Archive for May, 2011

Published by Pastor Tavares Robinson on 16 May 2011

What About 2011? By Tavares Robinson

Over the last few years, many have ask me to share personal insight on what, I believe, the Holy Spirit is saying about the upcoming year. Each time I’ve been asked, I declined to give any input because the Lord is Sovereign; therefore, He can speak anytime He chooses. He is not moved to speak simply because the calendar or the year changes.

“Prophets” and those who go around proclaiming the “word of the Lord”, based on the number of the year that we are entering, are in gross error and needs to be warned about the danger of taking the Lord’s name in vain. Their superficial and carnal words are spoken from the spirit of man and not from the heart of God.

If you recall, every decade the same words (with a different twist) repeat themselves. Consider the “prophetic words” that rhyme with the year. For example,  in 2008, “the Lord said it’s going to be great”;  in 2009, “the Lord said you are coming alive”; or in 2010, “the Lord said you are going to win”.
Now in 2011… (You get the point!)

All of this is really nothing more than a different version of  new age cold reading which has nothing to do with the Spirit of God.

Do I believe the Holy Spirit still speaks today? Yes! I also believe that we should not only have an ear to hear what He says, but we also have a responsibility to clearly and truthfully communicate what the Holy Spirit is saying.

Now, there are some things that the Holy Spirit has been placing on my heart recently that I believe He wants me to share with the body of  Christ.

We are still in a time when God is breaking His silence – as mentioned in my book Shepherds, Hirelings, and Dictators: How to Recognize the Difference. So we will continue to see the Lord bring  to the light those things that have been practiced for years in the dark. We are also moving into a period that I call, “the season of hard truth”. During this season, the Holy Spirit will begin to uncover and re-establish biblical truths that have been “hidden” and distorted by the misinterpretation of Scriptures.

The Holy Spirit will resurrect “hard truth” subjects like true biblical salvation, biblical love, slaves of Christ, true meaning of grace, denying self, and the Lordship of Christ. Many will find out that what they’ve been taught for years has been unsound and only half-truths. As a result, they will experience great pain and shame, but, in time, the Lord will bring healing and restoration, if they surrender to His truth. Sadly, though, not all will be restored. Others will fall away because they have a breach in their hearts, and have allowed the enemy to convince them that doing what pleases them is the medicine for their souls.

The great falling away is upon us. Those who were faithful and devoted to the Lord will begin to drift back into the love and care of this world. For it is by this heartbreaking sign that you will know that the return of our Lord is near.

by Pastor Tavares Robinson

Published by Pastor Tavares Robinson on 14 May 2011

Those Who Don’t Remember The Past, Will Often Repeat It!

I Was Wrong: Excerpt from Jim Bakker’s Autobiographical Book
By Jim Bakker: excerpted from the book “I was wrong” (Thomas Nelson)

About the time of my parole hearing (1993), I completed my study of all the words of Jesus in the New Testament. To my surprise, after months of studying Jesus, I concluded that He did not have one good thing to say about money. Most of Jesus’ statements about riches, wealth, and material gain were in a negative context. Even “The Prodigal Son,” one of my favorite stories told by Jesus, took on new meaning as I read it again for the first time with an overview of Scripture in mind. I quickly noticed that the story began with the younger brother saying to the father, “Give me! Give me my part of the inheritance” (Luke 15:12). He didn’t even say, “Please give me.” He simply demanded. Before long, that young man landed in the pigpen. I began to see that the fastest way to the pigpen begins with “Give me” … and the fastest route to the “big pen,” the federal penitentiary, often begins with the same phrase, “Give me!”

I was amazed at this “new” revelation, but beyond that, I was deeply concerned. As the true impact of Jesus’ words regarding money impacted my heart and mind, I became physically nauseated. I was wrong. I was wrong! Wrong in my lifestyle, certainly, but even more fundamentally, wrong in my understanding of the Bible’s true message. Not only was I wrong, but I was teaching the opposite of what Jesus had said. That is what broke my heart; when I came to the awareness that I had actually been contradicting Christ, I was horrified.

For years I had embraced and espoused a gospel that some skeptics had branded a “prosperity gospel.” I didn’t mind the label; on the contrary, I was proud of it. “You’re absolutely right!” I’d say to critics and friends alike. “I preach it and live it! I believe in a God who wants to bless His people. Look at all the rich saints in the Old Testament. And the New Testament clearly says that above all, God wants us to prosper even as our souls prosper. If your soul is prospering, you should be prospering materially as well!”

I even got to the point where I was teaching people at PTL. “Don’t pray, ‘God, Your will be done,’ when you’re praying for health or wealth. You already know it is God’s will for you to have those things! To ask God to confirm His will when He has already told you what His will is in a matter is an insult to God. It is as though you don’t really trust Him or believe that He is as good as His Word. Instead of praying ‘Thy will be done’ when you want a new car, just claim it. Pray specifically and tell God what kind you want. Be sure to specify which options and what color you want too.”

Such arrogance! Such foolishness! Such sin! The Bible says we are not to presume upon God, but we should say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (James 4:15).

I may not always have been so blatant about it, but I often preached a prosperity message at Heritage USA and on our PTL television programs. But when I began to study the Scriptures in depth while in prison, something I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I rarely took time to do during the hectic years of constant building and ministering at PTL, I was very distressed at what I discovered. I realized that for years I helped propagate an impostor, not a true gospel, but another gospel – a gospel that stated “God wants you to be rich!” Christians should have the best because we are children of God, “King’s Kids,” as I often put it. And shouldn’t the King’s kids have the best this world had to offer?

The more I studied the Bible; however, I had to admit that the prosperity message did not line up with the tenor of Scripture. My heart was crushed to think that I led so many people astray. I was appalled that I could have been so wrong, and I was deeply grateful that God had not struck me dead as a false prophet!

How could I have taught and even written books on the subject of “how to get rich” when Jesus spoke so clearly about the dangers of earthly riches? One of the statements of Jesus that kept echoing in my head and heart was in the parable of the sower, where Jesus said that “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). The deceitfulness of riches. The more I thought about it, the more I had to admit that I had fallen into that snare. I had allowed the quest for material possessions and the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts for other things to choke the Word of God in my own life and in the lives of my family members and coworkers. As PTL grew larger and our ministry more widespread, I had a financial tiger by the tail, and just coming up with enough money to meet the daily budgets dominated my thoughts and my time.

In prison, I decided to dig into the Scriptures further to see what else Jesus had to say about money. I noticed that He said,

Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19-21 NIV)

Another Scripture that seared into my heart was Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (NIV). In that same passage, I discovered that God’s priorities were much different from what mine had been.
Jesus said,

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?.. So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt. 6:25, 31-33 NIV)

Other teachings of Jesus scored direct hits upon my heart, as well: “But woe unto you who are rich, / for you have already received your comfort” (Luke 6:24 NIV). “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me'” (Matt. 16:24 NIV). This verse dramatically illustrated the stark contrast between what Jesus taught and what I had been teaching. I had taught that Christians could have the best of both worlds, the best that this world had to offer and heaven too. Jesus said, “Deny yourself.”

Jesus taught, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:24 NIV). Unwittingly, I had tried to explain this verse away with the help of modern scholarship. I had taught people that the “eye of the needle” of what Jesus spoke of was a low arch in the Holy Land. Supposedly, a camel carrying a heavy load had to get down on its knees to slip through the “eye of the needle.” This was the explanation that I had heard from other prosperity teachers whom I had admired and respected, so I simply passed on their explanation as fact without really examining the verse carefully, especially in the original Greek. Nor had I consulted any Bible dictionaries or encyclopedias. If I had done so, I might have found that not a shred of reputable archaeological or historic evidence supports the came-through-the-arch theory.

In prison, however, when I took time to study the meaning of Jesus’ words in the original Greek language, I discovered that Jesus was not talking about camels walking on their knees at all. The word He used was one commonly used to describe a sewing needle, not an archway. In other words, the verse meant exactly what it said: It may not be impossible for a rich man to enter heaven, but apart from a miracle, he doesn’t stand a chance!

In my cell, I studied the Bible long hours into the night. Often as the sun rose in the eastern sky, I was still poring over the Scriptures. The more I studied, the more I had to face the awful truth: I had been preaching false doctrine for years and hadn’t even known it!

Tragically, too late, I recognized that at PTL I had been doing just the opposite of Jesus’ words by teaching people to fall in love with money. Jesus never equated His blessings with material things, but I had done just that. I had laid so much emphasis upon material things; I was subtly encouraging people to put their hearts into things, rather than into Jesus.

Was Heritage USA of God? I believe it was; I believe the original concept was His and that He planted it in my heart. But as I said before, Heritage USA – with all its facilities and buildings – was the box, the package. The box was meant to enhance people’s appreciation of the true gift, Jesus Christ, but before long, many people began to worship the box … and I allowed them to do so; no, I encouraged them to do so by what I was teaching and by the manner in which I was living. I lived the prosperity message I was preaching. I should have taught people to fall in love with Jesus rather than the trappings.

I began to share some of the things I was learning with several of the Christian inmates with whom I often discussed the Bible. I was stunned by their responses. Rather than being excited that I had finally come to a knowledge of the truth, they were aghast that I was denying what they considered to be sound spiritual principles taught by sincere men and women of God.

“Yes, but doesn’t Jesus also say that He came that we might have an abundant life?” asked David, an inmate whose background was steeped in the prosperity message. We turned to John 10:10 and read, “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly” (KJV). It was a wonderful statement by Jesus Himself, so I could easily see how David had related it to material prosperity. As we looked up the words in a Greek-English dictionary, however, we found that the Greek word for “life” used in this verse was zoe, a word indicating “life in the spirit and soul” rather than the world bios which is used to refer to physical, material life. Of the two words, zoe is usually considered the more noble, higher word. Basically, Jesus was saying, “I want you to have an abundant life in the spirit, which is My highest and best for you.”

“Hey, that verse doesn’t have anything to do with material prosperity,” David said, as the light turned on in his heart and mind. “If abundant life meant having houses, cars, riches, parties and entertainment, then I guess the world is experiencing abundant life. Yet we have more hatred, disease, and pain than ever.” “Not only that, ” piped up Jorge, a Spanish guy with a big smile who had walked into my cell and was leaning up against the bunks as he watched David and me searching through the Bible reference books, “but if you’re figuring’ how much God loves you by how much money you have, or what kind of car you drive, or how big a house you live in, what happens when all that stuff is gone?” Jorge had hit the nail right on the head.

The next night after work, David and Jorge were back. David has talked to his Christian girlfriend on the telephone that afternoon and she had told him, “Of course God wants us to prosper, David. You know the Bible even says so in 3 John, verse two.” I knew the verse well. It had been my favorite “prosperity verse” for years; it was the premier New Testament verse upon which I had built my prosperity message and lifestyle. The verse reads: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (KJV).

I had preached on this verse for most of my ministry. It said exactly what I believed – that God wanted His people to prosper, and by that, I interpreted it to mean prosper financially and materially, in other words, to get rich. Again, I never really examined the true meaning of the text, nor did I ever seriously consider why this verse, on the surface anyhow, seemed to contradict so much of what the New Testament said in other places. I simply pulled this verse out of context and took it to the bank – literally!

“First of all, let’s look at this verse, David,” I said. “We have to take the whole counsel of God’s Word, just like Jesus says in Matthew 4:4.’Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'” We began going through the verse, word by word, deciphering the meaning from the Greek with the help of a few Bible reference books someone had sent me. I didn’t tell David that I had been tearing this verse apart for nearly two years and trying to find where it fit with the message of Jesus.

It did not fit. No matter how hard I tried to make my former interpretation of 3 John 2 consistent with the words of Jesus, the verse as I had understood it simply did not make sense. How could John be saying, “above all things, I want you to prosper”? First, David and I looked up the meaning of the word prosper in a dictionary. The various forms of the word all had one common meaning: “to increase in wealth.”

“David, tell me something,” I said pausing and pointing to the Bible. “Jesus said that our number one concern was to love God supremely; after that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Why, then, would John say that ‘above all’ I should have wealth?”

“I don’t know, Jim,” David replied. “What do you think?”
I ignored David’s question and asked him another. “Do you think God wants you to have money above your soul’s salvation?”

“No. Of course not!”

“Well, then let’s find out what these words mean,” I suggested. I suddenly remembered one of my Bible professors warning me never to look up Biblical words in an English dictionary, because the words might have a completely different meaning than in the original biblical languages. I pulled a Bible dictionary and Greek lexicon off the shelf.

We looked up the meaning of the word prosper. We found the word translated “prosper” in the King James Version of the Bible came from a Greek word, eudoo, which is made up of two Greek root words, eu, which means “good,” and hodos, which means “road, or route, a progress, or journey.” We did not find a single reference in the Greek to money, riches or material gain from the word translated prosper in the King James Version.

The apostle John, the writer, was saying simply, “I wish you a good, safe, and healthy journey throughout your life, even as your soul has a good and safe journey to heaven.”

John was not saying “Above everything else, I want you to get rich. Above everything, you should prosper and make money.” That is not even implied in the true meaning of the verse. Yet I had based much of my philosophy at PTL and even before that on this one verse that I had totally misunderstood!

Just to make certain that we were not unfairly placing too much emphasis upon the words in this passage, I began looking up other places where the same words were found in the Bible. I found eudoo again, for example, in Romans 1:10. The apostle Paul wrote, “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you” (KJV). Paul often took special care to make sure that his motivation could not be misconstrued or maligned because of money. It would be unthinkable for the apostle to say, “Please pray for me that somehow or other I might obtain wealth by coming to preach to you,” or “Please pray that I will make a lot of money on this trip.” Yet that is how Romans 1:10 would have to be interpreted if we took the King James Version translation of eudoo to mean wealth or material gain. Clearly, that was not the intent of the apostle Paul. He was saying simply, “I sure hope God grants me an opportunity to visit you soon. Please pray that I will have a good journey on the road as I travel to see you.”

The apostle John was saying something very similar when he said, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” It was a greeting, a prayerful desire of the apostle’s, not a principle suggesting Christians should be wealthy.

David reluctantly agreed that to base a prosperity doctrine on this verse would be shaky indeed, but he was not yet ready to abandon his belief in the prosperity message with which he had been indoctrinated. He took some of the notes from our study sessions and wrote to several leading “prosperity preachers,” some of whom were close friends of mine. Day after day, David was back, armed with more books sent to him by prosperity teachers.

“Jim, look at this!” David said as he pointed to a passage in the Old Testament to see that he had been referred by some of my friends to Deuteronomy 8:18. I had used the verse myself in countless messages and appeals for money. The verse reads, “But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore unto thy fathers, as it is this day” (KJV).

At first glance, the verse did seem to support the idea that God is the one who gives us the power to get rich. When David and I read the verse in context with the entire passage of Deuteronomy 8:1-18, however, it took on a different meaning. We realized that what God is actually saying to His people in this passage is, “When I bring you out of Egypt into the Promised Land and you are enjoying the blessings I have given to you, don’t think that you have been successful in your own strength. Don’t say that it is your own power, that you did all this yourself.” The Lord then warns His people to remember that He is the one who deserves the glory. All God was saying was “When you get into the Promised Land, don’t forget who brought you there and gave to you everything that you have.”

David and I dug into the words in the passage, looking especially at the word translated wealth. By looking up wealth in a Hebrew lexicon, we discovered that it comes from the Hebrew word chayil which is used 232 times in the Old Testament. In almost every case, the word is meant to imply, “might, strength, power, ability, virtue, valor,” and, oh, yes: “wealth.” It is used most often to describe valiant men and women and armies.

As David and I read the passage with new understanding, we concluded that God was not saying, “I am the one who gives you riches.” What He really was saying was: “Remember, it is God who has given you the power to receive everything you have. He is the one who has given you strength. He is the one who has given you a house, land, or other possessions.”

I admit, in the past I had used this verse to make it sound as though it was God’s will to make everyone wealthy and if any of His people were poor it was probably due to lack of faith or not applying the biblical “formulas” correctly. That was an improper interpretation of the passage. Yes, it is God who gives us the power to receive all that we have, but to assume that He wants all His people to be wealthy based on this Scripture is an illegitimate extension of that truth.

As David and I studied the Scriptures concerning material wealth, he became convinced that the Bible does not teach that God wants us to be rich in material possessions. “But Jim, doesn’t God want to bless His people?” David asked. “Of course He does,” I replied, “but we don’t have to twist the Scriptures into saying something they don’t mean. There are plenty of passages in the Bible that tell us that God will provide for us, and as we honor Him by using the resources that He gives us for His glory, He will continue to pour out even greater blessings upon us.” (Bakker then cites Mal. 3:10-11, 2 Co. 9:6)

God has promised to bless those people who put Him first in their lives. That principle has never changed. I still believe that God blesses His people and will meet their needs. The sin is falling in love with and seeking after money and material things. He doesn’t want us to equate mere money with godliness. In fact, the apostle Paul said that “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness … supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:3, 5-6 KJV).

For the first time, I began to really understand what Paul meant when he wrote:

But they that will be rich (which I discovered meant: “they that want to be rich”) fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (1 Tim. 6:8-11 KJV)

For years I had glossed over that passage in Scripture. I ignored it, made excuses for it, or tried to explain it away. I refused to accept the obvious interpretation. I now see that the message was right there all the time, so plain that even a child could see it and understand it. I was wrong.

I knew I could not keep this newfound information a secret. I had influenced so many people to accept a “prosperity message,” I now felt that I had a responsibility to tell my friends what I had been learning from my studies in the Bible. I wrote a simple, straightforward letter and sent it to some of the people who had written to me in prison. The letter was not meant to be published to the world. I didn’t know how The Charlotte Observer got a copy of the letter, but the paper ran portions of it on the front page… Soon I began receiving mail from all over the country concerning the letter. Some people were appalled that I – a person they considered as a primary propagator of the prosperity message in the twentieth century – had disavowed my former teaching. Others wrote to me were delighted that I had “finally seen the light.”

Frankly, I was not greatly concerned what the critics or the skeptics had to say about my speaking about against the prosperity message. I knew what God had clearly shown to me from His Word. I had studied every word of Jesus over a period of two years, and I was convinced that the prosperity message was at best an aberration and at worst “another gospel” contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Although I still believed God blesses His people, the prosperity message I had preached for years was wrong.

In retrospect, one of the main reasons I slipped into believing and preaching a distorted doctrine was because of my lack of understanding of what it really means to allow Jesus to be Lord of my life.

Published by Pastor Tavares Robinson on 11 May 2011

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste by Tavares Robinson

It is not uncommon these days to hear Christian leaders say to the people, “If you think about it, then you’re not living by faith”. This statement is not only unbiblical, but extremely dangerous. This sort of belief opens the door for believers to be entertained by doctrines of demons, lying signs and wonders. Nowhere in scripture are we forbidden to “use our brain”. There is a fine line between thinking biblically and being critical. While being critical is prohibited by the Lord (Matthew 7:1-2), trying or testing is commanded (1 John 4:1). How can we examine or test a spirit, if thinking is off limits? Consider two contrasting examples from the Bible. In the first example, we will see that the people had turned off their minds and stop thinking for themselves. The second example, however, reveals a very different group of people who did not just accept what they heard, and as a result, were commended for it.

In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul delivers a strong rebuke to individuals who were turning away from the only true gospel. He was shocked to hear this beloved church was moving toward a different gospel – one that would eventually lead the people to eternal damnation (Galatians 1:6-9). The reason this church had moved away was because they were not thinking biblically. This is confirmed in chapter 3 when Paul states, “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you…”.

Note that the word foolish, as it is used in this context, does not mean one who lacks wits or intelligence. It is, rather, a Greek usage of the word which means one who is not thinking something through or one who is not “using his head”. Paul, by the Holy Spirit, states that reason the Galatians were being deceived is because they were not using their heads concerning the false teaching. Instead, they were bewitched (being led by their emotions).

Let’s look at our last example. In the Book of Acts, Paul preaches to a group of people called the Bereans (Acts 17:10-12). The Bible says that when they heard Paul preach, they immediately went back and searched the scriptures to see if what they were hearing was true. Notice that neither Paul, nor the Holy Spirit, rebuked or condemned these followers. They, unlike the Galatians, were commended and called “fair minded”.

Has the act of being a Berean become sinful? Is this type of mindset now forbidden?

There are some valuable lessons that we can learn from the Bereans. They are lessons that could protect us from deception today.

1) They elevated scriptures above the Apostle Paul’s popularity.
2) They used the Word of God, and not miracles and crowds, as the sole tool for determining if something is of God.
3) They had a readiness for the Word and did not seek out signs for confirmation.
4) They were ready to reject Paul’s counsel, regardless of his reputation, if what he taught contradicted the Word.
5) They had disciplines that prepare them to go back, reread and examine everything they were taught before accepting it as truth.

Paul didn’t reprimand them for searching or thinking, so why is it different today? Why do we believe that thinking is not a sign of faith? The enemy of our soul has a plan. And his plan is to remove the concept of thinking biblically. He wants us to accept the, sometimes, tainted Word of Leaders as that of God’s. It is our responsibility to test the spirit just as the Bereans did. Those who do not are as foolish as the Galatians that Paul rebuked.

It’s time to take inventory of our lives to see if we are Galatians or Bereans. Only one group will see the Lord!!

Published by Pastor Tavares Robinson on 09 May 2011

The Apostasy Flu by Tavares Robinson

Do you visualize having the power to rebuke what you assume is the enemy when things don’t go the way you plan; “blabbing and grabbing” whatever your covetous heart so desires; or going to church (strictly to be entertained) and not having to worry about being convicted by the Word of God which would constantly be diluted so that you, a faithful attendee and tither, are never made to feel guilty for how you choose to live beyond the doors of the sanctuary?

If this is the desire of one “living in the world”, it’s understandable because a sinner does not personally know Christ but rather knows of a god that has developed through the American Gospel. For both the sinner and the ungodly, God is simply a savior and genie we call upon when we’re in need. However, God does not preside as Lord over their lives. Therefore, desiring such liberty is comprehensible. For Christians, on the contrary, God is Savior as well as Lord – the master of our lives. So, to know this is the mindset of those who are currently in the church, and claim to know the Gospel of the True Christ, is disheartening!

Has the standard that God once had for His church been altered over the years? Who has assured the people of God that they can do as they please and still have TRUTH?

The actions of sinners are not for us to judge because they’ve always obeyed the enemy and are doing what the world does, but when the church begins to live or make decisions based on how it feels, and are conducting themselves contrary to the Word of God, the people are operating in Apostasy.

In 2 Thessalonians, Paul prophesies that before the second return of Christ, there is a “Great Apostasy” or “Great Falling Away” to take place. He tells us of a time when those who know God will rebel, oppose His Truth and exalt themselves above the Word of the Lord. In other words, Paul was letting us know, beforehand, that prior to Jesus’ return there WILL BE many who deviate from what they originally knew to be truth to pursue their own selfish agenda. People will become lovers of themselves doing whatever they feel with no regard for the Lord or His standards.

Today’s church is in danger because what Paul prophesied over two thousand years ago is happening today. The people of God are…

1. Living lives contrary to scripture, but are convinced that they are still saved and being “blessed” by God;

2. Finding excuses for not doing the things of God, but making time for their own personal desires;

3. Becoming offended when others tell them what is in the Bible (The Truth) because it’s contrary to what they want to do or believe;

4. Going to church to be entertained and losing their appetite for the written Word because all they want to get out of church is something that will make them feel good or better about what they are in.

5. Allowing “good” excuses to keep them from attending church as they should because they really have something else they rather be doing;

6. Developing unhealthy associations with those who are ungodly – having only an outward appearance of salvation, because those relationships are their connection to the world;

7. Becoming confused about beliefs they were once certain of because questioning those beliefs give them just enough wiggle room to do the things they really want to do;

8. Being led by how they feel versus by the Spirit of God because waiting on God is humbling, requires patience, and a level of faith that they don’t have;

9. Developing an unhealthy love for self because the world has convinced them that they come first, even before God; and finally,

10. Allowing church hurt to keep them from the house of the Lord because they’re afraid of being hurt, again, by people in whom they’ve placed their faith.

The enemy knows that he can’t stop saved people from going to church and he can’t stop them from sharing the gospel. So, don’t expect him to approach the people of God in this manner. We must recognize the power of the enemy for he is cunning. He can’t (boldly) lead us away from God because we won’t follow; so, instead, he joins us – IN THE CHURCH, and subtly implements his master plan. This plan of the enemy is to get the people of God, from the top down, to the point where they feel their compromise is justifiable and they are no longer convicted by the things they once believed. His plan is to lead the people to APOSTASY!

Just as he did with Jesus, the enemy will make several attempts to entice the leaders of the church to compromise. First, he will use the secret weaknesses of leaders (like greed, power and popularity) to move them off course. The enemy knows that wherever the head goes, the body will follow. If the leader’s teachings or behavior is perverse, then so will that be of the congregation.

Then, when the enemy begins to work on those who claim to be Disciples of Christ, he is obscure. He will lure us away from God and towards the world using the desires of our own hearts. He’s betting on the fact that we will compromise for that which seems harmless. But, it is a setup! With every prompting, conviction or Word we override, we give apostasy room to slither in.

If we’re not careful, Apostasy will catch us off guard, and eventually, the things that once convicted our hearts will become comfortable. Don’t believe that you could be a victim? Think again! Just like the flu which can mask itself behind the symptoms of a cold, apostasy will deceive you into believing you are okay with God because you do the things that religious folk do. Truth is, you can be religious yet far from the Way of God. Like the influenza virus, when the symptoms of apostasy are ignored or left unaddressed, the virus becomes life-threatening. In this case, the untreated symptoms lead to spiritual suicide—an eternal separation. And according to Hebrews 6, it’s impossible for those who were saved, and fell into apostasy, to receive repentance.

Apostasy is a subtle, gradual change of one’s mindset and consequent behaviors. It does not happen suddenly; instead, apostasy gradually creeps in with every symptom or boundary that is pushed. The good news is that apostasy is preventable if you actively respond to the symptoms. In order to defeat this illness, that has cunningly spread through today’s church, we must recognize the warning signs of apostasy that are evident in our lives and aggressively respond before the symptoms complicate. The longer the flu is treated as a cold, the more complicated and grave the symptoms become.

Will you continue to tell yourself that you are alright when God has revealed that you have the symptoms of a life-threatening condition? Or will you accept the fact that you may have, in an effort to obtain the desires of your own heart, deviated from the path of holiness?

In this hour, we must take inventory of our Christian walk, heed to the warning signs, accept that we have deviated from God’s original plan, and take advantage of the opportunity He has presented for us to get back on track! Apostasy is serious! That’s why we are repeatedly warned not to be deceived or fooled into thinking that we cannot be moved off course. We must assertively respond to these life-threatening symptoms of apostasy by accepting the Truth and making adjustments to our lives through application of the Written Word. Know that God will not cease to reveal His Word, because His desire is that all men be saved; however, the Word will not save all that hear it. Instead, it will judge those who reject the Truth – even though they once knew it. God is just and will hold those accountable who choose to serve whatever they want in His House.

Published by Pastor Tavares Robinson on 05 May 2011

Shepherds, Hirelings, and Dictators; How To Recognize The Difference

When we remain under the teaching of unfaithful leaders, we actually reinforce their wayward behavior. They are most likely to take our continuous support as approval and become even bolder, as they move in the flesh rather than in the Spirit of God.

Eventually, false leaders come to a point where they assume they can teach anything, whether it is right or wrong, and the people won’t object. Charles Spurgeon made a powerful prophetic statement over a century ago that speaks to our generation. He said, “Everywhere there is apathy. Nobody cares whether that which is preached is true or false, a sermon is a sermon whatever the subject; only, the shorter it is the better.” How many attending churches in America today have the same feeling? And when church-goers have this spiritless attitude, false leaders become very comfortable asking their people for unreasonable things God has never required, including huge sums of wealth, real estate, or other material goods. They are able to get away with such things because of the apathy of most Christians who not only allow it but have come to expect it.

Why is this erroneous practice so common and so blatant? The reason is because we have not studied to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15). We have not confronted such behavior with Scripture and called a spade a spade. Instead of digging into Scripture to know God, we have accepted the words of charlatans, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and we have gone along with behaviors that would never have been allowed if the body of Christ had called them on it (2 Cor. 11:13-20). We do not discern the truth because we do not evaluate teaching in light of Scripture.

Those who have come out of false teaching often testify that they were blinded by charisma, and until the Holy Spirit revealed the truth they absolutely could not see through the deception. This is much like being in love and overlooking warning signs of abuse in your beloved. Even if a man is unfaithful, and the warning signs are there, some women disregard them, denying reality, thinking they are either overreacting or seeing things. And though friends may warn them, they refuse to face the truth until it is far too late and they are in over their heads and cannot escape. At that point the abused get upset with themselves and others because they have been deceived, humiliated, scarred, and perhaps even impoverished by a fraud.

People endure many painful things when they believe God is trying to teach them something. But they should know that God will never risk their souls to hell for the sake of a lesson. And though we may at first be blind to problems in a leader, once we have seen the light we must avail ourselves of the first chance to escape.

In truth, many times we are the ones refusing to let go. We have been sucked in, enamored, and have fallen in love with an evil system. Sometimes we try to hold on even when we know it is not working. Often God has already opened doors of escape, and yet we keep going back like a moth to a destructive flame. We may already have a witness in our spirits, but still things must really get worse before we are fed up and realize we have no other choice but to leave. At that point, it is time to shake the dust off our shoes and move on.

Some of us repeatedly set ourselves up for the same kind of behaviors that allow false leaders to take control, even knowing it did not work before. In some ways it is like an addiction we must keep feeding. How many times do we have to be promised that if we sow a seed we will see millions of dollars in ninety days? How many times will we hear and believe that the wealth of the wicked will be transferred to you?

While on this subject, it is interesting to note, that those who “teach” and “proph-lie” about a transfer of the world’s wealth never received their wealth from the world. They received it from us, the church! Do we really believe God will give us a one-hundred-times-blessing for every dollar we sow? Let us not forget what the Bible says about false teachers and their destruction: “In their greed they will make up cleaver lies to get a hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction is on the way.” (2 Pet. 2:3). What happened to common sense? What happened to “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is?”

Just because someone calls themselves God’s man or woman does not mean they are not in it for the money. How many times do we have to be fleeced before we stop and ask ourselves, “Where does it say that in the context of Scripture?” In the final analysis, if the Scripture does not say it, it is wrong! If it had been of God in the first place, that million-dollar blessing would have manifested exactly on time.

The reason a false leader gives a ninety-day deadline is because that gives him an out, usually enough time for the beguiled to forget his prophetic lie. False prophets are notorious for blaming the victim when the prophecies go unfulfilled. They claim the deceived misunderstood, or that they never said it to begin with, or that the misled did not have the requisite amount of faith. But whatever the reason, it is never the fault of the false shepherd. I am sure this rings bells for many readers.

When these things happen we often want to blame God, and yet if we are honest, we must take responsibility for not staying true to the Word. These situations with false prophets have nothing to do with God. The real issue is what is going on in our own lives to make us fall for get-rich-quick schemes. Why are we so driven by greed? If we would choose instead to love and trust God, demanding nothing in return, no one would ever be able to defraud us.

That brings up the subject of contentment. It is probably true that our culture struggles more than any other when it comes to being content with less than the best. Compared to most others in the world, we (Americans) do have the best. Some may say, “So why not always expect the best to make us content?” Yet where in Scripture are we ever promised these things? Jesus never said we would all be rich. In fact, he often taught that money could be a stumbling block, a temptation, and a snare. He said, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Luke 16:13). We will never be content unless we love God first and have a heart to use what we already have to promote the gospel of Christ. If we have that kind of heart, we cannot be fleeced and defrauded. If we have hidden God’s Word in our hearts and have pressed in to that secret place, we will know his plans for us, and not some false prophet’s plans for us.

Many in our day are peddling the Word of God for profit and making it say things God never intended (2 Cor. 2:17), especially when it comes to giving and what is called a “first fruits offering.” This is a repulsive scam that sounds so selfless but actually swindles the naive every time. According to the first letter to the Corinthians and in the book of Acts, our first fruits offering is not money but Jesus (1 Cor. 15:20; Acts 26:23). In the Old Testament, the first fruit offering was given during the Passover, to consecrate future harvests. All offerings were a type and shadow of Christ.

When Jesus died- -he was offered up–it was during Passover, which consecrated and pointed to a coming harvest of souls into the kingdom of God. But today, the false teachers run the scam by saying that if we give our best and largest gift first; we will have more than enough. They are so persuasive in this claim that they leave their people struggling to pay their bills, while the leader enjoys the fruits of their labors, often in the lap of luxury.

I often wonder how they can look themselves in the mirror knowing they are victimizing their friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ. But in their warped minds, they think they deserve it, though they did no legitimate work to earn it. As Solomon said, “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel” (Prov. 20:17). And “Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death” (Prov. 10:2).

It must break God’s heart to see these things happen so openly and so often in his church, because they are so far from his intent. Scripture says that such teachers will be punished most severely for taking advantage of the poor, widows, and the unwary (Luke 20:45-47).

False teachers conveniently tell their people that their lack of prosperity is due to a lack of faith. Blame-shifting is a huge red flag that should make us sit up and pay attention. In reality, the reason such prophecies do not come to pass is because God never spoke them in the first place.

After all, “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?” (Lam. 3:37). Be warned, God will never stand behind a promise he did not make. And while he may still bring us out of such teaching, it is wise to consider the loss of money as a very and unforgettable lesson.

By Tavares Robinson