Revelation 3: 19 "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."
As I review my life over the last few years I often wonder why I am not dead meat already.
Hebrews 12:8 "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."
God's crippling of me has always been mixed with mercy and was geared to bring me back to that place I departed from -- my first love, Revelation 2:4 "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love."
Romans 2:4 "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
Seldom do we notice where we change directions and indulge into wrong things. Christians have a tendency of going after new teachers, doctrines and spiritual charismatic movements where Jesus is put out on the porch knocking to be let back into His own church. Jesus is replaced with religious heretical teachings. Little do we realize, that He has to be let in to fellowship with each of us individually.
None of these reintroduced movements and doctrines are designed to have a passion for Jesus and the truth of His Word to digest and be transformed by.
Pressing for unity and tolerating heresy is the goal of each and every one of these charismatic movements today and many gullible Christians really eat it up thinking it is the way to go. These movements have even led some past giants of the faith, who opted to go with the flow and caused many more to follow their lead.
Think, I am still in a state of shock to see what God delivered me from, even though it meant being crippled. Though I was spiritually crippled, it was in a way that did not seem to be a chastening when I see the end result that produced freedom from the silent bondage of twisted doctrine and satanic influences, in which many of my heroes are still entangled. I am really hurt by all this.
Hebrews 12:11 "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
I got exercised thereby which may have come to a head in 1993 but started long before that. I was a tough nut to crack so God had to cripple me in order to preserve. God is sovereign and will often use the enemy to accomplish things regarding the chastening of His own. This was the situation in my case.
We know that satan will not prevail against the church but has certainly done a whole lot of damage in not appearing to be at war with us. By just capturing the cooperation of much of the human leadership -- that has the most exposure to the masses of people -- he has acted in a 'silent but deadly' way.
2 Timothy 4:3 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"
I think the hardest thing for me to come to grips with is that many will not pay much attention to the warnings even though they come very late, 'Barbarians At The Gate'.
Ezekiel 3:21 "Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul."
We are not failures, if we warn and nobody heeds. When a person doesn't listen to a warning, this might seem like a failure and one might think, "what's the use of warning?" but I'm sure Noah also dealt with the same problem, yet he was preserved along with his family. Preaching to the world at his time, Noah was absolved from the death of one and all who laughed at his message and later perished in the flood.
1Peter 3:20 "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water."
Being zealous for Jesus, having a passion for Jesus is something lost in all this unity nonsense, but when we move from being religious to being zealous for Jesus we are going to suffer persecution in one way or another -- the Scriptures hold on to this fact. [Baptism is a public statement of who we have chosen to serve and not a salvation issue.]
In Moslem countries a new Christian believer has little trouble with Moslems until he is publicly baptized. It is at this point that the Moslems know he means business and the persecution begins.
Not to belittle baptism, just need to keep it in context with scripture, it is an ordinance and not just something good that one has to do. It is a statement made of the way we have chosen to walk, means nothing if we don't walk the way we say.
Baptism is just another word for being total in following Jesus. All or Nothing immersed in Jesus and filled by the Holy Spirit.
[Editor's Note: As a parallel to this portion of the study we would like to post a segment from Pastor Chuck Smith's book Why Grace Changes Everything]
"Some time ago I attended a pastor's luncheon in Oregon. Before the program began, someone asked if I had heard about the hitchhiker who spoke about the Lord's return and then vanished. I told him yes, I had. Only the first time I had heard about it was way back in 1944 in Burbank, California. The story always had the same ending. The couple who picked up the hitchhiker pull into a service station only to hear the attendant tell them they are the ninth customers that day with the same story. The pastor who questioned me laughed and said, "That shows you how remote Oregon is - it took 50 years for this rumor to get here!"
How prone we are to getting all worked up over things that amount to nothing! And how grateful I am that our faith is based on the firm foundation of the Word of God. I would much prefer that the Lord speak to me from the tried and true pages of Scripture than to receive some kind of supernatural, special revelation. If even an angel came to me claiming to have some revolutionary truth, I would find myself questioning whether his message was of God.
Endless second-guessing is not a problem when we turn to the Word. The Bible is the only firm foundation for our faith and Christian walk. When our lives are founded on the truth of God's Word, we won't be carried away by the latest doctrinal fad or "new and improved" version of the gospel. How crucial it is that we stand fast on the truth of God's Word! This is the only way to maintain the glorious liberty provided to us so abundantly in Christ."
[Rest of article can be read at: www.calvarychapel.com/library/smith-chuck/books/wgce.htm#12]
Church is ripe for a chastening and purging. The reason we warn of the false prophets and false apostles and all the other counterfeits -- which many Christians accept as genuine even though with just a few heretical teachings -- is because of what Paul said in Hebrews 12:8 "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." When we can no longer purge our poisons, we are no longer a light to the world or salt as Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."
Sometimes just a hard look is enough for some counterfeits while others require more severe chastening. I had to be spiritually crippled, but I am so very thankful for it, good reminder to stay straight and the dangers of flying solo or trying to be some kind of super saint and only deluding myself in the process. My chastening was some kind of an eye opener, not to listen to every spirit but to try them to see where they are really coming from. Best counterfeits are those who offer sound doctrinal teachings along with the heretical things they promote.
Still very painful for me to know the kind of damaging influence I had on so many, when satan really pulled out all the stops to do the supernatural stuff through me that convinced a lot of skeptics and shrinks (who did not believe in demonic influences or possession) and also turned the heads of people I looked to for sound teaching and guidance.
People flocked to see a new thing going on that could not be denied as to the reality of it. Hollywood went crazy about it, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) started to get top ratings, people who had never seen a TBN program before started watching TBN for the latest scoop.
I was interacting with what has been proven to be demonic. Though absolutely convinced now, at the time had no idea what was going on. Was only aware that weird stuff was happening that was far more powerful than me. Though my powers were being attributed to the Holy Spirit, it was satan that was gladly playing the role of Holy Spirit within me.
Nothing to atone for but do hope many can learn from something that had national attention and how they themselves were taken in and deceived. Some just don't care who practice deception to begin with; while others believe the things they have been deceived by and become well intentioned dragons in the church who are just a means for satan to infiltrate a healthy church to weaken it.
James 4: 8-10 "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
It's Easy to feel like Elijah after he ran all the way and hid in a cave. When God asked him what he was doing there, Elijah misunderstanding the question and replied:
1Kings 19:10 "… I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
God asked the question twice and got the same answer.
1Kings 19: 9-14 "And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
The lesson in this portion of Scripture is awesome and I relate my personal experience with it. What so many were taken aback by, in my case was the wind, earthquake and fire scenario, but God was not in any of these things. People just flocked to see where God passed by, they only saw the results of something that was between God and me in private, they only saw how God used satan to accomplish something and having mercy on a very stupid man.
There is a point where we just can't find the words suitable enough to express, seeing what Elijah saw and jealous for God, but knowing there are many more just like me, maybe still in a cave somewhere feeling the same way as Elijah, I, even I only am left, but the silent majority is perhaps silent because they don't see the war going on, not when their heroes approve things, but I feel very contaminated by the things old heroes have been taken in by, but healthy not to put our trust in super saints or leadership since they can go down the same way and not know they are dancing with the devil.
I have found all the research of heresy and heretics to be the most painful of any other in my life. Some are itching to expose false teachers, apostles and prophets but I am not one of these who take any pleasure in it, big part of me wants to run again like Jonah (been running for years but can never be far enough).
Esther 4:14 "For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
I am between that same rock and a hard place, but understand now why I went through all the stuff that God brought me out of, when the mind was so scrambled and twisted by the deception of the enemy and me being the last to know that I was blinded by the master counterfeiter, 2 Corinthians 11:14 "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
If love was not the reason then you can be sure I would let it all go and try to make some kind of life for myself but seeing that obedience to God's Word is my life and helping those who have been trapped in the same way as I was, well meaning but still deluded, took years and years to make it back out of the wilderness of heretical teaching that I was taken in by and not only that, satan fooling me with the counterfeit miracles that were supernatural enough, BUT coming from the wrong source.
My pastor was taken in as well, but thankful to God that neither of us remained in that place where compromise is an acceptable thing, not when it applies to the foundational things in God's Word.
There is something wrong if everyone is in agreement about everything, but the unity in diversity is in the foundational things that all agree about, Jude 1:3 "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
When the foundational things are compromised then there can never be unity in diversity. Jesus will never be joined together with what misrepresents Him and a gospel that so many have died to preserve.
I have great respect for my pastor, but when I began to rely on him for things that needed to be studied myself, he became an idol. I started viewing him as just being a step away from the deity, giving glory and honor to who God says He will never share with anybody, Isaiah 42:8 "I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images."
What I have learned over the years is that my heroes are just as weak as me, some weaker. The things, which I was deceived of, also deceived some of them.
However, I didn't stay that way, even though I was deceived longer than the rest of them. Had a love for the truth and loving people so much, that friendships were risked to tell it, like it is, after I made it out of the wilderness and planted my feet on the Rock.
I returned to my first love and never got carried away by every wind of doctrine or experience, however supernatural it appeared to be.