For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness...Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. "” 1 Corinthians 10:1"“5, 11
In the example of Israel being led out of Egypt to the Promised Land, one of the most vivid scriptural illustrations of being saved out of the old life for the new, a very tragic thing occurs along the way. A significant number within the ranks of God's people so large that it is difficult to fully comprehend became so spiritually corrupt that God forbade them admittance into the Promised Land. Only a very few of the original group gained entrance. Some today would assert, "Well, it is obvious they were never saved to begin with", yet the Apostle Paul says "all were baptized into Moses", "all ate the same spiritual food"¦the same spiritual drink", and that they were all following the Old Testament incarnation of Christ. At the very least it seems problematic to state they were spiritual counterfeits with such impeccable qualifications. I would suggest there is much in this example to teach us about this present age in the final hours leading up to Christ's Return which illuminates the working of the apostasy "“ the "great falling away" "“ we are witnessing within the Body of Christ.
"˜I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; (Rev. 2:2)
For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. (2 Co. 10:12)
We live at a time when there are not only an alarmingly large number of individuals who insist on being addressed as "Apostle", but an entire organization which claims worldwide membership of more than 500 apostles. The most visible leader of this movement is C. Peter Wagner and the activities associated with these people is often called "The New Apostolic Reformation". In a YouTube video titled "", you can see many of the more prominent "apostles" of this movement formally anointing Todd Bentley into their ranks. This is all to say that while studying 2 Corinthians recently, when I came across Paul's description listed above about the character of false apostles, I instantly fixated not just on that video, but the whole of what I have seen in the actions of both Wagner and this movement. If you watch it again after reading 2 Corinthians 10:12, it is impossible not to see how "they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves". One of the hallmarks of false apostles is their mutual admiration society.
A Reader Asks:
"In the Millenium, there will be a Temple and at the Temple sacrifices will be made to atone for sin. Why is this? Surely Yeshua has atoned once and for all for sin? Can you pleased explain the significance of this?"
Pastor from Wales UK
Since the Hebrew Scriptures close with the prophet Malachi foretelling of a Messenger from God who would appear before the Messiah, and Jesus' ministry begins with John the Baptist calling the nation to repentance, most Christians assume that the intervening period of about four centuries includes little that is of any spiritual or Biblical significance. While this era is accurately known as the "silent years" in that no prophetic voice from God is heard during this time, it is a mistake for Christians to think of it as unimportant. Many of the prophetic visions of Daniel play out during this time. Most notably, the incredible and swift ascendancy of Alexander the Great and the kingdom of Greece to worldwide prominence. This period also sets the backdrop for the events that led to the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Both stories are tied together and hold important lessons for Christians.
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (2 Thessalonians 2:1"“2)
These verses provide an opening to a larger teaching about the final person of the Antichrist to come, but if we rush past too quickly we might not appreciate the valuable gem of insight Paul provides. The overwhelming, repeated characteristic about the Antichrist and those who operate in the character and likeness of Satan is deception. It started with Satan as the serpent in the Garden with Eve and it continues throughout the whole of Scripture until the anticipated Last Days when deception multiplies to a level never before experienced. But notice that Paul provides us with the contents of the basic deception toolkit: "a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us". All deception embraces one or more of these approaches.
Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:11"“14)
A few months back in the article "The Problem with "˜Discernment'" we looked at how the word "discernment" is used in order to understand what differentiates the gift of discernment from the general biblical admonition for all Believers to be discerning. Specifically we focused on the fact that in Philippians 1:9-11 where Paul encourages "that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment", the underlying Greek word for "discernment" is "aisthesis", whereas in 1 Corinthians 12:10 in Paul's list of the gifts of the Spirit, what many translations render as the gift of discernment he uses "diakrisis", a completely different Greek word which the NASB renders as "distinguishing". Whereas "aisthesis" is defined as perceiving with the senses as well as the mind "“ a process involving knowledge based on experience, "diakrisis" is the ability to distinguish the spiritual nature of something to determine whether it truly comes from God, from Satan, or the flesh. It is therefore quite interesting to note that the author of Hebrews speaks of the spiritually mature as having attained "diakrisis" not as the result of a supernatural gift, but as a natural by-product of a maturing faith.
"Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold." ( Mt. 24:12)
It does not matter what our former life was like or how buried in evil and sin our background may have been, but there is a common crossroads of crisis at which every Believer eventually arrives. At some point we find ourselves staring into God's Word knowing that we have fallen short. We have to face the fact that Scripture plainly reveals that some aspect of our life or behavior is incontrovertibly in conflict with God's Word and ways, and it is usually that one thing which is the absolute most difficult personal issue, the sin which we are the most hesitant to even acknowledge because it has become such a basic part of our character that we can hardly imagine changing it. I arrived at one of these intersections when it came to certain relationships. I knew that what God commanded in His Word and how I lived and behaved in regard to this issue was at the very least a contradiction, and if I were totally honest, was in actuality hypocrisy.
"All Of Our Righteous Deeds Are As A Filthy Rag"
In the above article (regarding Mark Driscoll) we highlighted the fact the Word of God in some places and in some contexts makes use of direct terms, earthly expressions of reality to drive certain theological or doctrinal points. However, we may rest assured that in the cultural context and Sitz im Leben of the Ancient Near East they would not sound as crude as such an illustrated meaning may in modern Western society. (As any missionary in the Third World knows, many taboos are culturally and geographically relevant and are often defined by local tribal custom).
In one well-known example of such down to earth terminology found in Scripture, to hammer a point, the Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to describe our good deeds as "a bloody menstrual cloth" or possibly "seminally stained garment" by etymological implication in the original Hebrew text of Isaiah 64:6. (It is actually verse 5 in the original Hebrew canon) . When we as believers quote the phrase from Isaiah, "All of our righteous deeds are as filthy rags", it serves us well to understand the full dimension of what is entailed.
Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp , in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the the tones, how will it be known what is played ? If the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare for battle? (1 Corinthians 14: 7-8)
Several inquirers have asked of our view of the Seattle-based American pastor Mark Driscoll whose material featured widely on the Internet and You Tube has gained some recognition in certain church circles, particularly among younger people. His critics have decried him as a proponent of the Emergent Church (despite his outspoken criticism of its most radical extremes), and faulted him for alleged coarse language and what they perceive as an over focus on sexually related matters, especially in his preaching series on The Song of Solomon.
His proponents defend him as solidly scriptural and an excellent communicator with a capacity to be relevant to a new generation of young Christians and young married Christian couples.
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thessalonians 4:1"“8)
Depending on your choice of Bible translation, the word "sanctify" and all of its related variations appear throughout Scripture approximately 65 times. The specific variant "sanctification", however, appears only 8 times, 3 of which are clustered together in these few verses where Paul connects it with the exhortation, ""¦how you ought to walk and please God". Do churches still preach and teach about sanctification? Because if they do, I am finding it difficult to believe that they are emphasizing the biblical aspect of pursuing sexual morality. In the past 20 years studies have repeatedly proven there is no longer a statistical difference on any issue of sexual immorality ranging from divorce to adultery to homosexuality between those who say they regularly attend church and those who do not. Who, exactly, is still in pursuit of biblical sanctification?