Friday, 28 March 2014

DANGER OF HALF-TRUTHS

A half-truth is a partial revelation. It can give us a wrong or false impression that's all there is to be said of a subject whereas there are other facets worth considering. 

Fullness of revelation only comes when all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are put in place. 

This blog, PORRIDGE FOR THE SOUL, does not believe in sharing with you half-truths but the whole truth.

To illustrate what I mean by half truths, let's consider the subject of FEAR.


                                                                      

                                                  PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT FEAR
                                        Does it mean we do not have to fear God anymore?


Many point out that perfect love casts out fear, citing 1 John 4:18. Does it mean then that we do not have to fear God anymore?

Well, it is true to a certain extent that we need not fear as God loves us. But we also have to consider the other side of the coin. We need to have reverential fear of God. For more, check out Is Fear Positive Or Negative?http://bit.ly/1iFjeql

While 'perfect love casts out fear' is true, it is not a full revelation. We also need to consider reverential fear of God.

The Bible also reminds us repeatedly “Do not fear when we face trials and adversity because God will not forsake us. For more, check out Fear Not, Stand Firm: http://bit.ly/1jc5Nxu

So there are negative as well as positive aspects of fear.

In summary, a full biblical understanding of fear is something like this: 

We are exhorted not to fear because God loves us and will deliver us in times of trouble. But we also need to have reverential fear of God, which keeps us on our toes, spiritually speaking.

                                                                         
           

By now, you would have realised that half-truths are not valid and can be misleading. Like Paul, we must uphold and share the whole truth.  “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

Assumptions based on half-truths provide fertile ground for deception to thrive. Or to put in another way, deception is often based on half-truths.

That’s why Tozer warns, "Heresy is not so much rejecting as selecting.” By examining the whole Bible, we do not dwell on half-truths or emphasise one truth at the expense of another equally fundamental truth.

When we pit the whole counsel of God against false teaching, the latter collapses like a house of cards. That is why it is important to be diligent in studying the Wordnot only part of it but the whole Word.

Do check out whether the following premises in red are valid or merely based on half-truths:


  • Once we are saved, we will remain saved (OSAS, once saved always saved, eternal security). http://bit.ly/GM5Srz




  • There is no need to confess sin as we merely need to rest in the imputed righteousness of Christ.  http://bit.ly/19yBzuD


  • We can afford to banish sin consciousness from our lives as the sin issue is a  thing of the past, being settled once and for all when we believed in Jesus. http://bit.ly/GDv4QL




RELATED POSTS

CHERRY PICKING
When we select portions of scripture which are attractive and agreeable to us, we are distorting the truth.

THE DIVINE MAKEOVER
Harbouring an image of God that is attractive and agreeable has its dangers.

TRUTH HAS WINGS
Let us dwell on the whole truth, not half-truths. 

UNPALATABLE TRUTHS
Minimising the significance of harsh truths has its dangers

Footnotes: *

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).

Thursday, 27 March 2014

WHAT TRULY MATTERS IN THE END

What do you think is the true measure of a believer? Does it depend on the greatness of his anointing or power? Or how many degrees he has under his belt?

At the end of our lives when we stand before the judgment seat, I think the qualities that matter most are character, an intimate relationship with God and faithfulness in utilising the time, talents and resources God has given us. I come from a Pentecostal and Baptist background and have been a believer for more than 40 years. I have studied the Word a la Ezra as well as witnessed many signs and wonders. I believe we need both the Word and Spirit in our lives.

Even so, if I were forced to choose either the Word or the Spirit, I would lean more on the Word (Matthew 24:35). What makes me take this stance? Sad to say, leaders who emphasise charisma rather than character are more often associated with excesses. It does not mean that the more conservative ones are all clean. But somehow it is more difficult to be upright when one has power, fame and riches. More: http://bit.ly/MT1BW7

To reiterate, it’s our faithfulness that counts in the end. Don't we just long to hear the Master’s commendation on judgment day? “Well done, good and faithful servant.”



On that day God will judge us (believers) whether we have been faithful in utilising the time, talents and resources that He has given us. Some may have more quiet gifts while others have more spectacular ones.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way"(1 Corinthians 12: 27-31). And what is the better way? LOVE.

And we should not belittle those with less spectacular gifts: The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary (1 Corinthians 12: 21-22).

However, it does not mean that signs and wonders aren’t important in ministry. And it is true that we should earnestly desire the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14: 1). However, danger arises when we run after these signs and wonders and lose our focus (Hebrews 12:2, Colossians 3: 1-3). More: http://bit.ly/1m0GVre

If we are so mesmerised by signs and wonders to the extent that we idolise certain “dispensers” of signs and wonders, we may become victims of deception as is evident in this post: http://bit.ly/1kLjwYF       *




                                                                         
Signs and wonders are not the litmus test of spirituality (read God's approval). That signs and wonders are merely the icing on the cake is evident from the following:

  • Ultimately, we are called to be faithful with what we have been entrusted (Parable of the Talents).


  • Love is the better and higher way (1 Corinthians chapter 12 transitioning into chapter 13).


  • Knowing God and doing His will are more important (Matthew 7: 21-23).
                                                                               

Finally, what do you think is the true measure of a believer? Does it rest solely on how much anointing or power he or she has? Or how many spectacular feats he or she can perform? Are there not other more important considerations such as an abiding relationship and intimacy with God, obedience, self-denial and faithfulness?


                                                                
The foregoing does not imply that spiritual gifts are unimportant. The moral of the story is that we must not put the cart before the horse.

Presumptuous faith, failure to walk closely with God, discern and do His will could prove disastrous finally for many on the day of judgment: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7: 21-23).

Undue emphasis on signs and wonders has its dangers. We have to tread with caution when a certain truthin this case, signs and wondersis emphasised at the expense of other equally fundamental truths.


In our quest for signs and wonders, we need to ask ourselves the following:
  • Have we taken our eyes off the true finishing lineJesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2)?
  • Have we neglected other more important considerations? Such as servanthood (Mark 10:45), self-denial (Luke 9:23), love (John 13:35), knowing His will (Ephesians 5: 17)?  
                                                                         

RELATED POSTS

RUNNING AFTER SIGNS
Is there a rationale for pursuing signs and wonders?

WHEN A LEADER FALLS
When a prominent Christian leader falls from grace, there are significant lessons to be learnt. What are they?

WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY
Nearly all men can stand the test of adversity, but if you really want to test a man's character, give him power.

WORD OR SPIRIT?
Should the believer emphasise the Word or Holy Spirit more?

CHARISMA versus CHARACTER
Charisma and character are important qualities in an outstanding leader. Which is more important?

MEASURING PROGRESS
When we travel outstation, we depend on milestones to tell us how far we have already gone and how far more we have to go before we reach our destination.
As Christians, how do we measure success? What are some “milestones” to help us monitor progress?
http://bit.ly/1gARtew


FOOTNOTES  *

People are naturally hungry for supernatural manifestations. Some are willing to be zapped by any supernatural forceif only they could feel their bodies tingle or shake. Some could have come from a conservative church background and want to opt for a “change”. Their mantra could be something like this: Life is mundane, we want signs, we want power, we want God to “show up”. But are signs and wonders invariable when God shows up? Can He not work in quiet ways? 

Often such hunger provides fertile ground for deception to thrive.


Monday, 24 March 2014

OVERCOMING DECEPTION

Understanding the wiles of satan is the first step towards winning the battle against deception. For we must not be ignorant of satan’s devices.






                             Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing 
                                             but inwardly are ravenous wolves                                        

                  
                   
Of the various end times characteristics—deception, persecution and turbulent times*—mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24 (The Olivet Discourse), deception seems to be the most prominent. Even the elect—supposedly mature leaders—can be deceived. If leaders are deceived, don’t you think the flock will fare even worse?

How many times did Jesus warn believers in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) not to be deceived? Four.

  • Take heed that no one deceives you (vs. 4).
  • For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many (vs. 5).
  • Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many (vs.11).
  •  For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (vs. 24).

Even though it may appear convincing, Jesus warned believers not to believe it. How many times did Jesus warn them not to believe? Twice.
  • If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. (vs. 23).
  • If they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it (vs. 26).

Notice that this warning ‘not to be deceived’ is coupled with the warning ‘not to believe’.

Like a serpent, deception slithers through the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It is one of the most effective tools that satan employs in spiritual warfare against believers.



                                                                       

Though Eve was warned by God not to eat the forbidden fruit as she would then die, she disobeyed. She was beguiled by the cunning serpent (satan) (Genesis 3:13).
You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to her. “For God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3: 4-5).

Joshua was deceived by the Gibeonites because he did not inquire of God (Joshua 9:14). After the miraculous crossing of the river Jordan and victory at Jericho, Joshua might have thought that possessing the Promised Land was like accepting a walkover. He presumed that the Gibeonites were from a distant land and signed a peace treaty with them. Actually they were inhabitants of Canaan whom Joshua was supposed to defeat.

Jeremiah warned: "Do not listen to what the false prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes(Jeremiah 23:16).

Jesus warned: Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves (Matthew 7:15).

The apostle Paul cautioned: “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).

The last days will see the unveiling of the false prophet who performs great signs and wonders—including the calling down of fire from heaven—and deceives many through these signs (Revelation 13:13–14). The role of the false prophet is to promote the worship of the antichrist (Revelation 13:15).

That’s why we must not judge ministers/prophets by how many or how spectacular are their signs and wonders but by their faithfulness to the Word and by their fruits. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them" (Matthew 7:15-17).

How are we going to live our lives in this tumultuous end times where deception reigns?

1. Focus on Jesus. Let Jesus be our first love.
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:15-16).  

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4).

2. Study and obey the Word.
Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31).

Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

3. Be vigilant.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

4. Sharpen our discerning skills.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).



                                                                        

5. Seek to know and do God’s will.
“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17).

“The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17).

RELATED POSTS

SHOULD WE RUN AFTER SIGNS AND WONDERS?
Is there a rationale for pursuing signs and wonders?

RUNNING AFTER PROPHECY

C'mon, this anointed prophet is in town. You needn't be confused anymore when you come to life’s crossroads. Don’t miss the opportunity. Get a personal prophetic word direct from heaven’s throne.


THE FACES OF DECEPTION
Be aware, be warned. It’s already here. Deception can present itself in the areas of teaching or supernatural manifestation.

TESTING THE SUPERNATURAL
Are the supernatural manifestations in church today invariably of divine origin?

FALSE versus TRUE PROPHECY
Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

DANGER OF IGNORANCE
Satan’s ability to entrap believers depends on these factors: ignorance and lack of vigilance on the part of believers and deception on the part of the evil one.



HOW TO QUICKLY ACCESS PORRIDGE

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Footnotes:
* Turbulent times—wars, rumours of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes.

Recently, the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine by Russia and the resultant crisis between Russia on one side and Ukraine, European Union and the United States on the other side is an example of ‘rumour of war’.