15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. (Matthew 7:15-18 NASB)
Our Lord, in His Sermon on the Mount, told us to beware of false prophets who come to us in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. He told us how to recognize them. How? It is by their fruits. This has not changed. Therefore, when I sit at the feet of a teacher or preacher of God’s Word I look for this within what is taught and within how he lives and with whom he associates and how he conducts himself in this life. Those who are not really God’s man will be revealed in this because of their inconsistencies in godliness and their consistencies in worldliness because, “we will recognize them by their fruits.”
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 NASB)
What is Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Spirituality? Are these just another term for Christian spiritual growth or “the way or method” that God has designed for His people to grow spiritually? Or are they totally different from what the Word of God teaches us? A clear-headed and Biblically-based study of Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Spirituality will actually reveal that they are being introduced into the visible church via deception. The proponents of these non-Christian spiritual systems attempt to validate that they are Christian by taking passages from God’s Word out of context and attempt to force them to support their mystical paradigm. While these people do put a lot of emphasis on Christian Authenticity and what that means as well as becoming Christlike or like Christ and while I write about those things quite a bit, it is quite amazing and a bit surprising to see them take the passages from God’s Word I use to teach believers to deny themselves, take up their crosses daily and follow Jesus to mean something quite different.
10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond- servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 NASB)
What causes deception? We like to believe that people lying to those they deceive causes deception. However, if we think critically about that (yes, I know that post-modernists have lost that ability, but humor me) deception is not the direct result of the lie, but it only takes effect when the one being deceived desires something from the deceiver such as a relationship or something else that is offered. The deceived believe the lie in order to receive something else that they want. What has this to do with compromise in ministry? When theologians, preachers, or Christian leaders who once were not compromised suddenly appear to make these strange decisions, if we take the effort to dig into what is going on, invariably we will find that they are doing what they are doing in order to please someone else in a pragmatic way. The motive is that of gaining the approval of man. Yes, there will be some with discernment who will notice and make an issue of it, but these people go ahead and do what they do because they see the gain they will receive as being higher than what they will have lost by not doing so. Of course, that gain is from man not God and the heat they will take from those with discernment, well, who listens to them anymore anyway?
28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” (John 6:28 NASB)
The flesh is still with us all, even those who have been born again unto eternal life. The flesh does not understand grace. The flesh does not understand the relationship to the Christian being born again unto good works (Ephesians 2:10). Therefore, the visible church is ripe with false teaching at this time that emphasizes all the wrong things, and, coupled with rampant Biblical illiteracy, most professing Christians are like those Jesus was confronting in John 6 who could not conceive what our Lord boldly told them in vv35-40 that belief and salvation was a gift from God not something earned or deserved.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.(Ephesians 2:10 NASB)
In the NASB’s rendering of Ephesians 2:10, the word “workmanship” translates the Greek noun ποίημα or poiēma, which refers to what is made or created. Our English word “poem” is derived from ποίημα. I have one lexicon that renders ποίημα as “masterpiece” or “work of art.” In the context of Ephesians 2:10, the creator is God and the ποίημα is who? It is the true child of God! Before we continue let’s look at the Greek text of v10 and then a word-for-word translation.
10 αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν. (Ephesians 2:10 NA28)
10 For of Him we are His masterpiece having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God previously prepared that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; (John 14:16 NASB)
As we look about us with any discernment at all in these times of spiritual deceit, it can be heart rending to see the outright lying done in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are so-called men of God preaching and teaching and ministering and doing things that could best be described as either the teaching or application of damnable heresies. I know that there are some who call themselves Christians who automatically have a problem with that last statement because they are afflicted with the disease of post-modernistic thinking while others are mired in their man-made religiosity and traditions. Both forces them into the thinking that everything is relative. Sorry, to the wind with that. If you are uncomfortable with the proclamation of God’s truth as absolute then you will not be comfortable here. God’s Word is His truth, a precious gift to His Church. In it we learn theology and His doctrines. This includes the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. From that we learn that our salvation is entirely by God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). We are justified by faith, not works. God’s truth is objective and absolute not subjective and relative. The grace we possess as Christians was purchased for us at the Cross of Christ. Oh, and the only ones who can and do turn to Christ are called by God effectually (John 6:44).
14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 NASB)
Are we to accept the profession of faith from everyone who claims to be a Christian? This is a hot button issue in our time. I know of several people who once fellowshipped here who no longer do because they are convinced that it is wrong to rebuke and contend with those who profess faith in Christ, but whose fruit show otherwise. What about this fruit? Is it an indication of the veracity of one’s faith? According to Hebrews 12:14 we see that only those who possess sanctfication (holiness) will see the Lord. This is a way of saying that those who will see the Lord, those who are truly saved, will possess some degree of personal holiness.
28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” (John 6:28 NASB)
Genuine Christians will be very interested in getting the answer to the question posed to Jesus from John 6:28. If a professing Christian is not interested in that answer then there’s a problem. On the other hand, there are many professing Christians who have answered that question without reading Jesus’ response to it. Instead, they have jumped head foremost into “religious” work that they believe pleases God and is earning them bonus points in eternity. Their “works” may look good to most people, but are they what Jesus tells us are the genuine works of God? Let’s look at this passage in context.
1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5 NASB)
The proponents of the seeker-sensitive church growth model may very well have had good intentions when through it was spawned the rise of contemporary mega-churches such as Willow Creek and Saddleback Valley Baptist and their clones. The focus was outreach to the unchurched. While that appears to be a proper function of the New Testament Church one of the model’s fundamental components is actually an antithesis of the clear instruction to Church leaders found in God’s Word. That component is pragmatism.
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20 KJV)
20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20 ESV)
20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, (2 Peter 1:20 NASB)
20 This first knowing, that every prophecy of scripture by private explanation does not take place. (2 Peter 1:20 The Apostolic Bible Polyglot)
20 This first knowing that all prophecy of scripture of any personal interpretation does not happen. (2 Peter 1:20 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. The young man was so excited that he could barely contain it. He could not stop talking about his experience at his new church in Tulsa under a very well known Word Faith pastor. He went on and on and on. I had been a Christian about 10 years by then and had not yet entered into that long period of dryness that God put me through that ended just a few years ago so this must have been in the early 1990’s. In any case, neither the young man nor his wife would engage me personally in conversation nor would they look at me directly. They only talked to those around me. However, with each emphatic point he made that I knew was unbiblical I would try to interject something, but was ignored. Finally, there was a point in the conversation when he made one of those points and everyone became quiet and I simply said, “But that is not Biblical and what you are describing is subjectivism, not anything that can be proved by Scripture.” His answer was simply this, “God still speaks to His people and not all of His truth is found in the Bible.” I then asked, “Will He then say things to these prophets that are contrary to what the Bible says or will He say things that these people prophesy that does not take place? If so, what then?” He then pooh-poohed me away and would not let me engage him in any more conversation. The “religion” he was involved in has its foundation in mens’ private interpretation of the Bible along with God speaking prophecy directly to them thereby “confirming” their false interpretation of the Word of God. I never could find out from them how one could know how one could really know if that word from God was really from God or if it was just their over active imagination or an attempt at fraud.
6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NASB)
Despite what those say who insist that the only attribute of God that ever comes into play is His Love, the only ray of hope in man’s spiritual darkness is His sovereign grace. It alone can rescue man from his propensity to lust for evil things. The passage above (James 4:6) tells us that God gives “more grace.” What does this mean? It shows that His grace is greater than the power of sin, the flesh, the world, and Satan (cf. Romans 5:20). Who obtains God’s grace? Do the proud?
43 διὰ τί τὴν λαλιὰν τὴν ἐμὴν οὐ γινώσκετε; ὅτι οὐ δύνασθε ἀκούειν τὸν λόγον τὸν ἐμόν. 44 ὑμεῖς ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστὲ καὶ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν θέλετε ποιεῖν. ἐκεῖνος ἀνθρωποκτόνος ἦν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ οὐκ ἔστηκεν, ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἀλήθεια ἐν αὐτῷ. ὅταν λαλῇ τὸ ψεῦδος, ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων λαλεῖ, ὅτι ψεύστης ἐστὶν καὶ ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ. (John 8:43-44 NA28)
43 “Why do you not understand what I say? Because you are not able to hear my words. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and the truth is not in him. When he speaks a lie it is from his own character, because he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:43-44 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Christianity, true Christianity, is not about feelings or experiences as “proof” of its veracity. No, read the accounts given to us in the book of Acts and in the rest of the New Testament. It is all about real events that happened that were witnessed by real people. Jesus was a real person who walked and ministered. He was illegally arrested, tried, and executed. However, He was resurrected after three days and nights in the tomb. Real people witnessed all of these things. No one has ever been able to provide evidence to refute any of it. Paul said that Jesus’ resurrection is the key to our hope and if it is not true then our religion is false. The reason we can know that it was true is that we have the proof of eyewitness accounts of it in the Word of God. Therefore, when so called “christian leaders” in our time write books or give interviews or whatever in which they attempt to refute the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, His deity, or the fact of His resurrection or they try to cast doubt on any of it, we must understand that those we are listening to have a different spiritual father than genuine Christians.
19 “After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19 NASB)
When our Lord spoke of the “world” in John 14:19, he was talking about those in this temporal existence who are not believers. They are not true Christians even though some in that group may profess to be so. In this context he was also referring to the Jewish religious leaders of his own day who so opposed him and his ministry and who would continue to oppose the early church as is seen all through the books of Acts for example. What is it that separates those alive in this world who truly see Jesus for who he really is, believe and are saved from those who refuse to do so, reject the gospel, and remain in their sins, even if they may develop a form of Christianity that suits them that is absent of the real Jesus?
15 Μὴ ἀγαπᾶτε τὸν κόσμον μηδὲ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾷ τὸν κόσμον, οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς ἐν αὐτῷ· (1 John 2:15 NA28)
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
If we are not prayerful and become careless in our own abiding in our Lord, we can become distracted and then susceptible to the wiles of our enemy to become discouraged and even despair about distractions all around us coming from the current state of Evangelicalism. On the other hand, when we are in the heat of battle and God is using us, it is amazing how clear we can see the compromises. We see believers with a love for truth and a profession of faith, but also with a love for this world and the things of this world that becomes evident in those compromises. When this takes place in “Christian leadership” what are the evidences we should look for? Are there consistent ones that obviously point to ones that we can say, “Blindness has blinded his eyes?”
22 καὶ ὑμεῖς οὖν νῦν μὲν λύπην ἔχετε· πάλιν δὲ ὄψομαι ὑμᾶς, καὶ χαρήσεται ὑμῶν ἡ καρδία, καὶ τὴν χαρὰν ὑμῶν οὐδεὶς αἴρει ἀφʼ ὑμῶν. (John 16:22 NA28)
22 “Therefore, you now have grief, but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice and no one takes your joy from you.” (John 16:22 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
According to my stats page, What is Joy?, is by far my most popular post. It was also one of the first ones I wrote when I started this ministry in 2006 and its focus has been the focus I have attempted to maintain since I started, which is the edification of the Body of Christ by pointing all to the true source of our joy instead of what the world attempts to sell us as a replacement, which is just temporal happiness. That true source is our Lord Jesus Christ and the fact that we have eternal life in Him. He has also given us the Encourager, the Holy Spirit and eternal promises from the Father that we are not left here alone. Also, and by far that which is strangely overlooked today, is the joy that we have in the promise of the Resurrection. The fact that our Lord was dead on our behalf, but is now alive and has promised that we too will be raised to be with Him with glorified bodies forever is not well understood by most believers today.
4 ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, 5 καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ Χριστῷ, — χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι — 6 καὶ συνήγειρεν καὶ συνεκάθισεν ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 7 ἵνα ἐνδείξηται ἐν τοῖς αἰῶσιν τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις τὸ ὑπερβάλλον πλοῦτος τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἐν χρηστότητι ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. (Ephesians 2:4-7 NA28)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, he made us alive with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6 and he raised us with him and seated us with him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, 7 that he might display in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Let us this day focus on our wonderful God with worshipful, grateful hearts. Back several years ago when I was confronted with Reformation Theology I was amazed that the passages that the Holy Spirit used to “nail it” firmly in my heart that it was what best lined up with the Bible in all areas of doctrine were many if not all of the same passages that I had taught from, memorized in Evangelism Explosion training, and read every day during my devotions. They were all very dear to me because they spoke of the saving work of God on my behalf. Of course, I must confess, I was never a “theological Arminian,” just a default one since that is what most SBC churches teach. It was as this confrontation took place over each point of doctrine I was amazed that in every case it really came down to whether our salvation is a work of cooperation between us and God (Synergism) or if it is all of God (Monergism). It was as I did some serious study on the Sovereignty of God throughout the Bible that the last thread of synergism I held on to finally broke away.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8 NASB)
When we do word studies in the Greek New Testament it is vital that we pay very close attention to the verb tenses. From these we learn that some statements are commands (imperatives) while others, which some Bible translations render as if they are commands, are actually statements of fact (indicatives or aorists). Confusing these has caused a very large amount of confusion and bad doctrine to pollute the church. For instance, when Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,” the verb structure here is not imperative (a command to be born again), but aorist tense, subjunctive mood, passive voice. In other words, this is action that is most definitely not a command by our Lord to Nicodemus to be born again, but a statement of fact that if a person is to see the kingdom of God he or she must be born again. The action is passive so it is the result of some other action. So what? Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. This is an example of an imperative. Let us put it into context.
16 οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλʼ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. (John 3:16 NA28)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that everyone believing in Him should not perish but have life eternal. (John 3:16 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The first verse I memorized in Sunday School as a child was John 3:16 from the King James Bible. This must have been sometime around 1956-1957 since I did not learn to read until the 1st grade. My mother even had a plaque made with that verse on it and put it on the wall over my bed. I still have the little white New Testament I got for memorizing the most verses in my class that year. So what? When I look back on my life from that point to the time God had mercy on me in 1986, I am truly amazed that He did at all. Since the time I came to know Christ, I have known much of both of the tender mercies of our Lord as well as His flail of tribulation. My brethren, the school of the cross is the school of light, it discovers the world’s vanity, baseness, and wickedness, and lets us see more of God’s mind. Out of dark affliction comes a spiritual light. With that, let us look at John 3:16-21.
1 When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; 4 and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. 5 But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.” (Matthew 26:1-5 NASB)
This ministry is geared primarily around presenting God’s Truth from His Word succinctly and in context to all professing Christians. That would include both genuine Christians and those who are Christians in name only. The purpose in this is to present God’s Truth as THE TRUTH. All else is incomplete or false. Within God’s Truth are the absolute doctrines of Christianity. These are indisputable. Therefore, when a Christian leader changes the focus of his ministry by departing from these doctrines or embracing as a fellow Christian leader one whose doctrinal beliefs are contrary to these doctrines calling that person “doctrinally sound” we have the responsibility, within the godly discernment given to us by God, to call all this into question and make the proper examinations to determine the soundness of all those in question. We do not do this to persecute anyone. We can do this correctly, however, because God’s Truth is absolute and objective not subjective like man’s truth.
9 Ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐν σαρκὶ ἀλλʼ ἐν πνεύματι, εἴπερ πνεῦμα θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν. εἰ δέ τις πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ οὐκ ἔχει, οὗτος οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτοῦ. (Romans 8:9 NA28)
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
When we talk about “the flesh” in this life, we are not always talking about these living breathing bodies we all have though the context does mean that in some cases as we shall see. Here in Romans 8, the root word of what is translated in English as “flesh” is σάρξ or sarx.
4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose:“ He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double- minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4:4-10 NASB)
7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
8 ‘This people honors ME with their lips,
But their heart is far away from ME.
9 ‘But in vain do they worship ME,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'” (Matthew 15:7-9 NASB)
What does it mean biblically to draw near to God? Obviously, the Jews our Lord confronted as Matthew recorded in the passage above were not doing so. However Hebrews 10:22 says to those who are truly born again:
22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22 NASB)
Here is Hebrews 10:22 from the NA28 Greek text, “προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆς καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως ῥεραντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς καὶ λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ·”
The words “let us draw near” translates the verb προσερχώμεθα, which is the Present tense, Subjunctive mood, Middle voice, 1st person, plural of προσέρχομαι or proserchomai, “to approach, accede to.” This verb structure refers to continuous or repeated action, regardless of when the action took place. The subjunctive mood suggests that the action is subject so some condition and the present subjunctive can be used to give exhortation, which is exactly what the writer of Hebrews is doing here.
32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:32-33 NASB)
Believe it or not, there are parallels of God’s grace in remembering Abraham and thereby saving Lot from destruction and remembering Christ when at the final judgment and thereby saving all those for whom He is their propitiation. In light of this let us look at why so much of what seems so right and innovative in today’s Church is nothing more than possessing heaps of overthrow while those who refuse to compromise in worship, preaching, witnessing, and making disciples are the ones who truly possess the treasure of the Kingdom of God.
19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “ Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “ But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him A drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21 NASB)
It is the duty of all believers to serve the Lord by being good soldiers, ready for battle to stand and contend for His Truth no matter the cost, however, there are right and wrong ways this is done. It is vital for the apologist to know the truth and that is found only in God’s Word. Yes, some godly Christians speak and write truth from God’s Word, but the primary source for us is the Word of God. This is why it is vital that believers sit at the feet of good and godly teachers of God’s truth that they may know and love His pure doctrines. I have seen so many good Christians attempt to stand up to apologists for some man-centered version of our faith, but they are not prepared. This usually ends badly. The reason this happens is that these good people use tactics born in the flesh rather than from the humble, and wise heart that is submitted totally to the will of God. The enemy is an expert at inciting people to react emotionally to what they perceive as wrong and this can lead to snippy arguments that produce only bad fruit.
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; (Ephesians 4:11-14 NASB)
There is little doubt that there are some in leadership positions in the visible church that are there because of their natural abilities rather than the fact that God has gifted them spiritually to lead His people. If the latter were the case, they would not be leading their followers into apostasy as the passage I placed at the top of this post clearly states. Those gifted by God to be true leaders in His Church have the role and responsibility to do what? They are to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Got, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Why?
5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:5-6 NASB)
This Christian walk is fraught with struggle against a deadly enemy. That enemy is the flesh. Our flesh is deceitful and has only one goal, which is, motivated by pride, to drive us to seek fulfillment through channels which will always result in the believer not walking in the Spirit, but according to it. It is very clever and can even conjure up false humility that is really pride in disguise. It can justify all sorts of things that appear to be humble and Christlike, but which are merely screens and bluffs designed to disguise a life of self-gratification. In this walk it is vital that the believer come to terms with the fact that they will have to deal with this monster as long as he or she is in this life and that it is the victory over it which is the wonderful result of the mortification of sin. This humble pursuit is only possible for the believer as he or she learns to walk by faith motivated by God’s love working through them.