Bitter for Sweet

Driving from home to work, I heard the most amazing and encouraging verses from the Scriptures found in Hebrews chapter ten while I was listening to the Bible on CD:

5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:  “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.  6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.  7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come-In the volume of the book it is written of Me-to do Your will, O God.’”  8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.”  He takes away the first that He may establish the second.  10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  Hebrews 10:5-10

 I was so encouraged and amazed at the wonderful mighty grace of God given to us through His Son Jesus Christ, that He has sanctified us forever through the offering of His own body, because of God’s kind will.  Then I had another thought.  This thought brought dismay, sadness, and anger to my heart.  There are so many who are consuming the bitter words of men and women rather than feasting upon the luscious sweetness of God’s glorious Word which alone teaches us about the grace of God given to us through His Son Jesus Christ.  It is in the Bible that we find the truth, the doctrines, about the dire need of unregenerate sinners, all of humanity, for salvation from the degradation of sin and God’s judgment of the sinner in hell for eternity, and the magnanimous provision of salvation given to us through the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross for our forgiveness and His resurrection from the dead for our justification that we can be reconciled to God as our Father and saved from His holy righteous wrath.  However, so many turn instead to books, blogs, radio and television programs, movies, seminars, conferences, music festivals for the treacherous teachings of fallen sinners which lead them astray causing them to err and turn from Jesus Christ to their own way.  The holy Word of God has much to say about trusting Him and His truth as opposed to believing in the lies of false teachers and prophets who lead the lost into idolatry.  Those who are His through faith in Jesus Christ greatly love His word and find it sweet to their souls!

 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.  10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.  11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.   Psalm 19:7-11

97 Oh, how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day.  98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me.  99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.  100 I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.  101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word.  102 I have not departed from Your judgments, For You Yourself have taught me.  103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!  104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.  Psalm 119:97-104

 God’s word enlightens our hearts and minds by His Holy Spirit so that we turn from evil and pursue what is good.  We turn from our way and obey God’s way.  We turn from falsehoods and lies and hold fast to and love the truth.  We turn from idolatry and turn to knowing, loving and serving the living God.

8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!  9 Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!  There is no want to those who fear Him.  10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.  11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.  12 Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good?  13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.  Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.  15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.  16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.  17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their trouble.  18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:8-18

 God uses His word to work within us a broken heart and contrite spirit when we realize our sin and our great transgression against the Lord God Almighty.  He teaches us to fear Him through His Word and we gain a heart of wisdom so that we tremble at His truth and declarations of judgment upon the wicked.  God honors those who honor Him by believing, respecting and trembling at His Word.  God blesses those who know and obey Him.

16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.  17 “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels.  And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him.”  Malachi 3:16-17

 1 “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool.  Where is the house that you will build Me?  And where is the place of My rest?  2 For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” says the Lord.  “But on this one will I look:  On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word…5 Hear the word of the Lord, You who tremble at His word:  “Your brethren who hated you, Who cast you out for My name’s sake, said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy.’ But they shall be ashamed.” Isaiah 66:1-2 & 5

 God greatly blesses those who know Him and tremble at His Word.  We don’t need lofty buildings to glorify Him.  The words and works of men lead them astray and turn their hearts to hate those who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  God has nothing but just judgment for them and exposes their evil hypocrisy through His Holy Scriptures.

 20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.  Isaiah 5:18-21

 15 “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets:  ‘Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall; For from the prophets of Jerusalem Profaneness has gone out into all the land.’”  16 Thus says the Lord of hosts:  “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you.  They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the Lord.  17 They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, “You shall have peace”’; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.’”  18 For who has stood in the counsel of the Lord, And has perceived and heard His word?  Who has marked His word and heard it?  19 Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord has gone forth in fury-a violent whirlwind!  It will fall violently on the head of the wicked.  20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back Until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart.  In the latter days you will understand it perfectly.  21 “I have not sent the prophets, yet they ran.  I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.  22 But if they had stood in My counsel, And had caused My people to hear My words, Then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.  23 “Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord, “And not a God afar off? 24 Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?”  says the Lord; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.  25 “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’  26 “How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies?  Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, 27 who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal.  28 The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.  What is the chaff to the wheat?” says the Lord.  29 “Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”  30 “Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” says the Lord, “who use their tongues and say, ‘He says.’”  32 “Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” says the Lord, “and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness.”  “Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all”, says the Lord.  Jeremiah 23:15-32

 1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teaches among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.  2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.  3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.  2 Peter 2:1-3

If someone teaches contrary to the Scriptures, teaches without reference to the Scriptures, teaches from their own thoughts and opinions, teaches from the doctrines of fallen men, teaches, saying that they have received “a word from the Lord”, then you know that person is a false teacher.  They will comfort and confirm the sinner in their departure from the ways of God.  They will encourage and strengthen the hand of the sinner in following an evil course.  The Christian church in America abounds with false teachers.  Some of the more prominent false teachers are Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Beth Moore, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Mark Driscoll, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Gregg Laurie, Joel Osteen, and many, many more.  It is with great sadness that I realize that the majority of church goers care nothing for the Word of God and are content to be led astray by the false teachers of our day and days gone by.  They love the bitter offerings of the wicked unredeemed and despise the sweetness of the marvelous Word of God.  They refuse the mighty work that God does in the hearts of sinners through His Word by His Holy Spirit.  Such is our day.  May God bless us with a fervent devotion to Him and His truth, and a consistent reliance upon Him as we spend time in His word and godly devotion to Him by prayer and worship through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

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54 Responses to Bitter for Sweet

  1. David says:

    Tough words at the end there, but so true.
    Just curious Eliza – what is your view on Acts 2:23?
    Be blessed,
    David

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  2. Eliza says:

    According to God’s Word He is sovereign and works all things according to His will. Praise Him that will is to bring sinners to faith in Jesus Christ. That is why we warn, exhort and share the truth of the Word of God and His glorious gospel of grace given to us through faith in Jesus Christ. God bless you and thank you for commenting.

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  3. Thank you – you’ve pointed the way so well and been a stabilizing influence in my walk with Jesus.

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  4. Eliza says:

    Dear Maria,
    Praise God for His mercy to us that He encourages us and strengthens us by His glorious Word through His Holy Spirit. Thank you for sharing that encouragement with me, it makes me so very glad and thankful to our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God bless you:)
    Love in Christ,
    Eliza

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  5. Wow, that’s an interesting list. With all due respect to the message, which has a lot of powerful and truthful statements in it, you mix false teachers in with rock-solid Biblical theologians. Beth Moore and Billy Graham are very much Bible-oriented with lots of Scripture references usually read straight from the Bible, which you would know if you read their books or listened to their broadcasts, while Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen cherry-pick and paraphrase to create a gospel of their own design. I reject teachers who play fast and loose with the Bible, but I find accountability and depth of teaching from those who have spent much time in the Word. The list you assembled suggests that you are encouraging us to reject all teachers and only interpret the Bible for ourselves.

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    • Eliza says:

      Billy Graham is an ecumenical universalist who leads the unwary astray. He has joined hands with heretical apostates since the 1950’s. He has sent those who came forward, and were Catholics, back into the apostate Catholic Church. He has called rank modernists, who deny all of the core biblical doctrines about Jesus Christ, brothers in Christ. As early as the 1970’s he has said that Jesus Christ is not the only way to God, flatly contradicting God’s Word. Additionally, based upon this wicked disobedience, which his son Franklin has applauded, Franklin Graham had a Catholic Bishop open the Three Rivers Festival of Hope with prayer and the Bishop pointed Catholic attenders to the venue where they could counsel with Catholics. Does the Catholic church teach the way of salvation in truth? Do modernists exalt Jesus Christ and lead the lost to Him?
      Here is documentation of his gross heresy.

      https://holdingforthhisword.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/the-grid-4/

      http://www.wayoflife.org/database/grahamcompromise.html

      http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/

      Beth Moore claims that God audibly speaks to her. Then she says that those who will not follow what she has to say are not recipients of God’s gracious provision, they are scoffers and are bullies. These are the words of a false teacher. She didn’t open the Word of God, she just gave her own empty baseless wicked thoughts. She is also joining hands with Joyce Meyer a heretical preacher of the prosperity gospel. She is showing that she is not following the Lord Jesus Christ, but a false christ leading many astray.

      http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2014/08/beth-moore-talks-unity-with-word-faith.html

      Are you sure that you want to join in with the deceived in promoting and supporting these false teachers who oppose the true work of God and have established their own way that leads to destruction? They lead the lost to hell rather than to Jesus Christ for salvation.

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      • Have you ever been to a Beth Moore event or viewed one of her online teachings? That has not been my experience and I’ve participated in both. She was in the Word, she was leading us to open the Bible, she provides vast amounts of cross-references. I never agree 100% with any BIble teacher. I am skeptical by nature and am a show-me kind of lay-theologian, so I am not in complete agreement with Beth Moore. But then I’m not in complete agreement with my Sunday School teacher, my pastor or my husband on Biblical issues.

        You are right about Rick Warren. I have a friend who used to attend his church back when it was a smaller congregation — a LONG time ago. Mark says Rick started with the best of intentions. Mark, who is a very well-rounded in-the-Bible Christian (and one of my mentors in the faith when we were in college together), strongly asserts that Rick Warren and his wife are Christians, but he felt Rick wandered into a soft-soap easy believism in order to market and build a mega-church. He’s not as far off as Osteen, who I doubt is even a Christian, but Warren has wandered far enough that Mark and his family parted ways with Saddleback many years ago.

        However, I would point out that pastors and evangelists can’t really impact the world around their church if they isolate within the walls and call everybody else heretic. My pastor is on the board of the local Food Bank, for example, which does a great ministry in this community. While there, he interacts with the parish priests for the Catholic, Orthodox and Episcopal organizations. I know all three men and do not consider them to be Biblical Christians and I don’t think Gary does either. However, I’m pretty certain Gary prays with them and treats them with respect when he’s working with them around the issue of alleviating hunger in the community. At the same time, when we’re handing out food boxes every Thursday afternoon, the people who are picking them up hear the gospel from the volunteers and hopefully forge relationships that will allow us the opportunity to present the gospel in a more friendly and meaningful way. That is made possible by our pastor not rejecting the rest of the community as apostates and heretics.

        So, what do you mean by “the true work of God” and “salvation”? Let’s assure we’re on the same page before we argue. 🙂

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      • Oh, and I would invite you to continue reading the series because I’m definitely following a theme and a message. You may find you actually agree with me. Maybe ….

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  6. Eliza says:

    Well, the fact that Beth Moore belongs to the SBC enlightens us as to where her apostasy comes from. She says that God audibly speaks to her and then shares what she hears as if it were gospel truth. She speaks about being hungry, but believers have everything they need or could want in Christ Jesus so we are satisfied in our faith in Him. Perhaps she will use this false sense of hunger to encourage those who follow her to seek to satisfy themselves with contemplative false teaching which she promotes. Because of this she is very ecumenical and false. I can actually go to God’s Word and yes, have God Himself teach me His Word through His Holy Spirit without the likes of Beth Moore directing my education in God’s Word.

    Great I’m glad for your church’s ministry, however, it is this same attitude towards ministry that has opened the door to apostasy within the evangelical community as it has striven to reconcile with Rome. Those parish priests do not pray to the same God that His redeemed pray to. They follow a false sacramental gospel that cannot save, but only condemns. God’s Word tells us not to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather to expose them, reprove them.

    A true work of God brings a sinner from damnation to salvation through faith in His Son Jesus Christ and turns a rebel bent on transgressing God’s holy law, into a blood bought child of God who is bound for heaven and daily living in obedience to His Word for His glory and praise through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul is our chief example from the Word of God for this supernatural transformation.

    Since you belong to the SBC I will not read your blog. I am sorry,but the SBC has had very a deleterious impact upon the furtherance of the gospel and the body of Christ.

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  7. Justin Cobb says:

    I love how God does not make decisions, He makes determinations.
    decisions are what men make when they’re in a quandary , when they must DECIDE what the best course of action is. God, on the other hand, is working everything according to his determinate council, which he has purposes in His son, before the foundation of the world.
    What does this mean for you and me? It gives us confirmation and assurance that God is working! John chapter 10 talks about HIS SHEEP HEAR His voice. Do you hear the word of God? as in understanding? Can you recognize the difference between God and the one who speaks like a dragon? Then this gives us assurance that we actually belong to God, that we are His sheep! This was determined before the foundation, praise God!

    We live in a day and age where the truth is not being proclaimed, these indeed are PERILOUS times we live in, where the professed church is not enduring sound doctrine. It is refreshing to see Gods remnant here on this page, proclaiming His holy word and holding fast to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May The Lord continue to bless you with all manner of spiritual gifts, and increase your faith. Grace and peace be multiplied to you.

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    • Eliza says:

      Praise God, amen! and thank you for your very encouraging words. The Lord has revealed to me that those who are His do indeed hear and believe what the Bible says and put into practice what He commands. Belief in and obedience to the Holy Scriptures indeed is the dividing line between those who are true, who belong to Jesus Christ through faith in Him and belief in His gospel, and those who are false, the follow a false christ and believe in a substitute gospel. God bless you with His glorious mercy, grace and peace given to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. 🙂

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  8. Bob Wheeler says:

    Eliza,
    I can appreciate your concern to stand for the truth, and I think that you are largely correct about the teachers you mentioned.
    Just a word of caution, however. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 has to have some implications for the body of Christ. We need to draw the line where Christ draws the line, and that is between those who know Him and those who don’t; between the regenerate and the non-regenerate, the elect and the non-elect. Anyone who is genuinely born-again is a brother or sister in Christ, but we must not have fellowship with unbelievers.
    Having said that, however, where does that leave the modern church? Obviously we must disassociate ourselves from groups that openly deny the gospel — the Roman Catholic Church, the modernists, etc. But what about the myriad professing Evangelicals who show so little discernment? It is quite likely that in many cases they are not genuine believers, but in individual cases it is hard to know for sure. We want to be careful about judging, yet obviously today the professing church is in a deplorable state and desperately needs revival.
    I wholeheartedly agree about the centrality of God’s Word. I have personally profited, however, from the writings of the Puritans, and a handful of modern authors including A.W. Tozer and Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Interestingly, the writings that endure are the ones that are firmly grounded in the Word — the rest eventually fall by the wayside when people see them for what they are — essentially worthless.

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    • Jon Gleason says:

      Bob, Christ did not draw the line between regenerate and non-regenerate. In Matthew 18 He told His disciples that there were times when a brother should be treated as if they were non-regenerate. In I Corinthians 5, believers were told to put a man outside the church without trying to decide whether he was regenerate or not — his behaviour was unacceptable within the body of Christ, either way. In II Thessalonians 3 we are told that there are those we should not count as enemies, and entreat as a brother, but with whom we cannot continue in fellowship. In Titus we are told to reject heretics — and the old meaning of heretic is one who is divisive, so this not only includes false teachers, but also divisive Christians.

      There are many Scriptures telling us to exclude from fellowship those who may be regenerate. And that should not surprise us — it is impossible for us to know. Would our Lord tell us, “Fellowship with no unbelievers but with all believers,” when we can’t even know for sure which is which?

      Our fellowship is based on whether those who profess to be believers live and teach according to God’s Word.

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      • Eliza says:

        Amen! Thank you for your biblical, godly contribution and exhortation. God bless you:)

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      • Bob Wheeler says:

        Jesus does, in fact, draw the line between the regenerate and the unregenerate. In His great high-priestly prayer in John 17 He says “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” (v. 9). He then goes on to pray that His disciples would be one: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (v. 21).
        This does not, however, eliminate the need for church discipline, yet even here a couple of points must be made.
        first of all, not everyone who walked down an aisle, made a profession of faith, and is baptized is born again. If someone has fallen into gross, scandalous sin, the presumption is that he is not born again — there is no sign of the Spirit’s work within his soul.
        In other cases there may be a professing Christian who is walking disorderly, and with him we are to have “no company.” Yet even here, “count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (II Thess. 3:14,15). So that even here there is a difference in the way we view him and treat him.

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        • Jon Gleason says:

          Bob, it is obvious that the dividing line for fellowship is not between regenerate and unregenerate. On one side of the line are professing believers who live and teach truth. On the other side are all others, whether they be unregenerate or those who profess to be believers but are not living in obedience.

          Christ’s prayer for unity also included a prayer for sanctification. You can’t parse that part out of the prayer. Those not living in holiness are not in unity, and He did not expect us to act as if they are. Neither part of the prayer (sanctification or unity) will be fully fulfilled in this life.

          Nothing in church discipline tells us to decide a person is unsaved. In II Thess 3, we are told to look on them as brothers. In Matthew 18, we are told to treat him as an unsaved person, not decide that he really is one. In I Corinthians 5, they were told to put the man outside the church where God (not the church) judges. In that particular case, based on II Corinthians, we know that the man repented, and thus must have been regenerate. It would have been error for them to judge that he was unregenerate, and error to continue in fellowship with him.

          We simply cannot say that we should fellowship with all who are regenerate. Such teaching has done immense damage to the purity of churches. When this teaching is accepted, it often hinders the proper exercise of church discipline. If church discipline is still exercised, this teaching pushes people into unnecessary and unprofitable discussions about whether the disciplined person is truly regenerate or not.

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  9. peaceforeternity says:

    ELIZA.. I linked to you via News4The Masses. I am delighted to see another true Christian boldly defending both the pre-trib rapture and the truth about these false teachers! Please continue to be strong. There will be many that try to discredit you, and the truth of His word, by trying to get you into pointless debates, aurorawatcherak being a point in case. Sorry aurorawatcherak, but you are confused. You said, quote ‘….. and hopefully forge relationships that will allow us the opportunity to present the gospel in a more friendly and meaningful way.’ There is ONLY one way to present the gospel, and it is not by aligning with others who believe in a different Jesus. I am praying for you Eliza.

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  10. Bob Wheeler says:

    Jon,
    I didn’t say that the church can know infallibly who is regenerate and who is not, although as a Baptist I believe in a regenerate church membership. I also think it is important to emphasize that regeneration should make a definite change in a person’s life. The usual mistake is to assume that a person is born again when he/she shows little positive evidence of it.
    Notice that I said that Christ draws the line between the regenerate and the unregenerate. He does know infallibly who the regenerate really are, and in His mind there is a clear distinction between the two. The regenerate are a part of His mystical body, the universal church. His Spirit dwells within their hearts. If they fall, He chastens them as a loving Father. The unregenerate, however are under His wrath and condemnation.
    And, as His high priestly prayer indicates, His desire for His children is that they be one with Him and with each other, and this requires love, humility and forbearance on our part.

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    • Jon Gleason says:

      Thanks, Bob. Of course Christ knows. And of course He desires unity among His disciples (as He desires holiness). But I was responding to this:

      “We need to draw the line where Christ draws the line, and that is between those who know Him and those who don’t; between the regenerate and the non-regenerate, the elect and the non-elect. Anyone who is genuinely born-again is a brother or sister in Christ, but we must not have fellowship with unbelievers.”

      That is not where we should draw the line for fellowship, for reasons stated. And from your followup comments where you affirm church discipline, I would say that is not where you draw the line, either. You would exclude some who are regenerate from fellowship. So the statement I’ve quoted simply isn’t accurate.

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      • Bob Wheeler says:

        Sorry for the confusion. I can see where the phrase “We need to draw the line” is ambiguous because it doesn’t make clear, “draw the line with regard to what.” We need to regard every genuinely born again Christian as a brother or sister in Christ, and in areas where their doctrine or practice is faulty, we need to pray for them, admonish them, and in certain instances discipline them. I also realize that in the context of the modern situation it can be extremely problematic knowing who is really born again and who isn’t. When a church is spiritually weak and shallow, is a given member simply an immature Christian or someone who hasn’t really been converted at all? In some churches it is virtually impossible to tell the difference.
        We need to be careful with “Second Degree Separation,” though. If the other brother appears to be genuinely sincere, and our difference with him is mainly over a doctrine of secondary importance, we need to be careful. What if it were to turn out that we were the ones who were mistaken on the point at issue? Who would be the heretic then?

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        • Jon Gleason says:

          Hi, Bob, thanks for clearing that up.

          A couple thoughts:
          1. “Second Degree Separation” has a bad reputation. But if the church down the road won’t discipline an adulterer, it IS going to affect our relationship. It doesn’t just affect our relationship with the adulterer, but with everyone in that church. We certainly wouldn’t be having a joint meeting with them — they’ve decided adultery is permitted in the church. Is that secondary separation on our part?
          2. Absolutely humility is needed in these things. We certainly shouldn’t be dividing over the matters described in Romans 14.
          3. I haven’t figured out, from Scripture, how to tell which points of doctrine (or points of obedience) are of secondary importance. Have you? I’m not being facetious. I know this argument is commonly used, but I don’t see it in Scripture.

          Probably this is not the place to discuss the whole secondary separation issue — somewhat off topic to Eliza’s post, and it’s a big issue. Lord willing, I hope to post something on it (not in depth, but at least on the topic, triggered by a fascinating comment by Al Mohler) in the next few days on my blog, and if you want to chime in there, you would be welcome. If you want to hit my contact page and zap me an email, I’ll let you know when the post goes up.

          All the best to you.

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  11. Eliza says:

    Dear Jon,
    I have to say that I am in total agreement with you. I look forward to reading your post on the topic of secondary separation. There has been a general infidelity to the Lord and His Word because it is assumed that some doctrines are more important than others, but, as you said, Scripture doesn’t teach that. A case in point is the Lord’s imminent return. There are those who don’t believe what the Bible says about Christ’s return, however, Scripture clearly links the gospel with His imminent return, so do they truly trust and know the Lord? I have my doubts. God bless you:)

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  12. Bob Wheeler says:

    Jon,
    If you get a chance you might want to get a hold of a book entitled “On the Level” by Richard I. Gregory and Richard W. Gregory and published by the IFCA Press in 2005. You can probably order a copy from the IFCA’ s website. Richard I Gregory was at one time the Executive Director of IFCA International. They suggest that there are different levels of cooperation depending on the nature of the activity, with something like social activism in the Pro-Life movement at the broadest level and marriage at the narrowest. They realize that on the one hand we have a responsibility to manifest the unity of the Body of Christ, and yet at the same time must remain faithful to His Word. This means that we can often cooperate in same areas and not in others.
    I’ll look forward to reading your blog post when you put it up!

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  13. Eliza says:

    Ecumenical activities even in social activism (is that what our Lord and Savior has called us to? Did He model that for us when on this earth, did He commission His apostles to that as He ascended into heaven?) are dangerous because they give a kind of legitimacy to what is ultimately false and damning. Should any believer be prepared to join with those who are false to promote what is considered by the world as a worthy cause? God has called us to do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith, but does that give us the right to compromise the gospel for some perceived benefit to others? The answer has to be no! Walking and working with the wicked brings about compromise and apostasy. Joining forces with the enemies of God is tantamount to betraying our glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I for one, do not want to go there.

    Billy Graham, that compromising apostate, followed a path of expediency rather than faithfulness to Jesus Christ and His gospel. His legacy is one of leaving the lost in the hands of the enemy and condemning sinners to hell by his faithless and fallacious handling of the truth of God’s Word. This all came about because he chose to work with the enemies of Christ rather than trust the Lord Jesus Christ to do His work His way. His example is one we should be warned by, and we must commit to follow many examples of faithful men and women given to us in the Scriptures, if we find there is a dearth of faithful followers of Jesus Christ today. May God bless us with humble hearts committed to Him and His truth.

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    • Bob Wheeler says:

      I take it then that you would not vote, on the grounds that a Christian ought not to support either major political party because they are both made up of unbelievers and we would be compromising our testimony by supporting them? I have some Christian friends form a more radical Anabaptist perspective who argue that Christians should not vote at all.
      Gregory and Gregory point to homeless shelters, food banks, blood drives and crisis pregnancy centers as activities that believers can and should support, even though Catholics and liberals might also be supporting some of the same organizations.

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  14. Eliza says:

    It is good to give to those in need. It is good to support those who do good, but with the ecumenical surge throughout the visible church, led by many who are considered to be evangelists and pastors(!), we must be careful not to work with unbelievers (everyone who doesn’t believe in the testimony of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us given in the Scriptures) so that our testimony of faith in Jesus Christ is in anyway compromised or we accept the unbelievers as genuine Christians. We cannot accept their false doctrines and must share the truth with them as we are given by God the opportunity to minister the truth to them, but how will that affect doing good works with them?

    The ministries with the most clout and visibility are indeed those that are now in an ecumenical push that uses good works to join with Catholics, Orthodox, Mormons, Muslims and then downplays their heresies while claiming that they are somehow legitimate faiths that must be accepted. Don’t tell me that you are somehow unaware of this dreadfully deadly apostasy that is taking place in plain view throughout the church! This is, of course, what I am referring to; the compromise that blossomed into apostasy started with good intentions (maybe) which is at the head of the march to hell.

    There are innumerable genuine believers who are doing good works that we can join without compromising our faith and testimony to the truth of the Scriptures we just have to do a little diligent praying and searching to find them. We can work together with genuine brothers and sisters to minister to those in need, especially those of the household of faith.

    Voting for a candidate is merely an exercise of civic duty. We must vote our conscience to see the greatest good done to the greatest number of people. This too takes diligent study and consideration, remembering we must support godliness and righteousness, not evil and mayhem.

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    • Bob Wheeler says:

      What Gregory and Gregory are suggesting is that within the body of Christ there is a pyramid of relationships, with the broadest level of cooperation at the bottom all genuine born-again believers) and the narrowest at the top (marriage). At close to the lowest level believers are called to be salt — and on that level they might participate in things like homeless shelters, food banks, etc., in which they are simply demonstrating to the community that they are compassionate people who are willing to address commonly recognized problems within the community.
      On the next highest level we are “light,” which involves evangelism. Here the level of cooperation must necessarily be narrower because of the need to maintain the clarity of message being presented. For example, if you are more inclined toward an Arminian type of theology, I might not be able to cooperate with you because I would be afraid that you would be giving people a false assurance by making them think that all they have to do to be saved is to walk down an aisle. By the same token you might not be able to cooperate with me. Obviously there is a problem here with “cooperative evangelism.”
      The next highest level is the church itself, which must necessarily be even more restrictive because it involves convictions about church government, discipline and worship.
      The underlying theme is the tension between trying to maintain the visible unity of the body of Christ while at the same time being faithful to what Christ, the head of the church, has commanded us in specific areas.
      Then there is the question of how you deal with the brother that you are convinced is in serious error. Gregory and Gregory cite the case of the Evangelicals who signed the Evangelicals and Catholics Together statement (which included Chuck Colson, Bill Bright and J.I. Packer). Critics of the statement included John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, and D. James Kennedy. The elder of the two Gregories, Richard I. Gregory, was Executive Director of the IFCA at the time. A meeting was arranged between the signers and the critics, and the signers did issue a clarifying statement, although MacArthur, for one, didn’t think it went far enough. But this was a good example of Christians admonishing one another as the Scriptures demand.
      (I would definitely have had a problem cooperating with Bill Bright in evangelism!)
      Sorry to rant so long on your blog!

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      • Jon Gleason says:

        Hello, Bob. Nice structure of different levels of things. I’ve not read the book, but it sounds somewhat comparable to a lot of things Kevin Bauder of Central Baptist Seminary has been writing in recent years, though he will draw the lines differently, I suspect.

        Here’s the problem with it. Scripture. Scripture doesn’t really lay out these kinds of levels, does it? It doesn’t say where or how I’m supposed to cooperate with all born-again believers. It doesn’t say I’m supposed to be cooperating with anyone in being salt, I’m just supposed to do it. It doesn’t say I can cooperate with some believers in being salt and others in being light.

        It doesn’t say I can’t cooperate with unbelievers in doing good. If one of my neighbours falls and breaks his leg, and everyone else on the street decides to take turns mowing his lawn for him, I can take a turn. That’s not Christian fellowship. Neither are food banks, crisis pregnancy centers, etc. If there’s a need and I’m equipped (including time), I can do this stuff even if unbelievers are involved — as long as we’re not making it a Christian food bank. We’re commanded to do good to all (Galatians 6). If someone else wants to do good, too, well, I’m not going to let that stop me.

        But I’m not going to let them help build the temple (see Nehemiah). I’m not going to help them propagate their idolatrous kingdom (see the Lord’s rebuke of Jehoshaphat).

        You have a problem with Arminian doctrine? Cooperative evangelism is basically a man-centered philosophy. If regeneration is the work of the Spirit, and the preaching of the cross is foolishness, and the lost are depraved, then evangelism is what I call “miracle-only territory.” And if you are in miracle-only territory, why is cooperative evangelism better? Why is it better for us to get together with the church down the road and do something joint, rather than simply work in our own corner of the harvest field? Does the Bible anywhere teach this cooperative evangelism thing, or is it simply a construct of man’s wisdom, verging on Arminianism, that says “bigger is better, so that must be true in evangelism as well”? If one of your levels is cooperative evangelism, does the Bible even hint at such a thing?

        Anyway, my post is up, if you are interested. Warning — it’s a little bit long even by my standards. 🙂 Al Mohler is an advocate for “second degree separation” if he only knew it and practiced it.

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  15. Eliza says:

    Sorry, but that was an excellent example of how cooperation in “ministry” with those who are apostate leads to apostasy. The men you mentioned are all compromised with false teaching and apostasy, even the ones who protested the signing of the document. These aren’t an example of Christians admonishing one another, but of the world trying to somehow appear to be “Christian”. There are so many different errors represented there by that list of names that it almost defies enumeration, but here goes: works righteousness, denial of the Scriptures, New Age thought, denying the damnation of sinners who take the mark of the beast, attack upon the blood of Jesus Christ, replacement theology, preterism, calvanism, infant baptism. You quoting these men, Gregory and Gregory, in no way equates with quoting Scripture to defend your position, which is indefensible, as proven by the deplorable state of the visible church today. Genuine unity is something that all believers have apart from the machinations of men. Our unity must be derived from the indwelling Holy Spirit and be built around the Scriptures, not someone’s clever ideas! Here is a post that I wrote on the subject of unity if you care to read it.

    https://holdingforthhisword.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/unity-in-the-spirit/

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    • Bob Wheeler says:

      I did read the post and do not have a problem with “first degree separation” (separation from unbelievers). First Degree separation is obviously biblical. What I have a problem with is “second degree” separation. Who am i to believe is a “false teacher” ? John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, and D. James Kennedy, or yourself? Frankly, I think that their theology is more biblically sound than your own (especially in MacArthur’s case — i am not a paedoabaptist). So from whom should i separate?

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  16. peaceforeternity says:

    Eliza.. I prayed for you today. I am so happy to have found your blog. I 100% agree with your last comment! (All those people are false teachers.) The very minute we start to compromise, in ANY way.. we might as well throw in the towel! Error is error, full stop. I am highly suspicious too of people who quote man and not the Bible. I am a simple person who believes that salvation is simple, and being a Christian is not a complicated format of beliefs, instructions etc. We just have to look to Jesus Christ and His word (and I am Authorised KJV only). Man takes the word of God and tries to change it, twist it, and complicate it, (and add or subtract to it).You don’t have to be a scholar to understand the bible, because if you are genuinely saved, the Holy Spirit will teach you.

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    • Eliza says:

      Thank you so very much for your prayers. I have been praying for you also. You said it well, “Man takes the Word of God and tries to change it, twist it, and complicate it, (and add or subtract to it). Jesus combated this same unbelief when He rebuked the religious leaders of His day. God bless you dear sister.

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  17. Bob Wheeler says:

    Jon,
    Very good observation. Strictly speaking, according to the Bible, we are to “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions … ” and that we “be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (I Cor. 1:10), and that is, in fact, the chief weakness of Gregory and Gregory’s book — there is no scriptural basis for denominational differences at all. But how do we fix the problem? Order some study materials from John MacArthur and send them to Eliza, and pray that she sees the light?

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    • Jon Gleason says:

      Bob, I don’t want to be disparaging of Gregory & Gregory, or anyone else who tries to be serious about the purity of the church in doctrine and practice. I’m glad they acknowledge the principle of the need for separation. Their conclusions / applications don’t sound to me like they have a strong Biblical basis, but it’s a start. Too few evangelicals will even address it at all.

      Fix the problem? How about if we 1) all study the Word carefully 2) be true to what we believe God is saying 3) be humble, loving, and patient towards other believers who disagree 4) join a local church that teaches what we believe 5) focus our efforts there in our local church 6) quit trying to build ministry empires, huge networks, and big cross-denominational structures and 7) trust the Lord to do His work, if necessary through small local churches where everyone knows and loves everyone else, prays for one another by name, and knows enough to be able to “exhort one another” so that no one becomes hardened by sin.

      Just an idea. Not sure why anyone would like it.

      All of these problems / questions come because people are trying to build big stuff, have big conferences, big churches, big evangelistic campaigns, big Gospel coalitions — and that way, you can have famous preachers! Hurray! Because being famous is absolutely the best thing in the world for people who have been warned against being puffed up. And then, people can learn to be dissatisfied with their own church, because the music isn’t as skilled as it was at the conference, their pastor isn’t always as eloquent as the guest speakers at the conference, and really, it is just so exciting to have a crowd rather than just our little church!

      If we just focused on the God-ordained institution, the local church, we really wouldn’t be so concerned about figuring out how much we should work together with people from other denominations. And we wouldn’t end up endorsing things we shouldn’t allow, or end up in ties with people where it ends up not just being denominational differences, but things like modalism, word-faith gospel, abusive authoritarianism, etc., etc.

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      • Bob Wheeler says:

        Very good point! Strictly speaking God doesn’t need a famous preacher or a ministry empire to accomplish His purposes on earth. All He needs are committed Christians working in their own God-appointed sphere of activity. We need more of God and less of man!
        I just think that Eliza has taken things to such an extreme that she thinks that anyone is an apostate and a false teacher who disagrees with her on any point, no matter how minor. That would only be justified if she were the pope!
        I also think that there is a biblical precedent (the Council at Jerusalem), for having large groups of Christians come together, pray and study the word, and try to arrive at a consensus. I was struck by a passage I spoke on this past Lord’s Day, Eph. 4:2-6: “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Paul here is evidently describing the universal church, the body of Christ, which presumably includes all genuine believers, Baptists and Pentacostals, Reformed and Dispensational.

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        • Eliza says:

          Dear Bob,
          Throwing the barbs is so unbecoming of you. You set up a straw man and then knock it down, why? What is your purpose in doing this? Are you seeking to edify anyone? Are you seeking to inform anyone? You will graciously receive any manner of error while attacking one who is committed to exposing and rejecting error. Do you see how this can be turned around on you? It certainly makes me wonder what your true goals and aims are. I think that posing the possibility that you are a change agent or a bridger was right on target. Why else would you seek so strenuously to discredit me when my goal is to uphold the Word of God as it is revealed clearly and simply in the Bible, and to reject the false doctrines of man. Let’s just look at one instance where Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, rebuked the religious elites for their false doctrine. Was it a major point, as some would consider it, or could it be looked upon as relatively minor, by the estimation of people like you.

          Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Mark 7:5-13

          Now the religious elites sought piously to justify their nullification of God’s Word by making the monetary neglect of parents acceptable by accepting the money for “God”, I love Jesus Christ, how He stands up for God’s Word and for what is right and good, as opposed to religious elites who stand for the doctrines of man and their own nefarious schemes.

          I oppose the schemes of man and stand for the Word of God. You would do well to do likewise.

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      • Jon Gleason says:

        The “Council at Jerusalem”? Oh, I think you meant the meeting of the church at Jerusalem in Acts 15. 🙂 In which the Jerusalem church met together to discuss the fact that claimed emissaries of the church were causing trouble in another church. And after much discussion, the leaders of the Jerusalem church proposed a solution to which the church agreed, and which was executed.

        Tradition has said this was a council and thus a precedent for later councils, and thus a precedent for a lot of the nonsense we see today.

        Scripture says it was a meeting of the church. Note verses 4 & 22. Verse 24 is a nonsense if this is a council of multiple churches, and makes perfect sense if this is a meeting of the local church in Jerusalem. There is no invitation to other churches to send representatives. There is no mention of people from other churches coming, other than the messengers from Antioch who brought the problem to the attention of the church in Jerusalem. It is completely a problem for the Jerusalem church, caused by people going out claiming to be their emissaries when they weren’t.

        A classic example of how traditional interpretations (which are USUALLY correct) can skew our thinking on a text, and lead us to errant conclusions. We see what we’ve been taught on it rather than what God taught.

        Thanks for the discussion, but I need to withdraw from it, now. Between work, ministry, and the responsibility to respond to comments on my own blog :), I have enough on my plate right now.

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  18. Eliza says:

    Dear Bob,
    I used to listen to MacArthur for years, but then I did see the light by a gracious act of God the Holy Spirit in my mind, heart, and life. While seeking to minister to a relative who was straying I attended John’s church hoping for some encouragement by the message that he preached. The message was ripe with condemnation and very discouraging. However, while driving home, I listened to Galatians on a bible CD, and God used this passage to greatly encourage me:

    Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. Galatians 6:1-3

    This passage gave me hope to see God’s work in this individual’s life, which He has since accomplished and is still working His mighty power in that person’s life.

    God used that incident to begin His work in me, although, I didn’t understand it at that time. Later, while attending a women’s Christian book club the Lord opened my eyes even further. We were reading and discussing what are considered “Christian” classics. At this point in time, the Holy Spirit again began to work by reminding me that C. S. Lewis’ contention that man can come to know God through intellectual reasoning (the whole thesis of the book, he never quoted Scripture) in Mere Christianity was false since mankind is by very nature depraved and can never come to the revelation of the truth apart from God’s gracious work in the heart of the individual to believe what He says in His Word about His Son and the way of salvation. In addition to this gross error, he also taught universal salvation, he denied the penal substitution of Christ on the sinner’s behalf, he taught a works based salvation, ecumenicism, purgatory, and belief in evolution. I was shocked and surprised by this false teaching and even more stunned that many within the evangelical church believe that he was an apologist for the Christian faith. One such person is John MacArthur. He wrote a book, Hard to Believe, where he warned against different doctrinal attacks on the Savior and way of salvation. It was so odd that he quoted C. S. Lewis in the book, (page 93) while admonishing us against believing a false doctrine the Lewis taught in Mere Christianity; that sinners can be saved apart from conscious faith in Christ.

    I wrote a letter to MacArthur warning him about the heresy of Lewis and wondering why he quoted him in his book without warning. The Grace to You ministry tried to contact me, had an associate pastor call and leave his number, but I was very busy at that time working on getting my master’s degree in Chemistry at the university and was never able to connect with them though I tried to return the call.

    Why would MacArthur quote a heretic and not warn others? This is actually a habit of his. Here is a link to document this statement.

    http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/macarthur/general.htm

    MacArthur teaches a works centered gospel. He ties our discipleship with salvation. The two are mutually exclusive, even though we come to Christ through belief in the truth, the gospel of our salvation and repentance from our sins. Christ Jesus works in our hearts according to His good pleasure so that we walk in obedience to Him, even though we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

    John MacArthur dismisses the supernatural cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ in his study bible. This is what his study notes in the NKJV 1997 edition page 1701, have to say in reference to this passage in Romans:

    Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Romans 4:9

    by His blood. Through His violent, substitutionary death. References to the blood of the Savior include the reality that He bled in His death (a necessity to fulfill the OT imagery of sacrifice), but are not limited to the fluid itself. NT writers also use the term “blood” as a graphic way to describe violent death.

    John MacArthur also taught that those who take the mark of the beast can later repent and be saved, ignoring the context of the passage and then thus nullifying the Scriptures which teach the contrary. His watch dog, Philip Johnson actually defended MacArthur in this heresy rather than exhort him to teach the Scriptures.

    And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. Revelation 14:9-13

    MacArthur supports false teaching within calvanism such as limited atonement. He also hasn’t rebuked Sproul for his heretical teachings about end times. Sproul teaches and believes preterism.

    Finally, I spoke with a young man, who was the childhood friend of one of my children, about the error, compromise and apostasy that are rife within the evangelical church. He attended Master’s Seminary and graduated with a degree in Bible. He told me that we cannot know for certain what the Bible teaches about the end times. That is funny, I thought we could. This is the fruit of his education at Master’s Seminary which looks to the Alexandrian text rather than the Received Text.

    I have shown you the bitter teaching of heresy that MacArthur has championed while contradicting the sweet enlivening truth of the Scriptures. You can support men in their error, heresy, and apostasy, but that isn’t what Jesus Christ and His apostles did, nor do His genuine children. You never acknowledged the blatantly obvious apostasy and ecumenicism that is spreading as a tidal wave over the visible church. Are you ignorant of such matters? Or are you maybe one of those change agents, or a bridger, who tries to get believers to follow men rather than Jesus Christ and His truth found only in the Bible. Promoting the opinions of men rather than the crystal clear teaching of the Scriptures is the source of all heresy and apostasy. Do you really want to go there?

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    • Bob Wheeler says:

      Well of course we don’t want to be blindly following men. The Word of God is our only rule of faith and practice, and every man’s teaching must be measured against God’s Word, which alone is authoritative.
      But in judging our fellow believers there are several things that have to be kept in mind. First of all, no human teacher is perfect or has a perfect understanding of God’s truth, and for this reason we need to approach theology with a certain degree of humility. You are probably right about some of the things that MacArthur’s teaching — I recently saw a video of him speaking about the widow’s mite that I thought was a little suspicious. But there is a fundamental difference between an honest and sincere man of God who is consciously trying to follow God’s Word (and I believe that MacArthur probably falls in that category) and someone who is an outright charlatan — like Joel Osteen, for example. I wouldn’t swallow everything MacArthur says “hook, line and sinker,” but i respect the man for his gifts and spiritual maturity. But I generally do not be study Bibles — for me it’s the text that matters, not somebody’s footnotes (I was raised on Scofield).
      Secondly, I think we need to make a distinction between primary and secondary doctrines. What is the difference, you ask? A primary doctrine is one that affects our salvation — the Deity of Christ, the Atonement, Justification by faith, etc. the Fundamentals of the faith, if you will. A secondary doctrine involves things over which sincere believers may disagree in good faith and still be considered Christians.
      I think we also have to recognize that there are doctrines that have been disputed for literally centuries. You mentioned Limited Atonement, for example. What exactly did the death of Christ accomplish? In what sense did He die for me? A lot of people are quick to criticize Calvinism on the point, but in so doing they often wind up denying a vicarious, substitutionary atonement. And yet how could Christ be said to have paid for my sins, 2,000 years before i was even born? It’s not as easy a question as some might think. Can we agree to disagree on this one, since the theologians haven’t been able to reach a consensus on it after several centuries of debate? And yes, I wouldn’t be too dogmatic about the end times either. I think it was Charles Hodge, the great 19th Century Presbyterian theologian, who noted that for centuries Jewish scholars had been studying the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, and then when He actually came, they didn’t recognize Him! Are we sure that we have it all figured out? Harold Camping certainly thought that he did!
      As for the ecumenism and apostasy that is spreading over the churches, i think that the hour of decision will soon be upon us. Look for the U.S. Supreme Court to hand down a decision, probably in the last week of June, 2015, legalizing gay marriage throughout the country and virtually equating Christian morality with bigotry. There will be no compromise on this one — there is no middle ground. And churches and their members will have to decide how to respond. At that point you will see a division between those who believe that morality is something determined by God and those who simply want to “go with the flow.” At that point I think you will start to see some regrouping among Christians.
      We need to pray for our brothers and sisters, that they will see the light and stand firm for the truth of God, even when there is a price to pay.
      I think that you did the right thing in writing MacArthur about C.S. Lewis — I just hope that the tone was gentle — “Fortiter in rem; suaviter in modo” — strong in the matter, gentle in the manner!

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  19. Eliza says:

    If someone teaches contrary to the Word of God, then I see no reason to give that person a hearing. Homosexuality is the judgment upon mankind because they refuse to worship and thank God for Who He is. If this nation is going to be brought under the condemnation of this gross evil practice, then it is because too many leaders within the visible church have given way to false teachers and heretics. The apostasy within the visible church is a smothering blanket over the hearts and minds of the people so that they cannot see or respond to the light of the Scriptures.

    Bob, if you read the Bible, you will see that there have always been those who are false leading the lost. The problem today is that the vast majority of those who claim the name of Christ are going down the broad way to hell with the many. The reason this is happening is that the opinions of men have replaced the Word of God. The high profile leadership within the visible Christian Church is apostate, that includes men like John MacArthur. I don’t need to evaluate his sincerity, I just need to evaluate the way that he handles the Word of God, and that is highly questionable and deficient. The standard for any true blood bought child of God must be the Holy Bible, and if the teaching of the leadership within the church conforms more to the doctrines of men than to any and all of the doctrines of the Scriptures, it is apostate and should be repudiated.

    This is what God says about the apostate teachers and their apostate followers:

    But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. 2 Peter 2:1-22

    Do you really want to argue with God and minimize what He has said?

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    • Bob Wheeler says:

      But by that logic every human preacher is a “false teacher,” since no human being is infallible. Everyone is subject to error. Thus by your standard your pastor is a false teacher, as indeed is every other pastor, teacher and author. We should not be listening to any of them but stay at home and read our Bibles because that is our only safe guide. isn’t the church then perfectly useless? Why are you listening to a man (your pastor) and not God?

      Like

  20. Eliza says:

    You give a ridiculous argument. Men and women who teach the Scriptures as they are led by the Holy Spirit will accurately teach the way of truth, the Word of God. The problem is that men insert their own ideas and understandings rather than rightly dividing the Word of truth. Are you saying, that the Bible is so obscure and the Holy Spirit so powerless that God cannot have any person teach His Word accurately? What a low view of God and His Word. This contradicts what the Scriptures say. (1 John 2) It seems that most people would rather get the regurgitation of men’s opinions and listen to them rather than doing the hard work of studying the Scriptures day in and day out, year in and year out, so that they can rightly divide the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Why does God’s Word say study to show yourself approved rightly dividing the Word of truth if no one can get it right. Additionally, you are making a lame excuse to justify the wicked lies of deceitful teachers. You should be ashamed of yourself!

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    • Bob Wheeler says:

      But don’t you think that Luther and Calvin did “the hard work of studying the Scriptures day in and day out, year in and year out,” and that John Wesley “taught the Scriptures as he was led by the Holy Spirit”? And yet they all disagreed with each other.
      What I’m trying to get at is this: the problem with Second Degree Separation is knowing where to draw the line. And you make it sound as though anyone who disagrees with you on any point, no matter how minor, is a “false teacher” and therefore we shouldn’t have anything to do with him. But in at least some areas i think that your own theology is more than a little debatable. And by excluding everyone with whom we may happen to disagree, no matter what their intentions or level of spiritual maturity, I think involves us in the sin of schism.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eliza says:

        I don’t really know too much about Wesley other than he taught sinless perfection, contradicting the Scriptures. From this error has arisen the second blessing heresy which makes second class “Christians” of those who haven’t experienced that blessing, no matter what it is. We were under a pastor who taught water baptism second blessing, a rank heresy.
        Martin Luther and John Calvin were both greatly influenced in their doctrines by the heretic Augustine.
        Calvin acknowledges his debt to Augustine in his Institutes of the Christian Religion where he likened infant baptism to circumcision and condemns anyone who doesn’t agree with this false doctrine. He got this false doctrine from Augustine, who also supplied many of the false doctrines that the Catholic church is built up on. Really you should be much more careful in your analysis of those who have greatly influenced the church through the ages, get your head out of the sand!
        All I am saying is that I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I go to His Word for His instruction for He is fully able to instruct me through His Holy, Inspired, Infallible, Inerrant Word by His all powerful Holy Spirit. Does that clarify things for you?

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  21. peaceforeternity says:

    Bob Wheeler.. you are trying to embroil Eliza in endless debate, you are trying to prove how clever you are by actually twisting her words. This is a quote from Discerningtheworld.com, which sums it up really, quote:

    ‘I’ve been looking for an example in the bible of this thing called ‘Secondary Separation issues’ that John Piper is now actually bulling his followers with. And I can’t find one.You see, no where in the bible did Jesus or the disciples socialise with people who they knew were false Christians. In fact they stayed far away from them because of the DAMAGE these people do.’

    I emphasise these words, NOWHERE, JESUS OR THE DISCIPLES, SOCIALISE, FALSE CHRISTIANS, DAMAGE!!

    Dearest Eliza, my humble advice is that you refuse to debate this subject anymore with Bob Wheeler. Perhaps he would like to go to the above site/blog and argue there? I think that he will find a fierce adversary in Thomas Lessing, (not that you are not one) and it would give you a break from his constant badgering. Perhaps Bob is a fan of John Piper? And yes Bob, I am fiercely against Calvinism and all Eliza has said about these men is true!

    Eliza do you have an email that I can send you a private message to? It is not about the above subject.

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  22. Eliza says:

    Peaceforeternity (I love that name because that is what we have through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior)Thank you for all of your great encouragement, advice and support I really appreciate it. I would be happy to give you my email: lbria@att.net God bless you:)

    Like

  23. Sherry says:

    Thanks for the heads up on MacArthur and C.S. Lewis…It seems my library of Christian books is diminishing more and more! And, it seems I have a loonngg way to go in the discernment part of my walk with Christ. In part I like what some of these false teachers have said-taking their quotes by bits which are biblically sound-but in the whole they must be rejected. I’m learning that if I like a quote by C.S. Lewis and share it that I am, in a very real sense, endorsing his philosophy on Christianity, and the same goes for any teacher/writer.

    Thanks, Eliza, for your posts that exhort us to use discernment and to know our Scriptures and which encourages us to an uncompromising walk with God.

    Like

  24. controversialchristian1 says:

    But surely God can still work through sinners? I’ve enjoyed many of Joyce Meyer’s books. Do you say everything she has written and believes is false?

    Like

    • Eliza says:

      Jeremiah 23:15-22 and my last paragraph answers this.

      Like

    • Jon Gleason says:

      “I’ve enjoyed” is probably not the best standard for measuring a teaching’s worth, FWIW.

      God can work through Balaam’s donkey if he chooses. And no false teacher will be effective or gain any listeners at all unless they mix truth in with the error. So of course false teachers will not only say things we enjoy, but also things that are true.

      We’re not told to listen to false teachers and filter out the things that are true from the things that are false. We’re told to identify them by the errors and then avoid them. Romans 16:17 is pretty compelling on this point.

      Liked by 1 person

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