The Devil’s Most Powerful Weapons pt I

It’s always helpful to receive feedback on my sermons and I appreciate it very much. For instance, our friend Guy began his latest by saying: “I just finished reading your message. There is a lot of meat to chew on and I will need to read this a couple of times to get the most benefit.” That’s why I’m always encouraging you folks to listen attentively to my message and later get a printed copy of the written version. Then read it with an open Bible, an open heart and an open mind. Be skeptical of my conclusions, and the teaching of all preachers, Bible teachers and folks who write religious books. Our Creator has blessed human beings with a unique priceless possession-our mind. And He expects us to worship Him by using it in all areas of our life, especially when we read the Bible. Then the Holy Spirit will guide us into all spiritual truth as Jesus promised and as He prayed to His Father on behalf of His beloved disciples. Jesus obviously had all of His future followers such as you and me in mind, too. He told them: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13 (NIV) A little later Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17 (ESV)

“The Devil prowls around the world like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,” (1 Peter 5:8) and I might add, he would love to devour all the followers of Christ and His entire Church. His hatred is so intense we can’t even begin to understand the magnitude of it. Phony Christian preachers and Bible teachers are one of the most powerful weapons he uses to cause as much devastation as possible. For instance, in the latest addition of WORLD, “Harold Camping, the 89-year-old founder of the Family Radio Network, used his broadcast empire, thousands of billboards, and an apocalyptic flood of tracts and posters to warn the world that Judgment Day would arrive on May 21. He expected 2 percent of the world’s population to be raptured to heaven while the rest would be left behind for tribulations.”

“Camping had prophesied the end of the world before. Hundreds of his followers gathered at an auditorium in Alameda, Calif., in September 1994. This time, he said, we could be certain that Judgment Day will arrive on May 21 because it will be 722,500 days since the crucifixion of Christ. The number is significant because it is a multiple of sacred numbers 5, 10, and 17. “When I found this out,” he said, “I tell you, it blew my mind.”

“Media gave extraordinary attention to Camping’s prediction, and atheist groups planned sarcastic “rapture parties.” As Matthew Paul Turner wrote in The Washington Post, there was nothing funny about the manufactured fears, dashed hopes, and river of ridicule that Camping and his prophecy brought about. We are called, Albert Mohler wrote, to be “eagerly waiting” for Christ’s return, not “arrogantly setting dates.” Christ warned against claiming to know when the end would come, and the Scriptures give us the truth plainly, not concealed for a few illuminati in secret codes and mathematical formulae.”

“When May 21 passed without incident, Camping did not apologize for his contribution to parties for atheists and embarrassment for Christians. Instead, he made a new prediction: October 21 is the day the world will end. John McCandlish Phillips, sent WORLD his analysis: “Millions were made aware of Harold Camping’s declaration that May 21 would bring believers the joy of the rapture, with fierce judgments falling upon all others, as the media picked this up massively in the week preceding its failure, and followed through immediately after.”

“But relatively few, even among Bible-honoring Christians, are aware of another date that Camping gave out, attaching to it an astounding conclusion. May 21, 1988, he had declared, was the day on which God, utterly weary of the lapsing of the churches from revealed truth, handed them all over to Satan. As a consequence of that act, all organized churches on the face of the earth, he declared, came under direct Satanic dominance, and all true believers were obliged to depart from them. He set out this delusional dogma formally and at length in his 2002 book, The End of the Church Age . . . and After.”

“That means that all pastors in all churches everywhere became, even if unwittingly, servants of Satan. “Satan is ruling in all the churches and those dear people and those pastors are emissaries of Satan,” Mr. Camping intones in a voice clip on his Family Radio website: “All the elect will come out of the church. Those that remain in the churches are under the wrath of God.”

“In his first major statement concerning the rather quiet arrival and departure of May 21, aired on Family Radio’s “Open Forum” program on May 23, Camping resoundingly reaffirmed the accuracy of his prediction, saying that much of what he had set forth had actually occurred, though not as evidently as he had earlier expected.”

“We had,” he amazingly asserted, “all our dates correct. On May 21, 2011, God again brought judgment day on the whole world. . . .” And Camping had the temerity (audacity) to declare yet another date, not an entirely new one in his scheme of things, for the calamitous final judgment of this world and its incineration by fervent heat.”

“On Oct. 21, 2011,” he said, “the Bible clearly warns that the world will be destroyed.” “This is what the Bible says,” he asserted, “It all comes from the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible.” He failed to add that it all comes exclusively to him, and to those who pick it up from him. This meets the classic definition of “private interpretation” of which the Scriptures plainly warn in 2 Peter 1:20.”

“Asked about the damage done to individuals who, accepting his prediction, acted on it by changing plans, giving money away, or spending it on furthering Camping’s campaign of public warning, he chiefly brushed this aside. “People cope,” he said, remarking that the damage done to individuals by this nation’s economic collapse was very much greater than any done by his utterances, and that people had survived that, as they will this.”

“Camping, whose earlier achievements as an executive managing Family Radio, which he co-founded, were notable, resulting in broadcasting of exceedingly high quality for decades, would appear to meet all the tests of a false prophet.” “That he is now permitted to continue airing his astonishing absurdities—and declaring his Oct. 21, 2011, date for ultimate judgment and the end of the world—represents a gross failure by others in responsible positions at Family Radio, including its board of corporate directors, to act to curb him. Could this failure be the fruit, not of love for the man, but of a fear of him as the chief executive? On what is this unceasing tolerance of utter doctrinal falsity, and his declaring of epochal dispensational changes, based?”

This kind of satanic evil is nothing new. The Devil has successfully infested Christian Church’s since its infancy and he continues today as we have just seen. The Apostle Paul wrote letters of warning to those first followers of Jesus. For instance, in a letter to a young Christian pastor named Timothy, Paul wrote:

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions,” 1 Timothy 1:3-7 (ESV)

Hughes and Chapel comment: “Paul describes the style and motivations of these false teachers within the elders in verses 6, 7: “Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” Rabbis were called “teachers of the law” (cf. Luke 5:17; Acts 5:34).” These elders in Ephesus aspired to be Christian versions of the rabbis-authoritative interpreters of the deep things of the Old Testament. In imitation of their rabbinic counterparts they spoke with assured confidence and dogmatism, though they did not know what they were talking about. The modern preacher’s version of the bluster described here is the marginal note on his preaching manuscript, “Weak point here. Look confident and pound the pulpit!” In grim reality, they had apostatized and wandered away from love into controversy, away from pure hearts and good consciences to duplicity and religious insincerity.” (A)

“Having observed Paul’s repeated emphasis on sound doctrine, we must make this connection: 1 Timothy, with its great emphasis on sound doctrine, has a basic practical purpose-to teach the people of Ephesus how to live-to “know how…to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church (3:15). There is a dynamic connection between our doctrine and the way we live. This truth is directly opposite to much contemporary Christian thinking. Often today we hear people say, “We don’t need more doctrine. What we need is practical preaching.” Now, we must certainly agree that preaching must be applied. But we must not agree that there is no connection between the doctrinal and the practical. What we know and believe has everything to do with how we live. Doctrine is at the heart of practical living.”

“Do you love God now? Will you love Him any less if you learn more about Him? Absolutely not! You will love Him more. The more you learn of His excellencies, His holiness, His grace, His mercy, His love, the greater will be your grasp of His character, and the closer to Him you will draw.” “The greatest need of the church today is not less doctrine but more doctrine-about God, about salvation, about ourselves, about character, about church, about family. Our greatest need is to know God better-and we can learn more only from His Word.” “Having enjoined Timothy to command these “certain men not to teach false doctrines,” Paul briefly stated his rationale behind the command: “These promote controversies rather that God’s work-which is by faith,” (v. 4b). Arcane, [mysterious] interpretations serve only to promote questionings and controversies. They naturally spawn elitism and snobbery. Those who “buy in” think all others are simple or unspiritual or even downright sinful.” (A).

This kind of a person, says William Barclay, is “… moved by arrogance rather than by humility. He looks down with certain contempt on simple-minded people who cannot follow his flights of intellectual speculation. He regards those who do not reach his own conclusions as ignorant fools.” He is guilty of dogmatism without knowledge. He does not really know what he is talking about nor really understand the significance of the things about which he dogmatizes. The strange thing about religious argument is that everyone thinks that he has the right to express a dogmatic opinion. In all other fields we demand that a person should have a certain knowledge before he lays down the law. But there are those who dogmatize about the Bible and its teachings although they never even tried to find out what the experts in language and history have said. It may well be that the Christian cause has suffered more from ignorant dogmatism than from anything else. When we think of the characteristics of those who were troubling the Church at Ephesus, we can see that their descendants are still with us.” (B) (i.e., Harold Camping and his followers each of whom is a spiritual clone. How would you like to live with one of these people, or have one for an in-law, or next door neighbor, coworker, or classmate? The Apostle Paul continues:

If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain,” 1 Timothy 6:3-5 (NIV).

Hughes writes: “Much of what I have seen over these decades (the 1960’s to the year 2000) has been far more personal and distressing. I have had associates who became Gnostic. That is, they purported to have entered into a new level of understanding of the Scriptures. When I tried to reason with them from the Scriptures, they called me rationalistic and “Greek.” (C)

Have you ever tried to reason from the Scriptures with someone such as Camping? I have-with a lot of them and I got nowhere. As far as I know I struck out every time. They are argumentative in-your-face know-it-alls. The loose-cannons amongst them will go ballistic and spew demonic venom in your face. Others are smooth talkers such as Harold Camping. They’re anti- intellectual and view with contempt men and women who have devoted their entire lifetimes to studying the Bible and languages and history. Anyone who has tried to reason from the Bible for several hours or weeks with a Jehovah Witness will know what I mean.

Well, what can we do? We must love them and will be able to do so if we cultivate the habit to remain steadfast in remembering and applying the Apostle Paul’s warning.“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

These poor demonically deceived human beings have been brain washed by false prophets and/or Bible teachers such as Harold Camping. Even if they break free, some of the devil’s lies will stay with them until they leave this world. We must make these folks the object of our unceasing fervent prayers, pleading with God to bring them to their senses. False Prophets and Bible teachers are one of the Devil’s most powerful weapons against Christians and the Church Christ died such an agonizing death for. But they are not the worse!

Lord willing, next week…

(A) 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, © by R. Kent Hughes and Bryan Chapel, Published by Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, 1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, Illinois 60167, pg 27.

(B)  The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Revised edition © 1975 by William Barclay, published by The Westminster Press ® Philadelphia, Pa., pg. 32.

(C)  Hughes & Chapel, pg. 144.

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June 12, 2011 Posted by Categories: Uncategorized 11 comments

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