10 July 2014

Garage Sale God Whispers, Twice Dead, and the Name of Jesus Ignored

At times it can be easy to forget the depth of deception that exists among professing Christians. Those of us who are blessed to be in churches where the Word is proclaimed without compromise can forget what it was like to be starving for truth and spiritual meat. Yes, we see many concerning things on the Internet and lament and decry theses deceptions. Perhaps we even speak out against them on social media. But Twitter, Facebook and blogs are not real, tangible life and it is not until ‘real life’ is standing and talking to you in your driveway that you remember just how active is the Great Deceiver.

Last month, this ‘real life’ confronted me in my driveway as I engaged several individuals in conversation during the neighborhood garage sale. There were a few ‘Christian themed’ items in our sale and this inevitably invited conversation. I live in a fairly religious-minded area, so folks usually are open to at least talking about God. The name of Jesus, however, doesn’t fall from their lips so easily. And of course, the big mystery always is—to which God are they referring?

One of these interesting encounters was with a gentleman who clearly was caught up in charismaticism. I do not recall exactly how the conversation started, but at one point he declared, “Well, God just told me to leave my church.”

Okay. “So, what do you mean that ‘God told you to leave your church’? Were there things going on there that didn’t line up with Scripture? Is that how you knew it was time to leave?” Of course, I already suspected the answer to the question, but did not want to presume.

He answered, “Nope. I was perfectly happy there. God just told me it was time to leave. He told me once before to leave a church, too. So I just leave and wait till He tells me what to do next.”

This puts the respondent in quite a spot. After all, who am I to question his experience? But it would not be long before I did question the notion of experience as the determiner of truth as he stated, “You know, that Heaven Is for Real movie was just wonderful. What an anointed message. Have you seen it?”

“No, I haven’t. It’s unbiblical and full of lies.” (Actually, I think my actual words were kinder than this, but in the absence of a verbatim memory, this at least offers the gist of my thoughts.)

His response? An astonished look. “I don’t remember anything unbiblical in it,” he said.

“Of course there is. Have you ever noticed that all of those accounts of so-called visits to Heaven are different? And they contradict Scripture by their very existence. The Apostle Paul wasn’t allowed to speak about what he saw in the third heaven, yet I’m supposed to believe that some kid is allowed to talk about it for a profit? And why is it that none of these heaven travelers return and plead with people to repent of sin and trust in Christ alone for salvation? In fact, why is it that these folks never seem consumed with Christ and the gospel?”

This led to more discussion about relying on experience over the clear Word of God. The more that Scripture was appealed to in refute of his claims, even his claims that he has witnessed healing miracles, the more he backed toward his car. By God’s grace I believe the truth was spoken with gentleness. What was so remarkable was the degree to which this man had been swept away by experience: his, the experience of others, you name it, he was ready to rubberstamp anything that seemed to be ‘anointed’. Except, it seems, the one thing that can be trusted above all else—the Bible. He affirmed its truths with his lips, but denied its sufficiency by his life. What a stark contrast to the Apostle Peter:
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”-- and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

(2 Peter 1:16–21)
Shockingly, this was not the most interesting encounter of the day. I also met a woman who denied the authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency of Scripture by her death. Or should I say ‘deaths’?

“I’m a Christian,” she said, “I believe in God. I go to thus-and-so Baptist church.” She continued, “You know, I’ve died twice.”

Really? Say that again.

photo credit: Daniel Pascoal via photopin cc
“I’ve died twice. The first time, I saw my parents who both have passed. They were reaching out to me. The second time I didn’t see anything, but it felt so peaceful. I don’t know why God sent me back because I was so peaceful.”

In my mind, I thought, “Oh, lady, you should thank the Lord that you did not die, because, in His mercy, you still have a chance to repent and be saved!” The actual conversation, though, necessitated a different approach. And the question begged to be asked:

“Did you see Jesus?”

“Huh?”

“You said you died, so did you see Jesus?”

“Oh. No, no. Just my parents. They were reaching out to me. It was so peaceful.”

“Huh. That’s so interesting, because the Bible says that when we as believers are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6–8). Jesus should be the first one you see. In fact, He should be the only one you want to see!

The Bible also says that it is appointed unto man once to die, and then comes judgment (Heb 9:27). That’s why men must repent of sin and turn to Christ in faith now, because there are no second chances. So it’s really curious that you say you’ve already died twice when that contradicts what the Scripture says.”

I could not help but contrast this woman’s alleged experience with Stephen’s:
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:54–60)
It seems that appealing to Scripture in the face of demonic lies is one surefire way to end a conversation. Again, what was striking in these conversations was the level of deception and the matter-of-fact manner in which it was presented. These people believe in their experiences, even more than they claim to believe in God.

Another striking observation that was alluded to earlier was this: in these conversations, the name of Jesus did not pass the lips of the deceived. They believe in “God,” but have no interest in the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, this should not surprise in light of what else was discussed. These two individuals—and many like them—deny Jesus Christ when they deny, ignore, and brush aside His clear, objective Word. In spite of their claims, they do not worship the true God, but a god of their own imagination. A god who walks and talks to them . . . and tells them what they want to hear. A god who coddles but does not convict. A god who sways with the change of wind or mood, but who does not save. A god of lies, not a God who Himself is the way, the truth, and the life.

Deception is rampant, beloved. Do you pray for the deceived? Do you thank the Lord daily that He chose to open your eyes to His truth? Do you see the myriads and myriads of people who profess Christ but are in bondage to a false system as your mission field? If not, may I encourage you to pray for a change of mindset and motivation today. Come, let us by the power of the Holy Spirit, do all we can to snatch these deceived souls from the fire before they are engulfed by the flames (Jude 23).

Further Reading
What if 'My God' Is Bigger than 'Your God'?
Mockingbird Christianity
Witnessing to a Blank Stare

5 comments:

  1. Satan is a master deceiver and the father of all lies, but in both the guy's and the woman's accounts and stories, there seems to be a very strong love of the big "self." Yes, self is also a "god" and a deceiver. And you're right, Erin, those who've been to "heaven" speak lowly of the saviour, e.g., that He is hopping around on a rainbow horse or something. Rainbow? How effeminate!

    Stephen

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  2. That still, small voice. I do it too, as I was attuned long ago when rescued 2 times from deadly circumstance (an Avalanche, a pounding surf) I have no idea or recollection how I made it out alive, but I did and was safely away from the danger. Angels? The hand of God? I don't know. Then I heard about unction and the Holy Spirit and sometimes for instance I'll be going off to work and a voice (for lack of a better term) or a thought occurs to me that I should take a different route than customary. Was I kept from danger? I will never know in this life, but perhaps I am being watched over. And that is a comfort.

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  3. Hi! I've seen a lot of what you've seen, and your thoughts about these things are Biblical, faithful. Thank you for being truthful, for your witness for Jesus Christ, for giving us a reminder to pray for people who are deceived (we all were, at one time), and for confirming us fellow believers in the Faith!
    Maria

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  4. Excellent piece of writing and so true. Keep sharing Jesus in love. Blessings to you.

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  5. I have a close family member caught up in deception and whenever I try to explain to them why their dreams, visions, thoughts, etc aren't from God they always have to suddenly hang up the phone and be somewhere else. Heartbreaking that they choose to be blind & deaf to the truth.
    Thinking back to all that they've shared with me regarding their direct revelation, all of it is superficial materialism. "God showed me a vision of the house he's going to give me. It'll have a garage that's converted into a salon so I can do hair" or "I had a vision of the man God wants me to marry". Sadly, their "visions" of these men (yes, plural) always change or nothing comes of it. They still haven't received that house "God showed them" after a decade or more of being convinced they'll receive it. On the contrary, this person couldn't afford a house if it fell on their lap because they are convinced God has told them not to seek employment. They're instead being supported by others and not a penny to their name because it's "what God wants and to get a job would be to disobey and blessings would be taken, including the man who will provide that dream house."
    You see, that is their excuse for all the visions and revelations that haven't come to pass. They disobeyed God and he snatched the blessing away or is extending the wait period.
    Instead of seeing their god they created as worthless and false, they instead create more delusions to tack onto his character and makes him a god who goes back on "his word".
    As silly as all this seems to those on the outside, sadly this person is living this reality thinking God is to be used to obtain all that their materialistic heart desires, but always comes up empty handed. I can do nothing but pray that this person turns to the truth and rejects this god of their own making before it's too late. This god is truly ruining their life.

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