Optimistic Christians

Should Christians be optimistic about the future of the Church? Ken Gentry couldn’t finish his answer to that question in less than 600 pages in He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology. The book in one sentence: Jesus will slowly conquer the entire world for Christianity through His church before returning physically at the end of time.

Gentry has, for the most part, measured prose and he prefers to tack his arguments down with Scripture rather than history alone. Reading this book confirmed in my mind that amillennialism is not a viable Scriptural option. There are finally only two hermeneutical positions, and if they are followed consistently, then you will either end up with an optimistic, covenantal, baby-baptizing, theonomic worldview in which nearly all Bible prophecies are already fulfilled or a pessimistic, dispensational, credo-baptizing, church-planting worldview in which there are still a number of prophetic difficulties still to be revealed in the future.

Having labored to get into the mind of the author and more importantly this system, here are the top 10 arguments for Postmillennialism in the order that I found them most persuasive.

Ten Best Arguments for Postmillennialism

  1. The parable of the mustard seed teaches gradual and exponential growth. Matt. 13:31-32
    The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.
  2. The parable of the leaven teaches gradual and exponential growth. Matt. 13:33
    The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.
  3. PM teaches a single resurrection and judgment.
    Matt. 13:30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”
    John 6:39-40 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.
  4. The natural reading of 1 Corinthians 15:23-24 has no gap between the resurrection and the end of all things.
    But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end,
  5. The natural application of Matt. 21:40-41 to the destruction of Jerusalem and its contextual nearness to Matt. 24.
    Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers? They said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.
  6. The weaknesses of amillennial interpretations of OT kingdom prophecies coupled with the weaknesses of premillennial interpretations of NT resurrections.
  7. The “soon” statements in Revelation’s introduction and conclusion imply that the contents of the book would not be waiting 2,000 or more years.
    Rev. 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place;
    Rev. 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
  8. PM assumes that through His church Christ will conquer, display His glory, defeat sin, and win the war.
    Gen. 3:15 He shall bruise the serpent’s head.
    Matt. 3:2 The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
    Rev. 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,
  9. It offers a natural reading of Matt. 24:34.
    Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
  10. William Carey, Jonathan Edwards, and Iain Murray all held to this position.

However, that is not the only list this book produced. Again, in order of persuasive power.

Ten Best Arguments Against Postmillennialism

  1. PM requires the Covenant of Grace which unifies the Israel of the OT with the church of the NT.
    Yet Acts 2, 2 Cor. 3, Heb. 8 demand a difference between the old covenant people of God and the new covenant people of God.
  2. PM changes the definition of Israel fluidly—sometimes they will interpret this word to mean the ethnic, OT nation and sometimes it is the church.
    e.g. PM says the word Israel means nation in Isaiah 19:24 In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth,
    But the words Judah and Jerusalem mean the church in Isaiah 2:1-4.
  3. PM cannot stop with partial preterism.
    Preterism is the teaching that most of the prophecies of Scripture are fulfilled in 70 AD when the Jews’ temple was destroyed. That means many passages that seem like they are talking about the second coming of Christ have already taken place. However, that position leads to full preterism which denies that Jesus will return at all.
  4. Numerous difficulties within the Olivet Discourse cannot fit—or only with great difficulty—into AD 70.
    24:5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.
    24:7 nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.
    24:13 the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Saved from what?
    24:14 Was the Great Commission completed 40 years after the cross?
    24:15 Daniel 11:31; 12:11 happened in AD 70?
    24:21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
    24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders,
    24:27, 30, 37, 39, 44 In PM, the first two “comings” of Christ are in AD 70, and the next three are at the end of the world.
    24:30 All the tribes of the earth will mourn…
    24:30 The Son of Man coming in the clouds…
    24:31 Describes missionaries and not the second coming? 1 Thess. 4:16
    24:34 “All” means each and every, but it does not mean each and every in 24:30.
    24:36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Suddenly, the context leaps forward to the end of the world even though the same terminology is used: day, coming of the Son of Man?
    24:36-51 In PM, this lengthy section deals with the end of the world, not AD 70. Why not just stay with AD 70 like the full preterists?
  5. The Christian is called to suffer until Jesus Christ returns.
    2 Tim. 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
  6. PM finds numerous difficulties in Revelation.
    1:7 “every eye will see him… all the tribes of the earth…” To PM, this means the Jews.
    1:7; 5:6, 9, 13; 8:7; 13:8, 12; 18:3, 23 The book has a universal, worldwide scope, yet PM requires that these terms exclude most of Africa, all South America, all India, and all China. At the most, the universal terms only cover the Roman Empire, which was not even 1/3 of the world’s population at that time.
    11 Strained interpretations throughout this chapter.
    17-19 The harlot is Israel and the Bride is the Church. That interpretation places a harsh distinction between the two peoples that are necessarily unified in CT.
    19:11-21 The return of Christ in this passage has already been fulfilled.
  7. A hermeneutic that tends to see extrabiblical terms as superior to Biblical terms weakens inspiration.
    eg. Church is extra biblical in the prophets; Israel is Biblical.
  8. A tendency to gloss over false Christianity in the name of the church’s triumphs.
  9. A tendency to ignore the wartime lifestyle metaphor for Christian living.
  10. Increased affection for the present world and thus a disinterest in the next world.
    Col. 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
    Tit. 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,

 

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Three Chains of African Traditional Religion

The animism that is commonly called African traditional religion is one more example of depravity in false religion. Here are three chains with which the demons behind this system bind so many millions on this continent. If you sometimes wonder how to pray for missionaries, pray that God would save people from these traps.

1. The Limited Good Theory
In general the animism of this continent holds to the limited-good theory which stifles all productivity and self-improvement. This theory says that all the wealth in the world is like a bag of apples, once the apples are taken, there are no more. Thus jealousy, laziness, and hopelessness keep them from virtuous ambitions that would allow them to start businesses, build schools, and maintain infrastructure. The Biblical view of the world says that wealth is like an apple tree that can be replanted as long as there are willing farmers.

2. Vocabulary
The animism of this continent obscures discussion of abstract ideas so that the mind is shackled, a self-imposed inability through long practice that blocks them from extended reflection on the great issues of life. As one example among many, Tsonga, Venda, and Shona (representing around 15-18 million people) have no words for “right” and “wrong” among many other vital concepts. (Such as “vital” and “concept.”)

3. Uncertainty
The animism of this continent preserves haziness on the main topics of life. Why am I here? Where am I going? What can I do with my sin? With so many changing, capricious spirits, each unknowable, we cannot hope for any definite or specific knowledge. Questions about life and death are answered by one great guess or distraction after another. Those who have been influenced by this religion have a 3 meter wall placed between them and the solid answers to the vital issues of life.

These—and others like them—are the great terrors of this demonic religion which only the gospel can eradicate. Paul’s calling 2,000 years ago is still ours, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” As proof of this verse, a number of dear believers are breaking from these bands as their minds are renewed by Scripture.

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A Christian Response to the Fees Must Fall Movement

In October 2015, students at university campuses across SA began protesting that the fee increases of 10.5% were too high. These fees were based on increasing costs of materiaenhanced-buzz-wide-22080-1445530265-18ls, inflation, and teacher’s salaries. The students demanded no increase in the fees for the services they were receiving. Between the government and the university heads, the students’ demands were met for that year.

But this year the fees had to be raised again. Beginning in August 2016, students began peacefully protesting around the country on campuses. As part of this protest, they also blocked some roads and buildings as well as stopping fellow students from entering the schools. Because of these student protests, the universities expanded their security eventually to the police force. Now, these young people want to “shut down the universities.” To carry out this goal, there has been R600 million property damage already. 1306853118That is the equivalent of 220 km’s of tar road. Some are demanding entirely free education rather than merely release from the year’s increase.

Scripture speaks often to the poor and about the poor even featuring poor prophets and leaders throughout the Bible. Jesus and many of the early Christians were poor. The prophets of the OT rebuked Israel often for the way they handled the poor. Further, in this country in the past, blacks have been treated with a harsh, confining hand.

Since around 75% of the country claims to be Christian, how should a Christian respond? Should they support the Fees Must Fall movement (also called #FeesMustFall), or oppose it? Should they blend support and opposition? To answer these questions, I will use a moral syllogism to compare a Biblical teaching with a modern situation.

Stealing is a terrible sin.
The first proposition comes from Scripture, and the second comes from the current state of affairs in the country. What is stealing? The question is more complicated than it appears at first glance.

You shall not steal. Deut. 5: 19

As a first definition, stealing is taking what is not yours. Thieves do this taking by force or deception. The thieves used force on the man traveling to Jericho (Luke 10:30). Ahab used deception to take Naboth’s land (1 Kings 21:6-10). But there is more to stealing than that.

He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Eph. 4:28

What is the opposite of stealing in this passage? Labor. Then a second definition of stealing is gaining wealth without permission or work.

Stealing implies the doctrine of private property. Theft doesn’t exist in a universe where everyone owns everything. Property is wealth that belongs to or is owned by someone—owning and belonging are the central ideas broken by stealing.

1 “You shall not see your countryman’s ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman. 2 If your countryman is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it; then you shall restore it to him. 3 Thus you shall do with his donkey, and you shall do the same with his garment, and you shall do likewise with anything lost by your countryman, which he has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to neglect them.” Deut. 22:1-3

These words forever establish the doctrine of private ownership or personal property. You must neither take nor ignore someone’s donkey. (22:1) You cannot assume property that is lost. (22:2) If you happen on the chance to take property that someone has lost, you must be quick to return it to the owner. (22:3) Is this spirit common in our country? If your wallet or phone was lost, how many people out of 100 would return it? Moses certainly wrote this law intending it to be a broad principle governing all property because in verse 3 he says it can be anything lost that belongs to your neighbor. Protecting property rights and ownership are the heart behind the command: Do not steal.

Once when traveling to Mozambique, I saw a sign in a village near the Pafuri Gate which said in Tsonga, “Xa mina i xa wena.” In English, “What’s mine is yours.” If this were merely a statement of neighborly generosity, then it would be fitting with Jesus Christ’s teaching. However, it is very common to find cloudy views of ownership in rural Africa promoted by the traditional religion from where this saying originated.

In modern times, there are two popular economic systems that deny private property—Socialism and communism. These are two very similar economic systems with one great fundamental idea binding them together: Government must control private property. Socialism attempts to do this through legislation in generally more peaceful settings, and communism attempts to do this through a military revolution. In short, socialists look for government to control property, and communists work for the same thing with guns. In both cases, government takes some or all control of property.

Since private property is so basic to Christianity, both socialism and communism struggle to even define the word “steal.” How can you prohibit or punish theft, if ownership and property are unclear? Therefore a third definition of actions that tend to erase the importance of private property under normal circumstances.

The history of the Bible supplies many examples of thievery so that we can test our definitions by the actual cases in Scripture itself. The Westminster Larger Catechism lists 32 different kinds of stealing (Questions 141-142).ctxkif0wgaaofwl

  • Robbers with guns. Luke 10:30
  • Kidnapping and slave trade. Ex. 21:16
  • Tricking customers when you sell. Pro. 11:1
  • Dodging taxes. Rom. 13:7
  • Taking something that you find without trying to return it. Deut. 22:1-3
  • Receiving a gift that you know was stolen. 1 Kings 21:16
  • Living off the wealth of others without working. Eph. 4:28 with 2 Thess. 3:10-11
  • Increased taxes. 1 Sam. 9:7 and 10-18

How bad is stealing? What are its effects on society? Stealing impoverishes society by loss of goods and increased costs. It associates the thief with Satan, one of whose names is Thief (John 10:10). It denies private property which is a fundamental assumption in the laws against stealing. Stealing destroys the wealth, religion, and stability of a society.

In summary, taking wealth and benefits without work or permission or subtly reducing the line between your neighbors property and your own is the terrible sin of stealing.

The Bible condemns theft, and therefore all Christians must as well. Yet the most difficult part of making ethical decisions is often comparing the text of Scripture with the present day. Let us now look at what these students are doing. What are they doing, and what are they trying to do? What is their goal?

The goal of the Fees Must Fall Movement is stealing.
At first, let me acknowledge that the people involved in this movement would probably not admit this is their goal. But part of being a faithful minister is to use words the way God uses them.

What is the “Fees Must Fall Movement” (FMF)? It is an effort to get free higher education for most of the citizens of SA. If you make less than R600,000, the minister of higher education promised to have the government pay for the fee increases. This is more than what Section 29 of the Constitution promises: a “right to basic education,” but not a right to university.

The FMF wants to help poor people, and a genuine desire to serve the poorest in ways that we will lead to the greatest good is a Christian virtue. But “no increases” is not enough for many in this movement. They want free higher education. What is this but a desire for goods and services for which they have not paid? Who is paying? Certainly not the students who are protesting—at least they don’t foresee themselves paying directly. Someone of course has to pay for these fees. Who is that? Does this other party want to pay? Is the other party receiving the benefit? If someone does not receive any benefit, but they are forced to pay, isn’t that the Bible’s definition of theft?

Further, by damaging private property, they have taken that property as their own already before it was given to them justly or unjustly.

Behind the FMF demands are some assumptions (presuppositions) that lie quietly in the background.

  1. “We all deserve education.” free-educationr
    A Christian thinks that as a man he deserves freedom from government intervention and his own private property. As a sinner, he deserves God’s judgment for eternity. There is no category in Scripture for talking about great rights outside of these basic expectations. Jesus, the apostles, and the greatest Christians did not have formal education.
  1. “Education should be free.”
    Do not steal. An education is a service that must be acquired by work, not a gift that God gives indiscriminately to all men such as air, rain, and sunshine.
  1. “Education must be decolonized.”
    Our Lord called Himself the Way and the Truth. There is no “colonial truth” and “African truth” just like there are not different Messiahs for each ethnicity. As Christians our goal should be to advance in truth, regardless of the color of the person who brings us this rare commodity.

 

  1. “Education must make all ethnic groups feel good about their values.”
    Some ethnic values come from false religion and will tend to destroy happiness, wealth, and prosperity.
  • Islamic polygamy
  • Islamic wife-beating
  • Female circumcision in North Africa
  • Suttee in ancient India
  • The caste system of Hinduism
  • The European slave trade
  • Afrikaans apartheid

None of these practices are good, but all of them were sired from some false religious commitments and embodied in a culture. A true education serves young minds by finding for them solid footing not good feelings.

  1. “Education is a basic right.”
    Do the laws in the OT provide for education for all the children in Israel? No. When God arranged a perfect society on earth through the nation of Israel, He did not require the government or the heads of families to give education to all.
  1. “Those who have more money should pay for those who have less money.”
    “The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel,” Ex. 30:15

    The OT required an even 10% or a single amount payable by everyone. The rich were free to help the poor, but there was no requirement—no government redistribution of private property.

  1. “The goal of life is a good job and a comfortable way of life.”
    In general, the FMF protesters are more interested in a salary than an education. Are students consuming more books or more media? Are they spending extra money on fashions or tools to increase their knowledge? Are they willing to work while they study? Would they still be willing to attend the institutions if they received a high quality education, but no paper confirming that?
  1. “The government can give wealth away without any consequences.”
    Wealth must be created by hard work (Gen. 1:26 and Eph. 4:28). The government has no wealth unless it takes from citizens. Someone may respond that the government is paying and the government does now “want” to pay since it has been persuaded by the people. However, that is assuming the government has wealth.
  1. “The world is stacked against black people.”
    Even if we grant that conclusion for the sake of the discussion, the free market removes most of the effects of racism, and it removes those sinful tendencies far better than other systems. As Thomas Sowell points out in Basic Economics, companies in the US that didn’t hire blacks after the Civil War eventually lost business and some closed down. The cheaper services of the black Americans eventually gained them a client base. This is why the greatest way to reduce racism is to make sure the markets are entirely free from government control. FMF is a tidal wave of pressure on government to take more money and then dedicate it to universities.

These assumptions oppose the Christian ideas of private property and personal responsibility. This collection urges young people to get without work, to use the government as a tool to force redistribution. The de-emphasis (and literal destruction) of private property, the anticipation of raised taxes as the solution, and the disinterest in working for personal benefits classify the FMF movement as an organized expression of stealing.

My argument has followed a simple syllogism.

  • Proposition 1: Stealing is a terrible sin.
  • Proposition 2: The goal of the FMF movement is stealing.

If both of these are true, then the conclusion must follow:

  • The goal of the FMF movement is a terrible sin.

But is the word “terrible” justified? How bad is the FMF movement?

The goal of the FMF movement is a terrible sin.
Since it is stealing, it will bring God’s ultimate wrath on those involved. Stealing is a sin that God will judge with the fierceness of His wrath unless each thief hides Himself under the protection of Jesus Christ. And we know that whoever is born of God, does not continue in sin (1 John 3:9). It is terrible because of future judgment.

Since it represents foolish and unscriptural thinking about economics, it will ultimately trap poor Africans in even stronger chains of poverty. The FMF movement represents Marxist thought which has never raised a country to prosperity. The only hope for poor Africans is a mindset that urges them to create wealth rather than a mindset that urges them to redistribute wealth.

Since it encourages violence, covetousness, laziness, and a shirking of personal responsibility, it will lead the nation to greater instability than the founders of the movement ever foresaw. They have promised to shut down the universities and some have even threatened to shut down the country.fees-must-fall

Since it ignores history, it is doomed to failure. Does anyone travel to Tanzania or Zimbabwe or North Korea or China or Venezuela for education? Each of these countries tried to play the socialist and communist game, and their economies are not the first choice for tourism nor high standards of living.

Since the students are not thinking about the future generations, only about themselves, it promises dangerous times for our children. Socialist economies are historically weak, but African socialist economies are often disasters such as Julius Nyerere’s Tanzania in the 1970’s. Why isn’t the wealth in that country from the 1960’s serving the present generation? South Africa will look similar if they follow a similar economic path.

Since it distracts from eternity, it will damage the efforts of soulwinners and evangelists. Wayne Grudem’s interesting The Poverty of Nations reminds us that the main difference between rich and poor nations is a mindset. That mindset could best be summarized as a Christian worldview that finds its foundation in a regenerated heart. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to Africa’s poverty. But since the FMF focus is on this earth, their great need will only be pressed further into the shadows.

Common Objections

  1. “We can’t afford education.”
    First, a lack of money to buy education is no justification for stealing education. Second, if anyone really wants to learn there are libraries and many free resources available for those who are hungry for knowledge. Third, it may take several generations before a majority of the people are able to reach a higher level of formal training. Historically, we must not forget that colleges and universities are a relatively new phenomena.
  1. “Communism is in the Bible.”
    Yes, Acts 4:32-37 records a kind of Christian communism, but there are vital differences between what happened then and what is being advocated now. First, those who shared their goods were all and only Christians. Second, they were experiencing a great revival so that each of them was willing to work hard and deny themselves. Third, they were experiencing persecution for their commitment to Jesus Christ. Fourth, it was limited in time and geography. There is no evidence that all the Christian churches did this, but the opposite. Paul taught many churches to have private property.
  1. “Jesus told us to love and help each other.”
    Helping people to think correctly about long-term wealth creation is the most loving thing we can for the present lives on earth. Socialism is no more loving than confirming someone in their deeply held belief in a lie.
  1. “This is justice as a way of fixing the consequences of apartheid.”
    Should we fix one injustice with another? Should black taxpayers have to pay for the universities to correct the problems of apartheid? Should whites who opposed apartheid? How long do these retributive taxes stay in effect? Expensive universities are not a legacy of apartheid, but of foolish governments who print fiat currency.
  1. “Other countries do this.”
    That is no way to think about ethical or theological difficulties. Let us start with examining the goodness, truth, and beauty of a proposition in light of the Bible.
  1. “Blacks are still suffering while whites are comfortable.”
    If we care about the poorest people, then we must not accept short-sighted solutions to their problems. A starving person needs food, not a hallucinogenic drug. The question we should ask is, “What character must each member of society have in order for that society to be rich?” The solution is not found in money because the real question has little to do with it.

No short cuts
Christians work hard for their wealth rather than taking goods and services by force. If we love the poorest people, then we will not promote something that hurts them. And a solution that is unscriptural will certainly hurt the poorest (Deut. 6:24).

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The Friendly Enemy or The Dangerous Friend

There are two cultures, they are in fierce opposition to each other, and it is necessary for a great debate to ensue about the matter… First, technology is a friend. It makes life easier, cleaner, and longer. Can anyone ask more of a friend? Second, because of its lengthy, intimate, and inevitable relationship with culture, technology does not invite a close examination of its own consequences. It is the kind of friend that asks for trust and obedience, which most people are inclined to give because its gifts are truly bountiful. But of course, there is a dark side to this friend. Its gifts are not without a heavy cost. … The uncontrolled growth of technology destroys the vital sources of our humanity. It creates a culture without a moral foundation. It undermines certain mental processes and social relations that make human life worth living. Technology, in sum, is both friend and enemy.

Neil Postman, Technopoly, published in 1992!

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Mark #8: They Draw the Affections to Earth

The whole message of the NT is to draw your heart to Heaven, not earth.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1-2

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15

They choose their words so that each term always refers to some kind of comfort on earth.

  • Breakthrough
  • I am not under the circumstances, I am above the circumstances
  • Authority
  • Make a difference
  • Children of the king
  • Abundant life
  • Problem
  • Difficulty
  • Darkness
  • Generational curses

All of these terms and more were used on Friday night. When you hear terms like this, ask yourself, “What is he trying to do to my heart? Where does he want my heart to be?”

This is the greatest problem with the false teachers, but also the easiest way to discover them. Even if you can’t put it into words, you know immediately if they want you to put your heart in Heaven or on earth.

Identifying Prosperity Preachers
Mark #1: They Do Not Stay Long in a Single Verse
Mark #2: They Are Intentionally Vague
Mark #3: They Consistently Disobey Explicit Scriptural Teaching About Tongues

Mark #4: They Prostitute the Old Testament
Mark #5: They Assume Their Listeners Are All Born Again
Mark #6: They Ignore the Great Themes of Scripture
Mark #7: They Have an Aversion to Humility
Mark #8: They Draw the Affections to Earth

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Mark #7: They Have an Aversion to Humility

Where do we see pride? The translator, microphone, volume level, technology, clothing, mannerisms, and words all say, “Look at me. Notice me. Enjoy the demonstration.” Peter says that all elders should be clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5), meaning the public demeanor of a pastor should remind us constantly that they are not that important (1 Cor. 3:7).

Considering that no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven without humility (Matt. 18:3-4), why doesn’t every pastor preach about this? Considering that this was a vital and repeated mark of our Savior while on earth (John 13:5; Matt. 11:29; Luke 23:34; Phil. 2:5-8), why doesn’t this come up in some way or another in every sermon? Considering that gospel humility is a near synonym from saving faith, why isn’t this prominent in their preaching?

One easy trap into which nearly all false teachers fall is their intense pride. Just ask yourself from what you see and hear, “Would this man be satisfied if we forgot him, but remembered Jesus Christ?”

Identifying Prosperity Preachers
Mark #1: They Do Not Stay Long in a Single Verse
Mark #2: They Are Intentionally Vague
Mark #3: They Consistently Disobey Explicit Scriptural Teaching About Tongues
Mark #4: They Prostitute the Old Testament
Mark #5: They Assume Their Listeners Are All Born Again
Mark #6: They Ignore the Great Themes of Scripture
Mark #7: They Have an Aversion to Humility
Mark #8: They Draw the Affections to Earth

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Mark #6: They Ignore the Great Themes of Scripture

Here are some themes they do not talk about much.

  1. Christ’s death for the sin of sinners
  2. The next life: Future judgment in Heaven or Hell
  3. Humility, repentance, and saving faith
  4. The glory and beauty of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
  5. The law of God
  6. The Second Coming of Christ
  7. The marks of a false teacher
  8. The Five Solas
  9. Holiness, integrity, and character
  10. Election, predestination, and God’s sovereignty

Basically, it is a move away from the great motifs of life and death, Heaven and Hell. At the same time, it is a move toward the lighter ideas of life: happiness, ease, simplicity, comfort, present day—nothing that will leave the people heavy and concerned. A passage like Heb. 9:27-28 won’t be the theme for any conferences.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

In the place of these Biblical saving truths that occupied all the NT preachers, they have a list like this.

  1. Personal authority, power, and honor
  2. The power of faith to get things
  3. Personal dignity and worth
  4. Freedom from every kind of discomfort
  5. Healing from every kind of difficulty

In other words, heavy is out and light is in. God is out and “me” is in. Sin is out, and prosperity is in.

Identifying Prosperity Preachers
Mark #1: They Do Not Stay Long in a Single Verse
Mark #2: They Are Intentionally Vague
Mark #3: They Consistently Disobey Explicit Scriptural Teaching About Tongues
Mark #4: They Prostitute the Old Testament
Mark #5: They Assume Their Listeners Are All Born Again
Mark #6: They Ignore the Great Themes of Scripture
Mark #7: They Have an Aversion to Humility
Mark #8: They Draw the Affections to Earth

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Mark #5: They Assume Their Listeners Are All Born Again

After he was done preaching he told us he wanted to close in prayer. But just before closing our eyes he asked us if we wanted to be saved. Whoever wants to be saved was invited to come forward and “receive Jesus Christ.”

The first problem with that is the context. When they hear those words, they don’t think about repentance, humility, saving faith, committing their lives to Jesus Christ, taking up their cross, denying themselves, or having all their sinful desires exchanged for holiness. Those words at that time simply are another form of God-talk. Religious sounds with no significance.

The second problem with closing the service that way is far deeper because there was no preaching of Christ and Him crucified! He never told us that Christ died for sinners. He never told us that we were sinners. Instead his entire sermon was based on the assumption that all of us already were—in his words—children of God, children of light, and children of Goshen.

This is the standard way prosperity preachers deal their cards, they assume everyone already understands the rules. They take for granted that we are all God’s children, and then with a tricky spin, they ask for anyone who wants to be saved to come forward. By so doing, they think to deceive those of us who realize there are unbelievers present while at the same time preaching a thoroughly comfortable message which is what they really wanted to do all along.

Identifying Prosperity Preachers
Mark #1: They Do Not Stay Long in a Single Verse
Mark #2: They Are Intentionally Vague
Mark #3: They Consistently Disobey Explicit Scriptural Teaching About Tongues
Mark #4: They Prostitute the Old Testament
Mark #5: They Assume Their Listeners Are All Born Again
Mark #6: They Ignore the Great Themes of Scripture
Mark #7: They Have an Aversion to Humility
Mark #8: They Draw the Affections to Earth

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Mark #4: They Prostitute the Old Testament

The promises given to Israel are immediately transferred to the church.

For example he read Exodus 4:16:

Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him.

Then, without a pause he snatched up the clause “You will be as God to him,” and switching the pronouns he was ready for action. “You” became every person in the room that night rather than Moses from 3,000 years ago. “Him” became every person with whom you have any tension or disagreement. This is their standard operating procedure when moving through the OT.

They do not ask the most basic questions:

  • To whom is this passage written?
  • What did it mean to the original audience?
  • How does the NT interpret this passage?

Prosperity preachers love using the OT because it was written to an earthly nation. What else should we expect from people who say, “Heaven is boring.”?

Identifying Prosperity Preachers
Mark #1: They Do Not Stay Long in a Single Verse
Mark #2: They Are Intentionally Vague
Mark #3: They Consistently Disobey Explicit Scriptural Teaching About Tongues
Mark #4: They Prostitute the Old Testament
Mark #5: They Assume Their Listeners Are All Born Again
Mark #6: They Ignore the Great Themes of Scripture
Mark #7: They Have an Aversion to Humility
Mark #8: They Draw the Affections to Earth

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Mark #3: They Consistently Disobey Explicit Scriptural Teaching About Tongues

The man Friday night “spoke in tongues” twice.

If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 1 Cor. 14:27-28

False teachers want us to think that they are filled with the Holy Spirit. How could the Holy Spirit give them power to do something against His own Word? When they do this, they write in capital letters that they are at best disinterested in obedience, and at worst they actively disregard it. And if they can blatantly step over the clear statements of Scripture, wherein do they prove themselves Christians at all?

Tongues in a setting like this is one more mark of entertainment. The music, the clothing, the language, and the theme all bespeak entertainment. Speaking in tongues is just one more added trick.

Identifying Prosperity Preachers
Mark #1: They Do Not Stay Long in a Single Verse
Mark #2: They Are Intentionally Vague
Mark #3: They Consistently Disobey Explicit Scriptural Teaching About Tongues
Mark #4: They Prostitute the Old Testament
Mark #5: They Assume Their Listeners Are All Born Again
Mark #6: They Ignore the Great Themes of Scripture
Mark #7: They Have an Aversion to Humility
Mark #8: They Draw the Affections to Earth

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