Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Church's Prophetic Self-Deception

The other day I received a newsletter from a sizable church that I used to attend, and in it they had a prophecy that read:

"The land has been plowed, the soil has been made rich through tears of intercession.  Now is the season upon this House for harvest.  Watch what I will do, that which has been prophesied from long ago - NOW IS THE TIME.  Watch I say, watch!" [emphasis theirs]

Now I have every confidence that the prophecy will come to pass, but not for the reasons that you might expect. Let me explain.

This church is your typical denominational church: it's an Assembly of God church to be exact.  And so they make all of the mistakes common to denominational churches plus those particular to the Assemblies of God.  They reject the qualifications of the elders by creating positions that don't exist while ignoring the ones that do.  They promote people who aren't qualified and shun those who are.  (You ought to read the Assemblies of God position papers on this.  They're so shallow it's almost comical.  They literally pick and choose the portions of individual verses that they want to believe.)

Women run the show despite the fact that it's mostly males who occupy the positions of leadership.  In fact, it was a woman who gave this prophecy.  But thinking back, it seems that almost every prophecy they publish comes from a woman.  Hmm.  That aside...

Tithing is incorrectly taught; and instead of falling forward in God's presence like the people in the Bible did, they fall backward.  As an Assembly of God church they teach salvation by works and believe that the Bible doesn't exist.  And being careful not to offend anyone, they're slow to protect the Body from false prophets and teachers but quick to get rid of those who try.  Ask me how I know.  Okay.  I'll tell ya'.

They had me kicked out in 2004 because I tried to warn them about the dangers of Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ.  I didn't go looking for trouble, it just happened.  Their response was initially one of silence, but instead of thanking me or taking the time to verify my allegations, they instead began to take Scriptures out of context in an effort to justify this wicked man and his Roman Catholic-ish doctrine.  I corrected them again, but now they're offended.  Seldom do God's people welcome correction, but in this case I was a much younger 35 year old correcting long standing members - many of whom were also Bible teachers in the church (and probably good tithers), and so there was no way my little diatribe wasn't going to go by unpunished.  And so they went and cried to the 31 year old "Executive Pastor" who basically kicked me out of church.  (Does anyone see the irony in this, or is it just me? BTW, at age 38 or 39, that 31 year old was just made the Senior Pastor of this 800-1000 member church.  The man he replaced is still there, but he's slowly stepping back.  Truth be told, once he leaves the church will fall apart because the identity of the church is wrapped up in him because he's their "Spiritual father" (their quote) and the new Senior Pastor just doesn't have the mettle to hold it together, IMHO.)

But I wonder how they feel about the movie now that Mel's had his breakdown?  But despite all of this, they're going to have a harvest???  Oh yeah.  I forgot.  They teach Jesus Christ crucified and the need for salvation and so that justifies all of their subsequent actions {rolling eyes}.

Now how about that prophecy!  What was the prophecy from long ago that we should compare this to?  How soon is NOW?  Of course you have to wonder what kind of harvest they're talking about because the Bible only talks about the great apostasy that's going to occur in the last days (2 Tim. 3:1-9; 2 Pet. 3:3-4 e.g.).  And when Jesus said to "watch" in the Bible it usually had to do with his return (Mt. 24-25).

Yes, this prophecy will come to pass, but not because it's a Word from God, but because they'll manipulate it's meaning.  It'll become self-fulfilling.  Probably what'll happen is that a few churches will close and the sudden influx of people will be hailed as the fulfillment of this prophecy.  Or maybe some catastrophic world event will temporarily draw people into the church from which they'll claim victory.  Or maybe nothing will happen and nothing will ever be said.  Of course there'll be no correction.  So if this prophecy is fulfilled it'll be because they saw to it.    

Yes.  It could happen.  I could be wrong.  But I don't see it.  Where they see soil that's "been made rich through tears of intercession," I see decades of flagrant rebellion and persecution.  It's hard for them to see this because they're stuck in the denominational mindset, and they're going to remain that way because the only people they allow into leadership or governing positions are those willing to toe the party line (2 Cor. 10:12); and so their discernment is based more upon their perception of good and evil, blessing and cursing, and not necessarily God's Word (Dt. 12:8; Pr. 12:15; 21:2, etc).  Anyone who exercises more knowledge and aptitude concerning God's Word is often seen as a threat and is quickly marginalized.  This is oppressive and abusive, but all done in the name of God, of course.

But I don't hold a grudge.  Many of these people were instrumental in my early development, and so I love them dearly and that's why it bothers me so much.  But then I grew; and I grew past many of them.  Many of them are God's people but they're trapped in a system that has jaded their understanding; and so my prayer is that the veil would be lifted from their eyes.  But for now they see nothing is wrong, and until they do nothing will change.  And it isn't like they haven't had the opportunity.  

But God wants our obedience, not our "sacrifices"(1 Sam. 15:22-23).  They're so busy doing the "work" of God that they don't have time to get to "know" him better as reflected in their lack of obedience (reminds me of Mary and Martha).  They've published this prophecy as if they've been moral and upright in the application of God's Word for many years when all I see is the perpetuation of sins common to you're basic denominational church.  They seem to believe that their size and budget implies God's stamp of approval upon their actions; but where they emphasize quantity God emphasizes quality; and where they see riches I'm seeing poverty (Rev. 3:17); and so it's in this context that I have to question the prophecy.

In short, they're deceived; and spiritual deception doesn't occur in a vacuum.  It's the result of purposely rejecting the Word of God (Hos. 4:6; Mt. 13:15).  These people think they're pleasing God when the bulk of their actions only betray him and his Word.  But despite this, and on top of this, they're also prophesying God's favor upon themselves.  But this should come as no surprise, false prophets and teachers do the same (1 Ki. 22:1-38 e.g.).  Selah.

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