Thursday, July 31, 2014

Poisonous Christianity

Poisonous Preachers
Poisonous Christianity. 
Toxic Teachings. 
Messengers of Deceptions.
Tickets to HELL stamped "HEAVEN"

Where can I find the hyper-grace Church in the New Testament?

I'm looking for a cool, hip, culturally-savvy, swag, or with-it Church that defended its carnal, worldly indulgences as if God was actually pleased with their love for temporal things and wanted them to indulge even more.

It is not there.

I'm looking for a preacher in the New Testament who was addicted to sports, hobbies, investments, or a high lifestyle; who was known in public as a cool trend-setter.

He is not there.

I am looking for scriptures about high-rolling, multimillionaire Apostles. Not there.

If I visit the Holy Land, where will I find the ancient lavish edifices of the Early Church? Nowhere.

Where are the historic sites where the Early Church pastors had their mansions? Non-existent.

Where in the writings of Josephus, the historian, will I find records of the luxury chariots owned by Peter, James, John or Paul? Sorry. Didn't have any.

Is there any museum that exhibits the high-end designer fashions worn by Mary, Elizabeth, Anna, Martha, Priscilla, Lydia, Lois, Eunice, Phebe or Dorcus? Of course not. Don't be ridiculous.

Where in the Bible are the painted-up, jeweled-up, hyped-up thunder-mommas of the Early Church? All I can find is two JEZEBELS. One in the Old Testament. One in the New. Both were just alike: equally wicked and full of the devil. God cursed both of them.

What, if anything in the Bible, suggests that the early ministers had first-class travel tickets or stayed in five-star hotels? (Ask Paul to rehearse the "perils" chapter to you: 2 Corinthians 11.)

What in the Bible suggested in any way that the Apostles had big expense accounts, or entertained lavishly, or ate grande cuisine? Are you kidding?

Where is the Church, synagogue or home Bible study group where any New Testament saint taught financial prosperity seminars.

They are NOT there, and for good reason.
Saints of God do not live or behave that way.

There is absolutely NOTHING even VAGUELY resembling that in the New Testament Church.

MOST OF MODERN CHRISTIANITY IS A NAUSEATING FARCE.

Where is a SAINT in the New Testament who owned or boasted of a palatial home?

Where is a PREACHER who spent his days ranting against obedience, and holiness, and godliness, and promising blessings, blessings, blessings and NEVER rebuking, never reproving, never admonishing the saints? There is not ONE.

Where is the New Testament preacher who hated doctrine? NOT ONE.

Name ONE New Testament figure who was ANTI-Pentecostal, who forbade speaking in tongues, or condemned anyone for speaking in tongues, or even mocked speaking in tongues?

Where is a single event in the Bible where divine healing was tied to financial contributions?

Who is the New Testament preacher who encouraged giving for selfish gain in return?

Where is the TESTIMONY of ANYONE in the New Testament who became wealthy because of an act of faith?

Nowhere.  

The Apostles LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES for Jesus. They FORFEITED their lives for Him. They lived SACRIFICIALLY for Him. NONE of the Apostles ever recanted or renounced their belief that Jesus was God incarnate, nor did they ever soften their message to repent, be baptized in Jesus' name and to receive the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues. To the day they died, their consecration to Him never diminished.

Neither Jesus nor the Apostles were ever vain, materialistic, money-hungry, flamboyant, arrogant, or worldly-minded. 


This is no time for us to give in to a perverted gospel
This is no time to water down the true Gospel. 

It's time to take a BOLD STAND like never before, against ALL the phony, carnal, worldly, even demon-possessed preaching and singing freaks that the world is now full of.

Nothing even remotely resembling that stuff is recorded in the Bible.

What we see RIGHT NOW is a modern phenomenon
that was PROPHESIED by many of the ancient prophets:

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in DAMNABLE HERESIES,

...And MANY shall FOLLOW their PERNICIOUS ways;
by reason of whom
THE WAY OF TRUTH SHALL BE EVIL SPOKEN OF.

And through covetousness shall they with FEIGNED WORDS make merchandise of you:

whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not," 2 Peter 2:1-3.

"Evil men and SEDUCERS shall wax worse and worse, DECEIVING, and BEING DECEIVED," 2 Timothy 3:13.

"For men shall be LOVERS OF THEIR OWN SELVES, COVETOUS, BOASTERS, PROUD, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce,

DESPISERS OF THOSE THAT ARE GOOD, TRAITORS, heady, highminded,

LOVERS OF PLEASURES MORE THAN LOVERS OF GOD,

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: FROM SUCH TURN AWAY," 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth," 2 Timothy 3:7.

"Ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, UNGODLY MEN, turning the GRACE of our God into LASCIVIOUSNESS [licentiousness; lewdness; unrestrained by law; disregarding rules; going beyond customary bounds or limits], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

[Here is a warning to those who put their trust in
the FALSE Eternal Security, Once-Saved, Always-Saved doctrine...]

I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this,
how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, 
afterward destroyed them that believed not.

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation,
he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness
unto the judgment of the great day.

Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner,
giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh [homosexuality],
are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh,
despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

...these speak evil of those things which they know not:
but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

WOE UNTO THEM!

for they have gone in the way of Cain [false worship],

and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward [mercenary; money lust],

and perished in the gainsaying of Core [rebellion against God-given authority].

...clouds they are without water, carried about of winds;
trees whose fruit withereth,
without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; 
wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. 

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying,

Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them
of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed,
and of ALL THEIR HARD SPEECHES WHICH
UNGODLY SINNERS HAVE SPOKEN AGAINST HIM.


These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts;
and their mouth speaketh great swelling words,
...remember ye the words which were spoken before of
the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

How that they told you there should be MOCKERS IN THE LAST TIME, 
who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These be they who separate themselves [from the saints],
SENSUAL, HAVING NOT THE SPIRIT [anti-Pentecostal]," Jude 1:1-19


"For MANY DECEIVERS are entered into the world [evil spirits entering men]..."

(At the core of all these deceivers and deceptions is poisonous false doctrines.)

"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ,
[God in Christ - the Oneness of God]  HATH  NOT  GOD."

The TRINITY doctrine is the BRAND of ancient Roman Catholicism - the "Great Whore" of Revelation 13-18. Those who preach and teach Roman doctrines are the harlot daughters of the "Mother of Harlots." The entire lot of them are prophesied to violent destruction (Revelation 17-18).

"...If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine,
receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds," 2 John 1:7-11.

"There be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you
than that which we have preached unto you,

LET HIM BE ACCURSED.

As we said before, so say I now again,

If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, 
let him be accursed. 

For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men?
for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ," Galatians 1:7-10.


It's time to get dead serious about this Christianity thing.
It's time to utterly cast down all false doctrines, false preachers and false churches.
Get out of them. Stop supporting them. Stop attending them. Stop talking favorably about them.

"I charge THEE therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ,
who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; 
reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;
but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, 
having itching ears; 

And they shall turn away their ears from the truth,
and shall be turned unto fables.

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, 
do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry," 2 Timothy 4:1-5.

Preach the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.
Love it and live it. In Jesus name.


SEE: The Early Church was absolutely, unequivocally NOT Trinitarian.

SEE: The Folly of Pursuing Wealth

SEE: Is Anybody Holy Anymore?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Christian Music Wars

Why are all the old Gospel songs and hymns suddenly anathema - cursed? Why does this generation so despise the Christianity of yesterday? There is demonic arrogance and pride in it. 

It is the fatal Rehoboam syndrome, rejecting the counsel of elders, and making their young peers their counselors. 

"He forsook the counsel of the old men,
which they had given him,
and consulted with the young men
that were grown up with him,"
1 Kings 12:8.

Everything in the Bible tells us to honor our elders, ask for the old paths, don't remove ancient landmarks, and earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered. The only real hope for this generation is to reconnect with the faith of their fathers. To reject the old paths is wicked, and is ultimately spiritually suicidal.

There is divine continuity in what God does. But a whole lot of Holiness people have rejected their own, and have taken up with pseudo-Christians, and turned against their own. That is Apostasy.

There is a diabolical disconnect between the new generation of "Christians" and the real roots of the authentic Pentecostal experience. This generation has never heard and does not know the power and anointing of the Holy Ghost that was upon earlier generations of Pentecostals; and on their preaching and their singing. They make mockery of things they know little or nothing of. Many of our children have never heard our preaching or our singing. They don't know why we believe what we believe and do what we do. They don't know who the patriarchs and elders of the last generation were, and don't know the mighty signs and wonders and miracles that followed them because of what they believed and lived by. If they did, they would realize that the old path was a good path.

"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways,
and see, and ask for the old paths,
where is the good way, and walk therein,
and ye shall find rest for your souls
.
But they said, We will not walk therein,"
Jeremiah 6:16.


Satan has declared all-out war on the old paths.  

But I'm on to him, and intend to expose him as the nasty, stinking, Truth-hating, poison-fanged devil that he really is.

I do not for one second believe that the new generation of "Christians" has a more intimate relationship with God than the old-time Pentecostals. That is an enormous deception. There is strychnine in that Kool-Aid.

There is a worldly spirit in much of the new music. Many of the writers and singers of this generation are extremely carnal and worldly people, and their music projects that spirit. I studied the TWITTER timeline of one of the biggest names in Christian music. She had well over 200,000 Twitter followers, but in the latest 125 tweets, she NEVER mentioned God or the Bible; just her concerts, her travel, her sports teams, and FUN, FUN, FUN. Complete vanity. Nothing Christlike. She should be banned from every Christian venue. Her influence is utterly toxic.

It's time to drive the world, the flesh
and the devil out of our Churches.
THIS IS WAR. We must run the world, the flesh and the devil OUT OF THE CHURCH! We must run evil spirits of entertainment, sensuality and mockery off of our platforms.

It is time for us to refocus. We have given ourselves foolishly to fads and fashions in music, rather than in preserving things that are sacred and holy and truly intimate with God. I know I've stirred up a firestorm here, but these things need to be said. Our Churches need to bring back the old hymnals and rediscover sacred music.

I'm not going to equivocate or rationalize about it. We are in denial of the evil forces that are at work in "Christian" music. Someone recently wrote me after visiting Hillsong in Australia, and sensing some very bad spirits in the place. Another person expressed his consternation over the intense sexuality/sensuality of singers in a particular Hillsong video he had seen.

I am sick and tired of our being suckers to these big-time hoaxters. They don't preach the gospel truth, and in fact spend a great deal of their time bashing the kind of things that Apostolic Pentecostal Holiness people believe. Don't think for a second that the Holy Ghost is in that. Yet we devour their music and have turned our Pentecostal Churches into Hillsong substations. I will decry that till there is no more breath in me.
  
Every kind of Christian music has now been commercialized, plagiarized and corrupted. Carnal, worldly, materialistic people run the Christian music industry. There are essentially NO Apostolic Pentecostal Holiness people at the helm of the Christian music industry. It is an ENTERTAINMENT industry, and as such is no more sacred than the money changers in the Temple that Jesus drove out with WHIPS!! We must return to the innocence, naivete, and sincerity of sacred music, and forever boycott the endless thumping, heart-stopping, sensual, comedic, mockery that comprises the bulk of pseudo-Christian music.

A friend, Craig McCracken, sent me this quote from Stan Moser former head of Word Records, CEO of Star Records, and pioneer and executive of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music). He said, "to be candid, I look at the majority of the music I hear today and I think it's virtually meaningless... There is a growing chasm between CCM and the church; between what's actually happening in the real world of ministry, or even in the music ministry of the church, and what we're doing in CCM." That was in Christianity Today, May 20, 1996. If that was said of CCM THEN... what about now? TIME magazine stated that CCM performers are "indistinguishable, except for their lyrics, from their secular counterparts." 

That is downright abominable.

Modern Christian music is more technically expert, more intellectual, more entertaining, more physically stimulating, more hypnotic, more faddish, and stirs superficial emotions masterfully. 

But it is not deeper, more godly, or more spiritual, nor does it tend toward more holiness or Biblical maturity. It is far more superficial than the older music which tends to have a far more in-depth and comprehensive scriptural message, addressing many more doctrinal matters, and reflects a far more scriptural consecration, self-denial, humility, and genuine submission to the will of God.
  
In a large percentage of modern "Christian" concerts the music is harder, louder, forceful, pounding, near-heart-stopping. It generates a sensual, physical response before the "gospel" message ever begins. And in fact, if you completely threw out the lyrics so that nobody even knew what the lyrics were, they would still dance and scream and cheer. 

What does that tell you? DUMP IT!!

For God's sake, let's get back to the basics. Turn off the million dollar sound and light show. Dump everybody in the band who spends all their time playing instruments and listening to worldly music, and no time praying and reading their Bible. Anything that even REMOTELY looks like "Dance with the Stars" should be kicked out violently. And I won't even get started on the evils of trance-like chants and lyrics that are repeated over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Meaningless lyrics. Rock star Christian celebrities can make one phrase in the Bible sound heavenly while they totally ignore and utterly REFUSE to live by hundreds of others. They are devil-paid phonies.

We have fallen into a hellacious trap of believing that if the whole crowd is jumping up and down and going wild, that there is a spiritual revival going on. But I just don't buy it, and I know a lot of other people who don't buy it either.

There are literally thousands of wonderful Gospel songs that are doctrinally sound. It is easy enough to look through the lyrics and toss out a song that has unscriptural lyrics. But as many - and more - of the new songs are heretical, with the false doctrines of eternal security, unconditional love, hyper-grace, and worldly prosperity occurring again and again. And that says nothing of the inappropriate raw sensuality and hard-driving physicality of so much of it. Most pastors and worship leaders pay little or no attention to those hazards. We've GOT to put the brakes on that kind of stuff.

Let's just start over. Find a praying, holy-living, God-fearing singer. Hand him or her an old hymnal. Give him or her free choice of 300-400 songs. Learn it and sing it with NO showmanship. No phony gyrations. No phony screaming and hollering. No 125-decibel bleeding ears. No wall-shaking drums. Just sing a good, godly song for Jesus, to Jesus. And see what happens.

Can anybody tell me why not?

Monday, July 7, 2014

It's All For That Crown

I did not come into Pentecost as the son of a big-name Pastor. I did not have the sponsorship of dignitaries in high places. I was not well-moneyed or well-connected. I did not have a Master's Degree in anything.

I came from a background of religious confusion. I had changed churches, denominations and even been an atheist for a while because all the religion I had been exposed to left me troubled and doubting.

To this very day, the big names won't touch me. They are skeptical of me. When I converted to Oneness Apostolic Pentecost, I came in like a barnstormer. It was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me. I loved the Oneness, Jesus' name doctrines. I loved holiness with a passion.

And I had lots of first-hand experience with Truth's competitors, so I decried them vehemently. That unnerved a lot of people (and still does). Made them want to stay back from me. Lots of Pentecostals at that time were softening their convictions and compromising their doctrines. The kind of stuff I was preaching was NOT what they wanted to hear. (Many of them have even left the Truth since those days.) And to this day, a lot of my brethren refuse to trust me. They just think I’m an unstable whacko.

Consequently, my 30+ years in Pentecost has not been easy. Satan has fought me like the Beast that he is. He has tried to kill me, destroy me, slander me, break me, stumble me, ruin me, and take everything that I have, over and over again.

The ministry that I have today was built with a giant bulldozer. I have bulldozed against all odds to reach multitudes of unregenerate lost souls. And by the grace of God, I am reaching and teaching daily Apostolic Bible studies to multitudes of subscribers and readers in virtually every nation and island of the earth every single day via an extensive Internet ministry. I press on. I preach to more people in a single day than a lot of preachers preach to in their lifetimes.

I think there is a lesson for all in this.

If you want to do the will of God, first of all you have to have a real relationship with God that is not diminished when men won't support you, and when slanders and rumors own the day. You have to persevere even when you are alone and nobody is paying attention. You have to pray and fast and cast out devils just about every day of your life.

But if you will press on, following nothing but the pure Word of God and the fresh leading of the Holy Ghost, God and His angels will direct your path. Doors will open. Ears will hear. Hearts will follow.

When all of this is finished, there will be a crowning day when every Child of God who ever lived will have to stand in silence as the King of Kings Himself places a crown on my head, and in the hearing of a multitude that no man can number, He will look directly into my eyes and say,

The Crown of Life
"Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord," Matthew 25:23.

That is the only recognition that really matters, and it should be all that we really need.

Some of you have had similar experiences. If you are in any kind of similar place today, take heart. You were born to serve the Lord, not men. And if you will be faithful to HIM, he will give you the Crown of Life that fadeth not away.

“Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”

Never forget.

It's all for that Crown.

God bless you.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Word About TV Preachers

Many of America's Most Influential Preachers of the past 50 years.
See list at bottom of article.
A preacher stands in front of a TV camera and leads a million people in a 15-second prayer. "Repeat after me: 'Lord Jesus, I accept you as my personal savior. Forgive me of my sins. Amen."

Then he says, "WE BELIEVE YOU ARE BORN AGAIN AND YOU WILL GO TO HEAVEN."

That preacher is a liar. He is a wretched deceiver. He would send multitudes to Hell unprepared to meet God. He is leading guilty, unregenerated sinners to believe that they are now saints of God. And it is JUST NOT TRUE!

Jesus said that if you are not born of both WATER and SPIRIT - that's water baptism in Jesus' name (Acts 2:38), and the baptism in the Holy Ghost (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:4,38-39) - you "CANNOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD," John 3:5. Not one verse in the Bible negates those words. "If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is NONE OF HIS," Romans 8:9. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Christ, and without the Holy Ghost, a man is NOT born again.

NOBODY ever got born again "accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior." What kind of Bible doctrine is that? Where did that nonsense come from? The Apostles never preached or taught anything like that. They cried out, "REPENT!" They COMMANDED them to be baptized "every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." And they KNEW when they received the Holy Ghost, because they heard them speak with tongues as the original 120 had spoken in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost.

SO why do we tolerate preachers lying to millions of people as we do? Why do we not scream to the high heavens, "DON'T LIE TO A MAN ABOUT HIS ETERNAL SOUL!!! Don't tell a man that he is going to Heaven, when by the Word of Jesus Christ, "he CANNOT see the Kingdom of God." That means he is going to Hell.

What bigger, more damnable lie is there in the world than one that comes from a man who purports to be speaking on behalf of Jesus Christ, CONTRADICTING one of the very most important doctrines that Jesus ever taught?

Modern preachers scarcely touch on the need for repentance, and then it is only a few words. Real, genuine, repentance that provokes remorse, and causes a person to quit his sins, radically change his ways, and live a holy, godly life, is almost never preached anymore. Asking for forgiveness is not repentance. That is asking for a pass. True repentance confesses all wrong doing, and QUITS doing it, evoking a life-transforming conversion. Most of these preachers NEVER mention quitting your sins, and if they do, they never name or define sins, and never rebuke them.

And the doctrine of the New Birth has been STRIPPED of all meaning. Almost NOBODY preaches the essentiality of water baptism in Jesus' name, or the essentiality of being baptized in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues - but the scriptural COMMANDS are still right there in your Bible, and Jesus Christ Himself taught them.

It is time to shut down lying preachers. It's time to boycott ALL their endeavors. Stop listening to their lying doctrines on TV and radio and YouTube. Stop buying their products, their books, their videos. Stop supporting them in every way. Stop LIKING their Facebook pages. It's time to expose them for the liars that they are. It's time to put them out of business. It is time to preach from the mountain tops, "YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN OF THE WATER AND THE SPIRIT!" Nothing less is acceptable. A preacher who won't preach that is NOT a man of God. He is a liar.

It is time to revive the Apostle's Pentecostal message, and preach and pray until the multitudes finally realize that they have been lied to, and go to an Apostolic Pentecostal Church where they can hear the Truth preached, and genuinely be Born Again.

SEE: The Biblical Explanation of the New Birth


Footnote: List of preachers in top photo (left to right, top to bottom).


Row 1 - Bishop Fulton Sheen, Billy Graham, Robert Schuller, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, John Burke, Dan Kimball, Craig Groeschel
Row 2 - Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, Benny Hinn, Mother Angelica, Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker, Tammy Faye Bakker, Paul Crouch, Jan Crouch, Marcus Lamb
Row 3 - A.A. Allen, R.W. Schambauch, Leroy Jenkins, Rev. Ike, Peter Popoff, Leroy Thompson, Fred Price, John Avanzini, Robert Tilton, Mike Murdoch
Row 4 - Rex Humbard, Jimmy Swaggart, Marilyn Hickey, Joyce Meyer, Rod Parsley, T.D. Jakes, Jesse Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen, Joseph Price
Row 5 - E.W. Kenyon, Kenneth Hagin, Charles Capps, Kenneth Copeland, Gloria Copeland, Jerry Savelle, Paula White, Rodney Howard Brown, John Wimber, Steve Munsey, Brian Houston
Row 6 - Jack Hayford, Chuck Swindoll, Greg Laurie, Francis Chan, John Maxwell, Charles Stanley, Andy Stanley, Ed Young Jr., Mike Bickel, John Piper, John MacArthur





Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Imprisoned by Jesus Christ

Prison Cell at Sing Sing
Paul, the apostle, called himself "the PRISONER of the Lord," "the PRISONER of Jesus Christ" (3x), and "His PRISONER." He also called himself, "a SERVANT of Jesus Christ," "Christ's SERVANT," "SERVANT of the Lord," and "SERVANT of God." And a servant has no rights of his own. He is only free to do the will of his Master.

Paul was not alone in that perception. Peter, James, John and Jude all referred to themselves as SERVANTS of Jesus Christ. In fact, all the Apostles were PRISONERS - imprisoned for the cause - at some time or another in the course of their ministries. They were locked up, often beaten, locked in stocks or in chains, treated harshly, and deprived of their personal freedom.

There are some aspects of prison that shock the mind. I am thinking about the iron collars, or shackles and chains in which a prisoner is typically held. Of course, there are prison cells - often dark, dank, musty, lonely, solitary, claustrophobic, and even sickening. In ancient times, the prisons and dungeons must have been horrifying. There are sometimes beatings, and cruel and unusual punishments, even torture and great pain.

A PRISONER is imprisoned. And in the case of Paul and the other Apostles, Jesus Christ was the prison warden. They called themselves PRISONERS and SERVANTS of Jesus Christ.

Imprisonment and enslavement is not exceptional in the service of God. It is the norm.

Jesus Himself was a servant and a prisoner, both to the will of God, and as a hostage to evil men.

WHY? Because the will of God is 100% contrary to the will of men. The carnal mind is enmity - hostility - against God. If  you will do the will of God, the world, the flesh and the devil will assault and accuse and punish you in unimaginable ways. You will suffer for doing God's will.

It is the prison of Christ.

The prison of Christ strips the flesh of its freedom. The prison of Christ will not allow you to be the carnal, worldly, vain and self-indulgent person that what you want to be. The prison of Christ forces you to do the will of God at what is often a very high cost, and involving great loss to your personal, selfish desires, dreams and ambitions. The prison of Christ will sometimes humiliate you in front of your peers. It will embarrass you. Your flesh will sometimes utterly rebel against the prison of Christ, and demand to be set free.

The world, the flesh, and the devil violently oppose the will of God. Everything about your flesh aggrieves the service of the Lord. Your worldly friends will oppose your doing the will of God. Sometimes, your family, and even fellow Christians, will not understand your calling. And certainly, Satan will oppose you with every imaginable and unimaginable conflict. The Will of God will imprison you. Enslave you. Exile you from home, family and friends.

But it is The Crushing










Like a chemist or pharmacist uses a mortar and pestle to extract the compounds he needs, God uses the CRUSHING of life to extract the sweet fragrances and priceless substance of obedience and submission that demonstrates to the world that God, Heaven and Eternity is your priority, and the temporal things of this world cannot change your mind. It is the ultimate testimony to a misguided, misdirected sinner that you are an eagle in a barnyard, and no matter how long they hold you hostage, the moment you are free, you will fly away again and do the will of God, just as you began to do at the first.

No prison, no hardship, and no crushing will stop the true man or woman of God from doing His will. This is a test of priorities. If you can be dissuaded from your Heavenly vision, the prison will dissuade you. If you can be forced to recant and renounce your allegiance to Christ, the crushing will do it. 

"...we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God," Acts 14:22.

"And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, THESE ARE THEY WHICH CAME OUT OF GREAT TRIBULATION, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb," Revelation 7:13-14.

"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and THEY LOVED NOT THEIR LIVES UNTO THE DEATH," Revelation 12:10-11.






Thursday, April 17, 2014

CHRISTIAN'S ENCOUNTER WITH APOLLYON - from Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan

By Ken Raggio

In 2003, while attending my wife in her final stages of cancer, I took down a copy of John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" and read the entire book aloud to her over a period of several nights. It is a profoundly provocative book - a keen allegory - that articulates many of the most important virtues and vices that every Christian must face.

It is not easy to read, because it is written in Old English, without chapters or subtitles. But when we came to the episode where Christian, in his journey to the Celestial City encountered Apollyon (representing Satan himself) in the way, this scene conveys encouragement like few things I have ever read. We both wept as we read it.

I urge you to read it, as difficult as it may be. You will discover what I am referring to. This is one of the greatest episodes in the timeless classic, excerpted verbatim.
- - -
Ken Raggio
- - -
"But now, in this valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him: his name is Apollyon.

Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back, or to stand his ground.

But he considered again, that he had no armor for his back, and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his darts; therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground: for, thought he, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, it would be the best way to stand.

So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold: he was clothed with scales like a fish, and they are his pride; he had wings like a dragon, and feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke; and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion.

When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a disdainful countenance, and thus began to question him.

APOLLYON: Whence came you, and whither are you bound?

CHRISTIAN: I am come from the city of Destruction, which is the place of all evil, and I am going to the city of Zion.

APOLLYON: By this I perceive thou art one of my subjects; for all that country is mine, and I am the prince and god of it.

How is it, then, that thou hast run away from thy king? Were it not that I hope thou mayest do me more service, I would strike thee now at one blow to the ground.

CHRISTIAN: I was, indeed, born in your dominions, but your service was hard, and your wages such as a man could not live on; "for the wages of sin is death," (Romans 6:23); therefore, when I was come to years, I did, as other considerate persons do, look out if perhaps I might mend myself.

APOLLYON: There is no prince that will thus lightly lose his subjects, neither will I as yet lose thee; but since thou complainest of thy service and wages, be content to go back, and what our country will afford I do here promise to give thee.

CHRISTIAN: But I have let myself to another, even to the King of princes; and how can I with fairness go back with thee?

APOLLYON: Thou hast done in this according to the proverb, “changed a bad for a worse;” but it is ordinary for those that have professed themselves his servants, after a while to give him the slip, and return again to me. Do thou so to, and all shall be well.

CHRISTIAN: I have given him my faith, and sworn my allegiance to him; how then can I go back from this, and not be hanged as a traitor.

APOLLYON: Thou didst the same by me, and yet I am willing to pass by all, if now thou wilt yet turn again and go back.

CHRISTIAN: What I promised thee was in my non-age: and besides, I count that the Prince, under whose banner I now stand, is able to absolve me, yea, and to pardon also what I did as to my compliance with thee.

And besides, O thou destroying Apollyon, to speak truth, I like his service, his wages, his servants, his government, his company, and country, better than thine; therefore leave off to persuade me farther: I am his servant, and I will follow him.

APOLLYON: Consider again, when thou art in cool blood, what thou art like to meet with in the way that thou goest. Thou knowest that for the most part his servants come to an ill end, because they are transgressors against me and my ways. How many of them have been put to shameful deaths!

And besides, thou countest his service better than mine; whereas he never yet came from the place where he is, to deliver any that served him out of their enemies’ hands: but as for me, how many times, as all the world very well knows, have I delivered, either by power or fraud, those that have faithfully served me, from him and his, though taken by them! And so will I deliver thee.

CHRISTIAN: His forbearing at present to deliver them, is on purpose to try their love, whether they will cleave to him to the end: and as for the ill end thou sayest they come to, that is most glorious in their account.

For, for present deliverance, they do not much expect it; for they stay for their glory; and then they shall have it, when their Prince comes in his and the glory of the angels.

APOLLYON: Thou hast already been unfaithful in thy service to him; and how dost thou think to receive wages of him?

CHRISTIAN: Wherein, O Apollyon, have I been unfaithful to him?

APOLLYON: Thou didst faint at first setting out, when thou wast almost choked in the gulf of Despond.

Thou didst attempt wrong ways to be rid of thy burden, whereas thou shouldst have stayed till thy Prince had taken it off.

Thou didst sinfully sleep, and lose thy choice things.

Thou wast almost persuaded also to go back at the sight of the lions.

And when thou talkest of thy journey, and of what thou hast seen and heard, thou art inwardly desirous of vainglory in all that thou sayest or doest.

CHRISTIAN: All this is true, and much more which thou hast left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honor is merciful, and ready to forgive.

But besides, these infirmities possessed me in thy country, for there I sucked them in, and I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained pardon of my Prince.

APOLLYON: Then Apollyon broke out into a grievous rage, saying, I am an enemy to this Prince; I hate his person, his laws, and people: I am come out on purpose to withstand thee.

CHRISTIAN: Apollyon, beware what you do, for I am in the King’s highway, the way of holiness; therefore take heed to yourself.

APOLLYON: Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said, I am void of fear in this matter. Prepare thyself to die; for I swear by my infernal den, that thou shalt go no farther: here will I spill thy soul.

And with that he threw a flaming dart at his breast; but Christian had a shield in his hand, with which he caught it, and so prevented the danger of that.

Then did Christian draw, for he saw it was time to bestir him; and Apollyon as fast made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail; by the which, notwithstanding all that Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and foot.

This made Christian give a little back: Apollyon, therefore, followed his work amain, and Christian again took courage, and resisted as manfully as he could.

This sore combat lasted for above half a day, even till Christian was almost quite spent: for you must know, that Christian, by reason of his wounds, must needs grow weaker and weaker.

Then Apollyon, espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that Christian’s sword flew out of his hand.

Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now: and with that he had almost pressed him to death, so that Christian began to despair of life.

But, as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying,

"Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise," Micah 7:8;

and with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound.

Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us," Romans 8:37.

And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon wings, and sped him away, that Christian saw him no more.

"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you," James 4:7.

In this combat no man can imagine, unless he had seen and heard, as I did, what yelling and hideous roaring Apollyon made all the time of the fight; he spake like a dragon: and on the other side, what sighs and groans burst from Christian’s heart.

I never saw him all the while give so much as one pleasant look, till he perceived he had wounded Apollyon with his two-edged sword; then, indeed, he did smile, and look upward!

But it was the dreadfullest sight that ever I saw.

So when the battle was over, Christian said, I will here give thanks to him that hath delivered me out of the mouth of the lion, to him that did help me against Apollyon.

And so he did, saying, “Great Beelzebub, the captain of this fiend, Designed my ruin; therefore to this end He sent him harness’d out; and he, with rage

That hellish was, did fiercely me engage: But blessed Michael helped me, and I, By dint of sword, did quickly make him fly: Therefore to Him let me give lasting praise, And thank and bless his holy name always.”

Then there came to him a hand with some of the leaves of the tree of life, the which Christian took and applied to the wounds that he had received in the battle, and was healed immediately.

He also sat down in that place to eat bread, and to drink of the bottle that was given him a little before: so, being refreshed, he addressed himself to his journey with his sword drawn in his hand; for he said, I know not but some other enemy may be at hand.

But he met with no other affront from Apollyon quite through this valley.

Now at the end of this valley was another, called the Valley of the Shadow of Death; and Christian must needs go through it, because the way to the Celestial City lay through the midst of it."