The Pilgrim’s Journey

The Pilgrim’s Journey  9781601783875

A review by Stuart Brogden

I first heard of Jeremy Walker a few years ago when I happened upon a most wonderful book he co-authored with Rob Ventura – A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ. That book confirmed in my desire to serve the Lord’s people as a pastor and also put the fear of that responsibility in me. This new book by Walker, Passing Through, is subtitled Pilgrim Life in the Wilderness and has vignettes from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress throughout as our author makes compelling case that our Creator sees us as aliens, sojourners – pilgrims. I confess reading this book convicted me on several points and I think any honest Christian will be able to admit the same as we all tend to seek comfort in this world, though it is not our home, living in practical forgetfulness of where our citizenship lies.

This book is divided into 12 chapters, each of which provides Scriptural Framework and Specific Counsels for the topic. I grew a little weary of this format by the end of the book, but thank the Lord for it – it is a wonderful exposition of many truths and useful counsel and encouragements we each have need of. He starts off (page 1) asking “Who are you? What are you?” and tells us on the next page that we “need, therefore, to consider our identity and our activity in the light of Scripture.” If you are in a solid church, you will be reminded of the dangers of worldliness. But if your church is shallow, it may look more like the world than one of God’s outposts in this hostile arena. He concludes chapter 2 –Strangers and Pilgrims, with this: “We like to speak of death as “going home,” and so it is to every child of God, but why do we then live as if we are already home? Such confusion betrays us.” (page 36)

I will highlight chapter 7 – Respect the Authorities, as I see all too often Christians demanding the church do “this” or other Christians do “that” in response to cultural or political events. Also, the proper respect for authorities – each in its own arena of influence – is something we all need to understand better. “The church, by divine design, is a spiritual force, a gospel organism. Her involvement in and impact upon the world socially, politically, and economically may not be insignificant, but it will be substantially incidental. The church does not exist to have a political life or role.” (page 125) The scriptural framework consists of understanding proper subjection to governing authorities (citing Romans 13:1-7), parental authority (Exodus 20:12) as earthly authorities that He established and which answer to Him – not us or the church. And while Walker agrees that role of governments is to do good as God’s ministers, he admits that they often don’t; and their failure to be good does not give us excuse to rebel. When we must disobey earthly authorities (when they command us to sin or forbid from obeying our God), we must be respectful as were Daniel and his colleagues and the disciples written about in Acts 5 were. “There language is polite and eminently respectful. Their recognition of the king’s authority is sincere and humble. Their refusal to obey is absolute. Their faithfulness to God is complete.” (page 131)

 

We are commanded to pray for our government (1 Tim 2) – who among us lives in such a hateful environment for Christians as did Paul when he penned God’s instructions on this topic? We are to live in such a way so that evil men would see the way we live, rather than speak evil of us they would glorify God (1 Pet 2). We will find ourselves disinterested and unable to have this focus if we don’t have our identity and activity lined up with Scripture. As to the proper focus of the church in the face of God-hating government, Walker brings us to Acts 4:24-31. The Jewish leaders are organized and determined to put an end to this Way that has popped up and is turning the world upside down. Peter and John were commanded to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus; But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” They were respectful but uncompromising. What happened next is instructive and directly on topic with this chapter.

Acts 4:23-31 (ESV) When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ — for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Notice this: they did not plot a protest or overthrow of the corrupt government of Israel. They praised God, thanked Him for being faithful, recognized He had appointed the evil men to rule over them, and prayed for the name of Jesus to be glorified through the service He had called them to. This is the proper posture for the church in the midst of political turmoil and persecution. “The church’s response to the assaults made on her is not a rallying cry to civic resistance or even civic engagement, but to get on their knees before the living Lord and to seek His face, crying for heavenly power to declare divine truth faithfully and fruitfully even in the face of opposition and persecution.” (page 136)

“The governing power of the saints is a heavenly one. The church takes her identity, her sense of privilege and priority, her direction for behavior, and her enduring hope from her heavenly King and the realities of citizenship in His kingdom. This conditions all our relationships with the authorities here. The men of the world set their minds on earthly things, but the citizens of Zion set their minds on heavenly things.” (page 137) Yet the saints say, Amen!

“Here is the key point: though the citizens of the two kingdoms necessarily mingle as they make their way through this world, God’s people cannot be finally identified with any nation, party, society, or institution in the earth. … It is only when the Christian understands himself to be unequivocally and distinctly a citizen of heaven that he knows how to relate to the kingdoms of the world.” (page 141)

If we want to live in accordance with God’s plan, we must have our identity and activity aligned with His Word. We must ever be growing in grace and knowledge, seeking to be renewed in our minds as we cooperate with His Spirit’s work to sanctify us and conform us to Christ. We must be heavenly minded if we are to be of any earthly good. We must embrace our identity as a pilgrim of God, an alien on planet earth. This is wonderful book to help us figure that out and live accordingly.

Yet Still Stinking

Dear readers,

We live in a day and age where false doctrine and heresy becomes more and more rampant within the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. In any and every way possible, the evil one seeks to undermine the Scriptures with the oldest question in all of history spoken to the minds of people of all walks of life, but particularly to those who claim the name of Christ.

“Yea, has God really said?”

sinlessperfection

In this excellent video by Pastor John MacArthur, he deals with the false teaching propagated by many in mainline evangelical denominations and by those who in the Charismatic movements. This message entitled, “Spiritually Living, Yet Still Stinking” he deals with the false teaching of sinless perfectionism and that we can live a fully sanctified life before being redeemed from this corrupt flesh. This form of Arminianism was taught and spread by false teachers such as Charles G. Finney, who is considered the father of modern-day revivalism.

From MacArthur’s message found in the video below:

It was J.C. Ryle in his marvelous epic book written in 1879 by the title of Holiness who said, “Sudden instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see anywhere in the Bible.” And the reason J.C. Ryle didn’t see them is because they’re not there. That was an utterly unbiblical concept. He knew what all accurate theologians know, that justification and sanctification are inseparable. They both come at the instant of salvation. Justification is immediate and sanctification is progressive, but they cannot be separated. And sanctification is not some experience subsequent to salvation.

Paul claimed to be the chiefest of all sinners, and 1 John is clear that if anybody says he or she is not a sinner, then they are calling God a liar.  We will never achieve sinless perfection in this life. However, we can give thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that one day He is coming back and He will change our corruptible bodies into that which is incorruptible. What a glorious day that will be.

Zimzum?

From Wikipedia — “The Tzimtzum (Hebrew צמצום ṣimṣūm “contraction/constriction/condensation”) is a term used in the Lurianic Kabbalah teaching of Isaac Luria, to explain his new doctrine that God began the process of creation by “contracting” his infinite light in order to allow for a “conceptual space” in which finite and seemingly independent realms could exist.”

Rob & Kristin Bell – The Heresy of Zimzum

Yes, folks, the same Rob Bell who does not believe in a literal hell has produced another book that Oprah and her syncophants will love to read. His latest drivel is based on teachings directly from the heresy known as Kabbalah which has followers including Madonna, Ivana Trump, Demi Moore, and Mick Jagger.

robandoprah

However, this was not what caught my attention. It was what takes place at the 29 minute mark of the video found at the above link. For your further disgust, Oprah also speaks to Rob about when she thinks the Church apostate church will open up to fully embrace and accept homosexuality. The answer will not surprise you. If you can manage to watch the video all the way to the end, otherwise, simply forward the video to around the 29 minute mark.

Quote read by Kristin from the book —

“Marriage – gay and straight – is a gift to the world because the world needs more not less love, fidelity, commitment, devotion, and sacrifice.”

And listen to this jewel from the lips of this diligent Bible teacher depraved heretic –

“The church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense.”

Yet, what is even sadder than what Rob & Kristin Bell are promoting is the fact that many within evangelical circles are buying their books thinking it is great theology. May God have mercy and grant forgiveness for pastors who have failed in their work as shepherds and on congregations for believing and following every whim of doctrine.

Beth Moore – A False Teacher

I believe this speaks volumes about the truth of where Beth Moore has gone. I have a great deal of respect for Justin Peters and appreciate his willingness to address the false teaching that Beth Moore has accepted and has been teaching for a long time.

http://www.worldviewweekend.com/tv/video/has-beth-moore-become-false-teacher

Attacking the Church – It is Rarely Doctrinal

Pastor Jon Gleason does an excellent job in this post addressing the issue of church problems being based on doctrine. This is his second article and should be read by all discerning believers. I have chosen to highlight a few parts and added a couple of pictures.

Attacking the Church — It is Rarely Doctrinal

My last post said that church problems are always doctrinal.  It is never accurate to say that a church which is straying in some way is doctrinally sound.  Every church problem is based on an error in applied doctrine.

In this article, it may sound like I’m contradicting that article.  If every church problem is doctrinal, won’t attacks on the church always be doctrinal in nature?  Perhaps — but they rarely start with a doctrinal focus.

Paul and John, in their epistles to the churches, warned of false teachers, sometimes naming them.  Down through the centuries, whether Christianity was persecuted or state-sanctioned, there has always been heresy, there have always been those who tried to come into the church to spread their false doctrine.  Just as there has always been false teachers, there have always been those who would stand against the heresies — and always those who have fallen prey to the wolves.

wolf-in-sheeps-clothing-300x249

Today, false teaching is gaining traction in many churches.  One can walk into any number of “evangelical” churches and hear a false Gospel preached.  In recent high profile cases, some famous mega-church pastors endorsed a man who spreads false teaching on the Triune nature of our God, and a well-known British evangelical rejected the Biblical teaching on the atonement (and now, he rejects Biblical teaching in other areas as well).  Almost every area of Biblical doctrine is under attack in churches where the Bible was once faithfully taught, often where the stated doctrinal position of the church is still sound.

False teaching seems to be on the rise — but the attack on a church rarely begins with false teaching.  Sound pastors or teachers do not usually wake up one morning and say, “I think I’ll change the doctrine I teach going forward,” and begin to promote error.  Faithful church members do not usually say, “I think I’ll stop checking the Scriptures to see if what I’ve been taught is true.”  No one in a true Biblical church suddenly decides, “I think what our church needs is more false teaching.”

The first attack is usually spiritual, not doctrinal.  We have been told not to love the world, but we have accepted the world’s value system, its philosophies, its politics, its entertainment, and its loves.  Too many churches are full of people who love what the world loves and think the way the world thinks.

People don’t say, “Let’s let error come in,” whether it be error that is taught directly or (as I mentioned in yesterday’s article) error that is taught by practice.  But when churches are full of spiritual weaklings who have been drugged and poisoned by the world and the things the world loves, they don’t even see what is happening.

When we spend more time on entertainment and Internet discussion (which is often really just another form of entertainment, even if it is on Christian topics) than we do our Bibles, we become spiritually stunted.  Our minds are not being transformed and renewed, and we don’t even recognise the error when it comes.

The Scriptures warn repeatedly that false teachers will come, and keep coming, and we need to be ready.  The solution is not writing better doctrinal statements or owning more theology books.  That has already been done.  Those who had good doctrinal statements and owned (and even wrote) good theology books have gone into error.

They loved the world, or the praise of man, or their own intellectual or preaching prowess, or pleasure, or another person, or some other thing.  Their hearts grew distant from God as sins of pride or lust or ingratitude or anger took hold — and doctrinal error found fertile soil to produce its bitter harvest.

If our senses are tuned to truth, we’ll recognise when someone tries to give us something besides the truth, even if we don’t know exactly what it is.  If you love a cup of tea, you’ll know when someone gives you one containing a foreign substance.  There will be a taste there, a taste you don’t recognise.  You’ll say, “Hey, something is wrong here!”

Nice_Cup_of_TeaBut if you stop making yourself a cup of tea, you just don’t take the time to do it anymore, you’ll forget the exact taste.  If someone gives you a cup that seems a little off, well, you probably just forgot what it really tastes like, right?  You’ve gotten away from tea drinking these days.  I’m sure it’s fine.

But not only do our hearts grow distant from God, we take from the world and learn to love its loves.  Too easily, we spend Monday through Saturday drinking the spiritual equivalent of anti-freeze.  Our spiritual taste buds become a mess.  A false teacher could put anything in your spiritual cup of tea on Sunday morning, and you’ll never know the difference.  You’ve forgotten what truth tastes like, and learned to like poison.

Church problems may always be doctrinal — but the attacks on churches almost always start on a spiritual level (not a doctrinal one) in turning our love, ever so slightly, away from the Lord to other things.  It starts slowly, deceptively, insidiously growing, until we either don’t care or don’t notice when error shows up.  We’ve been drugged by false loves, the love of the world, and the enemy can do with us what he wishes — as long as he keeps supplying the drug.

When we get to that state, the adversary could easily get us to leave the church, but he’s in no hurry to do that.  He can use us to destroy from within.  We won’t recognise error any longer, or care about it.  There are things we want, now, things we love, and we’ll be in favour of anyone who provides them.  If we can get those things we want and love in the church, all the better — we’ll be able to drift along feeling good about ourselves spiritually as we pursue the loves we got from the world.  If anyone says anything, tries to warn us, we might even get angry — “It tastes good to me, and I like it!”

In fact, if the church only had teachers who said the things we love are ok, are Christian, are actually what the church SHOULD be doing, that would be best of all!  Give me my loves in a Christian flavour, please!

We’ll be ready allies for the false teachers when they show up.  One should be along any day now.

Colossians 3:1-4

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Iocane Powder – Holy Ghost Movie

In the movie Princess Bride, the Dread Pirate Roberts is in a battle of wits with Vizzini. Pouring two goblets of wine, he laces the cups with poison. Speaking to Vizzini he says: “Iocane powder. It is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in liquid, and is among the more deadly poisons known to man.”

Of course, Vizzini loses the game and dies from drinking the poison. The heroine, Buttercup speaks to the Dread Pirate Roberts and says, “And to think, all that time it was your cup that was poisoned.”

To which the Dread Pirate Roberts responds, “They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to Iocane powder.”

wesley-iocane

With that introduction, I want to share the caveat that I have not watched the movie, but neither did I go to see much-hyped “Son of God” by Roma Downey or “Noah” with Russell Crowe. That may turn some of the readers off, but before you go, I want to also say that I have never spiked my cup of tea with strychnine or cyanide or even “Iocane powder” to see if it really is poison like experts tell us it is.

Neither have I sought to “build up an immunity” to the Iocane powders that are invading the evangelical church of America. There are some things that we just understand are not good for us.

What I have done is spent time reading and studying the Word of God. This accomplishes several things. First, when heresy comes along, I do not have to worry about getting sick from the Iocane powder. I recognize it for what it is and instead of trying to see if my immune system is strong enough to handle another dose of poison, I avoid it altogether.

The church is being inundated with slick, social media driven, so-called Christian movies. They are taking the church by storm, and to some, this is a good thing. But to others, like myself, we are watching a largely biblically illiterate church membership being fed more Iocane powder. The results are predictable. The more Iocane powder that is being drunk is turning churches into havens for worldliness, rank ungodliness, and a demeaning of the true holiness of the Triune God.

For the sake of time and space, I intend to point out a few huge doctrinal problems with the movie with the prayer that you and anybody you know will stay away from this movie. Review these words with a discerning spirit and see if what you are hearing about the movie is merely hype or whether it has been dead-reckoned with the Word of God. Please, please, PLEASE, let the true Holy Spirit be your Guide as you peruse the wonderful words of life that God has left to us. This is His love letter and His only Guide as we walk the dark shadows of this life.

Sadly, I know that some are going to go and watch the movie and come out thinking and saying things like, “Isn’t the Holy Ghost great?” Or, “I want more of the Holy Ghost in my life.” Or, “I am so glad that there are great Christian movies that are being made and I hope that others will go see this and come to Christ.” – THAT would be a TRAGEDY!

iocanequote

So, let’s begin with the dissection.

The trailer opens with Bill Johnson, who styles himself as the pastor of Bethel Church, Redding, California. We could stop right here and end the post because this was enough to send the red flag of HERESY flying from the ramparts. We have addressed the problems and the false teaching of Bethel Church Redding at Defending Contending on many occasions.

The cast is a veritable who’s who of people within the Signs and Wonders movement that has been sweeping throughout the world. The list even includes several pastors from the false ranks of the Vineyard and Willow Creek religious organizations. Our website at Defending Contending has spent several years warning our readers of the heresies and errors that this movement has perpetrated on its followers.

One person that caught my eye was William P. Young, author of “The Shack Outhouse.” This book that does not belong in any true Christian bookstore is nothing more than blasphemy but which has made its author a large amount of money. Here is an excerpt from “Writer’s Digest” magazine dated 2009. “In Young’s story, Jesus is a dark-skinned Middle Eastern Jewish man who thwarts Mack’s expectation of a hunky blonde Jesus. God isn’t a white-haired wizard figure, but rather a matronly black woman who calls herself “Papa” in an attempt to challenge Mack’s preconceived notions. The Holy Spirit is a transparent creature named Sarayu who can’t be seen directly.”

Has the Iocane powder made you throw up yet in your morning breakfast?

If you have any more questions about “The Shack”, we recommend you go this blogpost. Read and weep at what is being found in so-called Christian bookstores.

On the promotional website for the movie, the question is asked, “Why is it called Holy Ghost?” Here is part of the director’s answer, “Early on in the film Darren claims that his desire is to ‘make God famous.’”

Seriously?!

The next question asks, “What do you mean when you say ‘led by the Holy Spirit’?” This is very telling. Here Darren claims that God still speaks to people through many different ways. He employs prayer walking and forms of contemplative mysticism to attain a “dialogue back and forth with God.” In his own words,

“Sometimes he heard a still, small voice in his head; sometimes he and those around him had dreams directing them where to go; sometimes he would get a familiar feeling in his stomach that, in the past, always told him that God was on something.”

These are the words of somebody who does not discern truth through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. In John 16:8, Jesus tells His disciples that they will be guided into all truth and that the Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of coming judgment. The Holy Spirit is not a Jedi force. He is the 3rd Person of the Trinity. He is equally God just as God the Father is and as is God the Son (the Lord Jesus Christ).

Feeling the effects of the Iocane powder yet?

iocaine powder

The trailer continues with people seeking to “impart” the Spirit of God to anonymous individuals that they stop on the street. This can be seen as the main characters walk up to somebody, rub their hands together to generate heat, and supposedly transfer the Holy Spirit to those who have experienced no new birth. This is heresy. Only God has the ability to make a person a new creation in Christ and when they become one of His children, then they are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption.

Michael W. Smith states that he wants to come to the point where he never ever is offended by anyone again. This goes completely contrary to what we saw in the life of the early New Testament Church and the writings of the apostles. The gospel will always cause offense, and we, who are true believers, will be offended when the Triune Godhead, His Word, and His Church is slandered.

One final point – Korn! Where in the world do we begin? This band has stated repeatedly that there inspiration is a long list of heavy metal bands whose life and lyrics are totally opposed to everything that is pure and holy. A quick perusal of their lyrics and music genre will show the discerning reader that Korn is NOT led by the Holy Spirit of God. They are perverse, vulgar, and are leading people astray from the Bible just as Bill Johnson, William Young, Michael W. Smith, and others are.

Now you have a choice. You can THINK you are building up a resistance to Iocane powder or you can flee back to the Word of God. You can swallow the lies that continue to penetrate the church through the filters of hell, or you can strive for a life of holiness that is based on the ONLY way that God speaks to us today – through His perfect, inerrant, and infallible Word, the Bible.

I have used this illustration before and conclude because I think it is so appropriate. Suppose I had a barrel of apples sitting on my porch and inside just one of those apples, I had placed one drop of cyanide. I invite you to take one, but tell you first that you need to know that somewhere in the barrel is one apple with just one drop of poison. However, don’t worry, the chances of you picking that one apple is very slim, so enjoy whatever apple you want to eat.

Nobody in their right mind would dive into that apple barrel to even touch the apples, much less have a desire to eat one. As a sane, rational human, you know that the entire barrel has now been tainted. It would be dangerous to attempt even one small bite.

Friends, listen to me. The barrel of apples has been tainted with more than just one drop of poison. It is riddled with the Iocane poison of the world. What is being offered will kill you just as surely with one drop as with an entire cup of poison. Flee from heresy. Run back to the Lord Jesus Christ and plead with Him for mercy and forgiveness. There is true healing at the cross, not in the heresy that is being put on offer by the makers of this most recent cinematic drivel.

This is the bottom line – the “Holy Ghost” is poison. It is Iocane powder and it is NOT of God. It will NOT present the true gospel, because the characters do NOT have a true gospel to present. They are heresy spreaders. False teachers. Wolves in sheep’s clothing leading Christians astray.

J. C. Ryle on the Acceptance of False Teachers

JC Ryle“Many things combine to make the present inroad of false doctrine peculiarly dangerous.

1. There is an undeniable zeal in some of the teachers of error: their “earnestness” makes many think they must be right.

2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge: many fancy that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe guides.

3. There is a general tendency to free thought and free inquiry in these latter days: many like to prove their independence of judgment, by believing novelties.

4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear charitable and liberal-minded: many seem half ashamed of saying that anybody can be in the wrong.

5. There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers: they are incessantly using Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense.

6. There is a morbid craving in the public mind for a more sensuous, ceremonial, sensational, showy worship: men are impatient of inward, invisible heart-work.

7. There is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, and a determination to forget that Satan often masquerades himself “as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

8. There is a wide-spread “gullibility” among professing Christians: every heretic who tells his story plausibly is sure to be believed, and everybody who doubts him is called a persecutor and a narrow-minded man.

All these things are peculiar symptoms of our times. I defy any observing person to deny them. They tend to make the assaults of false doctrine in our day peculiarly dangerous. They make it more than ever needful to cry aloud, “Do not be carried away!””

~ J.C. Ryle