by Jeannette Haley
Some of you may remember the days when hymns were a very substantial and vital part of the fundamental Christian church. Back when things were simple, the Bible was central, hymns reinforced sound biblical truths, confirming the faith, and prayer was a major, not minor, practice.
In those less complicated times, we often sang great hymns such as: “O to be like Thee! Blessed Redeemer, This is my constant longing and prayer; Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. (Refrain) O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee, Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art; Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart. O to be like Thee! full of compassion, Loving, forgiving, tender and kind, Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting, Seeking the wandering sinner to find. (Refrain) O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit, Holy and harmless, patient and brave; Meekly enduring cruel reproaches, Willing to suffer others to save. (Refrain) O to be like Thee! Lord, I am coming Now to receive anointing divine; All that I am and have I am bringing, Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine. (Refrain) O to be like Thee! while I am pleading, Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love; Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling, Fit me for life and Heaven above.” (Refrain) (Words: Thomas O. Chisholm, in Young People’s Hymnal, 1897. Music: William J. Kirkpatrick. Web Site: www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/t/o2belike.htm)
It’s been over a hundred years since this great, anointed hymn was written. Compare it, if you will, to the latest trend in so-called “Christian” music, such as the popular “Hip Hop” Psalm 23 as adapted by Ryan Kearse that goes like this: “The Lord is all that, I need for nothing. He allows me to chill. He keeps me from being heated and allows me to breathe easy. He guides my life so that I can represent and give shouts out in his Name. And even though I walk through the Hood of death, I don’t back down for you have my back. The fact that you have me covered allows me to chill. He provides me with back-up in front of my player-haters and I know that I am a baler and life will be phat. I fall back in the Lord’s crib for the rest of my life.” The Rt. Rev.Catherine Roskam said: “If Jesus were alive today, he would have been a rapper.” I don’t know about you, but this kind of truth-twisting, perverted tommyrot makes me literally sick to my stomach.
Over the past several decades, there has been a rapid and continual shift from the solid bedrock of true Christianity into the muddy waters of worldly compromise and sin. The Apostle Paul described this decay in his letters to Timothy: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” 1 Timothy 4:1,2. Again, in 2 Timothy 4:3 he warned: “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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Just what are some of these “doctrines of devils,” “hypocritical lies” and “fables” that people are turning to? Aren’t you curious about that? To be perfectly honest with you, they are too numerous to mention. Even a short essay on every false teacher and teaching would fill volumes. A person could spend every waking hour of his or her life researching every false way on the Internet (and some people do) and still never plumb the depths of it, because the source is endless. It all originates with Satan whose pit of darkness is not only fathomless, but bottomless. It’s like a dreaded black hole in outer space that you definitely do not want to fall into. To put it another way, if all a person does is pursue knowledge of the “mystery of iniquity,” be it Satan’s multitude of religious counterfeits that litter the landscape today, or the [very real] conspiracy, or the complicatedinterconnectedness of secret societies, the occult, the papacy, the Brotherhood, the Freemasons, Babylon, the New Age, etc., including within the “church,” that person would have no time for personal Bible study, prayer, worship or service to Christ.
This reminds me of a saying that I learned when still a young teen: “Be careful that you don’t get off the track while chasing your enemies.” I’m not disparaging those “watchmen on the wall” who have, and are, faithfully exposing heresy by warning the Church, but such watchmen must beware at all times of their priorities, and be very aware of the Spirit’s leading for their lives. Satan couldn’t care less how much time, energy and resources a person spends learning all the ins and outs of his kingdom as long as that person is too busy and too tired to become a sold-out Christian, following Jesus and obeying Him.
Knowing all about the forces of darkness, or being able to recognize all the fruits, nuts and flakes within today’s socialized church is not a threat to Satan. Rather, such a full-time pursuit keeps people preoccupied, trying to fight something that they can never overcome, while countless lost souls around them slip into a Christ-less eternity in hell. And, that is something to seriously think about.
Satan may change the outward trappings of his insidious snares, but the bait is always the same. In other words, before a person pursues the latest religious movement, or jumps on to the next wave of experience, he or she needs to ask himself or herself, “What is this about and where is it leading me?” Satan’s bait is always from the point of pride, which appeals to self. Self-exaltation, self-gratification, and self-fulfillment make up some of his most irresistible lures. The glittering bait of religious self-righteousness is one of his best “sellers.”
As human beings who have fallen short of the glory of God, our natural tendency is to think, act and be the opposite of God. It sort of goes like this: What seems right to us is wrong to God. What is “highly esteemed among men” is an “abomination to God.” (Jesus said: “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” Luke 16:15.) “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” 1 Corinthians 2:14.
And, so it is within the swelling ranks of the apostate church today where big is better, richer is right, fame is fabulous, entertainment is excellence, action is anointing, worldliness is wonderful, flashy is fantastic, gross is good, and where man’s haughtiness is heavenly. All of this comprises a type of Babylonian pinnacle of pride that echoes Satan’s declarations: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” Isaiah 14:13, 14. Consider the similarities between Satan’s declarations and the goals of the militant Latter Rain, as reported by The Berean Call’s email news, July 21, 2006 :
“The Cleansing for the Kingdom [Excerpts]
“A sure sign of religious authoritarianism is a zealousness to rid the world of its opposition. In the minds of many Charismatic Dominionists, the authority of the apostles and prophets cannot be questioned by anyone, friend or foe. Their placement of rulership in the Kingdom of God is to be free from dissenters or the new unity will be broken. Therefore it will be necessary that those who challenge their teachings and their authority to be removed.
“Franklin Hall, a forerunner and promoter of the Latter Rain in the 40’s stated: ³The man-child group of the sons of God will be required ³to rule the nations, with a rod of iron² (Revelation 12:5). To those not accepting this invitation into Holy Ghost Light Of fire, there is but one alternative: the opposite to light is DARKNESS. The Light of Life will be to them a blinding and consuming fire of destruction!² (Franklin Hall, ³Subdue The Earth, Rule The Nations², Franklin Hall Ministries, 1966, p. 57.)
“³There are differences of opinion among Dominionists as to how dissenters will be removed, but there are essentially five ways in which that may occur: 1) God will supernaturally strike dead those who oppose His apostles and prophets; 2) God will send, or allow satanic forces to send plagues upon dissenters; 3) the Church (or certain ³overcomers²) will pronounce God’s judgment upon dissenters, thus moving God to destroy them; 4) the Church will, out of ³necessity,² use physical force by which it will judge, sentence, and execute judgment (including death) upon dissenters; 5) all or any combination of the above may take place.² (Al Dager, Vengeance Is Ours, p.96-97) http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain14.htm”
This is just one example of the exaltation of man and his own agenda over the plain teaching of Scripture. People who give these extreme beliefs a wide berth, however, may very well find themselves caught up instead in the sweeping flood of the post modern or emergent church. This man-centered, hocus pocus polluted stream made up of a spiritually toxic brew of psychology, New Age mysticism, humanism, and political correctness with its global agendas, along with man’s self-exalting vain philosophies, with Jesus tacked on has taken the world by storm. Shaking our heads over the absurdity of it all, we find ourselves asking, “How can people be so easily led astray?”
The answer to that is both tragic and simple. People have been indoctrinated for decades, even centuries, into following the pattern set forth by the Mother of Harlots, the Roman Catholic Church. These patterns or traditions of men that have no foundation in the Word of God were automatically instituted and accepted in the Reformed churches, especially under Calvin and Luther, and their predecessors. This generally accepted pattern is basically the unchallenged idea that man, rather than the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, is the leader and final authority on all religious matters. The indoctrination of the people to be in submission to authority, any authority, has set the stage for escalating perversion of the truth, resulting in the apostate church.
The mess we find the “church” in today is mostly due to the fact that individuals have forsaken personal study of the Word of God, and intimacy with God in prayer, in order to be discerning and to discover His ways, truth and life for themselves. Instead, people have been conditioned to believe every word that falls from the lips of religious leaders, whether such leaders truly know God or not. Undoubtedly, we are living in the last days where people blindly follow any leader, be he or she a wolf or not, as long as what he or she peddles appeals to their pride and carnal senses. Rare is that man or woman who loves the truth enough to be willing to sacrifice all for it, even it means walking alone with God as Enoch did.
Not only did A. W. Tozer stand out in stark contrast to the dominant brand of Christianity of his day, but he unwittingly prophesied of the growing apostasy of our day. Concerning revival and spiritual growth, which not only the Latter Rain, Manifest Sons of God and the post-modern, emergent church (among others) emphasize, Tozer made the following statements:
“There seems to be a notion abroad that if we talk enough and pray enough, revival will set in like a stock market boom or a winning streak on a baseball club. We appear to be waiting for some sweet chariot to swing low and carry us into the Big Rock Candy Mountain of religious experience.
“Well, it is a pretty good rule that if everyone is saying something, it is not likely to be true; or, if it has truth at the bottom, it has been so distorted by wrong emphasis as to have the effect of error in its practical outworking. And such, I believe, is much of the revival talk we hear today.
“My reason for doubt of the soundness of it is that we appear to conceive of revival as a kind of benign miracle, a feverish renaissance of religious activity which will come upon us, leaving us moral just as we are now, except that we will be a lot happier and there will be a great many more of us. It’s a good talking point and it has an aura of superior godliness about it; but the trouble is that it is just not true.
“Our mistake is that we want God to send revival on our terms. We want to get the power of God into our hands, to call it to us that it may work for us in promoting and furthering our kind of Christianity. We want still to be in charge, guiding the chariot through the religious sky in the direction we want it to go, shouting “Glory to God,” it is true, but modestly accepting a share of the glory for ourselves in a nice inoffensive sort of way. We are calling on God to send fire on our altars, completely ignoring the fact that they are our altars and not God’s. And like the prophets of Baal we are working ourselves into a frenzy as if we could by violence command the arm of the Almighty.
“The whole error results from a confused notion of revival and a failure to recognize the moral laws that underlie the kingdom of God. God never moves whimsically; His ways are never impulsive or erratic. He never sends judgment unless there has been a violation of His laws, nor does He send blessing apart from obedience to those laws. So precise are His movements both in justice and in mercy that an intelligent observer, aware of the circumstances, could predict with complete accuracy any visitation of judgment or grace God might send to a nation, a church or an individual.
“Of this we may be certain: We cannot continue to ignore God’s will as expressed in the Scriptures and expect to secure the aid of God’s Spirit. God has given us a complete blueprint for the Church and He requires that we adhere to it 100 percent. Message, morals and methods are there, and we are under strict obligation to be faithful to all three. Today we have the strange phenomenon of a company of Christians solemnly protesting to heaven and earth the purity of their Bible creed, and at the same time following the unregenerate world in their methods and managing only with difficulty to keep their moral standards from sinking out of sight. Coldness, worldliness, pride, boasting, lying, misrepresenting, love of money, exhibitionism—all these things are practiced by professedly orthodox Christians, not in secret but in plain sight and often as a necessary part of the whole religious show.
“It will take more than talk and prayer to bring revival. There must be a return to the Lord in practice before our prayers will be heard in heaven. We dare not continue to trouble God’s way if we want Him to bless ours. (FromThe Size of the Soul, Principles of Revival and Spiritual Growth, pgs. 8-10)”
When will the majority of professing Christians (and churches) finally abandon their scramble, in the Name of Jesus, to reach the pinnacle of worldly success, fame, power, and control? How many will seek to discover and accept the secret of true greatness, which is not coming out on top, but rather humbling oneself at the feet of Jesus? Hear the Word of the Lord: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8, 9. As quoted in a previous article, the Lord tells us: “…but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” Isaiah 66:2b.
Are you “poor and of a contrite spirit?” Do you tremble at God’s Word, or are you too caught up with the latest popular leader and religious wave?
Remember, in God’s economy, the way up is down!