Regarding The Online Discernment Ministries
Posted by Job on March 21, 2009
Hello Fellow Laborers In Jesus Christ:
A lot of you may have noticed that I have gotten extremely slack in making new posts, approving comments, and responding to emails these past months. I am extremely sorry, and wish you to know that there are two reasons for this. The first is that for the past several months, I have been dealing with a number of personal, family, and financial challenges and changes that, while not posing real problems for myself and my family (quite the contrary, God has been very good to my family and I in ways that you cannot imagine!) have placed great demands on my time, so much so that I have actually considered ending this site, or at the very least placing it on long term hiatus, as it does look like these issues are going to persist for the time being.
Now that is the main reason, but there are others. Even though I have not been actively working on Jesus Christology for some time, it has been often on my mind and in my prayers, as have been the many people that have participated in its discussions. Ironically, the time that I have been forced to spend away from Jesus Christology has given me the opportunity to pray and reflect on precisely what I have been doing since I went online in February 2007 (initially by importing content created for my prior Heal The Land website – which, incidentally, has been unfairly taken offline by the Bravehost people) and have wondered about my actions and their effectiveness. I must be honest, I have always intended to honor and promote Jesus Christ with my work, but good intentions are not enough. God commands to be served the way God desires to be served, not the way that man chooses to serve Him. So when I consider the doctrines that I have promoted that I no longer subscribe to; the pastors and ministries that I promoted that I can no longer in good conscience support, and in particular the angry, confrontational, at times self – flagellating posture that I maintained for the first year or so, my conclusion is that while it probably made for entertaining reading and discussions, but what good did it do, really? How did it uplift Jesus Christ?
I am going to deal specifically with the fact that a great deal of my content came directly from various online discernment ministries, and that I actually made Jesus Christology (and its predecessor, Heal The Land With Spiritual Warfare) a “part time” online discernment ministry. Now online discernment ministries do great work and have their place. As a matter of fact, I am deeply indebted to a particular online discernment ministry for planting the seed that caused me to abandon the false prosperity doctrine/Word of Faith movements, and Christians do need to be at work warning people and defending the faith against wolves in sheep’s clothing moving about the church.
However, I was very disturbed to find out that the very online discernment ministry that led me to the tip of the iceberg of spiritual corruption with one of their posts had taken up the practice of denouncing Christian pastors that choose to affiliate themselves with Barack HUSSEIN Obama. Now of course, no Christian pastor should have anything to do with this Obama person, this online discernment ministry made an excellent Biblical case why, so that wasn’t the problem. The problem is that in the years that I have frequented this ministry, before I even went up with Jesus Christology/Heal The Land With Spiritual Warfare, I have never ONCE seen them criticize a single of the many pastors for affiliating themselves with and supporting the wickedness of George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, John McCain and similar. If these people cannot “discern” (or more likely refuse to be honest enough to acknowledge) the wickedness of the bunch on the “conservative” side of the ideological and political aisle merely by viewing their deeds and who they associate with and hold the religious right to the same standards as everybody else, what gives them the right, the spiritual standing and authority, to stand in judgment of anybody else? Is it not far better to serve the Lord ins simple submission and silence?
I am not merely tilting at windmills here, but I am going by the example that was set by who can be considered (my me at least!) the forerunner of the modern discernment minister, one Charles Spurgeon. While Spurgeon was pastoring in England, the Protestant church there was on its rapid and determined path into liberal apostasy, and Spurgeon saw it happening. Yet Spurgeon held his tongue and pen for years, waiting to address the issue at the right time and in the appropriate manner. But when Spurgeon finally did act, it was in a wise, reasoned, measured, prudent, truthful, and Biblical manner by addressing what he called “the Down – Grade controversy” in a series of sermons, and also in his publication The Sword and the Trowel. Now of course, Spurgeon’s actions were very controversial, and he was hit with many of the same accusations that dog the various discernment ministries today. Yet Spurgeon was much less impeachable, much more defensible, than the modern efforts because his manner of dealing with the apostates and heretics of his time was much more reasoned, mature, responsible, and ultimately Biblical. How ironic, then, that Spurgeon is a favorite of the very online discernment ministry that I am speaking of.
What we can perhaps learn from Spurgeon’s example is how the fight for faith, how the contending for the faith once delivered to the saints, how giving a defense/apology for the faith will be done. In short, it should be done facing the simple reality that most people aren’t going to listen. The words are going to fall on hard hearts and deaf ears because those who possess these hearts and ears are not born again Christians, but sinners. We know from the clear witness of the Bible and of history that from the time of Old Testament Israel in the past until the time that Jesus Christ returns in the future, most of the people that have referred to themselves as the children of YHWH are only so in name only, which means that they are not in truth.
As a result, they have no true interest in spiritual things, in sound doctrine and in obedience to the commandments of Jesus Christ as expressed in the Bible. Instead, their only interest is being considered righteous according to the standards of the Christian mainstream, which is determined by viewing Christianity in the context of what has been deemed acceptable for Christians by the larger culture. Whether you are a predestinarian who believes that the reason for this is that these people have not been elected (which is my current position) or a free will Christian who believe that these people have rejected Jesus Christ (which was my previous position) the end result is the same.
So no matter how often we talk about Rick Warren, Pat Robertson, Todd Bentley, T.D. Jakes, Paula White, Paul Crouch, Billy Graham, Robert Schuller, Tim LaHaye, James Dobson, ecumenism with Roman Catholics, the emergent church etc. it isn’t going to change hearts. The only thing that will change hearts is the gospel, the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified and raised from the dead. Of course, heresies and heretics should be discussed, for they certainly are discussed in the Bible, and of course we should use these examples and others to guide people away from the many false gospels to the one true gospel of the hard road that leads to the strait gate. But it should be done as part of the full gospel message, taking its appropriate place in bringing sinners to faith in Jesus Christ and equipping those who already believe to walk in the faith of Jesus Christ. If it is done for any other reason and in any other context, then it is just a tinkling cymbal of 1 Corinthians 13, at best the work of someone sincere but unbalanced and misguided and at worst something that is just as capable of being a source of error.
Above all, we honestly do need to know our place. We need to act in faith; to trust God. We must stop trying to help God out, to do His job for Him. Instead, we must out of faith and submission stand back and allow God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to do the job of building the church and defending it. In the course of doing so, we will not be hindered or distracted from doing our own jobs by trying to do the job that only God can do.
In closing, allow me to mention that one movie that I love is the Jesus Christ movie that I acquired for my kids, “The Miracle Maker.” (I don’t love the fact that this movie’s rights are owned by Mel Gibson’s production company, but as I have not discovered anything ascriptural in it, it remains in my possession, unlike the completely anti-scriptural “The Passion of the Christ”, which I do not own and never will.) In it, the movie contains a simple explanation of Christ’s commandment to “build your house on the rock” by telling us “take the hard way, not the easy way.” Presenting the full, true, gospel through the Christ – centered exegesis, exposition, and application of scripture is extremely hard. Talking about the lies that Kenneth Copeland said last week, is saying this week, and unless he repents will say next week is comparatively easy. I propose that in order to be a true online discernment ministry, it has to be built upon the rock and do the hard work as described in 2 Timothy 4:5 –
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.