Thursday, July 3, 2014

Catholicism v. Biblical Christianity, Pt. 2 (Ecumenism)

  "Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."" John 14:6

    I have written a short post on the Catholic Church (CC) in the past, however, given the level of influence and acceptance that it has among believers, I believe it warrants more attention. It is clear that while the CC worships a god that seems ever so much the same as the One True God, it is nevertheless a false religion. It is embracing all forms of religion in the name of our Lord, and churches and believers everywhere are following it's example. Prominent Christian leaders and teachers are embracing the CC, turning blind eyes to the blatantly anti-Scriptural doctrine that it upholds. All across America pastors and influential ministries are sharing their pulpits with false prophets by allowing Catholic speakers to teach their congregations. By accepting and promoting Roman Catholicism, believers are unwittingly playing a role in the fulfillment of prophecy.

   In my first post, I outlined a few crucial doctrinal differences that according to Scripture are nothing short of heresy. The few that I touched upon included the CC's position that the Bible is not the only source of Christ's teaching and that you can earn your salvation through works and prayers. It also believes that salvation only comes through the CC - even if you don't belong to the Church.

The Catechism says, "Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation…. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or remain in it. This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and His Church." 

The CC teaches what they refer to as baptism of blood and baptism of desire. Baptism of blood is what they call people who die for the faith, and they believe that through that person's death they are baptized (saved) by the Church. Catechism once again addresses this:
“The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament."

 also a section about baptism of desire:
“Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation” 

  This doctrine of salvation through the Church is found nowhere in Scripture. It is a false teaching, and I find it disturbing that so many pastors and believers are allowing this religion into our churches. While these reasons alone are already enough to deem Catholicism heretical and a false religion, there is another aspect that I want to discuss in this entry. The issue of ecumenism is thriving in Catholic Church. It is a dangerous mindset, for true believers know that there is only One way to eternal life in heaven, and that is through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross - buried 3 days and having come back to life to defeat sin and death once and for all!

   I was reading an article the other day that was discussing the issue of ecumenism, and it quoted a small section of the Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions). The paragraph that had been quoted surprised me with its blatancy, so I looked it up to read the Declaraation in it's entirety. It was alarming to read, seeing as how Christians today are also embracing the same view. However, it also confirmed to me that CC is indeed recognizing other religions as being able to achieve salvation, and that they all worship the same god. (They would use a capital G - God, but I will not, as they do not worship the one true God!) I included a link to the whole declaration above, but I will highlight a few sections that I found remarkably troubling:

Religions, however, that are bound up with an advanced culture have struggled to answer the same questions by means of more refined concepts and a more developed language. Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust. Again, Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing "ways," comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. (emphasis mine)
The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. (emphasis mine)

   Though the Declaration was made in 1965, it is apparently still being held to today. In fact, Pope Francis continues to make ecumenism a leading priority in his "ministry." When speaking to a group of refugees in Italy earlier this year, he encouraged them with these words: 

"Sharing our experience in carrying that cross, to expel the illness within our hearts, which embitters our life: it is important that you do this in your meetings. Those that are Christian, with the Bible, and those that are Muslim, with the Quran. The faith that your parents instilled in you will always help you move on.”  

   While that may make all parties involved get the warm fuzzies now, it is a false hope and is not going to help them in the end. It demonstrates an alarming acceptance of another false religion, and once again defies Scripture. We have seen time and again the Pope joining together with different religions in an effort to bring about unity and peace. Just this month Pope Francis hosted an interfaith "Peace Gathering," that joined together professing Christians, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Druze. The different religions took turns offering prayers and reading from their respective holy books. The video below is a recording of the first time that Islamic prayers have ever been heard at the Vatican. 

 At one point during the gathering Pope Francis addressed the crowd, saying,

“We have heard a summons, and we must respond. It is the summons to break the spiral of hatred and violence, and to break it by one word alone: the word ‘brother’.” 

   While this sounds noble, it is simply leading to what I believe is the end goal - a One World Religion. Listen to Dave Hunt's explanation of how the Roman Catholic Church meets the criterion for the woman who rides the beast (Satan), as prophesied in the Bible - particularly Revelation and Daniel. 

"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”
So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written:
 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement." Revelation 17:1-6

This video provides a detailed explanation as to why the Roman Catholic Church seems to be the woman sitting on the beast. It is a little long, but it is much more detailed and organized than anything I could put together in my limited amount of time!

   Like all of Satan's deceptions, there are aspects that sound good - noble even. If believers are not careful, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the Catholic Church is just another Christian denomination. After all, they refer to themselves as Christians. They read and teach out of the Bible. They believe in the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The "main characters," if you will, are much the same as Biblical Christianity. Yet, what many fail to realize is that the Catholic Church preaches a different gospel. It's there in the nuances, the subtleties that few Christians care to analyze. This has led to an alarming trend of pastors and teachers joining together and promoting Catholicism and her leaders. It may not seem like a big issue, especially since this movement is happening under the guise of  unity and peace. However, in Scripture we are told,

 "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8-9

Wow! Those are very strong words. Which should tell us just how critical it is that we proclaim false religions for what they are, and to keep ourselves separate from them. It is one thing to lovingly share the Gospel with people, but it is a completely different thing to embrace their false religion in the name of unity. The popular opinion today is that we need to be willing to compromise our "pious ideals" in order to fellowship with, and tolerantly accept, those whose doctrine does not line up with our own - in the name unity and being one body in Christ's love. Problem!! The unity that Christ speaks of is referring to unity among believers, not among different religions. Christians' relationships with things that are not of Christ (including fasle religions) are addressed as well, but not to encourage a brotherhood with them. The opposite is true. Where the mention of the word 'ecumenism' should immediately send up a red flag of warning to us, instead it is being celebrated.

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” 2 Cor. 6:14-16 

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,  and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." 1 John 4:1-6

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" Matthew 7:15-23

 "But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works." 2 Corinthians 11:12-15

"But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 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. 
"For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”" 2 Peter 2:1-3 & 18-22

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:8

"Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ:
Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.  For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ." Jude 1:1-4

  The Lord certainly makes no secret how He feels about false teachers and the doctrine that they preach. So, even if we did not already understand that Roman Catholicism is another false religion, the fact that it is reaching out to other religions in an effort to join hands with them - even going so far as to pray with them to their pagan gods - should discredit it as a "denomination" worthy of promoting. However that's just what many prominent evangelical leaders are doing. Here is a list of well-known teachers who have embraced ecumenism,and more specifically the Roman Catholic Church as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ:

Beth Moore
Billy Graham
Bill McCartney (Promise Keepers)
Francis Chan
Hank Hanegraaff
James Dobson (Focus on the Family)
Joel Osteen
Kenneth Copeland
Louis Giglio
Luis Palau
Rick Warren
Tony Campolo
[and the list goes on]

I caution you that these teachers are not doctrinally sound, and have been caught up in the deception. While they may sound genuine and sincere in their faith, with a desire to love and help people, they are teaching false doctrine. 

If I have not yet provided enough evidence to convince you, check out these articles:
Pope Francis Orders Vatican to Create First Ever Art Exhibition to Promote Chrislam 
Pope Francis Meets Evangelical Delegation
Pope Francis Connects the Vatican With Revelation 17
House Of One

   In closing, I would like to clarify that I do not hate Catholics, nor do I think that they are all evil. They have been indoctrinated and deceived by a false religion - a religion that is prophesied about in Scripture as working hand in hand with Satan and ultimately ushering in the One World Religion that will be established in the end. We, as believers, need to be in prayer for the people under the sway of the Catholic Church, including professing Christians who have aligned themselves with her. We must also warn others about the influential evangelical leaders who are leading thousands to embrace doctrine that is completely contrary to the Word of God. It is not a popular message, but it is a necessary one. Search the Scriptures yourselves to see what is True and what is a lie. As always, contend for the faith.

"Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28


Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Simple Gospel

 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

  Well, it has been a long time since I have written, for a few reasons. One reason being that I simply have not been able to find time to do the research and writing that I once did. The older Josiah gets, the less time I have to sit down! Also, I just needed a break. A break from the discouragement of writing to a faceless audience that doesn't particularly want to hear what I have to share. But, the other day I got a new issue of one of the monthly newsletters I subscribe to - The Berean Call and The Lighthouse Trails Research Journal in case you were curious. This newest one was an issue of The Berean Call, and as I sat down to skim through it, I noticed that the article by Dave Hunt that they were featuring was from something he had written in 1993. And yet as I read the article, it was strangely pertinent and not out-dated as I had imagined it would be. Of course, there was mention of Bill Clinton in the article that gave away the secret of when it was penned, but the message is just as true today. I felt I should share it with you - it's titled
The Power of the Gospel:

First published in December 1993
God’s holiness and justice require that sinners be eternally separated from Him. To be cut off completely and eternally from that Love for which one was created will be to burn with a thirst that will only grow ever more unbearable. God, however, graciously and freely offers salvation from that most dreadful condemnation. “The gospel of God’s grace” declares that God became a man through virgin birth, that this sinless God-man died for our sins, satisfying His own justice by suffering the eternal punishment we deserve, resurrected the third day, and that all who believe in Him are forgiven and receive eternal life as a free gift. Salvation is that simple—and wonderful—and must be preached in that simplicity.
It is not the academic credentials, brilliant oratory, or persuasiveness of the preacher, but the pure gospel that convinces hearers. We must not attempt in human wisdom and zeal to embellish, improve, or in any way make the gospel more appealing to the unsaved. The gospel, presented in its unchanging purity, is the message that the Holy Spirit honors by convincing and convicting those who hear it (Jn:16:8-11). This truth must grip evangelicals once again!
Contrary to popular belief, expertise in preaching (the “homiletics” taught in seminary) cannot help but hinders communication of the gospel. Proficiency in public speaking or in the latest salesmanship techniques may be helpful in a secular profession but not in “the foolishness of preaching.” Unless such methodologies and capabilities are laid aside to proclaim God’s truth, they obscure the gospel.
Though the above may sound like an extreme and anti-intellectual view, such was the teaching and practice of the Apostle Paul. A learned rabbi, Paul was no doubt an eloquent orator who could sway any audience. In preaching the gospel, however, he deliberately laid aside “excellency of speech” (1 Cor:2:1) and carefully avoided “the words which man’s wisdom teacheth” (v 13). Knowing that his own ideas, embellishments, and persuasive abilities were hindrances rather than helps, the great apostle stood before his audience “in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling” (v 3). So must we.
Paul declared that the “wisdom of words” made Christ’s cross “of none effect” (1 Cor:1:17). Therefore, he determined that his preaching would not be “with enticing words of man’s wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” so that his converts’ faith “should not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor:2:4-5). Many well-meaning Christians, however, do exactly what Paul avoided, convinced that the gospel and the Holy Spirit need the help of scholarship, psychological persuasion, and modern promotional packaging. Consequently, the faith of many believers today stands upon the wisdom of men instead of in the power of God—and can thus be undermined by human argument as well.
The gospel is being compromised and even denied by many professing Christians. President Clinton, who claimed to be a Christian, said when his number two legal aide, Vincent Foster, Jr., committed suicide, “My deepest hope is that...[his] soul will receive the grace and salvation that his good life and good works earned ” (emphasis added). At a prayer breakfast in which Clinton participated, Senator Kerry read John:3:1-21 ( skipping verse 16 ), said Christ was speaking of “spiritual renewal,” and that “in the spirit of Christ...Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, Christian” were meeting and “there is renewal...with a new President and Vice President....” Billy Graham added, “I do not know a time when we had a more spiritual time than we’ve had today.”
The terms “spiritual” or “spirituality” legitimize much error. “Spirituality” is now evidenced by ecumenism and enhanced by New Age techniques. Christianity Today ( CT ) (11/8/93) favorably reports upon an apparent widespread movement toward spiritual maturity. Unfortunately, in its promotion of modern “spirituality,” CT touts Richard Foster and his “contemplative prayer” techniques, which involve passivity and visualization taught by such occultists as Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits) and Agnes Sanford. (See The Seduction of Christianity and Beyond Seduction .) Several articles uphold Roman Catholicism as sound Christianity. Introducing a major article, CT ’s executive editor praises Roman Catholic mystic Thomas Merton as having led the way into a deeper relationship with God, even though Merton, a New Ager, rejected the gospel, without the acceptance of which one cannot know God.
It is not methodologies or techniques but truth and love that establish and mature spiritual life in the believer. Nor can genuine love of God and others spring from anything but acceptance and appreciation of the gospel (1 Jn:4:19). That “old, old story” reveals God’s love. Those who preach it in truth must be motivated and empowered by that same love.
Well, you might say, I’m not a pastor or preacher, so advice about preaching the gospel doesn’t apply to me. “The foolishness of preaching” includes sharing Christ with a neighbor over a fence or with a friend on the phone. Christ’s command to “preach the gospel” and to “make disciples”—the so-called Great Commission of Mark:16:15 and Matthew:28:18-20—applies equally to every Christian, past, present, and future. That fact is clear from Christ’s words, “teaching [converts] to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mt 28:20). Christ’s original disciples were to teach their converts to obey every command He had given them—including preaching the gospel and teaching their converts as well to obey Christ’s every command. And so down to us today. We also must obey all He commanded the original twelve.
These words of Christ correct a number of popular errors, such as the idea that His teachings in the four Gospels are only for Israel, or only to be obeyed in the Millennium, and thus are not for the church today. Also eliminated is the idea that “the gospel of the kingdom” that Christ and the disciples preached prior to the Cross is somehow different from the gospel we are to preach today. And a major source of Roman Catholic error—that the pope is Peter’s successor and that only the hierarchy of priests, bishops, cardinals, et al., are the successors of the other apostles—is also proved false. Every convert to Christ is both commanded and empowered by the Holy Spirit to obey everything Christ commanded the original twelve and thus to act in every capacity for which He trained and commissioned them.
The gospel is the only solution to sin’s destructive effect in daily life. Yet even many evangelicals have lost their faith in the power of the gospel and imagine that something else is needed, be it enticing programs, psychological counseling, or new revelations from modern prophets. Paul referred to “the foolishness of preaching” because the simple gospel he preached was despised. So it is in our day.
In contrast to the simplicity and purity of the gospel presented in Scripture, new methods and innovations are being employed today. The gospel is no longer thought to be sufficient in itself. It is now taught that believing the gospel may leave a host of demons hiding within, left over from past sins or even prior generations. The Bible calls the one who believes the gospel “a new creature” in Christ for whom “old things are passed away [and] all things are become new” (2 Cor:5:17Gal:6:15). In denial of this clear truth, “deliverance” ministries have sprung up to cast demons out of Christians.
The simple gospel was all the apostles needed and used. Yet today so much else is added. Take, for example, the new belief that many Christians (especially returning missionaries) through “stress” or “burnout” develop multiple personalities––another heresy from psychology. “Deliverance” allegedly comes by leading each “personality” to saving faith in Christ! Closely related is “Spiritual Mapping,” another new fad, which Christianity Today (11/8/93) calls “a complicated and controversial technique developed by missiologist C. Peter Wagner, that claims to identify satanic strongholds in a city....”
Last July saw the first ever “North American Spiritual Mapping Consultation,” offering “a methodology for discovering specific barriers to soul-winning in North American locales.” According to National & International Religion Report (NIRR),
The consultation was sponsored by the Sentinel Group (SG) of Lynnwood, Wash., and drew 130 invited pastors, lay leaders, and missionaries from 30 states and provinces....The ‘growing influence of new and powerful spiritual forces on the continent’ necessitates such research, said SG President George Otis, Jr., who is also co-coordinator for the United Prayer Track of the AD 2000 and Beyond Movement.... A Spiritual Mapping Field Guide distributed at the conference outlined ways participants could prayerfully research the social bondages, allegiances, and spiritual barriers of their respective communities. It included 200 discovery questions, methodological cautions, and networking recommendations. SG’s Lisa Otis told NIRR that the research methods include interviews, observation, library backgrounding, and prayer logs. The group has planned seven regional meetings in hopes that results will help develop effective prayer and evangelism strategies.
Questions immediately arise. New spiritual forces? Is there a new breed of demons more clever or powerful than those faced by the early church? If the gospel needs such help, why doesn’t the Bible say so? Why weren’t these methods taught and practiced by Christ and the apostles? How could Paul have “turned the world upside down” (Acts:17:6) through evangelism of the pagan Roman Empire without employing these techniques? Would Paul have been even more effective had he used “spiritual mapping” and employed the new “methodology for discovering specific barriers to soul-winning”?
Surely Corinth, Greece’s most splendid and prosperous city, the mecca of trade between East and West, was as enslaved by Satan as any city today. The cult of Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, whose mythic example encouraged sexual promiscuity and perversion, had long flourished there. When Paul arrived in Corinth about A.D. 50, the massive, columned Temple of Apollo had for 600 years dominated the commercial center of the city (where much of the meat sold for consumption was first offered to idols). Yet we find no hint that Paul engaged in “spiritual mapping” of Corinth’s demonic powers. He relied solely and entirely upon the gospel to rescue pagans from Satan’s clutches: “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor:2:2).
Or take the city of Ephesus, whose wealth came in large part from the sale of images of the goddess Diana. Her temple was the center of Ephesian life and, as was always the case with idolatry, involved prostitution, sexual orgies, and every depravity. If ever a people were bound by Satan and his minions it was the Ephesians. Yet without “spiritual mapping” or other “deliverance” techniques touted today, multitudes came to Christ, and the church formed there was among the strongest and truest. Yes, Paul reminded them that their battle was not against flesh and blood but with principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph:6:10-12). He gave no hint, however, that these demonic powers should be mapped or tracked or that psychological techniques for dealing with multiple personalities should be employed. The believers were to stand fast in the faith, clothed in the armor of God, their sole weapon “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v 17).
The “old, old story of Jesus and His love,” as the classic hymn says, “is ever new” and best loved by “those who know it best.” We will never advance, even in eternity, to a higher spiritual experience or understanding than that produced by faith in the simple gospel that saves us. That God loved us so much as to become a man and, though hated, rejected, despised, and crucified, died in our place to reconcile sinners to Himself will ever be, for ransomed souls, the wellspring of love, joy, and worship in heaven. In all eternity we will never have a newer or better song than the “old, old story,” which is ever new.
“Thou art worthy...for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood” is the highest praise possible for the redeemed in God’s presence (Rv 5:9). Herein lies the secret of joy for those who inhabit heaven! Why are some Christians depressed, insecure, selfish, earthly minded, and lacking love, joy, peace, and victory in Christ? The “old, old story of Jesus and His love” has become old indeed to them, neglected and forgotten. They don’t need psychological counseling but a return to their “first love” (Rv 2:4). We need to meditate unceasingly upon this most wonderful truth, the simple gospel, which alone ignites the genuine love and sincere gratitude that we ought to continually express to our Lord.
It is commendable if someone, concerned to know God better, studies Greek. However, if proficiency in that language were essential for knowing God’s Word and living a more fruitful Christian life, then one would expect the Greeks to be the most Christlike and fruitful of all people, and God would have had us all speak Greek. Surely the Greeks in Christ’s and Paul’s day knew their native tongue much better than today’s Greek scholars, yet they had as much difficulty living for Christ as anyone else. The love relationship God desires needs only a sincere, believing heart in which to grow.
“Oh, the wonder of it all” said the hymn-writer, “that God loves me!” It is so simple that a child can believe it, yet so profound that it will take eternity to begin to fathom the depths of that love! God’s love is revealed in Christ’s dying in our place. Surely those who have tasted that love must be impelled by that love to tell others of the salvation available by God’s grace. Only that appreciation of God’s love and grace aroused by the gospel transforms sinners into joyful, victorious saints—and continues to keep the saints in joy and victory now, and eternally.   TBC
   It struck me how far we have come from simply telling others about Jesus. We have left the example that was demonstrated for us in Scripture, and seem to have decided that that way is simply not good enough for our culture. We need more Peters and Pauls! 

  I want to also share a little bit about Billy Graham, as the article briefly mentioned him. He is one of, if not the most, recognized world-wide evangelists of the 20th century. Greatly respected and admired, few know of some very troubling issues that have recently come to light. According to some of his own words, Graham appears to believe in universalism, as well as support the Catholic Church, which is a false religion. (Here is a link to my previous post explaining why The Catholic Church is a false religion and not compatible with Biblical Christianity.) Here are a couple of quotes and video, and I leave you to judge the issue yourself. 

In a Robert Schuller television interview, Graham said:  “He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ, because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.” 

On Larry King Live, Graham was asked, “What about Mormons, Jews, Muslims? Will they go to Heaven?” Graham replied, “That’s in God’s hands.” 

  "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."" John 14:6

 "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
"He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1 John 5:12

  While is is not enjoyable to discover that anyone is falsely teaching the Word of God, and aligning with false religions under the banner of the Lord's name, I hope that it is clear to see that Graham is not a leader that we should support of heed. Perhaps, way back in the day, his theology was not so convoluted, but somewhere along the years things went horribly awry. Which should serve as a warning to us all, that if we are not careful, in the Word, and practicing discernment in all things, then we too will be led into deception. 

As always, I hope you do your research, for that is one of our responsibilities as believers - "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." Acts 17:11