Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Word of the Lord Was Rare

1 Samuel 3:1b, In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.

Proverbs 8:17, I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

Why was the word of the LORD rare in the time of Samuel the prophet? Was it because God was not interested in communicating with man, or was it because man was not interested in communicating with God? I believe it was the latter.

In America, the word of the LORD seems to some extent, to be rare. I don’t believe it’s because of a lack of God’s desire to communicate with man, but because of man’s lack of interest in hearing from God. God has blessed this nation with an abundance of His word. There are Bibles in about every home in this country, on coffee tables and bookshelves. For those who don’t have a Bible, there are many bookstores that carry Bibles. For those who can’t afford a Bible, there are many churches that would gladly give one away. However, in this country, people would rather have someone else tell them what God has to say, rather than search the Scriptures themselves. And this is dangerous.

There are enough people who are willing to take advantage of those who are content to let someone else lead them. These people are those who themselves may be deceived, may deliberately oppose the truth, who could be false prophets, and even anti-Christs. Hard to believe? Jesus and the apostles warned that in the last days there would be many false prophets and anti-Christs. The problem is that they lead people away from the truth of God and to their destruction. How can you recognize when this is happening?

When you find a person, a group of people, or a religion that marginalizes or disregards the Word of God, or who marginalizes or disregards people who hold to the Word of God as the standard to test all things, that is a good sign that they are not teaching the truth. And the truth is important. Especially the truth of who God is, who Jesus is, what Jesus did at the cross, and how we respond to all of this.

It is vitally important that every person understand that the Scriptures are God’s standard by which we judge all things. And knowing this, to search and become familiar with the Scriptures to guard ourselves against deception.

The Word of God teaches that God alone is God, and that besides Him and before Him there is no other. God is the same all the time and doesn’t change. Jesus is the only Son of God, and no other, and in fact Jesus is God Himself. The Word of God teaches that none of us, no matter how morally superior we may be to others, attain to the glory of God. In fact, we are told that we all fall short of God’s glory. We have all sinned. Some more than others, but Jesus said that if anyone breaks the least of the Law, then he has broken the whole law. And the Scriptures tell us the wages of lawbreaking, sinning. It is death. Not only physical death, but the second death. Being thrown into the lake of fire for all of eternity. And there is no way to make up for this. Good works will not cause someone to escape the coming wrath. There is still a wage to be paid for our sin.

Jesus, the only Son of God, God Himself, who alone is from everlasting to everlasting, who alone is without sin (has never sinned), who was born of a virgin (as a result did not inherit the sin nature), lived a life without sin, died on the cross for the sins of mankind and not His own, rose again on the third day according to the prophecies written about Him (because of His holiness, death could not hold Him), and ascended into heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand.

What Jesus did at the cross is the only payment God will accept for our sin. To try to approach God any other way, with any other payment, will be foolish. God says that by His knowledge God’s righteous servant (Jesus) would justify many. What is left for anyone who rejects this payment that Jesus made and tries to come in some other way? Again, God will accept no other payment.

Why do I say all of this? Because this is the main truth that false prophets and anti-Christs keep people from. Why? Because to miss this is to forfeit your life. God will not receive from you any other payment. None of us will enter into heaven because of our good works. None of us will enter into heaven because we followed a certain leader or because we belonged to a particular denomination. Only those who realize they are sinners and ask Jesus to save them from judgement based on what He did at the cross will enter into heaven.

I read in a recent article that we should respect all faiths. We need to understand something. God doesn’t respect all faiths. He only accepts those who put their faith in the finished work of Christ at the cross.

Again, why do I say all of this? Because leading people away from this truth is the goal of those who are false prophets and anti-Christs.

What are some of the ways we can recognize them? They claim special revelation from God, apart from Scripture. And that special revelation usually adds to or takes away from what Jesus did. It usually tells us there is a different way to heaven. They tell us we don’t need the Scriptures, that they will tell us what God has to say. They are enemies of the cross of Christ.

One of the things that really makes me feel angry is the old “bait and switch.” There are religions out there that are not forthright. They bring people in under the guise of being moral, social, godly, while hiding a lot of what they really believe. People don’t usually find these things out until they are in too deep. But I thank God that Jesus said, “What is hidden is meant to be disclosed.” My prayer is that God would bring into the light the things that have been bringing people into the bondage of deception. And make this your goal: to read the Scriptures, the Bible, and let God reveal to you any deception you may have been led into.

And to conclude this, it would be wrong of me to not disclose some of my own experiences concerning the topic of this article.

In December of 1981 I was on the streets of Los Angeles. I was at the end of my rope with nowhere to turn. My life was done. In despair and hopelessness I was forced to live on the streets and to eat my meals at rescue missions. Several times before meals I also had to listen to a sermon about my sinful state, what Jesus did at the cross, and how there was grace for me if I wanted it. God spoke to my heart each time I heard the Gospel shared. He let me know the truth in love: If I were to refuse this grace and walk out that door and died some way, I would go to hell. So I went forward and was led into a room where a Chaplain led me in prayer. I agreed with God that I was a sinner. I thanked Him that Jesus paid the penalty for my sins at the cross. I asked Him to save me from judgement. And according to the promises of His Word, He did.

For the next two months I would get into debates with other Christians concerning Mormon doctrine. I was sure I was right with my arguments (I had been raised Mormon). One night I went to a church where a man was talking about Mormonism. I don’t remember anything he said except one verse: Numbers 23:19a, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man that he should change His mind.” This verse shot out of the pulpit like a spiritual torpedo, hit me right in the head, and demolished all of the Mormon doctrine I had learned. I sat back in my seat and thought to myself, “They lied to me!” You see, I had been taught that God was once a man like me, a sinner living on a planet with His own God who had to save Him. This verse, from the standard of God’s Word, showed I had been lied to.

Five years ago I invited two Mormon missionaries into our apartment in Colorado Springs to discuss the Word of God with them. After a couple of hours of discussing what they taught versus what the Scriptures taught, one of them, exasperated, finally asked me if I believed Joseph Smith was a prophet. I said no. At that, they got up to leave. On their way out, one of them wiped his feet on the carpet. I confronted him on this, knowing from my own upbringing that he was leaving a curse on the house. It is in the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants that this is to be done to any home where people don’t receive the Mormon church as the true church or when they don’t receive Joseph Smith as a prophet.

I will pause here to tell of at least three reasons I don’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. God tells us in the Old Testament how to determine if someone is indeed a prophet He sent: He has to be right. All the time. 1)Joseph Smith said there would be a temple built in Missouri within his lifetime and that he would christen it. This didn’t happen. 2) He said Jesus would return before the turn of the century. He didn’t. 3) He taught a different gospel. Paul said if anyone, even an angel, taught a different gospel than the one he taught, that he would be eternally condemned.

A few months ago I welcomed two more Mormon missionaries into our home to discuss with them also the difference between what they teach and what the Scriptures teach. When I quoted Scripture, I was very amazed to hear one of them repeatedly say that he had never heard that, or would ask where that was in the Bible. He even admitted, being raised a Mormon, having gone to seminary, having served in the church, and having almost completed two years of missionary service, that he was not familiar at all with the Bible. Would anyone agree with me here that perhaps in the Mormon church the Bible is marginalized or even disregarded?

The Mormons teach the gospel of Christ as they understand it. But that’s not good enough. We must teach the Gospel according to the truth. God says to study to show yourself approved.

It might seem that I am out to get Mormons, but I’m not. We all come from somewhere. Paul says, “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the desires of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” But God, through the finished work of Christ at the cross, is willing to deliver anyone from the domain of darkness and bring them into His Kingdom of Light. But this is only done through Jesus.

I don’t dislike Mormons. I’m very close to some of them, writing this understanding I may be ostracized. What I dislike, and even hate, is that people I love are being held in the bondage of deception. What I hate is that there are other “religions” and people out there doing the same things, deceiving people.

What I hope is that some will pay attention and search the Word of God and find the truth for themselves, and not take someone else’s word for it.

Yes, the Mormons are moral. And they are good neighbors. But they aren’t teaching the truth (along with many other religions.) Read the Word of God for yourself. God’s word in your life should not be rare. You have a Bible…read it.