In using my gift as a teacher, given to me by the Holy Spirit, I take my responsibility to my Lord Jesus Christ seriously. I ask you to test what I write with scripture and what you sense the Holy Spirit is revealing to you. Man's word is fallible, but the Word of God is absolute truth. Never let anyone stray you from the most important truth:
Galatians 3: 1-3 1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
I write this chapter in love. I write it out of the love I have for my
Savior, Jesus Christ, and for my fellow man.
It is a chapter of warning that comes from Jesus’own mouth.
Matthew 24: 3-4 3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" 4Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, and will deceive many.
I was inspired to write this chapter after reading two articles in the faith section of local newspaper. Evidence that believers in America (and elsewhere) are falling away from sound Biblical truth is evident in what is happening in our culture and our society today. We are becoming a nation that does not believe in absolute truth, but believe truth is relative. We are setting our own rules and deciding for ourselves what is moral and decent, instead of seeking God’s truth revealed in the scriptures. We have false teachers amongst us who are leading believers astray. Jesus warned us this would happen in the later days. In fact, Jesus warned it would begin right away, beginning at his resurrection, but be will be at its worst just before his return.
In my study, research, and waiting on the Holy Spirit to give me truth found in the parables taught by Jesus, and as I wrote, “I See Him!..I See Him!” Jesus Speaks In Parables", I was astonished to find that Jesus was sounding the alarm to guard yourself from false teachers who come to destroy you. Before you read my commentary on the Parable of Mustard Seed and a Parable of the Leaven at the end of this chapter, I am going to show you how far believers in Jesus Christ are falling away from scripture and absolute truth. I am asking you as you read, to search your own heart and mind. Please look at yourself and reflect on: Is the enemy trying to deceiving you in any way? Is there anyone or anything trying to pull you away from the absolute truth found in the Word of God?
Please read (at least the highlighted words) in the articles below.
By ERIC GORSKI
AP Religion Writer
June 28, 2008 12:00 am
America remains a nation of believers, but a new survey finds most Americans don't feel their religion is the only way to eternal life -- even if their faith tradition teaches otherwise.
The findings, revealed this month in a survey of 35,000 adults, can either be taken as a positive sign of growing religious tolerance, or disturbing evidence that Americans dismiss or don't know fundamental teachings of their own faiths.
Among the more startling numbers in the survey, conducted last year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: 57 percent of evangelical church attenders said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life, in conflict with traditional evangelical teaching.
In all, 70 percent of Americans with a religious affiliation shared that view, and 68 percent said there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their own religion.
I must pause here and put in what God says about this.
"The survey shows religion in America is, indeed, 3,000 miles wide and only three inches deep," said D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist of religion.
"There's a growing pluralistic impulse toward tolerance and that is having theological consequences," he said.
Earlier data from the Pew Forum's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, released in February, highlighted how often Americans switch religious affiliation. The newly released material looks at religious belief and practice as well as the impact of religion on society, including how faith shapes political views.
The report argues that while relatively few people -- 14 percent -- cite religious beliefs as the main influence on their political thinking, religion still plays a powerful indirect role.
The study confirmed some well-known political dynamics, including divisions over abortion and gay marriage, with the more religiously committed taking conservative views on the issues.
But it also showed support across religious lines for greater governmental aid for the poor, even if it means more debt and stricter environmental laws and regulations.
By many measures, Americans are strongly religious: 92 percent believe in God, 74 percent believe in life after death and 63 percent say their respective scriptures are the word of God.
But deeper investigation found that more than one in four Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants and Orthodox Christians expressed some doubts about God's existence, as did six in ten Jews.
Another finding almost defies explanation: 21 percent of self-identified atheists said they believe in God or a universal spirit, with 8 percent "absolutely certain" of it.
"Look, this shows the limits of a survey approach to religion," said Peter Berger, a theology and sociology professor at Boston University. "What do people really mean when they say that many religions lead to eternal life? It might mean they don't believe their particular truth at all. Others might be saying, 'We believe a truth but respect other people, and they are not necessarily going to hell.'"
Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum, said that more research is planned to answer those kinds of questions, but that earlier, smaller surveys found similar results.
Nearly across the board, the majority of religious Americans believe many religions can lead to eternal life: mainline Protestants (83 percent), members of historic black Protestant churches (59 percent), Roman Catholics (79 percent), Jews (82 percent) and Muslims (56 percent).
By similar margins, people in those faith groups believe in multiple interpretations of their own traditions' teachings. Yet 44 percent of the religiously affiliated also said their religion should preserve its traditional beliefs and practices.
"What most people are saying is, 'Hey, we don't have a hammer-lock on God or salvation, and God's bigger than us and we should respect that and respect other people,'" said the Rev. Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.
"Some people are like butterflies that go from flower to flower, going from religion to religion -- and frankly they don't get that deep into any of them," he said.
Beliefs about eternal life vary greatly, even within a religious tradition.
Some Christians hold strongly to Jesus' words as described in John 14:6: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Others emphasize the wideness of God's grace.
The Catholic church teaches that the "one church of Christ ... subsists in the Catholic Church" alone and that Protestant churches, while defective, can be "instruments of salvation."
Roger Oldham, a vice president with the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, bristled at using the word "tolerance" in the analysis.
"If by tolerance we mean we're willing to engage or embrace a multitude of ways to salvation, that's no longer evangelical belief," he said. "The word 'evangelical' has been stretched so broadly, it's almost an elastic term."
Others welcomed the findings.
"It shows increased religious security. People are comfortable with other traditions even if they're different," said the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance. "It indicates a level of humility about religion that would be of great benefit to everyone."
More than most groups, Catholics break with their church, and not just on issues like abortion and homosexuality. Only six in 10 Catholics described God as "a person with whom people can have a relationship" -- which the church teaches -- while three in 10 described God as an "impersonal force."
"The statistics show, more than anything else, that many who describe themselves as Catholics do not know or understand the teachings of their church," said Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput. "Being Catholic means believing what the Catholic church teaches. It is a communion of faith, not simply of ancestry and family tradition. It also means that the church ought to work harder at evangelizing its own members."
Copyright © 1999-2008 cnhi, inc.
Frankfort -- The Rev. Ian Lawton of the Christ Community Church, Spring Lake, will speak at a potluck supper and joint gathering of the Benzie County Unitarian/Universalist Congregation and Christ Community Church North, a branch of the Spring Lake church that meets in Frankfort.
The gathering will be at 6:30 p.m. July 9 at the home of (Name and address withheld).
Lawton, a student of Bishop John Shelby Spong, is a former Episcopal priest who grew up in Australia and began his progressive ministry there and in Auckland, New Zealand.
Acclaimed as one of the foremost leaders and scholars of Progressive Christianity, his sermons and lectures are now studied worldwide.
He will speak on "The Role of Progressive Religion in Today's World."
Whereas traditional Christianity focuses on beliefs, forgiveness of sin and Divine judgment, Progressive Christianity focuses on compassion, wisdom, inclusiveness and community.
Progressive theology also understands religion as cultural, not revealed, and weaves scientific awareness of reality into its understanding of the mystery many people call "God."
Those interested are invited to bring a dish to share and join the group that evening. For details or directions, call (name and phone number withheld).
Bishop Spong is a wolf in sheep clothing. Look what you have to deny in order to follow his false teachings
is this New Progressive Theology?
Bishop John S. Spong is the prominent spokesperson for the theological approach
of the “Progressive Christian” movement.
In fact, one workshop leader called Spong “the Martin Luther King of
Progressive Christianity.” What
does Bishop Spong believe? Where is
he striving to lead the “Progressive Christian” movement?
watershed 1998 article posted on the Internet and published in several
magazines, Bishop Spong calls for a new reformation for the church.
“The very heart and soul of Christianity will be the content of this
reformation.” Spong sees the need
for this reformation in a dying mainline church.
“Between these two poles of mindless fundamentalism and empty
secularism are found the mainline churches of Christendom, both Catholic and
Protestant. They are declining numerically, seem lost theologically, are
concerned more about unity than truth, and are wondering why boredom is what
people experience inside church walls. The renewal of Christianity will not come
from fundamentalism, secularism or the irrelevant mainline tradition.”
sense is that history has come to a point where only one thing will save this
venerable faith tradition at this critical time in Christian history, and that
is a new Reformation far more radical than Christianity has ever before known
and that this Reformation must deal with the very substance of that faith. This
Reformation will recognize that the pre-modern concepts in which Christianity
has traditionally been carried will never again speak to the post-modern world
we now inhabit. This Reformation will be about the very life and death of
Christianity. Because it goes to the heart of how Christianity is to be
understood, it will dwarf in intensity the Reformation of the 16th century. It
will not be concerned about authority, ecclesiastical polity, valid ordinations
and valid sacraments. It will be rather a Reformation that will examine the very
nature of the Christian faith itself. It will ask whether or not this ancient
religious system can be refocused and re-articulated so as to continue living in
this increasingly non-religious world.”
will this new reformation look like? Spong
sets forth twelve “theses” or statements of belief describing his position.
However, they are mostly about what he denies, rather than about what he
affirms. These twelve theses are
very instructive on how the “Progressive Christian” movement would like to
dismantle traditional Christian doctrine and theology.
Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today
meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical
to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the
Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings
fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as
traditionally understood, impossible.
The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a
post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian
idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It
therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not
capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on
tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a
The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior
control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore,
its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is.
Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race,
ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for
either rejection or discrimination.”
first eleven statements deny some aspect of Christian faith.
Only the twelfth is a positive statement, namely the inclusion of all
persons, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.
Thus, it is no accident that “inclusiveness” or “fighting
exclusion” becomes the rallying cry of the progressive movement.
It is really the only faith statement that all progressives can agree to!
rest of progressive spirituality degenerates into personal experience alone
(even when experienced corporately with others) because no one can articulate or
explain another person’s experience of God.
Experience thus becomes primary, able to supersede Scripture, tradition,
reason, and even the Book of Discipline.
“Progressive Christianity” denies the transcendence of God, original sin,
the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, Christ’s atoning death on the cross,
his bodily resurrection and ascension, miracles, prayer, and the authority of
Scripture, one must ask what of “Christianity” is left?
Indeed, “Progressive Christianity” is not Christianity at all.
They may acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but in stripping
out all orthodox teachings about Jesus Christ, they make that statement
meaningless. It is certainly not
the biblical Jesus whom they acknowledge. They
see no need for salvation. And they
do not acknowledge his authority, only the autonomy of personal experience.
“Progressive Christianity” is certainly not new. In fact, most of Spong’s criticisms of orthodox Christianity are rooted in 19th century deconstructionist ideas. Indeed, a 1998 statement by 50 Episcopalian bishops notes, “The ‘challenges’ he proposes are not new. They have been argued - and well refuted - in nearly every age since the Resurrection of our Lord. Indeed, they are challenges with which most thinking believers have had to wrestle before making a mature commitment to the Christian Faith.”
Excerpt from Ken's latest book, "I See Him! I See Him! Jesus Speaks in Parables"
Parable of the Mustard Seed and a Parable of the Leaven
We are now going to study the next two “Kingdom Parables”. Please note: the last five parables found in Matthew we will study, Jesus offers no explanation at all about what their true meanings are. Also, the apostles themselves never even ask what their meanings are as they did the first two parables we already have discussed. The next five parables are not what they seem. We need all of scripture to see what Jesus was teaching in these parables. We will need the Holy Spirit to guide and teach us. We must try to think, in the way the apostle’s Jewish minds would have been trained in—Eastern Civilization and culture.
Matthew 13: 31-32 –A Parable (#3): The Mustard Seed
Also found in: Mark 4: 30-32 and Luke 13: 18-19
31Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
32Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds (Remember the birds from the parable of the Sower.) of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
The verses above when you read them sound so wonderful and beautiful, but things are not what they seem. Scripture is using symbolism to describe how God planted this tiniest and least of all seeds (the humble beginning of his kingdom) into the world and it grows to become the greatest by growing up to be a tree (the gospel message of Jesus Christ). Normally, the mustard plant never grows to the size of a tree, but is best described as a bush. It generally grows to a height of about three feet. However; by a miracle this particular plant is so great; it becomes a tree that the birds want to lodge in its branches. Jesus Christ and his message is what the birds want to lodge in. We know from the first two parables we already studied, the seed is God’s word. The kingdom of God had humble beginnings. As the word grew to others, so did God’s Kingdom (the kingdom of God today is huge!). It seems the parable is saying it is the believers of Jesus Christ that are the birds who want to lodge in his tree. Beware—it is not!
How can we know this? One way we can know who these birds are is from rereading the first parable we studied. The word for “birds” is the same word used in the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13: 4, and later Jesus himself explains in verse 19 of the same chapter the birds represent the evil one (Satan).
Matthew 13: 4 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
Matthew 13: 19 19When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
In the first parable, the birds who ate up the seed were ministers of Satan. They are demons that are doing the bidding of their master. They want to keep us from the truth found in scripture. They are evil and seek our destruction. There are many false doctrines that have attached itself to the true teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. They are the birds who want to lead us astray from the truth. I am being bold here and tell you the truth—any doctrine that denies the sound canon of Jesus Christ is false. If anyone uses a book or books for doctrine other than the Bible—It is false. We should test all thought and what people say by what is written in the Bible. I pray you are testing what I write with the word of God. You do not have to accept what I see as the gospel truth. I do give you this promise, I will never steer you away from the saving blood of Jesus Christ. The death of Jesus on the cross, and then his resurrection three days later, is the most important event that ever happened in the history of the world. I love the Lord so much for what he has done.
In this parable, Jesus was prophesizing that false teaching would happen right up and until his Second Coming.
Revelation 18: 2 2And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
Watch out for the birds in God’s field (Satan, his demons, false teachers, false doctrines, etc.). The evil one is using many deceptions to keep us from the truth. We have many deceptive teachings today. Bad seed is teaching such things as (1) All roads lead to heaven, (2) political correctness and tolerance run a muck, (3) there is heaven but there is no hell, (4) man is calling what God calls evil...good and what God calls good...evil, (5) creation never happened, (6) Noah’s flood and other stories found in the Bible never happened, (7) Jesus did not die on the cross, but it was someone else who took his place, (8) Jesus survived the cross, married Mary Magdalene, moved to France, and had children and his heirs are in the world today, and (9) many, many more we could all think of. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the lies Satan has planted into this world. We must make sure the Holy Spirit and the Bible is our guide. We must get involved in a Bible believing church where the true word of God is taught. We must test all thought with scripture so we will not be deceived and be pulled away from the saving grace and gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the lesson being taught us by Jesus in the parable of the Mustard Seed. Beware and take heed of his warning.
Matthew 13: 33 –A Parable (#4): The Yeast
Also found in: Luke 13: 20-21
33Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven (Leaven is yeast. It is what causes dough to puff up.), which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
This parable is only one verse long. All looks well, but it is not. One could interpret what this parable is saying is that because the yeast is working through the entire dough; Jesus is telling us that just as leaven works all through the dough, the word of God will spread until the entire world knows Jesus Christ. This is not what Jesus is telling us using this parble. It is again warning us as the other parables we already have studied that false doctrine will invade and pollute the true gospel of Jesus Christ until his Second coming. In the end times, it will be so bad that the church will be totally corrupted so that no one will be speaking God’s truth.
In the bible, leaven is always a symbol for sin. During the feast of Unleavened Bread (a feast first given to the Jews by God to keep described in Leviticus chapter 23), the Jews are to purge all leaven from their homes. Leaven is yeast. It is what allows bread to puff up. In the same way sin allows man to puff himself up and to become prideful. The sin of pride is probably where Satan deceives most of us. It causes us to have a big fall. God warns us of leaven—It is the sin in our lives. Jesus himself warned us against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees:
Matthew 16: 6 6Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
And the leaven of Herod:
Mark 8: 15 15And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.
Look at the scripture below:
1 Corinthians 5: 6-8 6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
Leaven is never good in the Bible. It will invade and corrupt the whole person. False doctrine will invade and corrupt the whole body of believers. This is happening in our churches today, but it began to happen long ago. Satan from the beginning of time has done many things to try and corrupt the word of God with false doctrine. Read the Old Testament and see how he lead astray the chosen people so that they starting worshiping false gods. Satan did not stop there. Do not be unwise that he is not doing the same to us, we who are living in the time of the New Testament teachings. Satan is working hard to prevent the truth to being understood in the time we live in—the “Age of Grace”. Look what the apostle Paul says next:
7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
The apostle Paul is saying to us right now to purge all sin from our lives, and become a new lump of dough—one that is unleavened (without sin). How can we who are sinners do this? Read on:
8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
The unleavened bread is Jesus Christ. He is the only person who never sinned. Jesus never had leaven in him. Neither has the word of God. All truth is found in the scriptures. Do not let anyone or anything pull you away from the truth that is in Jesus Christ. The Cross and by the resurrection of Jesus is how we become unleavened. By accepting Jesus and the sacrifice he did for us at the cross, God now separates the sin that is in our old self from the new person (see verse 7 above) we have become in Christ. He now looks only at the new person and it is as if we have never sinned. It is by God’s grace only and not by our works that we are saved. This is the gospel message of Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for all sinners. If you believe in him—you will be saved.
John 3: 15-16 15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
In the book of Revelation, it speaks of the false prophetess who is going to bear false witness and beguiles people to believe false doctrine and sin in God’s eyes:
Revelation 2: 20 20Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
It is going to get very bad in the last days before Christ’s return. Just as in Matthew chapter 24 when Jesus gives us signs of when the time will be right for his return, the Kingdom Parables are doing the same. It is not a pretty sight. The Bible is God’s gift to man, showing his love for his creation, but it is also a book of warnings. God desperately wants us to take heed to what he says, and to come to repentance. You do this by receiving the seed he has planted. He planted that seed in the ground for three days, and then it burst forth and sprung up a great tree. The “tree of Life” is Jesus Christ and he can be yours for the asking. If you do not know him personally as yet, please turn to the last chapter in my book now to be grafted into his kingdom.
Revelation 22: 13-15 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
14"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
God loves you and so do I!