Church Study Reveals Deception Gripping Believers

 

This story from Charisma News:

spiritual maturity chart

Professing Christians progressing toward spiritual maturity will have a firmer grasp on important doctrinal positions.  However, plenty of churchgoers still struggle with basic truths about God, the Bible and salvation. So says a new study from LifeWay Research.

The LifeWay Research study on “Doctrinal Positions” shows that while 81 percent of churchgoers say “When you die, you will go to heaven because you have confessed your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior,” 26 percent agree “If a person is sincerely seeking God, he/she can obtain eternal life through religions other than Christianity.” Fifty-seven percent disagree.

“Consumers in America are accustomed to having endless combinations of choices for every want in life,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “Biblical truth is radical because it teaches that eternal life is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ alone.”

Other responses given regarding beliefs about life after death include:

  • When you die, you will go to heaven because you have tried your best to be a good person and live a good life (selected by 7 percent of churchgoers).
  • You have no way of knowing what will happen when you die (5 percent of churchgoers).
    When you die, you will go to heaven because God loves everyone and we will all be in heaven with Him (4 percent).
  • When you die, you will go to heaven because you have read the Bible, been involved in church, and tried to live as God wants you to live (2 percent).
  • There is no life after death (1 percent).

Churchgoers strongly hold to the accuracy of the Scriptures, the survey reveals. Eighty-two percent agree with the statement: “The Bible is the written word of God and is totally accurate in all that it teaches.” Ten percent disagree and 8 percent neither agree nor disagree.

While the majority of churchgoers (75 percent) strongly hold the God of the Bible is not the same god worshiped in other world religions, 13 percent say the God of the Bible is no different from the gods or spiritual beings depicted by world religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. Another 12 percent neither agree nor disagree with the uniqueness of the God of the Bible.

The study also shows nearly two-thirds (71 percent) agree with the statement: “God is just and sin has to be punished.” However, 13 percent of churchgoers disagree and 16 percent neither agree nor disagree with the statement.


I would love to see the details of this survey.  At first glance it would appear that we have about 80% saved and 20% goats in our churches.  I would also guess that people who answered biblically on one question did so on all and were probably older and lived in Southern states.

That someone could attend church on a regular basis and not know some of these most foundational doctrines is a sore indictment against the preaching in the church.  Perhaps a few more sermons on doctrine and a few less on “finding your destiny” might help.

Mike Bickle calls Oprah the antichrist

 

From the Christian Post

Mike Bickle, leader of the International House of Prayer (IHOP), has said that 57-year-old former talk show host Oprah Winfrey is “the antichrist.”

Oprah Winfrey
In this still image of a computer screen showing the YouTube website, an image of talk show host Oprah Winfrey is seen, April 24, 2008. The YouTube video, which features Oprah denying Jesus as the only way to God and promoting New Age ideas, received millions of views.

Bickle has received criticism and backlash for his statements in a film released by People for the American Way Right Wing Watch which was aired on God TV.

He stated, “I believe that one of the main pastors, as a forerunner to the Harlot movement, it’s not the Harlot movement yet, is Oprah.”

The evangelical pastor continued, “She is winsome, she is kind, she is reasonable, she is utterly deceived, utterly deceived… “

The “Harlot movement” Bickle speaks of includes doing good deeds “for all the wrong reasons.”

He called Winfrey “a classy woman, a cool woman, but has a spirit of deception and she is one of the clear pastors, forerunners to the Harlot movement.”


Can anyone think of anything more ironic than Mike Bickle calling someone else deceived?

What is the Church coming to?

Miriam over at Endtimes Prophetic Words flagged up this post on Godfrey Birtill and what goes on in “worship” services.

Are there actually people who find this acceptable behavior in a church? Was there no one there with an ounce of common sense who should have put a stop to this?

I have sometimes wondered why God was so harsh with Judah – allowing them to be carried off to Babylon – until I read that they were sacrificing their children to Molech not even a quarter of a mile from the Temple.  God has limits to His patience and when judgment comes – and it will – it will be severe for those who participate in these pagan practices.

The charismatic world needs to do some housecleaning and repenting while grace is still available.  May God have mercy on these fools.

Why is Deception Flourishing?

Before this summer and the Lakeland fiasco, I never paid much attention to “heresy hunters.”  I had been active in a charismatic church up until 2000 and had seen some of the “fruit” of the Toronto Blessing and wasn’t much impressed by it.  The “holy laughter” was anything but holy – it was shrill, out of order and irritating.

Since 2000, I have visited churches, watched Christian TV and been to conferences but had never really perceived the deception that is running rampant throughout Christianity.  Oh yes, I had seen hype and exaggeration – but I just chalked that up to overzealousness and wanting the anointing so bad you faked it until it really showed up.

I admit to watching Lakeland for three months.  I wanted it be real – I prayed that it would be real.  Night after night, I asked God “why don’t You show up?  These people are so hungry for You!”  Yet God never showed up.  I lived through the charismatic outpouring of the late 60’s and 70’s and I remember the hunger that people had for God.  I have waited throughout the spiritual drought hoping for a revival again.

The answer to the original question “why is deception flourishing?” is easily answered – lack of solid bible teaching.  Why though, are men of God not preaching the bible? Why are Christians not studying it?  Why is there this vacuum in the Christian world of biblical doctrine?

I thought about the time factor – people seem so much busier now than they used to but that is just a cop out.  You will make time for whatever you want to make time for – plain and simple.  In the “old days” people had to work hard just to get their house heated.  A warm house in winter meant chopping logs and hauling coal and fixing the fire in the potbelly stove every few hours.  Today we adjust the thermostat.  In the old days, cooking a meal meant standing over a stove for hours – making your own bread,  gathering your own eggs and milking the cow.  Today we zap a microwave dinner for six minutes and sit down and eat.  We should have plenty of time to do what we want to.

What about passivity? Reading used to be a pleasure and entertainment was often with friends and family over a board game or a good conversation down at the local store.  Today people watch TV – has that changed us into mindless robots who can’t be bothered to read or hold a conversation anymore?

Maybe it’s the lack of a moral standard in our lives.  People used to respect the bible.  It was held up as a moral compass in the lives of people – even those who weren’t practicing Christians at least had respect for morality.  Today – no one wants to offend anyone, so we’ve ended up not standing for anything and being politically correct. 

I’m not sure of the exact reason why we’re seeing this apostasy but I can say that in the last ten years it has gotten exponentially worse.  Paul said:

3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

2 Thessalonians 2:3 (ESV)

Perhaps that day is here?

Deception in America

With the fall of Todd Bentley and the end of the Lakeland Outpouring, many railed against the deception in the Church.  And rightly so.  Believers put aside their common sense and biblical foundation to accept anything as long as “it feels good.”

However, yesterday, a bigger deception emerged.  Americans elected a man who may have been born in Kenya, raised as a Muslim, espouses Marxists values and finds comfort and friendship from black liberation theologists and domestic terrorists.

Seven years ago, our country was attacked by Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorist group.  Americans rallied together and waved flags and sang “God Bless America.”  Yesterday, they elected Barack Obama as their president.

Those of us who have studied bible prophecy knew that in the end times deception would be worse.  How else would people support the Antichrist knowing that he is the embodiment of evil?  Prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes.

2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

2 Thessalonians 2:2-3 (ESV)

The word translated “rebellion” above is apostasy or falling away. 

4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,

1 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV)

What happened yesterday in America is the biggest deception so far.  It makes Lakeland appear silly in comparison.  Lakeland only affected a subsection of charismatics, the election of Obama represents the beginning of the end.

The Anatomy of Deception

I have just finished reading The Anatomy of Deception by Art Katz.  It is only 23 pages but well worth the read.  He makes several points that I wish to bring up and discuss.

1.  The Love of the Truth

10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 (ESV)

Do we have the discernment to distinguish the authentic from the counterfeit? Are we so habituated to success, and so desirous of seeing some visible effect of power that we are not too discriminating so long as we ‘get it,’ somehow? We want the excitement; we want the titillation; we want the appearance of power; we want to succeed, because the possibility of failure is a form of death we are not willing to bear, thus avoiding the Cross. We ought rather to ask ourselves what is success as God defines it? (pg 3)

There is no greater tragedy in the body of Christ today than the following statement – “Yes, I do have quite a bit of problems with the man’s doctrine but he seems to move in miracles and healings.” If Jesus confirms His word with signs following, then who is confirming the works of someone who isn’t preaching the word?

2.  The Right Perception of God

Manifestation phenomena are already perplexing the Church, with many asking, “Is it God?” People seem to receive benefit; they are delivered from hang-ups and depression; marriages are reconciled; people are restored to the faith. There is much evidence of ‘good’ things, but when the Last Days’ deceptions come, of which we have been warned, will they not come with ‘good’ things? Can we tell the difference between the true and the false, especially when we want so much to be blessed and to have an experience and be relieved of our hang-ups and depressions? How discriminating are we about the source from which the ‘blessing’ comes? How do we tell whether something is of God, or a contrary spirit who is able to lift the depression that he may well have inflicted in the first place? Here is the key: our authentic knowledge of God, not as we thought Him to be, but as He, in fact, is. (pg 3)

26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
Psalm 18:26 (ESV)

Those who are rooted and grounded in God’s word and know Him personally, through time spent in prayer, will have a check in their spirit when faced with deception.  Sometimes we suppress that witness because of our hunger for the miraculous  or because we haven’t kept ourselves in the purity God demands.  When that witness comes though, will you obey or be lead by your senses?

Waiting is a priestly function, and we need to wait to see if our spirits are hospitable to what is being mediated from church platforms. Is it compatible with our already existing knowledge of God? If it is not compatible, they can stand on their heads, run all over the platform, and every other kind of madness. We are not to mindlessly give ourselves to it at all. Our integrity in God needs to be guarded, and we should not allow ourselves to be influenced, taken up and affected by the current trends, or else we will never have anything significant to give. (pg 4)

3.  Profanity in the Church

26 And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it.’ Exodus 20:26 (ESV)

The priests in the Old Testament ascended to the altar by means of a ramp instead of stairs lest perchance some glimpse would be seen of their flesh.  Do we have that reverential fear of God in our midst?  Does the Spirit of holiness within you cringe at the sight of people being openly vulgar in the house of God?

At the heart of priestliness is waiting upon Him for the time that pleases Him. If we want to be the revelation of His radiance, then we are going to have to reconsider what we are doing when we launch off into worship and choruses or any other kind of simulation of ‘waiting upon God.’ Unless there is a sense of priestliness, worship will become a mere mechanic, a technique, a device and a manipulation. It is not an entering into the holy place at all. If we degenerate into becoming some kind of charismatic fellowship that celebrates praise, believing that we have some kind of revelation, but have made of it only technique and manipulation, then our end will be disastrous. I cannot think of anything more tragic than that worship should become mere rhetoric and words, a vocabulary that is appropriate to us, but a vocabulary that has no real life or meaning. (pg 7)

 
4.  Absence of the Word of God
 

When we see a phenomenon touted as revival, in which the word of God is conspicuously absent, or denigrated as not being the source of God’s greatest blessing, our alarm bells should start ringing. When those who are at the forefront of any revival phenomenon begin to deprecate their own preaching, saying that what they are now seeing far eclipses any result that they saw from their preaching, then we have already embraced a deception. If the avenues by which the ‘blessing’ comes are not the word of God, or our response to God’s word, which has always been the operative principle of God, but rather, it comes through the hearing of the testimony of others, or seeing men decompose before one’s eyes in drunken stupor, sagging and collapsing on the platform, accompanied by shrieks of delight and the inducement to join in, then we have already crossed an invisible line of truth. It may be an avenue of receiving alleviation from dullness and boredom from church programs, but we have already succumbed to deception. (pg 8.)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (ESV)

The gospel  is the power of God for salvation!  Paul goes on to say in Romans 10 “how will they hear without a preacher?”  To me, the biggest sign of deception in the church today is the absolute drought of the word of God being preached. 

How many churches, conferences and meetings I’ve gone to where the bible was never referred to – never needed during the service.  Many people have quit bringing their own bible to church!  Is it any wonder we have weak Christians who need to be spoon fed?

In Conclusion

It is not just the truth, or the acknowledgement of the truth that God makes the key to the issue of deception, but they did not receive the love of the truth. Truth needs to be loved, or we are not going to suffer the sacrifices by which truth is obtained. Confessing your faults one to another is being truthful. It is a painful and humiliating sacrifice to do so, and we will only do it because we love the truth. The love of the truth that will withstand whatever cost it requires is God’s only provision against the deception that comes from lying signs and wonders. If we are only habituated to the effect of them, if we only want to see the excitement, if there is a void in our lives that wants to be titillated at the apparent miracle and power without asking too many questions about how it is performed, and by whom it is performed, and who is ultimately receiving the glory for the performance, then we are candidates for being deceived. Do we love the truth so much that we will raise those questions, that we will be alert to them, that we will not just be impressed by the performance? (pg 21)

Will you exalt God above all else?  Will you hold forth the Word of God as being the source of truth in this day and hour?