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“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter
times some will depart from the faith,
giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines
of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy,
having their own conscience seared with a
1 Timothy 4:1-2
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through
philosophy and empty deceit, according to
the tradition of men, according to the basic
principles of the world, and not according to
This, for me, is one of the most important and significant papers that I have written in years. A corrupt Gospel is infiltrating the mainstream evangelical church and its appeal lies in the fact that it is promising believers a new power and authority that the church has never seen or had before. All of this is based on special revelation knowledge that the preachers of this message claim to have received. This is a form Gnosticism and it effectively robs the believer of the blessings and power of the cross. It is in fact not new but it is very dangerous and it is being promoted by leaders from the so called, “Emerging Church” and the neo-Pentecostal movement. It is also becoming so “regular” now that if you challenge it you are considered out of step with God. I therefore submit this document to you as a warning lest you be carried away with a teaching that will “tickle your ears.”
The Gnostic Gospel is that idea that a preacher, at a given point in time, has special revelation knowledge that when shared with God’s people has to be immediately acted upon in order to receive spiritual gifts, blessings and authority. Failure to act in the moment designated by the preacher will disinvest the hearer of the blessings promised by the preacher.
The buzz word used by these false teachers is, “Impartation.”
A more general definition is that Gnosticism is, a religious orientation advocating revelation knowledge as the way to release a person’s spiritual element.
True preaching will always have the cross central to its proclamation and it will serve the truths surrounding the cross by calling upon its hearers to repent and make Jesus Lord of their lives. Paul emphasized this time and time again:
“For I determined not to know anything among you except
Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 2:2
“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our
Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be
made of no effect.”
1 Corinthians 1:17
It will also remind the believers in Jesus that God in Christ gave them everything they need “for life and godliness” 2000 years ago when Jesus died and rose again from the dead (2 Peter 1:3). God can give us nothing more because, as Paul affirms in his letter to the Ephesian Church, He has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) Paul’s statement is in the past tense and this means that God can give you nothing more as He has given you everything He has in Christ. In short, God’s “more box “is empty and Christians who are called out in meetings to get more of God are just deceived. The fact is, God wants more of you! Jesus died to get God out of Heaven into man and this is why the veil in the temple was split from the top to the bottom. (Matthew 27:51) Paul knew that Christians would not easily understand this truth and thus, once again, in his Ephesian letter he writes:
“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord
Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to
give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in
the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding
being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope
of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His
inheritance in the saints…..,”
It will be noted that Paul’s prayer is that we should understand, not what we can get from God, but what He can get from us! God, by Christ, wants His inheritance in us. God wants more of us and this means that we walk a life of surrender, submission, prayer devotion and fellowship. The Bible calls this picking up your cross daily and following Christ. (Luke 9:23) This is a daily joy, privilege and discipline. The seeking of instant encounters with God in a meeting driven by a Gnostic preacher will not give God His inheritance in us. It is the daily pressing in to all that Jesus purchased for us on the cross that brings us into the riches released to us by the cross 2000 years ago. True preaching declares the truths of God’s word and allows the Holy Spirit to bring these to the hearts of the hearers. After Peter preached on the day of Pentecost we read that, “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) True preaching does not drive the sheep, it leads them!
This in turn means that all the blessings God has for us in Christ can be appropriated at anytime; even when shopping in a super-market! True preaching will serve Christ by telling the truth and it will not suggest that God’s blessings are dependent upon responding to a preacher and his special revelation knowledge at a moment in time. True preaching will also recognize and declare that, after repentance and faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross, the believer has to be baptized in water, filled with the Spirit, placed in a local church and conformed to the image of Christ. This is our holy calling and nothing more.
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets,
and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the
saints for the work of the ministry. Till we all come to the
unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the full-
ness of Christ.”
It will be noted that gift ministries are given to the people of God in order to bring them to Christ’s image. Their “equipping of the saints” is with this end in mind only (See also Romans 8:29-30). This is very important because the Gnostic preachers are now telling us that by revelation and apostolic gifting our calling is to take over the nations and rule them but Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36) To support their error they routinely twist scripture, violate its context and thereby deceive the people of God. This is a very serious matter; for instance they will have you believe, by their special revelation, that the Church in the end time will be infused with a power that the Church of all ages did not have. A “Super Christian” is going to emerge who will be anointed to govern nations and Jesus will not return until the Church takes this place of authority. This is a lie and Paul rebuked this lie in his first letter to the Corinthians:
“For who makes you differ from another? And what do you
have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive
it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? You are
already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings
without us-and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also
might reign with you!”
1 Corinthians 4:7-8
Here Paul rebukes them for claiming a position and authority that God in fact has never given them. In the church age the people of God walk in humility and weakness recognizing that our weakness and imperfection precludes us from taking the position of dominion that God once gave perfect Adam! However, we do see Jesus who by His incarnation and death on the cross has begun a work of redemption in our lives. This work will only find its completion when Jesus comes again and then, and only then, will we reign with him. Now at this time, like Paul, we are “as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake” because we are weak and dishonored! (Hebrews 2:8-9; 1 Corinthians 4:9-10). No, there will be no super empowered Christian at the end of the age and preachers who claim this nonsense must be and should be ignored.
These strut around the platform “dispensing the holy water” of their Gnostic gospel by claiming special revelation that has to be embraced at the moment they designate. If refused the people of God are told that they will forfeit this moment of God’s opportunity. This results in an altar call frenzy that is stirred up by the preacher that sees God’s people desperate to grab the moment. All of this is a gross distortion of the Christian faith and yet it is becoming so main stream that the people of God cannot recognize this. I recently attended a conference where the preacher promised, by revelation given only to him, that if the congregation did as he told them they would receive new authority in their nations and within twelve months untold riches. Those who would not respond as he desired would be left spiritually destitute. This is garbage and no one should be exploited like this in the house of God. Jesus weeps! It’s time for the new money changers to be cleansed from the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Scripture everywhere warns that the end time church will be infiltrated by spiritual imposters:
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even
as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly
bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who
bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And
many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the
way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will
exploit you with deceptive words…………….”
2 Peter 2:1-3
The “Altar Call” is a mechanism that these new Gnostic preachers are exploiting. Actually, the altar call phenomenon is a relative new comer to the church’s order of service. In its modern form it was popularized by the great evangelist of the nineteenth century, Charles Finney. Billy Graham also made good use of it and both evangelists, with Peter the Apostle, employed it as a way in which people could respond to the proclamation of the Gospel. This is good; but the modern day habit of using it to dispense spiritual blessings to the people of God has exalted the preacher, impoverished the people of God by denying their personal priesthood and taught them to expect “instant things” from God. The people of God are blessed and built up in their faith only as they learn to walk with Christ daily and follow him (Acts 2:42). If they need prayer for anything they should call for the elders/leaders of the Church to pray for them. (James 5:13-15) Take note, the preacher doesn’t call them out, they call the preacher out! They should be dealt with lovingly and in a probing manner since unconfessed wickedness and sin could be at the root of their problem. These things cannot be sorted out at an altar call but sadly the altar call has morphed into a tool by which Gnostic Preachers routinely abuse the people of God by playing on their emotions. Oral Roberts, the famous Pentecostal evangelist realized, to his credit, that a lot of what was happening at the altar call in his great tent meetings was psychosomatic, or a change of state only induced for a short time by intense emotional responses to the altar call invitation, and thus he withdrew from the practice except where it was used to call people to repent and make Christ their Lord.
Paul recognized that the message of false preachers had an appeal in that it promised the people of God all sorts of blessings and who doesn’t want these? The Corinthian Church was being infused with these preachers and why would it not be true today? He therefore wrote:
“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his
craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity
that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus
whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different
spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which
you have not accepted-you may well put up with it.”
2 Corinthians 11:3-4
A true preacher is an Under Shepherd of Jesus, the Great Shepherd, and so he will rest Jesus’ flock and never drive them. He will love them, care for them and defend them from wolves (Acts 20:17-31) and he will proclaim truth in the power of the Holy Spirit all the while trusting Jesus to effectively apply it to people’s lives. Today the wolves of the Gnostic Gospel are everywhere and we need to be aware of it and forearmed to avoid them. We should take seriously Paul’s admonition to the Elders of Ephesus when he said:
“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will
come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among
yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw
away the disciples after themselves.”
Paul’s antidote for this attack against the flock is to lead the people to continuously live in the word of God and thereby to have their lives changed, built up and blessed.
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of
His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheri-
tance among all those who are sanctified.
James gives the same advice:
“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness,
and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able
to save your souls.”
Preaching is always good and required but at the end of the day we are all believer priests and we have to individually appropriate all that Christ Jesus has done for us on the cross. It is he that endures to the end who will be saved; whether that “end” is our personal departures or the coming of Jesus.