justify a person with God or give them eternal life.  Works based on faith are good (James 2:20 & 26).  A faith based on works is not.  An Arminian/Pelegian doctrine states that there is enough good in men for them to choose to follow the Lord.  That is not the case without the convicting work of the Holy Spirit as to sin (John 16:8).  No man is good enough to stand before a holy God.
Ro 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Jer 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Isa 6:5  Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Isa 53:6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Unless a person recognizes their sinful nature and their choice to follow it before God, they cannot be saved.
Lu 13:3  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.
Ac 2:38  Peter replied, "Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Ac 3:19  Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
Ac 17:30  In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
1Jo 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
And yet Arminians, Pelegianists and all false religions teach that man can be good enough to enter heaven.  This is what the New Age teaches and has been widely popularized by Oprah Winfrey and many New Age gurus.

Articles to read:

Every man did that which was right in his own eyes (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/everyman.html)
How Can Evil People Do Anything Good? (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/1941)
Are there good people? (http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp43.htm)

One can get the Spirit by pilgrimage, impartation, signs and wonders, slain in the spirit, gold dust, etc.

The simple answer is "no".  We are not to go on a pilgrimage to find the Lord or get more of His Spirit.  We are to believe the Gospel message, repent and obey the Lord.  You don't get the Holy Spirit by impartation.  If that had been the case it would have been the norm in Scripture and verses where people who had believed had hands laid on them by the elders do not state that the Holy Spirit came upon them "by" the laying on of hands, "by" the will of man, but "at" or "through" the laying on of hands, which shows it is completely a sovereign act of God.  You also have to realize that the Holy Spirit empowered people for service without any laying on of hands.  So impartation is not only not necessary, it can in many cases become a tool of the enemy to deceive.  Signs and wonders do not safe, and in fact the Bible is replete with stories about those who saw many signs and wonders and did not believe.  The gold dust, angel feathers, gold fillings, diamonds phenomena we see in modern Third Wave meetings are the devices of men who are scheming to deceive.  The gold dust turns out to stationary glitter, the feathers turn out to be bird feathers, the filling turn out to have already been there, the diamonds are cheap glass.  Pragmatic ideas on how to get closer to God are useless.  Read the Bible, pray, do the Lord's work.  That is the Biblical pattern.  The more you read your Bible and the Holy Spirit teaches you, the more you will know about God and what He expects of you.

Articles to read:

New Apostolic Reformation articles (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/newapostolic.html)
Latest Deceptions articles (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/nextgnostic.htm)
Toronto Blessings articles (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/blessing.html)
Pensacola "Outpouring"/Awake America! articles (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/pensacola.html)

Finding your spiritual gifts by survey

C. Peter Wagner has a survey out being used by many organizations and churches which purports to help a person find their spiritual gifts.  But taking a survey about spiritual gifts is not the Biblical way.

It is clear that spiritual gifts are given to serve OTHERS.  We are to eagerly desire spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1 & 12) but the Holy Spirit distributes gifts according to the will of God (Heb. 2:4). To find out how God wants to use you, you need to get busy (1) witnessing the Gospel (2) discipling others (3) helping others with physical needs (4) and working hard in the context of the Church, desiring to bless others and encourage them.  When you do this, without spending your time focusing on what your spiritual gifts might be, God will show you what He wants you to do and empower you to do it.  It may have NOTHING to do with your natural gifts, in fact in my experience it often does not, contrary to what Rick Warren teaches in his "Purpose Driven" books.  Out of your service to Him and obedience to His Word and the Holy Spirit, your teacher, the Lord can and will do miraculous things, many times in ways you did not expect.  He may give you a lifelong gift. He may give you temporary gifts.  The point, though, is not to go around bragging about your gift but to use it to serve others.  When you go around telling people what your gift(s) are, in my opinion, you lose any reward you might have coming.  Paul was a true foundational apostle, but he was also clear that he was a fellow servant (Eph. 3:7, Tit. 1:1) and a simple humble man who could do nothing in his own strength (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul was also given the gift of foundational apostleship by the Lord Himself.  He did not take a survey to find out he had the gift of apostleship.

So to focus people who call themselves followers of Christ on themselves like some Reader's Digest poll, is actually counterproductive to finding how God wants to use you and empower you.  One of the gifts you could find out you had according to their scoring system, was being an apostle.  What if women take this survey?  There were no female foundational apostles in the Bible.  So what about Rom. 16:7 and "Junia"?  Paul states he was the last apostle.  There is a type of apostle who is a sent out messenger, a church planting missionary.  Women can be church planters, although usually accompanied by men and certainly under the authority of their husbands and male leadership of the church.  In any case, most commentaries state that Junia or Junias was a man, though is can be either a male or female name.  Andronicus and Junia—or, as it might be, "Junias," a contracted form of "Junianus"; in this case, it is a man’s name. (JFB)  Junia should be read Junias, a contraction of Junilius: (Gill)

Note that the word "apostles" is in lower case in Rom. 16:7 which is talking about the type of apostle who is a sent out one, like Barnabas, not a foundational Apostle, Paul being the last (1 Cor. 15:8).   Biblical churches do not call sent out missionaries "apostles" so as not to confuse people into thinking they have the same authority as the Apostles.

Article to read:

Pragmatic Methodology versus Practical Theology - a comment on "Finding Your Spiritual Gifts" by C. Peter Wagner - Journey Into Wholeness or Journey Into Worldliness? - Part 2 (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/intowholeness2.html)

Uniting in prayer with anyone who names the name of Christ

A lot of people who call themselves "Christians" use the name of Jesus Christ, yet by their teachings we discover they are teaching a different Jesus, a different Gospel, a different Spirit (2 Cor. 11:4).  So why would pastors from good Biblical churches unite in prayer with leaders from the Roman Catholics, Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation, Emerging Church, and many other heretical movements?  It is because they have been duped into believing that anyone who names the name of Christ is a brother in Christ.  This mindset is what is behind the Evangelicals and Catholics Together documents as well as the new Manhattan Declaration which brought together Roman Catholics, Evangelicals and Mormons.  The "Uniting In Prayer" effort in Hawaii is backed by the New Apostolic Reformation "Transformations" leadership including Ed Silvoso, C. Peter Wagner, George Otis Jr., Cindy Jacobs and a whole host of others.  In fact the whole "Transformations Hawaii" program gets it's impetus from an often repeated false prophecy by Cindy Jacobs where she prophesied that Hawaii would be the first entirely Christian state.  In order to try to force this false prophecy to come to pass a lot of lie have been told about the State of Hawaii, such as the repeated statement that things are improving in Hawaii due to the prayers of this movement, and can be documented in a lowering crime rate.  Yet just a few weeks ago while walking I spotted the Honolulu Advertiser in a newspaper machine with the headline "Oahu crime up 6%" (Honolulu Advertiser, Local News, Sunday, January 31, 2010, http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20100131/NEWS01/1310354?source=rss_localnews)  This is what happens when you have to fabricate, manipulate and lie about facts in order to prove an unbiblical movement is of God.  This is exactly what the two "Transformation" videos were about.

Articles to read:

United in prayer - united in error (http://letusreason.org/Latrain57.htm)
Transformations or Re-Transformation - A Paradigm Shift For Evangelism (http://www.concernedchristians.50megs.com/)
"What Did You Really Mean By That" (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/orrel24.html)
A Review of and Response to "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium" (http://www.aomin.org/Evangelicals_and_Catholics_Together.html)
The Manhattan Declaration (http://www.truthforlife.org/resources/article/manhattan-declaration/)
Our Regretful Inability To Become A Signatory - The Manhattan Declaration (http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/news/our-regretful-inability-to-become-a-signatory)
Manhattan Declaration (http://pro-gospel.org/x2/content/view/71/1/)

No Millennial Kingdom

Unbiblical eschatological systems such as Preterism, Amillennialism, Postmillennialism and Dominionism incorporate the idea that there is no 1000 year reign of Christ on earth yet to come.  Yet this teaching denies many, many unfulfilled prophecies of Scripture and takes away part of the blessed hope of the return of Christ to restore all things (Rev. 15:4: 20:4-6, Rom. 15:2).  One often repeated reference is to Jerusalem being the capital city in the Millennial Kingdom (Isa. 1:27; 2:3; 4:1-6; Joel 3:16; Zech. 1:16-17; 8:3-8; Rom. 11:26).  Jesus Christ will fulfill prophecies concerning the throne of David which can only be fulfilled by an earthly reign before the new heaven and new earth are created.

Articles to read:

The Millennial Reign of Christ (http://www.lwbc.co.uk/millennial_reign_of_christ.htm)
Messiah's Coming Millennial Reign (http://www.falsemessiahs.com/bible_prophecy/messiah/millennial_reign.htm)
Pre Millennial And Post Millennial Doctrines Do Not Mix (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/premilpostmil.html)
Preterism-is it a intentional lack of understanding the prophetic scriptures? (http://www.letusreason.org/proph17.htm)
Why Preterism is not an accurate interpretation of Bible Prophecy (http://www.letusreason.org/proph19.htm)
ESCHATOLOGY: The Doctrine of end times (http://www.svchapel.org/downloads/TheologyLessons/eschatology.pdf)
ISRAELOLOGY: The Missing Link In Systematic Theology (Book) (http://www.letusreason.org/products.htm)
The Millennium Part 1 (http://www.preceptaustin.org/the_millennium.htm)

"God has limitations"

God has limited Himself in a number of ways, but self limitation on His part is not the same thing as saying that God does not know the future.  There is a false doctrine being taught by some Emerging Church leaders called "Open Theism".  Gregory A. Boyd claims that "open theism" is an inappropriate term since the position posits more about the nature of time and reality than it does about God itself. This is to say that open theists do not believe that God doesn't know the future, but rather that the future doesn't exist to be known by anyone. For the open theist the future simply hasn't happened yet, not for anyone, and thus is unknowable in the common sense. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_theism)  If God does not know the future then there can be no such thing as a Christian being predestined and called, which are based on the foreknowledge or omniscience of God.  God has not such limitation.  He is not constrained by time, therefore His knowledge is beyond time in an eternal state.  This "theology" originally came up to try to bolster the free will of man.  But if even God does not know the future, then God doesn't have free will either.  Think about it.  If God has free will, then He can will anything into existence, which the Bible says He did and does.

Rom. 4:17  As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." {Gen. 17:5} He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
Re 4:11  "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
So then our free will is in His image, though we do not have His power to create something out of nothing.  People live to try to recreate God in their own image.  God is far above our understanding and knows everything.
1Jo 3:20  ... For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
Isa 55:8  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
Articles to read:

Open Theism
http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/23-doctrine/550-open-theism-part-1
http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/23-doctrine/551-open-theism-part-2
http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/23-doctrine/552-open-theism-part-3
http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/23-doctrine/553-open-theism-part-4

"I'm Ok With God"

This is a statement you will often hear from people who do not really know what it means to be born again and actually have not real desire to please God.  It is often all about God being pleased with them doing whatever they want.  This is often also tied to a postmodern paradigm where truth is relative and every man does what is right in their own eyes.  There is only one way to be "ok with God".  That is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  That means that you believe that He died in your place to provide you with forgiveness of sins and rose again to provide you with eternal life.  It means you commit yourself to Him as the "Lord" of your life and that you believe that He is God.  It means that you recognize that in His name is the fact that He is the God-man, that God came in the flesh.  In believing in Him you also recognize you are a sinner, both by nature and by choice, and that you confess your sins and repent of them.  You then commit to follow Him and allow Him to build you up to maturity in Christ.

Articles to read:

Salvation Tract (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/tract.html)
"Every man did that which was right in his own eyes." (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/everyman.html)

Save the planet

Again, one of the most wishful ideas around today.  But the fact is that we can do little to change the weather, environment, etc.  We can do what we can but our human efforts pale in light of the forces that God set into motion on this planet and in the universe.  The fact is that creation is running down and it will take an act of God to set it right again.  That act of God will take place when Jesus Christ returns and takes His rightful place on the throne of David for one thousand years.  He will set things right on earth at that time.  But in the Tribulation many things will come apart, yet people will rebel against God and curse Him instead of following Him.  Ultimately this world is headed for fire and destruction.  God will create a new heaven and new earth and that creation will not suffer the effects of sin and death.  It is a good thing to be good stewards of what God has given us in a number of ways, but we also have to be realistic about the fate of the world.  That is why we should be busy preaching the Gospel and discipling Christians rather than getting involved in worldly causes to save the planet.

Articles to read:

Purpose and Eckhart Tolle’s (and Oprah’s) New Earth (http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/2008/01)
Weaning Evangelicals Off the Word - Part 3 (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/5958)
The Greening of the Cross (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/5820)
The ghosts of planet earths past and future (http://www.letusreason.org/Nam41.htm)
Save the earth at all costs (http://www.letusreason.org/NAM23.htm)
The Kingdom of Emergent Theology - Part 2 (http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/21-church-trends/508-the-kingdom-of-emergent-theology-part-2)

Utopia

Long the goal of the "baby boomer" hippy generation of socialists, a state of manmade Utopia is said to be achievable if we all just unite together in mind and purpose.  These ideas are even part of a new Christian agenda to save the planet and "solve" all its problems laid out by people like Rick Warren in his P.E.A.C.E. plan.

During the five weekends of November, we'll teach five messages on the P.E.A.C.E. plan: a strategy to have every small group in our church,  and then tens of thousands of small groups in other churches, become engaged in solving the five biggest problems in the world: Spiritual Lostness, Lack of Godly Leaders, Poverty,  Disease, and Lack of Education. (Rick Warren's P.E.A.C.E. plan, http://www.saddleback.com/home/todaystory.asp?id=6213)
But this kind of Utopian vision is neither achievable by people uniting nor in the context of true Christianity.  The only time when these problems Warren claims to be able to solve will be solved is in the Millennial Kingdom when Jesus Christ is on the throne.  Till that time we will have all these problems with us.  We can help with them but we cannot solve them.  In fact when we look at what is coming in the end times, these problems will only grow worse, which is part of God's foreknowledge to bring about the culmination of His "peace" plans through Christ.  The Church is not here to take dominion over the world and solve all its problems. We are here to preach the solution to the personal problem of sin and thereby provide the platform for the Holy Spirit to change people from within.  Those who look for Utopia now, for the Kingdom Now, are fooling themselves and become pawns of the enemy.

Articles to read:

How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging in Your Church (http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/church-issues/emergent-church/how-to-know-when-the-emerging-church-
shows-signs-of-emerging-in-your-church)
Save the earth at all costs (http://www.letusreason.org/NAM23.htm)
The Global Coherence Initiative (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/theglobalcoherenceinitiative.html)
Dominionism And The Rise Of Christian Imperialism (http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/uncategorized/dominionism-and-the-rise-of-christian-imperialism)
The UN Plan for Global Migration (http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/news/the-un-plan-for-global-migration)
Why the Heavens Hold Back the Rain (http://www.letusreason.org/Current63.htm)

Positive thinking

Positive thinking does have it's benefits as long as it is honest.  When this methodology is applied to spirituality, however, it falls short.  In Christianity we are to study, understand and believe the truth about things.  We don't whitewash the facts in order to brainwash ourselves into happiness or peace.  The modern gurus of "positive thinking" are Norman Vincent Peale and his protégé, Robert Schuller.  Joel Osteen has followed in their footsteps along with many others.  They have found a philosophy that appeals to humans with roots in Eastern mysticism.  This stuff appeals to people from every walk of life and every nation and they do not easily let go of this principle that is supposed to bring spiritual formation.  It is firmly a part of the Emerging Church in the practices of contemplative prayer and visualization.  The problem is, if your positive thinking is in opposition to the Truth of God's Word, God's truth, then it is of absolutely no use at all.

Articles to read:

Newsweek: We're All Hindus Now (http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/mysticism/newsweek-were-all-hindus-now)
Joel Osteen: The Prosperity Gospel's Coverboy (http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/church-issues/popular-teachers/joel-osteen-the-prosperity-gospel-coverboy)
The Secret Seduction (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/5571)
Norman Vincent Peale (http://www.letusreason.org/Poptea2.htm)
The gospel According to Schuller (http://www.letusreason.org/Poptea1.htm)
Preaching a false-POSITIVE (http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac29.htm)
Robert Schuller – The Humpty Dumpty of Evangelicalism (http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/22-contemporary-issues/527-robert-schuller--the-humpty-dumpty-of-evangelicalism)
A “Wonderful ” Deception (http://www.lighthousetrails.com/awdtocintro.pdf)

"Bigger is better"

This American ideal has unfortunately become part of the ethos of the Christian churches.  But in God's Word we discover that God is not interested in quantity as much as He is in quality.  The Church Growth movement of C. Peter Wagner, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren and others was built on the notion that bigger is better.  In fact, when you look at the model of the first century church, bigger was not better. The Church was comprised of house churches.  Today when a church begins to grow it should split and new small church groups should be formed.  The problems with mega churches are the lack of personal accountability, ability of people to interact with teachers to get their questions answered, the focus on Christian entertainment in order to get more people to attend as opposed to the exposition of the written Word, etc.

Articles to read:

Church Growth Movement (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/churchgrowth.html)
Enteraintment-style Christianity vs. Interactive-style Christianity (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/estvsist.html)
Did You Buy A Used Car From This Man? (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/wagner2.html)
The Seeker-Friendly Way of Doing Church (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/2587)
The Growth of a Purpose Driven Church (http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac24.htm)
The New and Improved Church (http://www.letusreason.org/Current58.htm)
One step forward and three steps back (http://www.letusreason.org/Emerge5.htm)
The Market-Driven Church - Part 1 (http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/21-church-trends/510-the-market-driven-church-part-1)
The Market-Driven Church - Part 2 (http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/21-church-trends/511-the-market-driven-church-part-2)

"The end justifies the means"

This is an untrue statement in any context.  You cannot ethically apply any means to an end.  You have to be consistent with your morals and philosophy, and in a Christian context you have to be consistent with the principles of the Word of God.  Yet C. Peter Wagner, head of one of the biggest fraudulent movements in the history of the Church, that is the New Apostolic Reformation, wrote in one of his early Church Growth books the following:

"... we ought to see clearly that the end DOES justify the means.  What else possible could justify the means?  If the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at, it is for that reason a good method.  If, on the other hand, my method is not accomplishing the goal, how can I be justified in continuing to use it?"  (C. Peter Wagner, "Your Church Can Grow - Seven Vital Signs Of A Healthy Church", 1976, pg. 137. - emphasis in original)
Since Wagner is talking about church growth and evangelism here, let's take this thesis to its logical conclusion.  If a church is not increasing in numbers, then according to Wagner you should use any method that increases those numbers. If this idea is correct then I guess we can assume that if preaching the Gospel is not working then we are to try employing things like: more entertaining stories and unsubstantiated subjective testimonies ... getting anyone to our churches who can do alleged signs, wonders and healings ... having less preaching from the boring old Bible and more psychological and topical sermons ... putting more emphasis on financial blessings from God and less emphasis on serving God no matter what the circumstances.

According to Wagner if is works it is a "good" method.

Let's look at it another way.  Let's hypothesize that preaching the straight truth is not bringing in lots of people to your church.  They struggle.  Some even leave because the teaching is just too "harsh" for their taste.  Don't fret.  Change the method.  Change the message!  Update it.  Hip it up!  Make it more tolerant.  Make it more appealing and less judgmental.

This pragmatic approach is exactly what C. Peter Wagner was hawking and what John Wimber later initiated in the Vineyard.  This pragmatic Wagner/Wimber emphasis continued through the Toronto/Brownsville movement and into the Purpose Driven, New Apostolic, Emerging Church church growth models of today..

I guess Jesus should have sat under the tutelage of C. Peter Wagner.  He might not have turned so many people off like He did in the following case:

John 6:53-66   Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live for ever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no-one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
Apparently Jesus was not "hip" to the pragmatic methods of modern anointed "apostles" like C. Peter Wagner.  I guess Jesus could have benefited from paying some money to go to a lecture by Wagner, because it sure looks like Jesus went out of his way to offend people and not build a large mega-following.

Paul made the same mistakes.  He failed to build a big following at the council of the Areopagus:

Acts 17:33-34   At that, Paul left the Council. A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
Only a "few" became followers?  Paul's method apparently was not working, according to Wagner.  Maybe Paul should not have been preaching the Gospel but doing signs and wonders!  He probably would have gotten much better results that way, according to Wagner's methods.  Remember, if the method is not working it is, by implication, at least "not good" and at most an "evil" method. Whatever method works is a "good" method, accordingly.

Employing Wagner's methodology, Paul just gave up too soon.  He should have stayed longer.  Maybe instead of preaching the Gospel he should have had other believers come in and testify about the miracles they had received at the hands of Paul.  Perhaps he should have tried toning down the references to Jesus Christ being the only Way, and instead told them that all roads ultimately lead to God.  Maybe he could have changed the semantics so that the word "God" could also be interpreted as Artimus or Athena.  Perhaps he should have concentrated on finances and asked them to bankroll his future mission trips with their "seed faith" gifts, giving away trinkets made from rocks along the Damascus road.  Maybe he could have put on a week long "crusade" in downtown Athens with big signs saying "Come and get your miracle".  Anything but that tired old useless Gospel message!

Let's look at another Apostle who really used the wrong methods ... Stephen:

Acts 7:52-60  Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him--you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."  When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."  Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Boy, Stephen REALLY messed up!  He preached the Gospel and NOBODY believed, not even Saul (Paul)!  Too bad he wasn't around to read Wagner's book before he died.

It's true that Jesus and the Apostles continued to preach the Gospel wherever they went, and in some places the response was better than others.  But they NEVER changed their method!  They may have changed certain emphases in the Gospel account as Peter did for the Jews and Paul did for the Gentiles, but never the basic message itself.  They never added or took away from the salvation message.  Yet today we see many churches diluting the Gospel or simply eliminating it altogether in order to pad their numbers.

What Wagner's model seems to ignore is that the issue is the hearts of people that are either good soil, rocky soil, thorny soil, or hard soil.  The cold hard fact of the Gospel message is that you either believe or you don't.  There is no way to sugar coat it.  Jesus says: "Come and die ... so that you may live".

In Conclusion: Christians should never change the message to suit the statistics.  We are not called to employ ANY method just to add numbers of people to our Christian "club".  Look what using any means to an end has spawned ... an entire church movement that is totally pragmatic and cares little or nothing for objective truth, that simply changes the "truth" to fit the circumstances.  "Whatever works, man!" is the cry of the Third Wave today.  Church growth has become more important than spiritual growth.  Quantity has won out over quality.  Mega churches and mega movements are whitewashing the truth so they can increase their stats on their "salvation" tote boards.  The cross has taken a back seat to the new "glitter Christianity".

Articles to read:

Did You Buy A Used Car From This Man? (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/wagner2.html)
When The Ends AND The Means Are Unjustifiable (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/endsandmeans.html)
Third Wave Neo-Pragmatism - Christianity's New White Witchcraft (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/howto.html)
A New Way of Thinking (http://www.letusreason.org/Curren38.htm)

Postmodernism/relitavism

This "new" idea is not new at all.  There is nothing "new" under the sun.  For evidence of that, look at the paradigm of those living during the time of the Judges.

Jud 17:6  In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Pr 21:2  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.
One of the ideas behind postmodernism is that truth is relative and what I feel justified in thinking and doing is fine for me but may be different for someone else.  The fact of the matter, no matter the wishful thinking of people, is that God's truth is absolute.  We either obey and please Him, or re please ourselves and suffer the consequences, one of which is hell.  Satan was the first "postmodernist" having made up his own reality while in heaven in the presence of God in wanting to be worshipped as God.
Isa. 14:12-15  How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! {O Lucifer: or, O day star} For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.


He passed along this relativist lie to Adam and Eve and they bought it as well.

Gen. 3:5  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
The great lie lurking beneath postmodernism is that we can be little gods unto ourselves and make our own decisions about what we want to believe and do.  But we are not little gods, not any kind of gods at all.
Isa 44:8  Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.
Isa 45:21  Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
Ultimately we all have to answer to the one true God: Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

Articles to read:

Satan, The First Postmodernist (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/satanpostmodernist.html)
The Death of Truth (http://www.pfo.org/deth-tru.htm)
The Underlying problem[s] with the Emergent Church movement? (http://www.letusreason.org/Emerge8.htm)
Postmodernism
(http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/22-contemporary-issues/522-postmodernism-part-1)
(http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/22-contemporary-issues/523-postmodernism-part-2)
(http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/22-contemporary-issues/524-postmodernism-part-3)
(http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/22-contemporary-issues/525-postmodernism-part-4)
(http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/22-contemporary-issues/526-postmodernism-part-5)

Jesus went to hell

When Jesus died He went to Hades, not hell.  Hell is the lake of fire or gehenna, the place of final and eternal punishment (Mt. 25:46).  Hades is hades in Greek or sheol in Hebrew, the place of the dead.  In the end Hades will be emptied completely (Rev. 20:14) into the lake of fire or gehenna.

Eph. 4:8-10  This is why it {Or God} says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." {Psalm 68:18} (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? {Or the depths of the earth} He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
Jesus descended into Hades. Both those in the "bosom of Abraham" and in the part of Hades set aside for those on their way to hell heard what Jesus had to say.  When He left Hades He led captives in His train, meaning He emptied out Abraham's Bosom and took those saints to heaven.
1 Pet. 4:6  For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
So Jesus was redeeming the Old Testament saints in Abraham's Bosom after telling them of what He had done to redeem mankind, since they had believed in God in faith and were looking forward to the Messiah.  But Jesus also preached this same message to the disobedient people in Hades awaiting judgment.
1 Pet. 3:18-20  For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,
So Christ told both those in Hades who were in "Abraham's Bosom" because they had been justified by faith about His death on the cross and He emptied that part of Hades and took the souls of the dead Old Testament saints to heaven with him.  Those in the other part of Hades, which still exists until the end, who were unbelievers, also heard his message so that they would also be without excuse when final judgment is passed on them at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11).

There is also no such thing as purgatory or a temporary hell.  Before the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:13) those who believe in Christ go to be with Him (2 Cor. 5:8, Luke 23:43, 1 Th. 4:17), and those who do not are held in Hades which is temporary (Rev. 20:13).  But there is no escape from Hades (Luke 16:22-30).  At the Judgment those who have not believed in Christ are thrown into the Lake of Fire (Hell) (Rev. 20:14) after the Antichrist, False Prophet (Rev. 19:20), Satan and his demons (Rev. 20:10, Mt. 25:41) have been placed there by God.  Their torment will be eternal (Rev. 14:11, Jude 1:7).

What is very sinister about Word of Faith teachers is that they not only say Jesus went to hell, but that Satan drug him there and tortured Him there for three days and nights.  It was in hell that Jesus, according to their fable, was born again.

Articles to read:

Did Jesus Die Spiritually, His Spirit Become Re-Created, And He Become Born Again? (http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/word-faith2.html)
Did Jesus go to HELL for your Salvation (http://www.letusreason.org/Wf42.htm)
Did Jesus descend into Hell or Hades after he died on the cross (http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp105.htm)
Did Jesus take the keys from Satan? (http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp14.htm)