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What The Bible Doesn't Say
By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
Copyright © Midnight Ministries - 2002
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Misconceptions abound – not only in the world, but also in the Church – about what the Bible really says.
In these articles, we take a closer look at the most popular misconceptions Satan has foisted on God’s people.
1. LEADERSHIP IN THE CHURCH
One of the last warnings Jesus gave His disciples before His death concerned deception: “Watch out that no one deceives YOU” (Matt 24:4).
This alert is directed to us – Christians, those called of God and bought by the blood of Christ – those to whom God is revealing Himself.
It may seem incongruous that we, who are being called out of this world to have our minds opened to the truths of God’s Word, should still be subject to Satan’s deceptions. But Rome was not built in a day. How can we expect the city of God to be completed overnight?
Jesus’ caveat is a continual reminder to us not to become complacent while we still live in Satan’s domain. Some Christians have complacently assumed that the admonition to beware being deceived is not directed to them, but is advice for those in the world. I have even heard some go so far as to say that the elect can’t be deceived!
Those with that frame of mind are the most deceived!
For MANY will come in My name (Matt 24:5).
That is undeniable. Many have come in His name. But how can we be sure which, of all of those who have come in His name, are truly His?
Test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 Jn 4:1).
There is a direct test:
By their fruits you will know them (Matt 7:16,20).
What spirit is displayed by a religious leader who stockpiles weapons and incendiary devices to further his aims? What spirit is evidenced by a lifestyle of sexual debauchery and licentious indulgence which contravenes the right moral principle protecting the sanctity of marriage? What spirit is it which causes a church leader to seek power and control over others, to want pre- eminence? He may ‘preach Christ’. He may have a powerful personality. He may read the Bible and encourage others to do so, but so what? Disregard what he says. What do his actions say?
Far too many Christians are naïvely fooled by deceivers for one reason. They listen to what the man says without taking notice of the personal fruits of his life. They agree with his ‘doctrines'. They find a commonality of belief and then continue to follow everything he says. They accept him as their leader. They follow him, not Christ. Thus, he becomes their Christ – a false Messiah.
This is what Jesus was warning us against. It is possibly the greatest single danger in Christendom. It is a huge deception. Yet its manifestation can be so subtle, so hard to detect! It is easy to be deceived.
My wife and I know from firsthand experience. We were members of a ‘Christian cult’ for about 20 years. We have been through the experience of misplaced loyalties. We have experienced the subtle deceptions which cause a man to supplant the position of Christ in our minds.
Jesus called my wife and me through a cult. He began to draw us to Him through that avenue. He caused us to be drawn into a cult situation – deliberately. That may sound strange to others who have not been through a cult experience. They may think cults serve no constructive purpose. (I don’t disagree that their philosophies can be highly destructive!) But God allows these deceptive movements to abound – for a reason. They provide a learning exercise.
Why did Jesus come to deliver us from sin and deception and then ‘go away’ and leave us to Satan’s devices? It is a test: a test of whom we will follow. Will we follow man, or follow God? That has been the acid test throughout history. It didn’t change when Jesus came, although He showed us how we could rely upon His Spirit to guide and lead us through every difficulty.
We are not to look to men, but to God.
In one respect, mainline churches are really no different from the cults. Cults take some things to extremes, but there is a fundamental principle that is a weakness of every ‘respectable’ organised church. The cults are not the only groups who gain control through psychological manipulation. It is an ever present danger in any humanly organised group.
The biggest cult of all is the Roman Catholic Church. She is the mother of harlots in the west (Rev 17:5). Her daughter churches have inherited customs and ways that are equally promiscuous in God’s sight. I know of churches whose psychological manipulation of members may not be apparent, but who nonetheless have a profound effect upon their members.
Peer pressure does not leave us when we reach our twenties or thirties. It continues on in more discreet ways, even when we turn our lives over to Christ. In churches you can be pressured by majority views – without realising it – to deny new truth and follow the crowd.
You can allow yourself to become deceived. It is easier to be deceived than to come out of the ways which the great prostitute in Rome has ‘landed’ on the whole Christian world.
THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST
The final trial to envelop the Christian world is one which will centre on the decision we make whether to follow man, or follow God. 666 is the number of the Beast, who, through psychological coercion, forces men to accept a mark (Rev 13:16-18). Its acceptance will cause you to come under God’s condemnation (Rev 14:9,10). It is that serious!
Taking this mark involves acceptance of compromise: a decision to accept human leadership in place of Christ’s. The alternatives are not clear to most. But the bottom line revolves around your loyalty. Will you be 100% loyal to God, or will you water down your obedience to make life easier for yourself when things get rough?
The mark of the Beast involves deception – clever, subtle, cunning deception! It revolves around the establishment of an image of the Beast (Rev 13:15). Do you know what this implies?
The Beast in question is the final resurrection of the ‘Holy’ Roman Empire, and the ‘dictator’ or president of that union. Rome brought all western peoples under its subjugation in previous reigns. It strengthened its political power by religious fusion. It gained favour from the prelates of the Roman Catholic Church, whose psychological manipulation caused many to worship the papacy. Instead of worshipping and obeying Christ, the citizens worshipped and obeyed a man who had usurped His office. The combination of, and co-operation between the secular and religious arms of the Roman government caused huge peer pressure to be exerted upon those who did not want to commit such idolatry. True Christians were martyred for their refusal to submit to Rome.
The image of the Beast is that illicit system of rulership in the Church which permits men to hold sway over the minds of others. We are not to follow church leaders but to follow our Church Leader, Jesus Christ.
Subservience to man – to those who lead congregations, churches or organisations – is evident wherever you care to look. It is not confined to the Church in Rome. The excesses are more pronounced there, but they are equally present in many other quarters of Christendom where they are more subtle. Many Christians are deceived and don’t see these abuses for what they are – flagrantly idolatrous!
Christians are like sheep. They follow others. They may follow the crowd, and they may follow their church leaders. But they should not do so implicitly.
It may come as a shock, but EVERY organised church comes under Jesus’ condemnation in this respect: they have established human rule. It is wrong.
In spiritual administration, churches have a hierarchic system of rulership. Government is from the top down. That is a throw-back to Babylon. Hierarchic rule was never an administrative option Jesus offered His Church. Jesus said categorically:
You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority OVER them. Not so with you (Matt 20:25,26).
Yet it IS SO in church organisations! They have adopted identical systems of ruling to that which the Roman Beast practised. They have raised up their images to the Beast!
Through a centralised structure, church leaders decide on doctrine and then impose it very subtly upon those whom they teach – errors and all. It is not intentional, but it occurs because the wrong system of government has been developed.
Jesus gave no guidelines for government in the Church, other than one: through the Holy Spirit. Thus, rule by men goes out the window. Guidance by the Holy Spirit comes in. God’s love takes over from human (satanic!) control. And Christ can have His way in the Church.
That is how it ought to be! But the Church has been deceived. It has been duped into accepting a counterfeit form, one adopted by Rome from the Babylonian system which originated with Nimrod, who usurped God’s rightful leadership role.
We hear a lot in the Church today about leaders, from leaders! Beware! You have only one Leader, and He is not visible (Matt 23:9,10).
Don’t be fooled into accepting a counterfeit. Awake! Come out to meet your Bridegroom (Matt 25:6). Come out of Babylon (Rev 18:4).
2. DID JESUS FULFIL THE LAW FOR US?
One of the most popular current teachings is that Jesus fulfilled and annulled the law of the Old Testament. It is claimed that when Jesus died, He nailed to the cross all the Old Testament rituals and laws. He abrogated them and replaced them with another ‘law of love’, doing away with all the ‘harsh’ legalistic principles that God had given Israel through Moses.
The only problem with this very appealing concept is that it is a LIE! A massive lie!
In the first ‘sermon’ Jesus uttered in His ministry, He made it clear that the Old Testament laws were not being done away. He declared:
DO NOT THINK THAT I HAVE COME TO ABOLISH THE LAW or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them... (Matt 5:17).
Isn’t it strange that people don’t believe Jesus, but prefer to believe Satan’s lies through false teachers?
I tell you the truth... (v 18).
Why would Jesus say this? Because He foreknew through the Spirit what was to come. He knew people would not believe the truth. He knew the majority would be beguiled by Satan to believe a lie – that the foundational law of the Old Testament has been abolished.
Those people dismiss these words of their Saviour as fiction!
I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (v 18).
That is pretty conclusive, isn’t it? Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen... How can you get more definite than that? NOTHING is to disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished!!
Has everything been accomplished, yet?
No! Heaven and earth are still here. So is the Law!
Jesus has died and through His death He has bought our salvation. Yes, that is true. But is that all there is to it? Has His death accomplished everything? NO! Paul wrote to the Romans that His death accomplished our justification (Rom 5:9); that is our freedom from the curse which the law incurs by our breaking it.
But there is more to it – to being saved – than His death. Jesus’ death does not accomplish everything in God’s plan of salvation for us.
We are saved by His life (Rom 5:10). That does not mean we are saved by our doing nothing because Jesus has lived for us, in our stead. It means we are to become like Him by HIM LIVING HIS LIFE IN US.
Read the letters of Paul and you will see this theme throughout. John also expounded this spiritual truth in his letters which warned of lawless philosophy invading the Church back then. That philosophy is antichrist.
Romans chapters 6 to 8 elaborates on the theme that we are released from the captivity of sin to be able to serve God in newness of life. That new life is a sinless life in which we can attain a new degree of righteousness because of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. This was not possible under the Old Covenant because the Holy Spirit had not been made generally available.
It was simply not in people’s hearts – in their inner motivation – to obey the law. It is easier for a ‘carnal’ person to sin – break the law (1 Jn 3:4) – than to live righteously. But God made it possible for us to experience His holiness by His act of grace in putting that motivation within us. That now occurs in the New Covenant.
Ezekiel prophesied of this. God said:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep My laws (Ez 36:26,27).
Those who teach that we are not under an obligation to be keeping God’s law under the New Covenant are preaching heresy of the first order! God’s words through Ezekiel make it quite clear that the New Covenant makes God’s Spirit available to us so that we can obey the Old Testament laws.
We don’t throw up our hands in defeatism and declare that we cannot keep the law’s righteous requirements, and look for an excuse for our disobedience! What a convenient excuse for those who want to be antinomian, by saying that Jesus has died so we don’t have to keep the law!
If their empty theory were true – that Jesus has fulfilled the keeping of the law for us – then He has fulfilled everything for us. We don’t have to do anything ourselves. It’s the biggest spiritual cop-out going!
If the Old Testament laws had been abrogated by something better, then why did Jesus expect us to keep them? Why did the early Church keep them? Why did this current lawless teaching only come into vogue after the death of the original apostles? It was promulgated by those who wanted popular support and used as a means to lure the masses into the ‘Christian’ Church.
Investigation into the history of how antinomian philosophy took root in the Church reveals a cleverly orchestrated conspiracy. It was a satanic conspiracy that deceived gullible Christians. The majority fell for it, just as Paul had prophesied. He wrote to the Thessalonians about a massive falling away to occur in Christendom (2 Thes 2:3). It happened then and it is continuing now in duplicate.
Lawlessness through Gnostic philosophy (meaning ‘new understanding or revelation’) has been one of Satan’s biggest weapons of deception. People are easily fooled by the subtle, devious arguments that sound like the law has been dispensed with by Jesus.
However, these are doctrines of demons (1 Tim 4:1). What is the Bible all about if not about attaining holiness – a state of sinlessness – so we can become like God? How foolish to think that Jesus has done everything for us, so we are without obligation! If that were the case, there would be no need for this present life and learning experience.
Paul was under no illusion. He knew he was under an obligation, having been released from sin’s power through the death of Christ.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it, for if you live according to the sinful nature 0[which does not want to obey God’s law], you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom 8:12-14).
Jesus’ death paid the price of our past sins, so we can begin to walk sinlessly. He didn’t pay that huge price so we can walk lawlessly. The law defines sin.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin [NOT TO THE LAW]; how can we live in it any longer? (Rom 6:1,2.)
The advocates that we are free from the law because Christ died are teaching lies of the devil.
The law was given to outline sin – which is to be avoided at all costs (Matt 5:29,30). Those who deliberately sin – break God’s law – are heading for oblivion in hell fire (v 30). These are not empty prognostications. They are the words and warnings of Jesus. But you can choose what you like, of course. He will not force you to accept the truth. If you prefer to believe the lie, He lets you. It is your choice, although He is saddened when people choose the lie.
WHAT DID JESUS MEAN BY ‘THE LAW’?
Let us return for a minute to where we started: Jesus’ statements about the law.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets... (Matt 5:17).
Some might argue that Jesus was not referring to the law as outlined in the 10 commandments, but that He meant the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. While His words certainly include that meaning, that their words would not pass away until the earth is dissolved, what follows makes it amply clear that He meant more than that. He meant the laws and principles which those books contained.
Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (v 19).
The Pharisees kept the law in a humanistic, legalistic way. That form of ‘righteousness’ was totally lacking. Yet, Jesus did not say we didn’t have to do that much. He said we should do that (Matt 23:3,23), but that we should do much more than obey the mere letter. We should live by the spirit of the law as well (Matt 5:20-48). We are to aim for spiritual perfection, like our Father in heaven (v 48). How can you do that if you think the law is abolished? You then have no accurate code to live by to define what is right and what is wrong. That is why the Old Covenant system of law was instituted in Israel – to illustrate how sinful we all are as humans. Humanly, none of us is any different from Israel.
If Jesus did away with the law, why did He tell us to beware committing adultery even in our thoughts? (Matt 5:28.) Why did He tell us to go above and beyond the level of righteousness physically outlined by the law? The law dictated that we should love our neighbour as ourselves (Lev 19:18). Jesus expanded that to include loving our enemies equally genuinely. How can we do that when we don’t even attempt to keep the law?
The notion that the law of the Old Testament (O.T.) was a harsh law that is abolished in Christ is a twisted, perverse false teaching that is as heinous as the nature of its architect, Satan! When Jesus gave us His ‘new law of love’, that was erected upon the bedrock of the Old Testament law of love. It was not separate at all. It was an adjunct to it. It was because Jesus kept His Father’s commandments that He was able to dwell in His love (Jn 15:10).
Paul described the O. T. law as “holy", “righteous” and “good” (Rom 7:12; 1 Tim 1:8). James called it the “royal law” (Jas 2:8). He said we should keep the whole law, not just part of it (Jas 2:10). He wrote by the Holy Spirit that the law of the O. T. is the law which “brings freedom", the “law of liberty” (1:25; 2:12).
Deceived antinomians would have you believe that the law of the O. T. brings bondage. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus would not die to eradicate sin if sin was what He wanted you to have. (Remember, sin is the antithesis of the law.) If He wanted you to have the freedom to break the law why did He institute the law in the first place? Antinomians are implying that God made a mistake in the Old Covenant. God didn’t make any mistake; deceived deceivers are making that mistake!
Why pay such a huge price for something which we can now [supposedly] take lightly?! Think about it! Jesus, the very Son of God, the only One whose death was capable of paying the price of the sins of humanity, willingly gave Himself in excruciating torture for hour after hour in humiliating agony, with thorns piercing his skull, His skin torn off by the strips of metal on the torturer’s scourge, His wrists and ankles nailed with huge six-inch cut-nails to a rough wooden stake, so that we can glibly say, “Oh, that’s all right; we can do what we like; we don’t have to keep the law.”
Oh, yes?! That is a monumental insult!! If the law was that unimportant why did Jesus need to die for our infractions of its holiness? The logic of those who claim you don’t have to keep the law because Jesus has done it for you, is crazy!
Why are we supposed to be following in Jesus’ footsteps if the law is done away? He fulfilled the law of the ten commandments alright! Jesus assured us:
I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them (Matt 5:17).
Or, as Charles B. Williams accurately translates those words in his rendering of the New Testament:
I have not come to set them aside but to fill them up to the brim.
Jesus magnified the law and made it honourable in fulfilment of Isaiah 42:21. He expounded its complete spirituality in His ‘sermon’ on the Mount (Matt 5-7). He didn’t annul or water down our need for obedience to the ten commandments (Ex 20:1-17), He magnified their full intent. His teaching in the New Testament actually adds to that law!
While Jesus came to add to the Old Covenant law, puny men are busy watering down and eroding Jesus’ authority. They are denying the Christ who bought them (2 Pet 2:1). They are false teachers who are secretly [the evil nature of their teachings is not perceived by the majority] bringing in destructive heresies, “even DENYING THE LORD WHO BOUGHT THEM – bringing swift destruction upon themselves” (2 Pet 2:1). The tragedy is that MANY follow them and bring the way of truth into disrepute (v 2).
Prophecy is being fulfilled! We are living in the last days! The great apostasy is occurring right before our eyes, but so few perceive it. They have fallen asleep, as the parable of the ten virgins predicted (Matt 25:5).
Will you wake up to what is taking place, or will you be lulled to sleep by false teachers, preaching what is appealing to the carnal mind? The majority of Christian teachers preach this heresy in one shade or another and their audience likes it. That was foretold.
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Tim 4:3,4).
It is always the majority, it seems, who go wrong. The minority accept what is right.
Jesus has allowed false teachers in the Church to corrupt His teachings. Why? It is a test. God is testing you through it. Will you follow their pernicious ways? Or will you remain faithful to the words of your Saviour who wants you to be part of His pure Bride whom He will marry at His coming?
Where do you stand? Does He consider you pure, washed by His blood, or still tarnished by the ways of this evil world which will not submit to Him nor to His law of love? &
N. B. This subject is covered more fully in the publication The Controversy Concerning Law and Grace (£2.00).
3. HIERARCHIC CHURCH GOVERNMENT
Satan is in the Church!
That statement, to many people, will come as a big shock! To other Christians, however, it will be no surprise.
But for those who are aware of the reality of the devil’s presence inside the Church, few of them are aware of how he has neatly ensconced himself within.
One Church tradition, more than any other, has been responsible for his protection within the Church – hierarchic Church government!
More than any other custom, the acceptance of this Babylonian concept into church structures has permitted Satan and his demonic forces to hold immense power and do incalculable damage. It is hard to assess just how much injury he has been able to inflict on God’s people, because the harm is mostly spiritual and therefore not readily perceptible.
There can be no doubt that much harm has been done! And all in the name of Christ!
IN THE NAME OF CHRIST!
It is far easier to see the destruction wrought upon the Church in the Middle Ages when a corrupt hierarchic Church leadership used their illicit powers to subjugate people in the Inquisitions. Horrendous tortures were inflicted upon those who refused to bow to papal pressure. Multiple thousands, if not millions, were martyred, all in the name of Christ, under the banner of His ‘authority’.
“The Inquisition, called the ‘holy office’, was instituted by Pope Innocent III, and perfected under the second following pope, Gregory IX. It was the Church Court for detection and punishment of heretics. Under it, everyone was required to inform against heretics. Anyone suspected was liable to torture, without knowing the name of his accuser. The proceedings were secret. The Inquisitor pronounced sentence, and the victim was turned over to the civil authorities to be imprisoned for life, or to be burned. The victim’s property was confiscated, and divided between the Church and the State.
“In the period immediately following Pope Innocent III the Inquisition did its most deadly work against the Albigenses, but also claimed vast multitudes of victims in Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.
“Later on the Inquisition was the main agency in the papacy’s effort to crush the Reformation. It is stated that in the 30 years between 1540 and 1570 no fewer than 900,000 Protestants were put to death in the pope’s war for the extermination of the Waldenses.
“Think of monks and priests, in holy garments, directing, with heartless cruelty and inhuman brutality, the work of torturing and burning alive innocent men and women, and doing it in the name of Christ, by the direct order of the ‘Vicar of Christ’.
“The Inquisition was the most infamous and devilish thing in human history. It was devised by popes, and used by them for 500 years, to maintain their power. For its record none of the subsequent line of ‘holy’ and ‘infallible’ popes have ever apologized.” (Halley’s Bible Handbook, pp. 776,777).
That inhumanity was an outgrowth of hierarchic rule in the Church. It is satanic!
HIERARCHY SUPPLANTS CHRIST’S RULE
Of course, people will say, “Yes, but that was during uncivilized times. We are civilized today. We don’t allow such brutality to be inflicted now in the name of Christ.”
Oh no? If you think that, you are naïve or ignorant, or both! The devil is just as active today as he has been throughout the history of the Church. But he has got more cunning. His activities are more discreet. They go unnoticed by the majority of Christians. His infiltration into the Church, and his subsequent controls are more sly than ever.
Satan’s influence in the Church, through subtle controls forced on God’s people, inflict untold spiritual damage on them today. These controls, however, are mainly psychological. They are not always overt.
Evil Church authorities used physical torture to impose doctrinal uniformity in the past. Today, it is mainly psychological pressure which is brought to bear on church members to make them comply with the wishes or teachings of the leadership. Both are equally wrong. We are not to obey men. We should obey God (Acts 5:29). Obedience is an aspect of worship. We are not to be subservient to the whims of men, but to the rule of God (Rom 6:16).
Hierarchic human authority was the form of rule adopted by Babylon and every subsequent world ruling power. It began with Nimrod, founder of Babel, which became a model for all conquering Gentile kingdoms.
And it was hierarchic Church authority which was adopted by the false ecclesiastical Church (called ‘Babylon’ in Rev 17) which enabled it to subjugate those under its jurisdiction. This ‘Church’ worked in co-operation with the State to pursue its evil ends.
The Church today is unaware that in many parts it is under similar human domination and is not exercising its full freedoms in Christ. This was prophesied. Zion, the Church in prophecy, is told to shake herself loose from her captors (Is 52:1,2). Jeremiah lamented:
The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and My people love it this way. But what will you do in the end? (Jer 5:31.)
Indeed, what will you do in the end? The result is idolatry. A man – your church leader – assumes the position of God in your mind. It is all very subtle; all very clever. It is designed by Satan to draw you away from Christ and lay you open to Satan’s delusions.
What was wrong with Nimrod’s rule was that Nimrod took God’s place in the eyes of the people. He became “a mighty hunter before the Lord” (Gen 10:9) i.e. in place of God. He usurped God’s position to the people. He gained their attention, subservience and loyalty. People followed Nimrod, instead of God. Nimrod had taken God’s place.
The same thing is widespread in the Church. People are idolising their leaders – not knowingly, mind you! Most are unaware of their sin. But misplaced loyalties are highly damaging!
Hierarchic Church rule is furtively satanic.
Oh, it works. It works well. Everything is well organised and things run smoothly when rule from the top down is established. And when the righteous hold such positions, blessings result and no-one seems to get hurt. But when false ministers gain control (2 Cor 11:13-15) Satan surreptitiously finds a foothold in the Church and disaster strikes.
When that occurs, apostasy advances like the relentless tide.
True Delegation of Authority in the Church, According to Jesus’ Gospel!
(Matt 23:8, “you are all brothers”; and John 15: “I am the vine … you are the branches.”)
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