Friday, June 15, 2012

Test the Spirits of Jesus Culture || Don't Be Deceived

  • Did Jesus Christ really “lay His divinity aside”? 
  • Was He always God, or just sometimes?
  • Did Jesus Christ come so that Christians would rule the earth?
  • Was Jesus Christ "born again" after His death on the cross?
  • Did Jesus Christ come so that we would become sinless and divine while on earth?
  • Did He come so that we would "walk in the supernatural", "rise up out of the earth" and "decree things into existence," and overcome every sickness by the "spirit of prophecy"?
  • Is the Holy Spirit evidenced by barking, twitching, howling, hiccupping, twitching, shaking, rolling on the floor, moaning, rocking, and falling down?
  • Was Jesus Christ's mission primarily to do supernatural feats?
We raise these questions, because these are the teachings of Bethelism that you will hear at Jesus Culture conferences, from teachers like Banning Liebscher and Bill Johnson. They present a version of Jesus Christ. It is not the Jesus Christ of the Bible. You will also hear--and see--another Holy Spirit at Jesus Culture. He is not the Holy Spirit of the Bible.
The apostle John, one of the original disciples of Jesus Christ, faced the same problem in his day. There were different ideas going around about who Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit were. Only one was true, and the rest were false.

In John’s first letter, he addresses this problem to followers of Jesus to warn them. God has preserved His Word for us, so that we, too, would be warned, about false christs, and false spirits, and not to follow them.  The commentary is provided by David Guzik, a pastor in California

One of the great characteristics of the end times is described in the New Testament as deception, or delusion, on a grand, perhaps unprecedented scale. The Lord Jesus warned that the deception that is coming in His Name and accompanied by great shows of power will be so convincing that even the very elect, that is, those who truly know Him, stand in danger of being carried away in the deception (Matthew 24:24).

The Apostle Paul discusses the same idea. In explaining the end-time delusion that will go along with the world's acceptance of Satan himself as the savior of the world, he points out that when this "man of sin" arrives on the scene, he will be accompanied by great signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9).

When looked at alonsgisde the Lord's prediction in Matthew 24, there is no reason to believe that this entrance by Satan on the world stage will be accompanied by anything less than healing, casting out of demons, and raising the dead in the name of Jesus!

Such a situation might have seemed impossible a decade or so ago. But with the acceptance by the world--and particularly of youth, who are the next generation of Christians--of some of the current beliefs taught by Jesus Culture and similar ministries, it is not difficult to imagine that such total, world-wide delusion could take place.

Much of the "church" is not Biblically trained. Many do not even believe that they can be deceived, although Scripture warns about this many times. Many have come to believe that the purpose of our lives is to "get" what we can from God, and to live out our grand destiny of conquering adventures for Him, our toy holsters equipped with supernatural powers like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. 

Many "seek signs" although Jesus tells us not to (Luke 11:29, Matthew 16:4, John 6:26, 1 Corinthians 1:22) And many seem to be obsessed with the subject of  "signs and wonders," healing, and the "greater works," totally beyond the magnitude and scope of what occurred during the time of the New Testament when the church was established. 

Paul worried that this very thing would overcome the believers in Corinth. He wrote, 

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your
minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached,
or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different
gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.
(2 Corinthians 11:3-4) 

This generation's "signs and wonders" fixation may be nothing less than a set-up to prepare the way for the one "whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders..."

 1 John 4
New American Standard Bible
    1Beloved, 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. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: 
 every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the 
 flesh is from God; 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus
 is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you 
 have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 

Commentary by David Guzik:

A. Protection against the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

1. (1) The fact of false prophets and the need to test the spirits.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

a. Do not believe every spirit: John warned against believing every spirit; that is, we are never to assume every spiritual experience or every demonstration of spiritual power is from God. We must test spiritual experiences and spiritual phenomenon to see if they are in fact from God.

i. Many, when first encountering the reality of the spiritual world, are too impressed and amazed to ask whether they are of God. This leads to easy deception.

b. But test the spirits: This is important because many false prophets have gone out into the world. Even though the early church had a strong life, and a large measure of purity, John still knew the danger false prophets and their message was real in the early church.

c. Test the spirits, whether they are of God: This is the responsibility of every Christian, but especially of congregational leadership. According to 1 Corinthians 14:29 (let the others judge) and 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 (Test all things; hold fast what is good), testing the spirits is the work of the body of Christ. This job is to be done using the gifts of discernment God has given to Christians in general, especially the leadership of a congregation.

i. All prophecy is to be judged by Scriptural standards. It is never to be received just because it is dramatic or given by a certain person. We trust in the principle that God will never contradict Himself, and we know what He has already said in His Word.

ii. 2 Peter 1:20-21 tells us true prophecy is never of any private interpretation. This means that there will be agreement and confirmation from the body of Christ, though perhaps (or probably) not everyone will agree or confirm.

2. (2-3) How to know when a false prophet speaks.

By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

a. Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God: True prophecy, and true teaching, will present a true Jesus. In John’s day, the issue was about if Jesus had truly come in a real body of flesh and blood. Many Gnostic-influenced teachers said that Jesus, being God, could not have actually become a flesh and blood human, because God could have no partnership with “impure” material stuff.

i. “This statement would be directed against some form of Docetism, the view that Christ was a spirit who only seemed to be a true man.” (Boice)

ii. Today, some groups deny that Jesus is really God (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Muslims). But way back in John’s day, in this time closest to the actual life and ministry of Jesus on this earth, people didn’t have a hard time believing Jesus was God. They had a hard time believing that he was a real man. This false teaching said Jesus was truly God (which is correct), but really a “make-believe” man.

iii. Today, we are passionate about saying, “Jesus is God,” and we should be. But it is no less important to say, “Jesus is a man,” because both the deity and humanity of Jesus are essential to our salvation.

b. Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God: Some think that this is the only test of false doctrine. This is not the only test, but it was the significant issue challenging the church in John’s immediate time. Today a person might confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh yet deny that He is God as the Bible teaches He is God. They also are giving false doctrine because they are not presenting a true Jesus.

i. The principle of presenting a true Jesus is essential to the testing of spirits. No one who presents a false Jesus, or one untrue to the Scriptures, can be regarded as a true prophet.

ii. Today, there is a lot of curiosity about the “true Jesus.” Many modern academics say they want to discover the “true Jesus” and when they say this they often mean, “The true Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible. The Biblical Jesus is make-believe. We need to discover the true Jesus behind the myths of the Bible.”

iii. Not only is this position ignorant (ignoring the confirmed historical validity of the New Testament) it is alsoarrogant. Once any academic throws out the historical evidence of the New Testament and other reliable ancient writings, they can only base their understanding of Jesus on their own personal opinion. These academics present their baseless opinions as if they were scholarly facts.

c. This is the spirit of the Antichrist: To deny the true Jesus is the basis of the spirit of the Antichrist, which John has already mentioned in 1 John 2:18-23. It is the spirit which both opposes the true Jesus and offers a substitute Jesus.

i. The devil doesn’t care at all if you know Jesus or love Jesus or pray to Jesus – as long as it is a false Jesus, amake-believe Jesus, a Jesus who is not there, and who therefore cannot save.

d. Is now already in the world: Though it will have its ultimate consummation in an end-times political and economic ruler, the essence of this antichrist spirit is present with us today. It is found everywhere a false Jesus is promoted in place of the true Jesus of the Bible.

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