By Wayne Camp
In the last article we considered eleven reasons why Promise Keepers must be judged by the Word of God. Discerning Christians must look into and judge such a movement before approving or disapproving it. When I first began research on this movement it was at the suggestion of a brother in the ministry. I had not given much thought to the movement and had no conception of its doctrines and practices. Therefore, I entered upon the study with very little prejudice. I say very little because I have questions about any organization trying to carry out the Lord's work outside the auspices of a local, visible church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The more I have studied this group the more I am convinced that it is one of the most deceptive, seductive, and effective tools Satan has ever devised for luring folks away from doctrinal truth.
Let us now take a general look at the matter of judging of religious leaders and movements. Is it right to judge them by the Word of God? Is it necessary to judge them by the Word of God?
In the last issue I gave reasons for judging PKs by the Word of God. Now, let me give some reasons why discerning Christians must submit all religious leaders and movements to judgment by the Word of God. Since PKs is nowhere mentioned in the Bible, we must simply consider religious leaders in general and then those principles which are set forth in Scripture may be applied to any movement, including PKs. According to the Word of God, there are several reasons why we must judge religious leaders and movements.
THE MANY FALSE PROPHETS NECESSITATE JUDGING
One thing which necessitates judging of religious leaders and movements is that many false prophets and movements are in the world. 1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Here, John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, calls on us to try the spirits to determine if they are of God or not. The reason for this is that many false prophets are gone out into the world. The word translated try in this verse means judge. It will be discussed more in our third article on this subject. We are to try the spirits, judge the spirits by which false teachers work. In our courts when a person is tried he is judged. The whole purpose of a trial is to arrive at a judgment on a persons guilt or innocence. In Scriptural terminology, the word try is used in the same manner. To try the spirits is to judge the spirits and this requires judging those who are motivated by those spirits.
I hope no one is so dull in their understanding that they believe these false teachers are going to identify themselves as such. No! They will identify themselves as servants of Christ. They will speak often in his name. They will claim to be Spirit led, Spirit filled, and Spirit sent. If they came saying, "We are of the Devil," or "We are starting a new movement for which there is no Scriptural foundation," there would be no need to try them as we are instructed. The reason we are to try them, judge them, and prove them is because they parade as ministers of Christ and ministers of righteousness and many follow their pernicious ways. "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14).
FALSE PROPHETS WHO COME IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING NECESSITATE JUDGMENT
Jesus warned of false prophets and the necessity of our being able to identify them. Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits . . . 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. If we are forbidden to judge, we could never discern who these false prophets are. You see, Dear Readers, these false prophets come in "sheep's clothing." They look like Christians. They act like Christians. They talk like Christians. They may be as deceptive as Judas Iscariot was, but they are still wolves in sheep's clothing.
FALSE TEACHERS WHO ARE VERY DECEPTIVE NECESSITATE JUDGMENT
Many deceivers continue to come along parading themselves as genuine Christians.
2 John 7 "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."
They were around during the days of the apostles. The way John tells us to judge them is to examine their message. In the case he mentions in our text there were those who were denying the incarnation of Christ in human flesh.
Did you know that there have been some down through the ages who wore the name Christian, who, in many of their doctrines adhered to strict biblical doctrines on such things as baptism and the church? But, they believed in what was called the "phantastic" theory of Christ's earthly life. They believed that the man Christ Jesus was really a "phantasm." He did not truly have a human body. I was reading of a sect of these people who lived in Bosnia and Bulgaria several hundred years ago. They were identified by the same name as some of those with whom I identify as forerunners of true Baptists of this day. Yet, though they have all the appearance of being Christians, their message, when judged by the Word of God, identifies them as heretics and false prophets. John is very harsh in his judgment of them. He calls them deceivers and antichrists.
FALSE PROPHETS WHO INFILTRATE CHRISTIANITY AND EVEN TRUE CHURCHES OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST NECESSITATE JUDGMENT
False prophets creep into Christianity and even into the Lord's churches and we must be on guard against them.
2 Peter 2:1-3 "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, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 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." What a denunciation! What a judgment of false teachers by the Apostle Peter!!!! He does not hesitate to declare them to be false prophets and false teachers. Their doctrines he calls "damnable heresies." Their ways, their practices, he calls "pernicious." Their ways are dangerous, destructive, wicked, and detrimental. By these the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. One of the goals of PKs is to remove all doctrinal distinctives of the churches except those few doctrines they teach. They speak evil of any doctrine which is not included in theirs because, they say, "It is divisive to the body of Christ." As I pointed out in the previous article, denomination barriers are build on distinctive doctrines. If the barriers are destroyed, the doctrinal foundation upon which they are built must also be destroyed.
EVIL MEN AND SEDUCERS WHO LEAD INTO ERROR AND WHO WILL GET WORSE NECESSITATE JUDGMENT
Evil men and seducers who lead into false doctrine will wax worse and worse as time goes on toward the return of Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 3:13 "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
These seducers deceive others into believing they are of Christ and many will follow their pernicious ways as Peter said in the previous passage. These seducers are themselves being deceived by Satan into thinking they are doing Christ's service. Note that they are not only deceiving others, they are themselves being deceived. Satan is very deceptive and may be the source of their deception. Sometimes men deceive themselves. Sometimes God himself may delude false teachers into believing their lies because they have no love of truth in the first place.
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
If, as these loving PKs who have been writing to me claim, we are not to judge those who claim to be of Christ we would all go blindly along being deceived by these deceivers. God gave us his Word by which to judge them and it behooves us to do so.
One reason these deceivers reject all sound doctrine and discount its importance is because they have never received a love of the truth. The reason that Promise Keepers is so determined to break down denominational distinctions is because they have no love for the truth that distinguishes between true churches of the Lord Jesus Christ and the many false movements in the world. It is easy for those who have no love of doctrinal truth to believe a lie as do most Promise Keepers.
MANY DEPART FROM THE TRUE FAITH OF SCRIPTURE NECESSITATING JUDGMENT
The Holy Spirit has warned of these false teachers. 1 Timothy 4:1 "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils."
In Scripture there is a system of faith laid down for us to follow. This has to do with our salvation and our service. We do not have the prerogative to choose what we want to follow and sweep the rest under the rug. The very call of PKs to break down all doctrinal and denominational barriers is a "red flag" to any discerning Christian who loves the Bible. If you break down denominational walls, of necessity you must bread down doctrinal walls.
Amos 3:3 "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"
If I would walk together with a baby-baptizer in PKs, I would have to lay aside the Biblical doctrine of the baptism of believers only. If I would walk together with a Pentecostal in PKs I must lay aside my belief that the spiritual gifts of healing, tongues, and others were done away when the Bible was finished. I would also have to abandon the truth of the perseverance and preservation of the saints because that is a barrier to my fellowship with many who claim to be Christians. If I were to walk together with a Catholic in PKs, I would have to abandon the biblical doctrine that Christ is the one and only Mediator between God and man for Catholics believe others may serve as mediators. These are just a few of the things that are affected by tearing down denominational barriers. Denominational barriers are essentially doctrinal barriers. You can't get rid of the denominational barriers if you maintain the doctrinal barriers for two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement.
FALSE TEACHERS WHO TRANSFORM THEMSELVES AS APOSTLES OF CHRIST NECESSITATE JUDGMENT
These false teachers transform themselves into ministers of Christ just as their leader, Satan, has transformed himself into an angel of light.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
I again point out that one does not have to be stupid to understand that these men do not go about announcing that they are merely pretending to be apostles of Christ. These false apostles and deceitful workers do every thing they possibly can to appear to be genuine apostles of Christ. They talk the talk and walk the walk but they are only following the deceitful example of the arch-deceiver himself who is transformed into an angel of light. One can just expect that his ministers will also be transformed as ministers of righteousness.
Identifying these deceitful men requires skill in the use of the Word of God. And, it requires the guts to be willing to take the criticism one will endure if he dares take a stand and judge these men by the Word. But, it must be done. God says "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20). Since God calls on his people to come out and be separate from false churches and teachers, if you hear someone calling on everybody to get together, beware for "they speak not according to this word." Since the Word of God teaches that two cannot walk together except they be agreed and you hear someone calling on "Christians" to walk together without agreement on many biblical doctrines, beware, for, "they speak not according to this word." If you hear someone touting an organization such as PKs that is not ordained and set forth in the Word of God, beware, for, "they speak not according to this word."
Jude warns of these and speaks of their judgment.
Jude 10-13 "But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever."
There are three typical errors found in this discussion of false teachers.
First, they have gone the way of Cain. The way of Cain is the way of works. This is what I can do. When Adam and Eve realized they were naked, they made themselves clothing of fig leaves. They sought to cover their own nakedness. Calling on men to make and keep promises is very much like this. God never commanded us to make and keep promises to him or to others. He simply calls on us to walk by faith in obedience to his word for the just shall live by faith. I have asked a number of PKs who have written to me to show me where God ever commanded men to make promises. Not one has produced the Scripture. God is the great Promiser. And God is the great Promise Keeper. Man is cautioned against making vows and promises. I will ask again for a Scripture which teaches the doctrine that is the foundation of the PKs movement. I am asking for the Scripture where men are commanded to make promises as advocated by PKs. And, I ask for the Scriptures that support the specific seven promises the PKs laud so loudly.
Second, false teachers run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward. I have examined the salaries of the leaders of Promise Keepers and several of them make approximately $100,000 per year. The organization takes in millions each year. How strange that such a money-oriented organization and its high-salaried officers could claim to be servants of the one who did not have a place to lay his head. One has only to examine the record of false teachers such as Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Bakkar, and others to see this greedy spirit of Balaam at work just as it is at work in the PKs movement.
Third, false teachers are infected with the gainsaying of Korah. Korah (Core, as it is spelled here) cried out against the God appointed, God-called Moses because Moses and Aaron were God's spokesmen and Korah and his cohorts felt this should be broadened. PKs, while claiming to be friends of the local church, are seeking to usurp the work of those churches. They do this in their cries to destroy denominational barriers and compromise on doctrines for the sake of a pseudo-unity that is truly no unity for two cannot walk together except they be agreed.
As Korah and his cohorts, PKs have apparently targeted Pastors who do not support them for applying of pressure. I have heard from two other brethren who have anti-PKs articles on the WWW and they have been aggressively attacked in recent weeks just as I have. The spirit of Korah has infected PKs and they feel they should usurp the authority of the local church and attack the pastors of local churches if we do not fall in line with them.
THE SUBTLETY AND CLEVERNESS OF THESE FALSE TEACHERS NECESSITATE JUDGMENT
These false teachers creep in so subtly that many Christians are unaware of their presence. In fact, the new and untrained Christian will likely think they are true Christian ministers. Jude 4 "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, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. When Jude set out to write this book, it was in his heart to write to them of the common salvation." Jude 3 "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." But, the Holy Spirit compelled him in another direction--the warning of and exposure of false teachers who had clandestinely and surreptitiously slipped in among them. These are men who were before of old ordained to condemnation but here they are found in a church of the Lord Jesus Christ wreaking their havoc. These men, though feigning themselves to be Christians, are ungodly men who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. It takes discernment, judgment, and trying of the spirits to discover their real identity as ministers of Satan who have transformed themselves as ministers of Christ.
THE PERVERTED GOSPEL PREACHED BY THESE FALSE TEACHERS NECESSITATES JUDGMENT
These false teachers preach a perverted gospel.
Galatians 1:6-9 "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 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. 9 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."
Paul minces no words. If men pervert the gospel in the least iota, they teach a perverted gospel. And he desires that any perverters of the gospel be accursed, or cut off. In a coming article, I will take an example of the gospel preached by PKs and show that it is indeed another gospel proclaiming another Christ. That must wait, for now, but it will be forthcoming, God willing. These men who had crept into the Galatian churches were so subtle and sly that the Galatians did not detect their error. They had subtly bewitched the Galatians. Those false teachers in the world today are so subtle that they often bewitch true believers in Jesus Christ.
Galatians 3:1 "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? They had been hoodood, voodood, hood winked, deceived and seduced by these ministers of Satan who had transformed themselves into apostles of Christ.
When you consider the speakers at PKs rallies one is forced to say that those who flock to and attend these rallies are people who are easily tossed about with every wind of doctrine that is set forth by those who lie in wait to deceive. Ephesians 4:14 "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." Some of the speakers are from the demonic movement called The Vineyard. At least one Catholic has spoken. It is a motley array with divers doctrines. Every wind of doctrine is represented.
have been assured by several PKs that the objectionable doctrines which these men hold are not preached at PKs rallies. This is even more reason to be alerted to the error of this movement. While they may not preach their doctrines at these meetings, this array of religious leaders still hold them and are only compromising by their silence. It is just more evidence that this movement is extremely dangerous because its leaders and speakers are terribly deceptive.
It is evident from the Word of God that there is a real and Scriptural necessity for judging religious movements as well as their leaders. Any movement that is of God has no objection to being judged by the Word of God. The objection of PKs leaders and participants to being judged by the Word of God is evidence there needs to be a trying of the spirits by which they are motivated and moved. I can speak for myself and the church I pastor when I invite PKs to take those articles on our WebSite in which we set forth our doctrines and examine them, try them, and judge them by the Word of God. We are willing to be submitted to the same principles by which we judge PKs and other movements and leaders. The fervor with which Promise Keepers oppose being submitted to judgment by the Word of God is all the more reason why discerning Christians should judge them.
Several years ago I was traveling in Illinois. I stopped at a country grocery store and bought two six-packs of Diet Pepsis. I put them in an ice box and took one that was already in the ice box out to drink. I had hardly gotten back on the road when I was stopped by a state policeman. He said, "I saw you buy something back there that I thought was beer and saw you drinking a can of something as you pulled out of the parking lot of the store. What did you buy. I showed him my can of Pepsi and invited him to check my icebox and see what was in it. My willingness to have him do so caused him to thank me for my cooperation and he did not even look in my icebox. I was not afraid of an investigation or search because I knew he would find no beer in my truck, nor in the tool trailer I was pulling. There was no beer in my possession. If I had had some beer in that icebox and if I had been drinking beer I would have been opposed to a search.
Promise Keepers do not want to be questioned, tried, or judged by the Word of God. I suspect they know that such an investigation would turn up evidence that they do not measure up to biblical standards. So they cry, "Don't judge us! Don't judge us! Don't investigate our doctrines. Just love us and ignore our errors and doctrinal deficiencies."
But, discerning Christians must judge them for only then can we determine if they are of Satan or of God. When they are weighed in the balances against the Word of God they are found sadly wanting.
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