A top 10 podcast on identification of false prophets: Jeremiah 6.9-17
A top 10 podcast on identification of false prophets: Jeremiah 6.9-17
Flip Wilson, a popular comedian and actor in the 1970s, popularized the phrase, “The Devil Made Me Do It.” He wove this theme into several of his routines, especially ones of Geraldine. In a famous one of them, “The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress,” she blamed the devil for the purchase of a dress.
Even today, people use this phrase to excuse their divergent behavior. They blame some force, the devil, compelled their behavior, rejecting any responsibility or guilt for it.
Recently, a new twist arose to replace it: “God made me this way.” It carries a double benefit for the user: it deflects blame from the person and places it upon the ultimate authority, God.
The homosexual community champions their cause with this phrase. They call it orientation.
The progress of recent science, they say, gives rise to a new classification of humans. Homosexuals cannot help themselves, proponents state. They have a physically inherited condition, called orientation, which causes them to manifest same sex desires.
The LBGTQ (1) people describe their behavior this way, “God made me this way.” Thus, they attempt to overcome Biblical references opposing their conduct and legitimize their homosexual lifestyle. They expand their explanation to include a biological source for their way of life.
Despite continued efforts, however, no legitimate scientific discovery confirms the claims of a “gay gene.” In fact, numerous studies reveal no existence of a “gay gene.” These studies reveal a host of factors that could influence a person to homosexual behavior. However, research has not yet found a “gay gene.” (2)
As we all know, genes direct many physical manifestations in our bodies: eye color, height, color of skin, and a multitude of other features. Many gene anomalies cause birth defects, e.g., Toy-Sachs disease, Angelman Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Sickle Cell Anemia, and a long list of other defects.
Whether the genes produce normal or abnormal effects, they do not determine ethical behavior. No “gay gene” forces particular sexual behavior. (3) Even if scientists discover some physical factor that influences one to experience same sex desires, the force of Biblical references to homosexuality remains unchanged.
Every person on earth experiences the “uncontrollable” urge for sin(s) that plague them. Rapists, murderers, thieves, and adulterers, to name only a few sins, describe their behavior in the same fashion as homosexuals: uncontrollable urges that compel their behaviors.
Simply stated, the LBGTQ community cannot overcome the Bible’s position against their behavior with a physical explanation that science discovered since the time of the Bible’s writing. An uncontrollable physical, emotional urge does not legitimize any behavior. Nor does it prevail over the directions of God’s commands.
Rejection of Biblical texts
For example, in their attempt to overturn verses in Leviticus, homosexuals reject the meaning of the practices described there as applicable to them. (4) They claim these references depict the behavior of cultic temple prostitutes.
Further, they say it includes pederasty. Or, they claim it refers to violent homosexual patterns existent solely in those days. In any event, the LBGTQ people assert these verses do not describe their behavior: loving, consensual same sex relationships.
Practices in society
Contrary to these conclusions, the peoples of the era of Leviticus practiced the same kinds of homosexual practices prevalent today. In fact, research from non-Biblical sources describes the prevalence of homosexuality in that time.
“There is only one success, to be able to spend your life in your own way.” (Christopher Morley)
Others paraphrase it, “Do your own thing.” When it comes to success, that viewpoint enjoys great popularity. It says,
We evaluate options and opportunities in life by asking, “What’s in it for me?”
To add to the confusion, these attitudes offer apparent advantages. They imply that possessions and prestige become ours, and our net worth will increase. The good life brings many pleasures. We soak up the attention of our friends like a sponge.
The gun sounded at 4:58 pm, the first of 21 shots. Queen Victoria had arrived for the ceremonial opening of the gates to the Town Hall of Sheffield.
The Queen carried in her hand a golden key with instructions to insert the golden key into its proper keyhole to the gates and turn it. The gates of the Town Hall of Sheffield would fly open.
Queen Victoria followed her instructions and inserted the golden key into its keyhole and turned it. In that moment, the Town Hall gates of Sheffield flew open.
In the same way, Jesus Christ knows something.
The golden key of prayer is available to us. Sadly, we seldom use it to open the gates of heaven. Days pass without praise to God or bringing our needs to a faithful Father. We breathe a word of thanks at mealtime. We profess to pray throughout the day by “mentally conversing with God by the attitude of our hearts.”
We should meditate upon God and His word throughout the day. However, time for effectual, fervent, private prayer seldom fits into our busy schedules.
We demean prayer by making it a last resort. “If you can’t do anything else, at least you can pray,” we say. Or we declare, “All I can do is pray.” How sad that we make prayer the refuge of the last resort.
Others counsel you to pray like it all depends upon God, and act like it all depends upon you. To act like everything depends upon you demeans prayer and the God Who answers prayer. It implies equality between prayer and action.
Others endorse the philosophy of Jeff Olson, author of The Slight Edge. He believes that anyone can build the life (s)he desires and experience success.
In effect, such attitudes deify mankind and humanize God. It robs God of His sovereignty. A more correct statement would say, pray like it all depends upon God, because it does.
Prayer Holds The Key To God’s Success
Prayer is the key to God’s activity in our lives. The Bible abounds with examples of this truth.
Daniel believed in prayer, too. It occupied an essential part of his life. He prayed, not as a last resort, but as a first priority, and he tasted the full prosperity of God.
Somebody once said that the dictionary is the only time when success comes before work. People believe that prosperity comes to those who work…hard. They also cling to the old-fashioned work habit: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Many Christians believe that only those who TRY gain success. We honor the ones who climb the ladder of success with their own two hands. Clearly, we act as if prosperity rests solely upon our shoulders. When we fail to achieve what we want, we chart a plan to get it. We believe that if we try hard enough, all good things will come to us.
I have read many books on success and how to achieve it. I have attended seminars to learn the latest systems for success. They recounted step-by-step how to accomplish it. Further, lest I should not believe it, they told story after story about those who attained it by following their plans.
If I would simply follow their formulas, I thought, I could achieve success. So, I did. Every day I read books on positive thinking. I made a chart to help me adopt my new lifestyle. I listed those qualities the “masters” said I needed and labored hard to achieve them.
As I practiced, I discovered that they worked. I set new sales records for my district. Soon, my employer saw my accomplishments and gave me awards for distinction. In less than 18 months in a prominent sales company, I managed its #1 Sales Region. I directed 5 district managers and 40 territory salesmen.
However, I will never forget one spring night in 1971. I had worked that day with one of my territory salesmen in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. After I finished supper, I called my wife on the phone from my motel room. She recounted to me the latest steps of growth of our two young daughters.
As we conversed, God recalled to me Mark 8:36: “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Those words rushed through my mind. I did not need salvation that night. I had satisfied that question as a boy. I had traded the priority of God in my life and His plan for the quality of family life for worldly success.
The success gurus I copied failed to disclose that sad consequence. They spoke only in terms of fame and fortune. Money and well being came to those who tried, they said. Riches and position oiled the wheels of my life.
In my haste, I had forgotten that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. I had the world by the tail on a downhill haul. However, I had neglected God, my wife, and my daughters in the process. Our lives together existed only on weekends.
My three-year-old daughter told a friend that her daddy lived at the airport. My wife compared our lives together as a circus ride. Weekends became a flurry of activity followed by a week of recovery from its dizziness.
Work filled my time; family and God fit in when possible. By the world’s criteria, I had prosperity and success. Although I had not yet arrived at 30 years of age, I had reached a position many do not gain in a lifetime. I earned more money in annual income than I ever dreamed I would earn.
As a result, I nearly lost that which money cannot buy. That spring night in Ft. Wayne I set in motion the steps that led to my resignation from my job. I put Christ and His kingdom first as He said, followed by family.
In faith, I started my own business. From then on, I expected life to become a bed of roses. It did not. I encountered serious problems that I had not faced previously. I struggled with my new work.
However, my understanding of Christ and my family flourished. I experienced a sense of well being not dependent on possessions or position. I discovered that the Bible taught a different slant on success.
The prosperity of God results solely from His power working in you by the Holy Spirit. Scripture gives us many examples of this truth. You cannot explain the Israelites crossing of the Red Sea on dry sand but by God’s power. (1)
“Who first coined the saying ‘A camel is a horse designed by a committee’? I don’t know, but I expect it was the same person who said ‘An elephant is a mouse designed to government specifications’.” (1)
This bit of trivia induces laughter. However, French philosopher Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) applied this saying to truth. It developed into the creed for our culture today.
He declared that truth results as a product of a consensus of values. His declaration fostered a revolution in the nature and formulation of truth claims. Now, culture believes that all claims of truth develop within a group or culture, not from an objective standard. Ironically, no standard converted into the standard.
Cultural Truth Claims
Baudrillard’s theory developed into today’s benchmark for truth claims with far reaching effects. It brings us to the following conclusions:
One does not have to look far to see the suspicion of truth in our culture. An intense resistance to truth claims of almost any kind demonstrates the lack of trust present in our society. No one possesses THE TRUTH.
Adaptation of Christians to Culture
Sadly, the Christian Church and its members exhibit these characteristics, too. I remember when it all started. It sounded so inclusive in our group Bible studies. Instead of the leader proclaiming the truth of a passage, (s)he asked, “What does this passage mean to you?”
Everyone shared his or her opinion, and leaders failed to point to the true meaning of the passage. Everyone’s opinion had equal value. Biblical uncertainty crept into believer’s lives, because no one discerned the warning signs of skepticism.
Baudrillard’s claim turned into common practice for the Church. The church now commonly follows the culture. For example, the Church:
Sadly, this practice plays a significant role in the Church’s spiritual decadence. She cannot resist culture’s fallacies and decays from the inside. In fact, the Church proudly mimics the culture to the delight of multitudes of churchgoers and to the sorrow of only the few.
The Christian Church bought the lie that to win the culture She must conform to the culture.
During the 1960s, “Keep the faith, brother!” became popular. People repeated the phrase and reassured each other with that expression when their hopes and dreams became frustrated.
After the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his followers reassured one another with it. They believed that the only limitations they faced would come from their own fears. With a positive attitude and faith in themselves, they expected to attain their plans. In some limited ways, they did.
Faith governs our lives.
We exercise faith constantly. We could not live without it. It activates all human action from the simple to the complex. Faith exists within the human breast. God fixes it there as a natural faculty of man. Faith enables us to accomplish all that we do.
Sadly, people misplace their faith. Some profess blind faith in a “higher power.” These blinded people rely upon some impersonal, nebulous force to help them attain their goals. As their success by the world’s standards grows, then faith in their “higher power” grows, too. Faith in their spiritual force, they say, helped them achieve prosperity.
Others, captivated by a set of principles on success, govern their lives by them. The success gurus preach their tenets with religious fervor. Their students follow them with equal zeal and control their lives by them. As they achieve their goals, they credit their faith in the principles of success that they believed.
Some only believe in themselves. Foolishly, I practiced this self-help fallacy for many years. Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill became my blueprints for life. I firmly believed Napoleon Hill’s famous statement, “Anything the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Many still believe self-help errors, even some famous leaders in the Christian church.
As George Bernard Shaw has said:,
“We have not lost faith but we have transferred it from God to the medical profession. (1)
Indeed, mankind has misplaced their faith. A set of principles on success or an impersonal “higher power” has captivated us. We believe them instead of God. Hence, we sample only simulated success.
Success and prosperity by God’s standards require faith in God. Without it we waver like the waves of the sea. Apart from it, we cannot receive anything from God. To complete what He has in mind for us, we must “Keep the faith… in God.”
Faith in God through Christ dresses us with His nature. Through faith, we defeat the enemy of our souls.
Faith brings down God’s prosperity. Withdraw faith and we send no prayer to God nor do we receive answers from him. Prayer fails for want of faith. Faith secures aid from the Eternal God in time of need.
Daniel’s life exemplifies this truth. We meet the same obstacles and opportunities that Daniel did. When we rely on God as Daniel did, we experience God’s success in our lives, too.
Someone once said that a successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. And a successful woman is one who finds such a man.
To many, success rests in a fat bank account. Many people believe that if you cannot save money, the seed of success is not in you. They agree with Somerset Maugham who said:
“Money is like a sixth sense, and you can’t make use of the other five without it.” (1)
The Illusion Of Success
We equate prosperity with fame and fortune. That perception permeates our society. Books on prosperity fill the shelves of our libraries and stores. They tell us step-by-step how to climb the ladder of financial success.
They promise a life of prominence and prosperity. However, they do not tell us that their ladder of success contains many splinters. Sadly, we do not feel those splinters until we slide down.
Unfortunately, most Christians have adopted the standards of the world. We have allowed them to squeeze us into their mold. These standards have determined how we evaluate others and ourselves.
We have come to believe that prosperity includes riches; only those with generous bank accounts have attained success.
As a result, we measure prosperity by what we can see and touch: when the affairs of life go well, we enjoy “success.” When they do not, we suffer as “failures.”
Therefore, success becomes the exclusive experience of a select few. Millions never taste it—all but a few live lives filled with feelings of failure and frustration.
The poor hide hollow hopes; prosperity escapes the helpless. Countless crowds live and labor in obscurity and cannot hope to become a “success.”
In short, the belief that success lies in a fat bank account has become a respected myth.
Who else wants genuine success in life? Frustrated with life’s failures? Imagine your life that conquers traumas and enjoys victory. Take 5 minutes and see how an uncommon guide can help you overcome failure and experience genuine success…you’ll rejoice that you did.
How many books on success have you read? You have probably read at least one book on success. You may have attended a seminar or heard someone speak on how to attain it. Maybe you have studied it as I have.
And why not? Everyone wants to learn the keys to successful living. As Samuel Johnson said:
“Life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another, forming new wishes and seeing them gratified.”1
To reach our goals, we tried the plans and philosophies of those whom we read and heard. Their ideas squeezed us into their molds and shaped our lives. We overcame difficulties and reached our dreams. When measured by these human standards, we built our house of success.
To others, happiness equates with success. They exert great effort in pursuit of positions and possessions. The attainment of rank and goods brings a measure of happiness. However, the temporary bliss soon fades into feelings of failure and emptiness.
Yes, we can reach these kinds of success without following God’s plan. However, when we do, it resembles a house built upon the sand, a vain and meaningless achievement. In short, we miss the essentials of true prosperity.
To build success properly, we need to know God’s design for it. God said in Psalm 127:1:
“Except God builds the house, they labor in vain that build it.”
Since God created us, He knows the ingredients for genuine success. In the Bible, God outlines His view of it and demonstrates it in the life of Daniel.
God prospered Daniel regardless of the situations he faced. We face many of the same traumas and triumphs Daniel experienced. By the grace of God, He provided a pattern for our success through the Biblical account of Daniel’s amazing, victorious life.
His life pictures for us the Biblical principles of prosperity. They differ from the popular ones we have read and heard. When we adopt God’s laws, He shapes our lives with them. Then, we discover life beyond our dreams. By the exertion of God’s power within us, He takes us far beyond our imagination.
Rob Bell said it again. Bell publicly confirmed gay marriage. He created a firestorm in 2013 when he said,
“Yes, I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love. Whether it’s a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man…I think the church needs to just…this is the world we’re living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.” (1)
Then again, in February 2015 on Oprah Winfrey’s “Super Soul Sunday” program, Rob again reaffirmed his support of gay marriage as a cure for loneliness, not just for gay people but also for straight people. (2)
It doesn’t matter to Bell: man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and a man. He said that the Christian Church needs to affirm them whatever the case.
All of them deserve affirmation by the Church, he said. Rob stated that he came to this conclusion based upon events in our culture.
Error #1: Failure of the Church
During recent years, Lesbian and Homosexual activists have increased their demands for unconditional approval and acceptance from the culture and every segment within it, including the Church.
Bell stated that the Church has failed these people and believes that the Church needs to repent for its failure to affirm them.
Rob does not stand alone in his declaration. Religious leaders, including professing evangelicals like Bell, have made similar endorsements. Politicians stumble over each other in their race to announce their support for Lesbian and Homosexual marriage.
Religious denominations increasingly elevate “gay” men and women to leadership positions, even pastors. The call to approve and accept their lifestyles reaches into every segment of our culture.
Error #2: Primary Basic Beliefs
However, Rob’s statements present problems. They reveal the basis upon which he makes value judgments, the culture. He molds his judgments to the mores of society and denounces others who do not agree with him.
In his prior works, he has espoused the belief that no culture can dictate truth claims and value judgments to another culture. However, he attempts to do that very thing in the present instance.
Given his frame of reference, then, will he call for the affirmation of adultery, rape, and pedophilia next? All of these practices abound in current culture.
Today’s society flaunts sexual practices without restraints. While some segments of it respect these practices, others even recommend them as normal behavior and demand affirmation and assistance from citizens to support their lifestyles.
So, since Bell relies upon society as the foundation for his value judgments, will he affirm these as well? Has this ship sailed, too?
Rob has no firm foundation upon which to base his value judgments. To form them upon culture begs for problems. As history has proven, cultures come and go. Mores change.
Most often, the squeaky wheels in society get the oil. Dominant voices sway the weak. The shifting sands of culture provide no firm foundation to those who unwisely build upon it.
Biblical Response to Homosexuality
However, the Bible trumps culture. Society must conform to the Bible’s inerrant truths. One cannot exclude the undesirable demands of the Bible and replace them with others more preferable to society.