Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”(Proverbs 14:12). I have witnessed a lot of changes over the course of my lifetime. However, nothing has prepared me for the changes I have witnessed of late in the body of Christ. I am referring to ancient mystical practices and a mystical spirituality that have gained access to the church. Twenty years ago I think we would have recognized it for what it is – “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” Today spiritual discernment seems to be a thing of the past. Methods have become more important than orthodoxy – the basic tenants of “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). Sometimes it comes under the guise of, “the message never changes but we must find new methods of reaching others.” My response to that often repeated assertion is, “says who?” Jim Wilson, in his book Future Church, suggests these “new methods” must have “appeal to believers and unbelievers alike” in order to “usher them into the presence of God.” The problem is these “new methods” are of a mystical-experiential flavor, one that the body of Christ would do well to avoid!
The Bible is overwhelmingly clear in its warning that in the days before Christ returns, truth will be exchanged for a wider spiritual road that originates with “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” I think we are beginning to see a slow subtle appearance of this end-time reality, one that is readying the masses for the Antichrist. Roger Oakland suggests a new form of Christianity has begun to emerge that will replace biblical faith with a faith that is driven by ancient mystical experiences, not to mention a system of works and rituals. I wholeheartedly agree. It seems that well educated, supposedly doctrinally sound and solid Christian leaders are throwing all discernment to the wind in favor of mystical experiences rather than simple belief or faith. We must remember, the Bible says, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Furthermore, the Scriptures assert that God is, “well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). So there you have it. The preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has worked well for nearly two-thousand years. It has continued to have the power to change lives. Continued, that is, until now. Now we are told we must abandon the “old” way of doing things for something newer and more relevant to this so called postmodern generation.
One method that has been suggested for reaching the postmodern crowd is the Prayer Labyrinth. It is a multi-sensory worship practice involving a maze-like structure used during times of contemplative prayer (contemplative prayer is the vehicle through which many churches are being assimilated into these ancient mystical practices). I say “maze-like” because it really isn’t a maze. There is one path in and one path out. It is often described as “an ancient-future prayer experience with postmodern appeal.” It usually includes prayer stations complete with candles, icons, pictures, etc. What its proponents fail to realize (or maybe they just don’t care) is that the labyrinth originated in early pagan societies. Furthermore, there is no evidence in the Bible that the disciples or the early church turned to such a mystical form of worship, especially one that needs candles, icons, pictures and other paraphernalia to feel more spiritual. Nowhere in Scripture is there even a hint of this. In fact, I would suggest it is an insult to the stable and eternal truths of the Bible – truths that although centuries old are still relevant today. I submit to the reader that the labyrinth isn’t a biblical way from the ancient past of experiencing the presence of Christ. Rather, it is an ancient and dangerous form of mysticism that most assuredly opens the practitioner up to a spiritual realm that is both spiritually deceptive and deadly. I genuinely believe prayer labyrinths and other contemplative practices are a slippery slope that will lead to spiritual deception, thereby rendering the message of the Cross unnecessary and the truth of the Gospel void. “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9-10). People continue to ask questions about the future as never before. It is no wonder. Even if people do not have a thorough understanding of the Bible as God’s Word, they at least suspect it to be. Furthermore, most have heard or read about certain prophetic events about which the Bible has predicted that current events cause them to wonder if we really are living near the end of the age. One of the primary proofs of the authenticity of the Bible as God’s Word is fulfilled prophecy. God has declared “the end from the beginning” in such a way that we know what to expect and know when it has come to pass. Jesus, for example, fulfilled over 300 prophecies during His First Coming. There are nearly three times as many prophecies concerning His Second Coming, and we can expect those prophecies to be fulfilled just as literally as those concerning His First Coming were. One thing we have to be careful about is avoiding newspaper exegesis. In other words, we must not be guilty of reading or watching the news and concluding a particular prophecy has been fulfilled. However, when one studies the prophecies concerning Christ’s Second Coming, it is not difficult to see prophetic trends occurring today that indicate the end of the age might very well be near. Most of the prophecy to be fulfilled prior to the Second Coming won’t occur in a vacuum. God will have, over a number of years, set the stage for the final fulfillment of all prophecy. So then, what are these prophetic trends that continued to pick up steam throughout 2007?
I believe there are five trends that occurred (or continued occurring) during 2007. Two of them occurred for the first time in history. First of all, Jewish immigration to Israel continued just as it has since the late nineteenth century. Biblical prophecy tells us that in the end-times God would bring the Jewish people back to the land and re-establish the Nation of Israel. The Bible says He will bring them back in stages and in unbelief (Ezekiel 36-37). This continues to this day and what made 2007 unique is that for the first time in over 2000 years there are more Jews living in Israel than anywhere else in the world. Secondly, there is the alignment of the nations. God’s Word clearly spells out for us what the alignment of the nations would look like in the last days (Daniel 2, 7; Ezekiel 38, 39). Everything is not in place but most of it is and the rest is getting there quickly. There is the rise of the European super-state, out of which the Antichrist will one day come (Daniel 9). We do not yet see Europe in its final prophesied form of ten kingdoms but history has taught us that change can take place quickly. Therefore, we believe the prophecies of Scripture that one day, perhaps soon, Europe will take on its final form. Other nations, Iran in particular, but including other likeminded nations are being armed by Russia and will one day participate in an all out attack on Israel to destroy her (Ezekiel 38, 39). Current events lead some to believe this battle may be on the near horizon. Thirdly, there is the anticipation of peace. It seems in the Middle East there has been one peace proposal after another in recent years. Each one of these so called peace proposal that involves Israel has been one-sided in favor of Israel’s enemies it seems. But one day, a strong man will arise from within Europe who will finally be able to enforce one of these covenants (Daniel 9:27). Prophecy will indeed be fulfilled! Fourthly, there is the addiction of world leaders concerning Jerusalem and for the first time in history the Israeli government is actually entertaining thoughts of a divided Jerusalem (Zechariah 12). Finally, there is the preparation from within Israel to rebuild the Temple (Ezekiel 40-46; Daniel 9; Matthew 24; 2 Thessalonians 2; Revelation 11). You won’t hear much about these preparations on the evening news. But many of the Temple instruments have been made and many are studying for the priesthood. The Sanhedrin was recently reconvened after more than 1500 years. Clearly, God is setting the stage for the fulfillment of prophecy.
2007 was an exciting year. 2008 promises to be even more exciting. God’s Word is true. Its prophecies are being fulfilled and soon, perhaps today, Jesus will return for His Church. Are you ready to meet the Lord in the air? If not, your time may be running out.
You are welcome to leave comments and you don't have to necessarily agree with me. However, I expect a civil tone and charitable spirit. We can disagree with one another without being disagreeable. "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt." (Colossians 4:6)
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