Friday, February 19, 2016

I Don't Trust Anybody Before I Scrutinize Them

What is behind the mask?

In my 64 years, during most of which I have been intensely involved in Christian ministry, first as a Trinitarian Pentecostal preacher, and for the past 33 years, as a Oneness Pentecostal Holiness preacher, I have been influenced by many, many people. Some of them influenced me in quite godly ways, and for that I am truly thankful. Those whose examples were consistent with Bible teachings left a profound, indelible and priceless impact on my life. I thank God for true men and women of God.

But in too many cases, I have been grossly misled by people that I thought were true men (or women) of God. It is impossible for me to tell all the stories of the times in my 64 years when I pursued the counsel of someone I trusted, only to find out too late that their beliefs and teachings were very much contrary to the truth of God's Word.

I used to be very, very trusting. I trusted just about everybody. I have believed and trusted in preachers and leaders who, in some cases, had enormous influence over multitudes of people (including myself), but I finally realized that their counsel was intolerably contrary to true Bible doctrines and holiness.

As a young minister, I was obsessed with the biographies of great preachers. For years, I read a long list of biographies and autobiographies of famous preachers, seeking to know and put into practice the things that made them great. Decades later, I realize that those "HEROES" were "ZEROES" because they never preached the TRUE Gospel and never stood for the TRUE teachings of the Bible. They were champions of heresies and error. As such, I should have been REPULSED by them, NOT intrigued or enamored. 

I did not realize at first just how dangerous, even deadly, their teachings were. I thought they had some kind of fresh or new or special revelation from God that caused their enormous successes. I hoped that by following in their footsteps, I could fast-forward into some great place with God, or into a position of great fruitfulness and fulfillment and successes in my own life.

But in the end, I painfully discovered that Satan had used them to stumble me and lead me into great error, and into a way of life or a way of ministry that was completely unacceptable to God and His Word. In some cases, I found myself embracing great heresies after following people who were highly esteemed, even lauded by their peers, but not so highly esteemed in the eyes of God.

NOT A FEW TIMES, have I found myself at the end of a dead-end street spiritually. I had to turn around and go BACK to where I began, and start over, admitting that I had been duped. I had been deceived. And in several cases, I was very nearly completely destroyed. More times than once, I found myself looking into the face of Hell itself. But for the magnanimous grace of God, I would almost certainly be in Hell this very day.

I will never forget those who misled me, and by the help and grace of God, I will never gain allow anyone like that to talk me out of what I know the Bible says, and what I know that God requires of me.

Now, I am most concerned for the multitudes of other seekers who are presently under the same or similar delusions that I have been deluded by. In retrospect, I don't know if anybody could have convinced me that I was on the wrong track back then, but now I wish that SOMEBODY had tried to dissuade me. I wish that SOMEBODY in my life had take a bold, strong stand against my erroneous beliefs and practices. I don't know if they could have saved me from my foolishness, but I would like to think they could have.

Even now, I don't know if anything I can say or do will have any effect on you if you are under a strong delusion like I have been under so many times over the years. 

All I know is that God's eternal and infallible Word is the litmus test against which EVERY teaching and EVERY practice must be scrutinized. I am aghast at the total naivety and foolishness of this generation to follow celebrities, both preachers and musicians and "Christian" entertainers whose beliefs and teachings and practices are at the best, ignorant or foolish, and at the worst, downright abominable or grossly heretical. They HONOR and ADORE them when they should be RUNNING AS FAST AS THEY CAN RUN from them!

This generation knows almost nothing whatsoever of TRUE MEN OF GOD. There are so very, very few true men of God in the world today, it is next to impossible to even FIND one, much less be profoundly impacted by such a one. Most of the "men of God" or "women of God" in our day are self-appointed pseudo-Christians who are virtually biblically ILLITERATE. They do NOT know the Bible. They do NOT know God (although they would swear that they do).

I am not impressed with very many things or very many people anymore. I don't care if your church runs 30,000; if it does not clearly teach the Oneness of God, the New Birth (Water and Spirit baptisms) and Holy, separated living, it is a trap door to Hell. You WON'T BE SAVED in a Church like that. You and the entire congregation, including the Pastor, will wake up in Hell one of these days.

I refuse to be impressed with pedigrees or your secular educations. "The world by wisdom knew not God," I Corinthians 1:21. I refuse to believe that psychology degrees, sociology degrees, accounting degrees, business degrees, or financial or business successes, et cetera, are necessary to effective ministry. "For as many as are led by the SPIRIT of God, THEY are the sons of God," Romans 8:14. "The FLESH PROFITETH NOTHING, it is the SPIRIT that quickeneth (gives life)," John 6:63.

I don't want the counsel of anybody who thinks they have some shortcut to God. If anybody is going to influence me, I want them to have real mastery of the Bible. I want them to be the godliest, most consecrated, most fully committed Pentecostals that can be found. If you don't understand that God is not a Trinity, I don't want your counsel. If you don't understand the New Birth REQUIRES full repentance that leads to holy living, water baptism in Jesus' name, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost, speaking in other tongues (John 3:3-7 and Acts 2:38), I don't want your counsel. And if you don't have the greatest convictions about living a holy, godly life separated from carnality, worldliness and selfishness, then I don't want your counsel.

I have a Bible, and if I can't find anybody like that, I will read the Bible and pray until I FIND somebody like that. I have to be genuinely convinced that this person is a real lover of truth, righteousness, and holiness, or I just can't follow their lead anymore.

Meanwhile, I'm keeping my distance from anybody I can't trust. I do not and will not trust anybody without putting them to a strict Bible test. If they pass it, they're in. If they fail it, they're out. That just how it has to be, and that is how it is going to be.

So what are you supposed to do if you discover that the leader you are following is NOT leading you biblically? You must go to God in prayer and fasting. You must ask God for help. You must search the horizon for someone who CAN lead you according to the scriptures. If you truly cannot find a church and a pastor who can lead you in the Oneness, Apostolic, Acts 2:38 Pentecostal, HOLINESS, way, you should ask God to lead you to a place where you CAN find such a church and such a pastor. If you have to move to another city, it is imperative to the saving of your soul, and the saving of your family.

Until you do, you must personally cling to all the truth you know. You must not personally compromise, even if you are surrounded by compromisers. You must not believe, embrace or practice false doctrines or false teachings, even if you are in a huge church where false doctrines are at work. 

I don't trust ANYBODY without scrutinizing them. It won't hurt you to carefully scrutinize a person, but it may hurt you profoundly if you don't. I will do everything in my power to make certain that I will never be misled again. And if you are wise, you will too.

"Beloved, believe not every spirit,
but try the spirits whether they are of God:
because many false prophets are gone out into the world,"
1 John 4:1 KJV.

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