Wednesday, 26 October 2016


False teachings are rearing its ugly head today, proclaiming a different Jesus, a different spirit and a different gospel, just as in the days of the apostle Paul.

“You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.”
(2 Corinthians 11:4)

The apostle Paul was fearful that false teachers were leading the believers at Corinth astray, just as Eve was beguiled by Satan at the Garden of Eden. “But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent”  (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Though warned by God not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for then she would die, Eve disobeyed (Genesis 2:17). She fell for the lies of Satan, who told her she would not die but be enlightened like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:4-5).

Paul was concerned that his life’s work at Corinth would be undermined by agents of Satan who posed as apostles of Christ. He was fully aware that Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).

One day, in heaven, the church will be presented to Christ as a resplendent and pure bride in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. But if believers fall prey to deception, a happy union with the Bridegroom would be jeopardised (2 Corinthians 11:2).

What were these lies and deception about which Paul was so concerned? False teachers were preaching a different Jesus, a different Spirit and a different gospel.

“You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.”
(2 Corinthians 11:4)

Let us examine these three areas of deception in turn.

A different Jesus

A person’s theology about Christ (Christology) is one of the ways by which we evaluate whether a teacher is of God or not.

Jesus is the name given by his parents whereas Christ (Messiah) is a title, meaning anointed or chosen one. Jesus Christ is the perfect God-man. He is 100% God and 100 % man. Any teaching that deviates from this central bedrock truth is suspect.

Anyone who teaches that Christ has come in the flesh is from God. That means God has become incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4: 2). “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Those who fail to see Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) but view Him as merely a holy man or great teacher do not know God. This is because enlightenment about Christ’s God-man uniqueness is not based on one’s intellect but through the revelation of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 16:13-17).

“Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2: 22). So whoever denies Christ’s deity is condemned.

Thus, anyone who denigrates Christ’s unique God-man status is not a minister of God. A prominent minister teaches that, during His earthly ministry, Christ laid aside His divinity and performed miracles as a man in right relationship to God, not as God. If Jesus performed miracles as an empowered man, as he asserts, how can He forgive sins (Mark 2:1-11)?

A different Spirit

Jesus warns that deception will be a prominent feature during the end times. False prophets, who are ferocious wolves draped in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15), can perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24). Ecstatic supernatural experiences and miraculous feats by evil spirits can lead many astray.

As such, believers have to be wise—in fact, extremely vigilant and discerning—if they want to stand up against deception in these last days. Satan is like a roaring lion seeking to devour the weak and unwary (1 Peter 5:8). Indeed, we have to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

As a believer, would you attribute the following scenarios in church to the work of the Holy Spirit? What if a believer were to laugh uncontrollably, slither on the ground like a snake, bark like a dog or fidget non-stop like a monkey? Would these manifestations be a sign that the Holy Spirit has come upon the church?

Is such animal-like behaviour as described above, found in the so-called Toronto blessing, biblical? Most level-headed, discerning believers would not think so. However, some believers deem these supernatural manifestations as a move of the Holy Spirit.

Similarly, many believers are going gaga over sensational experiences, without fully understanding its source. “Soaking” is a practice whereby believers empty their mind of distractions in order to spend intimate moments with God, usually with special music to create the ambiance. Its main emphasis is to focus on the supernatural experience; scripture is being downplayed.

Those who pursue such ecstatic experiences may be opening themselves up to deception by diverse spirits. Lacking discernment, they think that God must be near because they can feel Him, hear voices or manifest some strange behaviour. The truth is that they have been captivated by supernatural experiences at the expense of truth.

When we denigrate the Word and exalt the realm of the supernatural, we no longer have any guide, compass or plumb line. We will be treading on uncharted territories. Whatever supernatural phenomena we assume as originating from the Holy Spirit may, in fact, be counterfeits by evil spirits.

An even more bizarre practice is “grave-sucking”. In this fast track way to obtain supernatural power, believers lie on tombstones in an attempt to suck the anointing from departed saints.

An inordinate emphasis on power, miracles and the realm of the supernatural keeps believers too excited to question whether all these happenings are above board, scripturally speaking. A charismatic leader can become an object of hero worship that he can be seen to do little or no wrong. Personal charisma and miraculous signs keep many enthralled even if truth is compromised.

To sum up, pursuing signs and wonders—even if we can feel the so-called presence of God, or experience miraculous healinghas its dangers if sound doctrine is compromised. When we exalt signs and wonders to the extent that doctrine, scholarship and discernment are all downplayed, red flags go up.

A different gospel

Today’s gospel is moving more and more towards a man-centered, “feel good”, gospel, not a God-centered one.

This is not surprising considering what Paul wrote concerning the end times—believers with itching ears will gravitate towards teachers who tell them what they would like to hear. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Timothy 4:3).

Whereas the good old gospel tells us to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Christ, the liberal gospel of today tells us: “Embrace personal fulfilment, bypass the cross and let Christ lead you along the path of unimaginable success and blessings.”

But what did Christ teach? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). 

What did Paul emphasise? “For I decided to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). 

Nothing is more central to the gospel than Christ and Him crucified. Salvation would not be possible without Christ's death at the cross. His shed blood is the only means by which man's sins could be atoned. In response to what Christ has done for us at Calvary, we have to live in a manner worthy of our high calling. Repentanceobedience and personal responsibility are all non-negotiable imperatives for believers. 

What are the various liberal gospels with a huge following today?

The prosperity gospel (‘health and wealth’ gospel) is fixated on the things of the world. It uses faith as a formula for getting what we want and reduces God to an errand boy to meet our needs and desires, thus denigrating the sovereignty of God. While God may supply our needs, He might not acquiesce to all our whims and desires.

The mantra of these prosperity gospel proponents goes something like this: “Name it and claim it”; “The more you sow, the more you’ll reap.” All these affirmations are positive. Believers use it frequently. But even good things can be hijacked to serve selfish motives such as greed and ambition.

Characteristically, purveyors of the prosperity gospel tend to cherry pick verses to support their stance whilst downplaying the cross and its demands (self-denial). Using religion as a means of gain, they manipulate the truth for personal ends.

Another false gospel focuses on effortless entitlement: Just believe and every spiritual blessing is yours. Be happy because you have already bought an instant ticket to heaven. Repentance is merely a change of way of thinking. No need to emphasise obedience as it will nullify God’s grace. Don’t worry about working out your faith, self-denial, endurance or overcoming because nothing you do or fail to do will cause you to lose favour in God’s sight. After all, future sins are automatically forgiven. And once you are saved, it means you are always saved (OSAS). You only need to rest on the imputed righteousness of Christ; God will always see you as pure.

It is like comparing the Christian life to a walk in the park. Everything is by faith; there is nothing more to it. You just have to believe in what Jesus has done for you at the cross and, voila, everything that God promises is yours. Anything more than that smacks of self-effort, pride and legalism.

Some churches aim to be 'seeker-sensitive'—offer “customers” (churchgoers) just enough religion to attract and make them happy. Remember the saying, “The customer is king”. Once they have made a commitment, they will faithfully attend church and help boost its coffers. Such churches rarely mention sin, damnation, hell or the need for repentance. After all, hard stuff puts people off. The goal is to build a big congregation and impact lives; doctrine and quality of discipleship are downplayed.

The above gospels of ‘easy believism’ have spawned a generation of believers who think they can have all the benefits of following Christ without the cross (self-denial). 

In contrast, the full gospel not only tells us about the benefits Jesus secured for us at the cross (forgiveness, healing, victory over death, sin and Satan) but also the need for personal responsibility (repentance and working out our faith with fear and trembling). The false gospel gives a lopsided emphasis on the benefits and downplays personal responsibility.

From Devotion to Deception

Why do modern-day believers fall for deception?

Instead of single-minded devotion to Christ, which is simple and pure, believers today want something different, like the believers at Corinth.

They wanted something more exciting like sensational and mystical experiences, which a different spirit could deliver.

They hankered after attractive propositions like effortless success, health and wealth, which a different gospel promises. 

To conclude, the lies and deception that were luring the Corinthian believers away from the faith—a different Jesus, a different Spirit and a different gospel—are still prevalent today.

Believers today truly need to be alert and vigilant. Widespread end time deception calls for discernment and the spirit of independent inquiry of the Bereans, who scrutinised every teaching against God's Word (Acts 17:11).

“Never were there so many millions of nominal Christians on earth as there are today, and never was there such a small percentage of real ones. We seriously doubt whether there has ever been a time in the history of this Christian era when there were such multitudes of deceived souls within the churches, who verily believe that all is well with their souls when in fact the wrath of God abideth on them."
Arthur W. Pink, Bible commentator


Some think that I enjoy taking up the task of ‘heresy hunting’. I do it with a heavy heart. Realising that so many believers have been deceived by a different Christ, a different gospel and a different spirit, it has to be done.

Many believers are going gaga over these wonderful experiences—ecstatic joy, gold dust, feathers and glory cloud—without fully understanding its source.

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

If Jesus were preaching today, would He place consumer expectation and drawing a crowd as top priorities? Or would He value truth above all?

The belief that Jesus was rich lends support to the prosperity gospel. But was Jesus truly rich when He walked upon the earth?

How do we differentiate between the true and the false gospel?

How to develop discernment and escape the clutches of destructive heresies


Thinking through the Toronto Phenomenon
A Review on a book by David Pawson

The Toronto Deception by a Former Toronto Vineyard Pastor

Watch the father of the ‘Word of Faith’ movement preaching. Is he of sound mind or has he been manipulated by evil spirits?



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