Category: The Church

SCARY: Pope highlights Mary’s role as ‘woman of the apocalypse’

Rome, Italy, Dec 8, 2011 / 04:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the biblical description of a “woman clothed with the sun” in his remarks at Rome’s Spanish Steps on the 2011 Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

“What is the meaning of this image? It represents the Church and Our Lady at the same time,” the Pope told the crowd assembled before the nearby statue commemorating the 1854 definition of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. “Before all, the ‘woman’ of the apocalypse is Mary herself.”

The 12th chapter of the Biblical Apocalypse – also known as the Book of Revelation – describes the glorification and persecution of “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

Though not named, this woman is described as the mother of the Messiah. In poetic language akin to the Bible’s other prophetic books, Saint John says she faced the threat of “a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,” and “fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God.”

Pope Benedict, offering white roses in his traditional yearly act of Marian veneration, gave listeners his insight into the connection between the Virgin Mary and the Church – portrayed in the Apocalypse through the single image of the sun-clad woman.

“She appears ‘clothed in sunlight,’ that is, clothed in God,” observed the Pope. “The Virgin Mary is in fact completely surrounded by the light of God and lives in God …  The ‘Immaculate One’ reflects with all of her person the light of the ‘sun’ which is God.”

“Besides representing Our Lady, this sign personifies the Church, the Christian community of all times,” he continued.

The Church, he explained, is “pregnant, in the sense that she carries Christ” and “must give birth to him to the world.”

“This is the labor of the pilgrim Church on earth, that in the midst of the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world, she must bring Christ to men.”

Because the Church continues to bring Jesus into the world, Pope Benedict said, it “finds opposition in a ferocious adversary,” symbolized in scripture by the “dragon” that has “tried in vain to devour Jesus,” and now “directs his attacks against the woman – the Church – in the desert of the world.”

“But in every age the Church is supported by the light and the strength of God,” the Pope said. “She is nurtured in the desert with the bread of his word and the Holy Eucharist.”

“And in this way, in every tribulation, through all of the trials that she finds in the course of the ages and in the different parts of the world, the Church suffers persecution, but comes out the victor.”

Pope Benedict said the Church should not fear persecution, which is bound to arise, but will be defeated.

“The only pitfall of which the Church can and must be afraid is the sin of her members,” he warned, highlighting the key difference between the Church and the woman who is its prototype.

“While in fact Mary is immaculate – free from every stain of sin – the Church is holy, but at the same time marked by our sins.”

While sinless herself, Mary remains in solidarity with the Church struggling against sin.
 
“That is why the people of God, pilgrims in time, turn to their heavenly mother and ask for her help,” explained Pope Benedict.

He stressed the world’s need for the hope brought by the “woman clothed with the sun” – “especially in this difficult moment for Italy, for Europe and for different parts of the world.”

“May Mary help us to see that there is a light beyond the veil of fog that appears to envelop reality,” he declared.

“For this also we, especially on this day, never cease to ask with filial trust for her help: ‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.’”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2823

‘Real’ Christian Churches in US Forced to Go Underground Soon?

Christian churches in America will soon be forced to go underground if they want to stay true to their beliefs and to God, a conservative broadcast commentator warned.

Longstreet, a 30-year veteran of the broadcasting business, recently explained his opinion on the Right Side News, first clarifying that only “real” Christian churches will have to do as he predicted.

“In the past three decades, or so, many of the mainline Christian churches have slipped away from their foundation on the Holy Scriptures and adopted more and more secular tenets and leftist, politically correct, philosophy until they have become only a shadow of the true followers of Christ,” he penned on Tuesday.

“In my opinion, those denominations can no longer claim to be ‘Christian’ churches simply because – they are not.”

A few years ago, the U.S. Army veteran had left his own denomination for the same reasons, seeing that it had chosen to forsake the tenets of the Bible and the Good News of the Gospel.

Though he admitted that he was in no way a “better Christian than any other follower of Christ,” he believed that many of the mainline denominations in America today were nothing more than social clubs with franchises nationwide.

“Their pastors ‘preach’ feel good ‘sermonettes’ about the environment and things like ‘social justice.’ In my opinion, that is not the mission of a church that purports to follow Christ. In fact, Christ, Himself, spelled out the mission of the church in what we refer to as The Great Commission.”

The Great Commission stated in Matthew 28:18-20 reads: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

That commission from Christ is the sole reason why the church exists today, Longstreet stressed.

“To fulfill that mission the church must stand firmly upon the foundation of the Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Christ. That means insisting that the standard(s) set by Christ are, and remain, the guiding force behind everything the church does … that means pastors are compelled to preach that those things the Scripture marks as sin are duly, and publicly, noted from their pulpits as SIN. If a church is reluctant to do this, or refuses to do this, then, in my opinion, that church is not a Christian church.”

The conservative commentator lamented that in America, pastors were afraid of preaching from the Scriptures, worried about the consequences – lawsuits, slander, or even embarrassment.

“It is a very real threat, especially to the evangelical church in America,” he added. “As a result, those churches which hold true to the Gospel, now feel that they must consider meeting in secret for Bible classes, for worship services, or other Bible centric gatherings.”

Even the government in America has criminalized biblical preaching and prevented thousands of churches and clergymen from practicing their faith without threat of penalty from the authorities, he charged.

“The Christian Church, I believe will be driven underground in America, as it has been in other nations around the globe. Otherwise, it will cease to exist in this land many firmly believe was founded by Christians,” Longstreet concluded.

“As much as it pains me to say this – America is no longer a Christian nation. At least, America’s government no longer governs by men and women who base their convictions on the Judeo-Christian code of laws and beliefs.”

Kevin Lewis, associate professor of Theology and Law at Biola University, shared some of Longstreet’s concerns.

“Today, the term evangelical is diluted,” Lewis told The Christian Post. “We now have ‘Liberal-Evangelicals,’ ‘Neo-Evangelicals,’ and ‘Post-Conservative Evangelicals,’ which are simply not with the classic evangelicals on doctrinal and cultural issues.”

Though there were still many women and men faithfully serving the Lord, they were in the minority.

Nonetheless, the Biola professor saw the decline of true Christianity and growing persecution of the church as an opportunity.

“Given past salvation history, I believe we will see more lost battles. But we also know that when the enemy actually touches the church, the people of God will awaken from their happy, evangelical slumber and seek new leadership. The current leadership is simply not doing the job necessary to win; and past leadership has failed.”

For Lewis, the “increased slouching toward Gomorrah in the church and culture” was a reflection of poor leadership from the evangelical Protestant church.

“I think the coming attacks will produce a search for new leadership. And it will then be the time for the unapologetic, biblically centered leaders to arise and take charge, both in the church and state.”

To remain “above” ground in America, the Protestant church needs to equip and train a new generation of Christian leaders in every sector of life, from the field of medicine to law.

“The Protestant church has lost the concept of ‘vocation’ and how it applies to each believer,” Lewis explained to CP. “I think there are many people called to be ‘Christian’ lawyers, judges, politicians, police officers, soldiers, medical doctors, etc. As such, as in the past, pastors and church leaders need to seek them out and train them if we want them to lead the government and culture. It is truly that simple.”

Though the Church had done this in the past, they are not doing it now, he noted.

“I believe it is our task to equip that new generation of Christian leadership to be the true biblically centered, scholastic activist leaders God requires. To do that, we need the majority of churches to enthusiastically return to biblical Protestant orthodoxy, which views all of life as ‘Christian,’ not simply the work inside the walls of the church.”

“While the outlook may appear bleak to some apart from divine intervention, there is certainly a way to fix the problem,” Lewis encouraged.

He believes God will spare this generation if Christians take immediate, radical and biblical steps. Those steps include repentance, leadership training and activism – essentially returning to “unapologetic biblical excellence.”

“If not, our children and children’s children will face persecution in America as Christians do in the U.K. and Canada.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2812

Christianity is the Most Persecuted Religion

Matthew 24:9, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.”

By Milena Faustova – “Christian believers all over the world have found themselves in jeopardy amid massive attacks on Christians and Christianity in the Middle East, North and South Africa and South East Asia. Unless appropriate measures are taken, the Christian civilization will vanish completely, warn the participants in the International Conference on the Freedom of Religion and Discrimination against Christians, which is currently under way in Moscow. The religious forum has brought together representatives of Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Islamic communities and religious experts from Russia and countries of the near and far abroad.

About 100 million Christians worldwide are suffering persecution and thousands die in religious conflicts. The biggest number of persecutions against Christians is taking place in the countries of Africa and the Middle East, said Metropolitan Hilarion, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church’s Foreign Relations Department:

‘In Libya, Christians have been leaving the country en masse following the toppling of Gaddafi’s regime and the coming to power of the National Transitional Council. According to the Open Doors human rights watchdog, 75 percent of Christians have left Libya. Tunisia’s government advocated the principle of religious tolerance before the revolution. Right after the revolution, Christians in Tunisia began to come under frequent attacks and a number of Christian churches were seized and turned into mosques.’

Anti-Christian sentiment has become strong in Egypt, which reports new victims among Christians regularly, and in Iraq. Christian believers come under fierce attacks in Algeria, Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and the Philippines…

The mounting anti-Christian moods were also evoked by a greater role of Islamic radicalism, aggressive missionary work by representatives of different non-Christian sects, and distortions of Christian teachings.”

We will be persecuted for our faith even here in America. It may or may not physical violence but I am attaching a second story out of New York City that sets the precedent that we can no longer have churches renting schools to hold service in! Keep praying and keep looking up!

Court: NYC Can Ban Churches From School Buildings

Dec 5, 2011

By Todd Starnes/TWITTER

The Supreme Court has rejected an evangelical church’s plea to overturn New York City’s ban on renting public schools for religious worship services. That means the city now has a green light to begin evicting congregations who pay rent to use public school buildings for church services.

“The Department was quite properly concerned about having any school in this diverse city identified with one particular religious belief or practice,” said Jane Gordon, senior counsel for the New York City Law Dept. “”The Court of Appeals correctly upheld the Department of Education’s policy not to allow the City’s public schools to be used as houses of worship.  This case has been litigated for 16 years, and we’re gratified that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear it.  We view this as a victory for the City’s school children and their families.”

The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case leaves in place a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the city’s policy.

The court case involved the Bronx Household of Faith – a church that paid weekly rent to hold worship services at a public school since 2002. The church, along with five dozen other congregations, was allowed to continue worshipping at public schools pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

It’s a sad day for religious liberty,” said Jordan Lorence, the church’s attorney and senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. “Churches and religious other groups should be allowed to meet in public buildings on the same terms as other community groups and they’re being denied that in New York City.”

Churches will have to vacate public schools on Feb. 12, 2012.

“What’s odd about this is that of the top 50 school districts in the nation, New York City is the only school district that has a policy banning worship services,” he told Fox News & Commentary. “It does not show respect for religious liberty.”

The immediate impact means dozens of Christian churches will have to find a new place to hold services.

“A lot of churches are going to be homeless,” said George Russ, executive director of the New York Metropolitan Baptist Association. He said about seven of the 220 Southern Baptist churches in the city will be impacted by the decision.

Russ said churches will be scrambling to rent hotel space, banquet halls and movie theatres.

“It’s going to be a lot more money,” he said.

“The odd thing is these guys have blessed the schools they’ve been in,” Russ said. “They all have good relationships with the schools they’ve been in. They’ve purchased furniture for the teacher’s lounge they’ve given video equipment to the schools. They’ve done so many thank-you kinds of projects.”

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that allowing churches to use schools resulted in an “unintended bias in favor of Christian religions” – since most Christian churches worship on Sunday. 

“Jews and Muslims generally cannot use school facilities for their services because the facilities are often unavailable on the days that their religions principally prescribe for services,” Judge Pierre Leval declared. “At least one request(ed) to hold Jewish services (in a school building used for Christian services on Sundays) was denied because the building was unavailable on Saturdays. This contributes to a perception of public schools as Christian churches, but not synagogues or mosques.” 

Judge Leval also took issue with the evangelical church’s membership. “Bronx Household acknowledges that it excludes persons not baptized, as well as persons who have been excommunicated or who advocate the Islamic religion, from full participation in its services.” Leval wrote. 

But it all boiled down to a key point, the judges decided. “In the end, we think the board could have reasonably concluded that what the public would see, were the Board not to exclude religious worship services, is public schools, which serve on Sundays as state-sponsored Christian churches,” Leval wrote. 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2790

Christian leaders’ heresy about Israel

I will let this article say it all for me! This is heresy and is clearly against Scripture especially if you take the Bible as literal! Israel is still the apple of God’s eye and there will be a remnant saved in the end. The whole of Scripture is that God chose Israel first, they rejected Him, He knew it would happen and then as part of His master plan He reached out to the Gentiles, but also part of His master plan is to graft Israel back in again! The Tribulation period is just for that to occur. We need to be bold in our faith and speak the truth even when we might have to correct another believer who is not understanding Scripture. If this does not work then it must be called what it is and that is heresy! Keep looking up!

Christian leaders’ heresy about Israel


Posted: November 17, 2011
1:51 pm Eastern

By Laurie Cardoza-Moore
© 2011

Now is the time for all Christians who stand on the authenticity of the Word of God to condemn false teachers who are leading millions of Christians astray with their false doctrines and anti-Semitic views.

Today I read an article in the Jerusalem Post advocating that Jesus wasn’t Jewish and was more likely a Palestinian! Every Christian friend of Israel is the target of these non-biblical Christian leaders who want us to give the enemy the ultimate victory by denying that our Messiah was a Jew. Because if Jesus is a “Palestinian” the Israel and Jews cannot stand on the Covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel). This growing trend among Christians, especially Christian leaders, is both shocking and outrageous.

Even more appalling are the leaders behind this movement – organizations like the World Council of Churches and Lynne Hybels, wife of Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, Ill.

Along with this trend, earlier this year, church leaders like Bill Hybels, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., and Robert Shuller of the Crystal Cathedral were encouraging pastors to invite Muslims into their pulpits to celebrate our common values, embracing another heresy: Chrislam!

What happened to these so-called Christian leaders in their seminaries? Indeed, we are witnessing the day that Matthew 24:11 says would come to pass: “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” Shockingly, these false prophets are leaders of the church.

With all of the confusion swirling around about the biblical heartland, Christians who know the Scriptures must speak out and proclaim justice on behalf of our Jewish brethren and Israel. Not one of these leaders quotes Scripture to substantiate their beliefs. Their views stem from centuries of doctrines and traditions of men, not the Bible.

For a Christian leader to suggest that the land of Israel belongs to the Palestinians is a lie from the pit of hell. The Bible is clear from Genesis to Revelation that God will keep His Covenant with His people, all Israel. The Apostle Paul confirms that truth in the book of Romans, Chapters 9 -11. Christians are grafted into that Covenant through Jesus. The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 3:29, “If you are in Christ, you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” The promise Paul was referring to is the same promise God made to Abraham in Genesis, and then repeated it to Isaac and Jacob. Paul further stated in Ephesians 2:11-13, that we, Gentiles in the flesh, were once outside of the commonwealth of Israel, but because of Jesus’ shed blood, we have been brought into the commonwealth of Israel.

So how do we know who the false prophets are? Anyone who would teach against the Covenant God made with Israel, which was called to uphold His commandants and to be a light to the Gentiles. And the last time I checked, the land is part of that Covenant God said was “irrevocable”! God did not say he would give it to the terrorists whose ancestors He told Joshua to wipe out because of their wickedness! What do these leaders not understand about that?

Unfortunately, this trend is not new, for as the book of Ecclesiastes reminds us, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Only 73 years ago, with the rise of Nazi Germany, we saw the same anti-God, anti-Christ and anti-Semitic spirit rise up with little resistance from Christian leaders and their congregants. Back then, the battle wasn’t about whether the Jews should have a country of their own; instead, it was whether the Jews were worthy of life.

This age-old battle is an example of the “new” anti-Semitism that is growing worldwide. This “new” anti-Semitism is not just anti-Jewish as it was in Nazi Germany; now it is anti-Israel and anti-Zionist as well. But its insidious goal is the same – delegitimize the right of the Jews to their biblical homeland and ultimately dehumanize them and deny their right to exist.

This is a very dangerous place for these so-called Christian pastors and leaders to tread. These leaders are nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing. God warned the Prophet Joel in Chapter 3 that in the latter days He was going to wipe out the nations of the world because they were dividing up His land. Who is leading the charge? The United States of America … the “Christian” nation.

At the time of the rise of the Third Reich, Germany was the most Christian and most highly educated nation in the world. It was the nation that gave birth to the Protestant Reformation. But millions of Christians turned their backs as their Jewish brethren were being slaughtered like animals or led into gas chambers.

And where was the church? They turned away, ignoring what was suffocating the life out of the air around them as human ashes fell on their doorsteps and the smell of burning flesh filled their cities.

If Dietrich Bonhoeffer were alive today, he would find himself facing the same church he challenged in Germany. A church that was more interested in protecting its own interests than God’s chosen people.

This is an opportunity for every Bible-believing Christian to consider our response at this critical time. We will stand before the Almighty God on Judgment Day and He will ask us, “Where were you when your brother’s blood was crying out from the grave?”

I daily remind my children of the words from the prophet Obadiah when God told him that in the last days He would wipe out the descendants of Edom because they stood by while their brother Jacob was held in captivity. I remind them that one day, they will have an opportunity to stand with their Jewish brethren and all Israel, and stand they must!

My dear Christian brethren, if God will judge the descendants of Edom because they stood by and did nothing, how will He judge the church for it’s silence –yet again – today?

Now is the time for Christians to rise up and have a “Christian” spring cleaning in our churches and remove all false teachers from the pulpits. Now is the time for us to take a stand and demand that Christian pastors and leaders start studying their Bibles instead of wasting our tithes on heresy. Now is the time for us to say, “Never again!”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2728

David Wilkerson: The Last Days Church

Here is a great post from David Wilkerson’s website:

THE LAST-DAY CHURCH

by David Wilkerson | November 16, 2011

[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]

I believe God’s vision for His last-day church is based on His revealed Word—because the Bible clearly outlines what the church of Jesus Christ will be like just prior to His coming.

The church in America is far from what God envisioned it to be. For the most part, entire denominations today operate without the Holy Spirit. They are devoid of the presence of Jesus and bankrupt of all spiritual gifts. They practice a form of religion without any power, conviction or saving message. They are cozy with the world and are more political than spiritual. They appease sin, wink at divorce and ridicule the supernatural, while tossing aside all teaching about heaven, hell, repentance and judgment.

The New Testament church made devils tremble! It drove legions of demons into the abyss, prayed prison doors open, made rulers cringe in fear. Those early believers had such faith and power that cripples rose up leaping and beggars became evangelists. They believed in the supernatural and they opened blind eyes, unstopped deaf ears and healed all manner of diseases. They even raised the dead!

I am not saying God’s last-day church will be a repeat or copy of the first-century church. No—I am saying it will be even greater than that! It will be mightier, stronger, with an ever greater revelation of Jesus. It will have greater unction from the Spirit than ever—greater even than at Pentecost! God always saves His best wine for last!

The prophet Daniel confirms this. He said that certain prophetic truths were locked up, only to be revealed in the last days: “For the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. . . . And none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:9-10).

Today the Holy Spirit is revealing these things to spiritual, discerning saints! “It is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

The Lord is preparing a powerful yet humble army of shepherds after His own heart and also a remnant congregation of hungry sheep who have turned away from the deadness and sin of the modern church. The scene is being set for that church which will be hot, not lukewarm—and it will rock the very foundations of hell. No power on earth will be able to ignore or despise it!

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2714

The Church in America: Do We actually Get It?

I am attaching an article from Dr. Al Mohler concerning Joel Osteen, who pastors the largest church in America, who during a recent interview has stated that Mormonism is another form of Christianity.

This is disturbing to say the least. I believe it shows the decline in the church in this country around remaining firm in our beliefs. We lack a basic understanding of what are the core tenants of our faith! Ebnjoy and keep looking up!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Does Joel Osteen Not Know, or Does He Not Care?

 

By Dr. Albert Mohler
AlbertMohler.com

Here we go again. Joel Osteen is in the news once again, this time for saying that Mormonism is just another form of Christianity. Osteen, pastor of “America’s largest church,” as the media repeat over and over, was speaking to The Washington Times in an interview that covered a variety of issues. It was the quintessential Joel on display.

Speaking to the newspaper on Monday, Osteen said, “I see faith in America at an all-time high.” His comments came just as a major research project detailed a significant loss of vitality in America’s Christian congregations. That loss of vitality can be traced, among other things, to a loss of theological and biblical conviction. Joel, of course, is proof positive that you can build a crowd without building a church. He is not inclined to deal in much theological conviction.

In the interview, he distilled his message in these words:

“Part of our core message is that seasons change, and when you believe, if you don’t get bitter, and you don’t get discouraged, you may not change overnight, but you can get peace.”

He also told the newspaper:

“People need to be reminded that every day is a gift from God, and bloom where you’re planted and be happy where you are, and to make that choice to get up every day and be grateful.”

That message includes some truth, of course – but it doesn’t even come close to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hell will be filled with people who bloomed where they were planted.

On Mormonism, Joel said:

“I believe that [Mormons] are Christians . . . . I don’t know if it’s the purest form of Christianity, like I grew up with. But you know what, I know Mormons. I hear Mitt Romney – and I’ve never met him – but I hear him say, ‘I believe Jesus is the son of God,’ ‘I believe he’s my savior,’ and that’s one of the core issues.”

“I’m sure there are other issues that we don’t agree on. But you know, I can say that the Baptists and the Methodists and the Catholics don’t all agree on everything. So that would be my take on it.”

Osteen just stated his belief that Mormons are Christians. He then expressed the thought that Mormonism “might not be the purest form of Christianity, like I grew up with,” but he affirmed Mormon statements that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is Savior.

Evaluating Osteen’s boyhood understanding of Christianity would be a project unto itself, given the shifting theology of his preacher father, the late John Osteen.

The main point of concern in Joel’s latest comment is the lack of any biblical standard of judgment and the total abdication of theological responsibility. He relegates doctrinal disagreements between Christians and Mormons to the status of theological debates between Protestant denominations and then includes Roman Catholicism. There are plenty of issues there, and the issues are not the same when comparing Baptists to Methodists, on the one hand, and Protestants and Roman Catholics, on the other. Comparing any form of Trinitarian orthodoxy with Mormonism is another class of question altogether.

Joel reminded the paper’s staff that he has never attended seminary. This is true, of course, but there are thousands of preachers who never had the opportunity to attend seminary who have a sufficient grasp of and commitment to biblical truth that would prevent such carelessness.

By now, it is clear that Joel Osteen’s carelessness is deliberate and calculated. This is not the first time that he has encountered the question of Mormonism. Back in 2007, he told Chris Wallace of FOX News that Mormons are indeed Christians:

“Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior, and that’s what I believe, so, you know, I’m not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are.”

The little details of it? Mormonism does not differ from historic biblical Christianity in “little details,” and a faithful Mormon would be the first to point this out. Mormonism begins with a plurality of gods, not with the monotheism of the Bible. Jesus Christ is an exalted man – not the incarnate Word. The list of categorical doctrinal differences continues throughout the entire belief system.

The very essence of Mormonism is the claim that historic Christianity is fundamentally in error, and that true Christianity did not exist on earth from the time of the Apostles until Joseph Smith. Mormonism can hardly be charged with hiding their movement’s teachings – the Book of Mormon and the other fundamental texts of the Latter Day Saints are published in plain sight.

In a remarkable exchange with Chris Wallace, Osteen muddied the waters further:

WALLACE: So, for instance, when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, and the golden tablets in upstate New York, and God assumes the shape of a man, do you not get hung up in those theological issues?

OSTEEN: I probably don’t get hung up in them because I haven’t really studied them or thought about them. And you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don’t know.

Here we face a fundamental dilemma. When Joel Osteen hears a summary of Mormon belief that mentions God assuming “the shape of a man,” does he lack the theological discernment to hear how that differs from biblical Christianity, or does it not concern him? In other words, does Joel not know, or does Joel not care?

In the end, we have to conclude that he does not care enough to know, and that is the greater tragedy for a Christian minister. He doesn’t “get hung up” on doctrinal issues, nor has he “really studied them or thought about them.” His own words indict him.

The Latter Day Saints include some of the most wonderful and kind people we will ever meet. They put a great emphasis on character and on the moral values of our common concern. They talk freely and passionately about their own beliefs, including their beliefs concerning Jesus Christ. Furthermore, they put action behind their commitments, sending their young people on missions and fueling a worldwide movement that remains one of the fastest-growing on the planet.

But their beliefs concerning Jesus Christ are not those of historic Christianity, and their understanding of salvation differs radically from the message of the New Testament. It is the responsibility of every Christian, much less every Christian minister, to know this.

Joel Osteen told The Washington Times that he is constantly “looking for new ways to influence the culture.” Our culture admires those with low theological commitment and high emphasis on attitude. In Joel Osteen’s case, it is the secular culture that has influenced the minister, and not the minister that is influencing the culture.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2640

Vatican-Islam are Cozying Up

I am attaching for your reading pleasure an op ed piece I read over the weekend concerning the coming together of the Vatican with political Islam and banding against Israel. Since the Pope’s speech in 2006 in Germany against Islam this op ed piece shows the steps the Vatican has taken to mend fences over the last 5 years but it also shows that they even are helping to push the Islamic agenda forward.

Could this be the beginning of the last world religion? Again remember all it would really take for this uniting to take place would be for a Pope to come along who would renounce the deity of Jesus as God.

Enjoy the article I found it fascinating. Keep looking up!

Vatican Pact with Islam

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2568

Spiritual Longevity

Here is a great article from Greg Laurie from Harvest Bible Chapel. It is a reminder we all need.

Enjoy!

When I first became a Christian, I wanted to be a super-Christian overnight. I was looking for the Cliffs Notes on spirituality, the shortcut to spiritual growth. I wanted to know how I could immediately be like a mega-believer. In time, I realized there is no angle. There is no such thing as a super-Christian. There is only a super-Savior, because I am a super-sinner.

Some people, it seems, are like yo-yos. They either are excited and passionate about their faith, or they are doing things they shouldn’t be doing now that they are Christians. That is why David wrote, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NKJV). The word “steadfast” could better be translated “constant.” David was asking for a constant spirit, for consistency.

So how do we find that consistency? Just walk with God. Man has walked on the top of Mount Everest, on the bottom of the ocean, and even on the moon. But the Bible tells the story of a man who walked with God. His name was Enoch, and in his story, we discover how to find longevity in our spiritual lives.

Enoch lived at a unique time in human history, just before Noah built his ark and God judged the Earth with the Flood. It was such a wicked time that God said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever” (Genesis 6:3). The Bible tells us that humanity was corrupt and was always thinking about violent things to do. Finally God effectively said, “That’s it. I can’t take it anymore. I am going to judge the earth and start over again.” You might say that Enoch was a last-days believer in a sense. He lived just before the judgment of God.

There is a parallel to our times, because Jesus said, “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day” (Luke 17:26 NLT). We, too, are living in violent times. It is commonplace now to read about new violence and new killing and new threats of terrorism in today’s headlines.

Violence is all around us, and Enoch lived in a violent time as well. But he showed that it is possible to live a godly life in a godless world. We may wonder whether it is possible to live a godly life today. Is it possible to be honest? Is it possible to have integrity? Is it possible to put God first? The answer is yes. We are not the first generation to be living in twisted times. It can be done – by walking with God as Enoch did.

Enoch was one of two men in the Bible who never saw death. The other was Elijah. He is also mentioned, along with Noah, as someone who specifically walked with God. Only five passages in the Bible refer to Enoch, and two of them are genealogies. He made it into Hebrews 11, the Bible’s Hall of Faith: “It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying – ‘he disappeared, because God took him.’ For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God” (Hebrews 11:6).

Enoch was a human being like any of us. He faced the same temptations, the same pressures and the same challenges. Yet he walked with God. To walk with God does not mean we must live merely by rules and regulations. That is how a lot of people envision the Christian life. But nothing could be further from the truth. Walking with God is living life to its fullest.

If you walk with God, everything else will fall into place. The prophet Amos said, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3 NKJV) The idea is two people walking together as a single unit, as though they were one. If two people are riding a tandem bicycle, they need to pedal together. Or if two people are paddling a canoe, both need to paddle in rhythm. It is the idea of God and an individual walking together in rhythm, in harmony with God. It is not trying to get God to go where we want him to go, but going where God wants us to go.

Years ago I was scuba diving in Hawaii, and we went to a depth of about 100 feet, the deepest I had ever gone. By the time we reached that depth, I had used up almost all of my air. So I gestured to the instructor that I was losing air. He looked at my gauge and then gestured to the back of his tank. Hanging off the back of his tank was an extra breathing apparatus called an octopus. The problem was the hose from the octopus to his tank was very short, so I had to stay with him. Wherever he swam, I had to swim. When he stopped, I had to stop. I had to stay in harmony with him – or drown.

That is the idea of walking with God. It is to get into harmony with him. It is to want what he wants and to go in the direction he wants us to go.

God is essentially saying, “Hold on to my hand. Don’t pull away.” But sometimes we say, “Oh, no. I have a better idea. I want to do this instead.” And that is foolish, because God is only trying to protect us from danger and get us to where we need to go.

Enoch walked with God in a godless world, and then he went to be with God. Scripture tells us that “Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him” (Genesis 5:23–24 NLT). In Enoch’s case, he didn’t die, but went straight into the presence of God. His life of walking with God was rewarded. I think that one day Enoch just went out to take a walk and probably said to his wife, “Honey, I am going to go take a walk with God.” And then he just kept walking, right into God’s presence. It serves as a reminder that if we walk with God on earth, we will walk with God in heaven.

There is no shortcut to spiritual growth that I could give you today. But I will say this: Just walk with God. Just concentrate on that in the days, weeks and years to come.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1879

Mary Worship

Read this interesting commentary from Bill Salus on the developing apparitions of Mary and the worship of Mary. Any worship of Mary is not okay. These are demonic in nature.  We need to be alert that this activity is on the rise and that as we near the Lord’s return it will get more severe.

Enjoy! And read with a discerning mind.

The Fallible Assumption of Mary

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1847

Jesus is not God?

A story broke on Friday about the Dutch church beginning to espouse the doctrine that Jesus is not God and that the Bible is fiction or a giant allegory. When are we going to realize that the end time religion is forming before our eyes.

As more and more people continue to not be concerned with doctrine and also start questioning the infalliability and inerrancy or Scripture and the deity of Christ I can see how over 3 to 4 billion people could immediately unite into a world religion.

Islam and Christianity are separated by the deity of Christ. If Chrisitans would be willing to compromise on Christ’s deity then Islam could be melted into Christianty by the denial of the deity of Christ. Also, do not forget that Muslims and Catholics today already worship Mary at Fatima, Portugal.

Keep looking up!

Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world

By Robert Pigott Religious affairs correspondent, Amsterdam

The Rev Klaas Hendrikse can offer his congregation little hope of life after death, and he’s not the sort of man to sugar the pill.

An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland.

It is part of the mainstream Dutch Protestant Church, and the service is conventional enough, with hymns, readings from the Bible, and the Lord’s Prayer. But the message from Mr Hendrikse’s sermon seems bleak – “Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get”.

“Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death,” Mr Hendrikse says. “No, for me our life, our task, is before death.”

Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing.

 “Start Quote

God is not a being at all… it’s a word for experience, or human experience”

End Quote Rev Klass Hendrikse

“When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that’s where it can happen. God is not a being at all… it’s a word for experience, or human experience.”

Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible’s account of Jesus’s life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life.

His book Believing in a Non-Existent God led to calls from more traditionalist Christians for him to be removed. However, a special church meeting decided his views were too widely shared among church thinkers for him to be singled out.

A study by the Free University of Amsterdam found that one-in-six clergy in the Dutch Protestant Church was either agnostic or atheist.

Klaas Hendrikse: “You don’t have to believe that Jesus was physically resurrected”

The Rev Kirsten Slattenaar, Exodus Church’s regular priest, also rejects the idea – widely considered central to Christianity – that Jesus was divine as well as human.

“I think ‘Son of God’ is a kind of title,” she says. “I don’t think he was a god or a half god. I think he was a man, but he was a special man because he was very good in living from out of love, from out of the spirit of God he found inside himself.”

Mrs Slattenaar acknowledges that she’s changing what the Church has said, but, she insists, not the “real meaning of Christianity”.

She says that there “is not only one answer” and complains that “a lot of traditional beliefs are outside people and have grown into rigid things that you can’t touch any more”.

Bini Von Reingarden, who’s been going to Exodus Church for 20 years, is among lay people attracted to such free thinking.

“I think it’s very liberating. [Klaas Hendrikse] is using the Bible in a metaphorical way so I can bring it to my own way of thinking, my own way of doing.”

Wim De Jong says, “Here you can believe what you want to think for yourself, what you really feel and believe is true.”

Churches in Amsterdam were hoping to attract such people with a recent open evening.

At the Old Church “in the hottest part of the red light district”, the attractions included “speed-dating”.

As skimpily dressed girls began to appear in red-lit windows in the streets outside, visitors to the church moved from table to table to discuss love with a succession of strangers.

Professor Hijme Stoeffels of the Free University in Amsterdam says it is in such concepts as love that people base their diffuse ideas of religion.

“In our society it’s called ‘somethingism’,” he says. “There must be ‘something’ between heaven and earth, but to call it ‘God’, and even ‘a personal God’, for the majority of Dutch is a bridge too far.

“Christian churches are in a market situation. They can offer their ideas to a majority of the population which is interested in spirituality or some kind of religion.”

To compete in this market of ideas, some Christian groups seem ready virtually to reinvent Christianity.

They want the Netherlands to be a laboratory for Christianity, experimenting with radical new ways of understanding the faith.

Stroom (“Stream”) West is the experiment devised by one church to reach out to the young people.

In an Amsterdam theatre young people contemplate the concept of eternity by spacing out a heap of rice grains individually across the floor.

“The difference from other churches is that we are… experimenting with the contents of the gospel,” says Rikko Voorberg, who helps to run Stroom West. “Traditionally we bring a beautiful story and ask people to sit down listen and get convinced. This is the other way around.”

Stroom focuses on people’s personal search for God, not on the church’s traditional black-and-white answers.

Rikko believes traditional Christianity places God in too restricted a box.

He believes that in a post-modern society that no longer has the same belief in certainty, there is an urgent need to “take God out of the box”.

“The Church has to be alert to what is going on in society,” he says. “It has to change to stay Christian. You can’t preach heaven in the same way today as you did 2,000 years ago, and we have to think again what it is. We can use the same words and say something totally different.”

When I asked Rikko whether he believed Jesus was the son of God he looked uncomfortable.

“That’s a very tough question. I’m not sure what it means,” he says.

“People have very strict ideas about what it means. Some ideas I might agree with, some ideas I don’t.”

Such equivocation is anathema in Holland’s Bible Belt, among the large number of people who live according to strict Christian orthodoxy.

In the quiet town of Staphorst about a quarter of the population attends the conservative Dutch Reformed Church every Sunday.

The town even has a by-law against swearing.

Its deputy mayor, Sytse de Jong, accuses progressive groups of trying to change Christianity to fit current social norms.

“When we get people into the Church by throwing Jesus Christ out of the Church, then we lose the core of Christianity. Then we are not reforming the institutions and attitudes but the core of our message.”

But many churches are keen to work with anyone who believes in “something”.

They believe that only through adaptation can their religion survive.

The young people at Stroom West write on plates the names of those things that prevent earth from being heaven – cancer, war, hunger – and destroy them symbolically.

The new Christianity is already developing its own ritual.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1822