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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Spiritual Labyrinth - Mike Ratliff

By Mike Ratliff

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4 ESV)

Back in 2005-2006 as I attempted to understand the Purpose Driven paradigm as my old church became devoured by it, I did so that I could clearly show the leadership there that they were being deceived. What I ran up against, however, was a leadership of mostly very new believers who had their minds completely made up and would not listen. I struggled for many years since that time with coming to terms with this many-headed monster. Over the last year or so the picture has become much more clear as the corrupt roots of Purpose Driven/Seeker Sensitivity are the very same ones from which Emergence Christianity has sprung, which is the Leadership Network. The visible church in our time has a “timid tolerance” for everything that calls itself “Christian.” Once solid looking “leaders” are still accepted and protected by their sycophants even as they reveal the corrupt roots of apostasy in how they handle the the Word of God. In all of this, many others and I have been trying to filter through the maze of paradoxes and relationships in all of this so we could address it as one or even just a few basic errors. However, this deception is actually one very complex spiritual labyrinth as Ken Silva shows us here.

We must never stop contending for and defending the truth even if that means the deceived perceive us as mean, unloving, and divisive. These are the spiritually blind who, because of that blindness, are lost in the labyrinth. Their feet are not on the solid ground of Christ, but on the sinking sand of false hope, false faith, false prophets, and false teachers. The following is an excerpt from Ken’s post to which I linked above.

In the Apprising Ministries post Philip Clayton With “Big Tent” Christianity In The Emerging Church I reminded you that the Emerging Church (EC) was a Trojan Horse taken inside mainstream evangelicalism; and further, at its corrupt core the EC has always been an existential rebellion against the final authority of the Bible i.e. a rejection of the proper Christian spirituality of Sola Scriptura. I also told you I fully realize that what I’m covering here concerning the EC, as well as the Purpose Driven/Seeker Driven camp, very likely appears to be a theological maze.

Again, you’re quite correct; it is. That is precisely a major strategy right now of these seducing spirits sowing their doctrines of demons; they are weaving them into a veritable spiritual labyrinth. As I said before, Jesus does warn us — “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matt. 24:10). That has zero to do with the Left Behind series; regardless of eschatological beliefs, I am warning you that Satan’s goal right now is to unleash a tsunami of heresies, which are very fine-tuned, and then aimed precisely at areas where the visible church can be easily divided.

When I read that the other day it was as if a dark tunnel or passage that I was traversing in search of the truth suddenly became floodlit with a piercing light that burnt through every shadow of deceit. Ken is right. The masses of deceived in the visible church seem to be all around us, but be assured my brethren, God has His own who are not blinded by the tsunami of heresies. This is true not because of their wisdom or understanding or knowledge, but because God is preserving them. If you are seeing the truth and know what we are saying here is true then praise the Lord and thank Him with your all because He is keeping you from being swallowed by the deception. In this, stop listening to those preachers and teachers who prove they are false with their error. Stop being timid about confronting error! It matters not what the unregenerate do to us in this life. What matters is eternity. How we stand for the truth here and how we contend with our all for Christ and His gospel in this life has everything to do with how we are received by our Lord when we stand before Him to give an account.

The early church dealt with false prophets and teachers. The Apostle Peter gave the Church a detailed description of false teachers in 2 Peter 2:1-22. Let us look at this carefully because our enemy has not changed and neither has his methods as well as the characteristics of his minions who serve him.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV)

It is as if Peter wrote a description of our own time here. Never forget my brethren, the greatest sin of those who bring in destructive heresies is misrepresentation of the truth and, from that, the resultant deception. Nothing is more wicked than to profess to preach the truth from God, and, within that profession, claim to be one whose ministry has been the cause of the salvation of untold numbers of souls when, in reality, these evil people speak for Satan himself to the damnation of souls (cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-18; 18:20; Jeremiah 23; Ezekiel 13; Matthew 7:15; 23:1-36; 24:4, 5; Romans 16:17; 2 Corinthians 11:13, 14; Galatians 3:1, 2; 2 Timothy 4:3). Never forget my brethren, one of the first and most deceptive tactics of defense of a false prophet or teacher is, “look how many souls have been saved in his or her ministry so why are you attacking them like this?” How can any of us know by just looking at numbers how many are truly in Christ or if they are merely in the same dark deception as their leaders?

This is why our measuring rod of authenticity for a prophet or teacher is their handling of the Word of God. It is not based on emotional arguments. It is not based on feelings. It is not based on numbers. No, it is on how subjected he or she is to Sola Scriptura and how they handle it in their ministries.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.  (2 Peter 2:4-10a ESV)

Here we see that God is allowing these false preachers and teachers to fill up the cup of His wrath especially for them. The more they do evil, the more full the cups become. Do not believe the lies that God is not to be feared. Oh yes He is!  The following passage is a direct quote made by our Lord Jesus Christ about this very thing.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:24-28 ESV)

As we read these two passages, it should fill us with a deep desire to stand firm and fear not what these evil people and their defenders do or say about us or do to our ministries. Has your name been maligned lately for telling the truth in the face of lies and heresies? Then this passage is for you.

Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. (2 Peter 2:10b-16 ESV)

If you have ever done battle with those who are totally blind to the heresies that are consuming them then you know how well this passage describes them. Say the truth about a beloved false teacher and watch out! They have their own concept of the truth, which is not God’s truth, but is one that is based entirely in humanism or philosophy or fairness. God’s Sovereignty is an alien concept to them. Everything is about a false unity based on not offending anyone, that is, unless you rock the boat by telling the truth. Then, they will most certainly unleash their wrath on you and their rules about not being offensive will be applied to everyone except you. The rights of free speech only extend to those they agree with.

These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:17-22 ESV)

Here we have the perfect description of the professing Christian leader who is now apostate. They are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. Worthless! They teach and preach nothing but the things of man pretending it has spiritual worth, but it has none. Their teachings promise transformation, but they ignore passages like Romans 12:1-2 and send their disciples to learn Spiritual Formation. This passage is not a critique of leaders losing their salvation, because that is impossible, but is rhetorical and shows the utter emptiness of those who professed to be in Christ and became preachers and teachers only to show their disingenuousness by apostatizing and proving it with the mishandling of God’s Word and leading their people to follow them into darkness and corruption.

This spiritual labyrinth is deception. It sucks in those who believe they are following Christ, but all they are following is man-made Jesus that is of the devil. Many once solid looking spiritual leaders are now showing the cracks of disingenuousness by compromising with the leaders of those setting up this labyrinth. I see some I still admire making friends in its leadership and am puzzled. I pray they do not get too close. I pray they are there to preach the truth into the darkness, but I contend that we cannot make partnerships with the devil.
Be ye bold, Holy and separate my brethren!

Soli Deo Gloria!

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