Passage From Lying Signs & Wonders
This present religious generation is more prepared and ripe for strong delusion than any in the history of the world. It is a generation that cannot discern the true anointing, that equates the word of God with their understanding of the Bible and their tradition. God and His presence have been associated with a wide range of emotions and bodily sensations. The “word” people have heard has left them spiritually empty in the face of the stress of today’s world and the flood tide of deception that is engulfing mankind. Satan is not holding anything back because he knows his time is about to run out.
One movement sweeping through many groups today merits special mention. It is a movement marked by many manifestations described even by some of its followers as “bizarre.” These include: laughing uncontrollably; falling down, sometimes unable to move for considerable periods of time; roaring like a lion; even barking like a dog; and other uncontrollable outbursts.
People come to believe that they are being “filled with the Spirit,” that they are entering into “the divine romance,” a relationship in which God “makes love” to His people.
Those who enter in are taught that their experience is repeatable and are encouraged to minister one to another as often as they feel inclined.
Not surprisingly many plausible ideas have been put forward to explain, justify and promote this “blessing.” As I said earlier, people have been prepared for this. Ideas planted in people’s minds, often years earlier, are “confirmed” as they encounter this phenomenon.
Taken all together -- people prepared by Satan; the powerful emotions and sensations people experience; and the plausible rationale to explain it: this is, I believe, a diabolically clever deception.
People don’t stop to think that what makes deception so deceptive is how good it looks and how right it seems. They do not take adequately into account Satan’s ability to counterfeit the things of God.
Why would Jesus warn of deception so powerful that even the elect would almost be deceived if it were not so? Matt. 24:24. That has to apply to real people in real situations -- maybe to people you and I know.
Most religious people are just that -- religious -- and certainly cannot be considered God’s people. Yet increasing numbers of these gullible souls are falling under the spell of a warm, gooey, touchy-feely “god” who stirs their inward emotions with feelings of unconditional love and acceptance. Noticeably absent is a spirit of deep conviction of sin and repentance. This spirit loves and receives everyone. “Just As I Am, Without One Plea,” has become, “Just As I Am,” period!
Uncontrollable laughter, often disorderly and inappropriate, is said to be “the joy of the Lord.” Considering the stress of living in today’s world, any spirit that stirs up a deep laughter will most certainly bring about an emotional release that makes people feel better.
Following are a few of the reasonings I have encountered along with some comments.
“We need to believe in God’s desire to bless us more than we fear Satan’s power to deceive us.” That sounds good and is designed to disarm someone who would rightly be concerned about deception.
On the one hand, the Bible clearly states that we are to beware -- or to be concerned -- about deception. Col. 2:8, I Tim. 4:1-6, I John 4:1, Matt. 24:4.
On the other hand, this statement assumes that it is God’s desire that His people live on a perpetual mountaintop of feeling and experience and that what they are experiencing is, in fact, God.
There is nothing in the New Testament to suggest that the Christian life in this world is like this. Paul certainly knew nothing of this. Although he experienced great revelations (II Cor. 12:7), his general experience was one of death that God’s life would come forth (II Cor. 4:7-12). Note some of the emotions and experiences that were Paul’s lot in this passage alone: trouble, perplexity, persecution, being cast down, always delivered unto death. He said “... death worketh in us ...” (verse 12). Other passages describing his experiences include: II Cor. 1:4-10, II Cor. 6:4-10, II Cor. 11:23-33.
The Lord even declined to deliver Paul from being buffeted by a demon, but rather told him, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s response was, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” II Cor. 12:9.
Folks today don’t want the cross, the way of death-to-self. They despise the living word that would search them out that they might be delivered and transformed. They would much rather have a “god” who loves, assures and receives them as they are and who gives them what they need through an experience apart from the word. Any “word” involved is pretty much after the fact and selectively uses scripture to seemingly support the experience.
The same Bible that speaks of love and joy also warns of a spiritual condition people can get into when God sends light and they reject it in favor of their own way. I am persuaded that this is what has happened to this generation in a general sense.
In John 12:35 Jesus said, “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.”
Isaiah 66:3-4 portrays a people that outwardly appeared to be walking in Moses’ law, doing all the right things. Yet God saw through the outward and compared their apparently righteous acts to abominable disgusting things. The consequence of this condition is in verse 4: “I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them: because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.”
Remember the warning in Prov. 1:20-32. It is a terrible thing to not walk in light, to be abandoned to darkness and delusion. Delusion is a condition in which people are absolutely sure they are right -- but they’re wrong!
If perchance someone reads this to whom it applies, you will not recognize yourself. You will resent or pity me and go on as you are. God has a remnant capable of turning their hearts and minds to Him, however. This is to them.
Another idea put forward is to point to the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22-23 -- including love and joy -- and then to note that it says, “... against such there is no law.”
This is taken to mean that if you see someone in the throes of some spiritual experience he seems to be enjoying, you’re not to interfere or to question it. If the manifestation seems strange we’re to realize that God’s ways are above ours, that He’s God and we’re not to question how He does things.
The devil delights in that sort of reasoning. It contains a measure of truth that makes it sound good, but it is truth misapplied and distorted. The Lord never intended that we drop our spiritual defenses in the face of every mysterious supernatural manifestation claiming and appearing to be of God. I do not object to “letting God be God,” as some say; I do strongly object, however, to letting the devil pretend to be God!
Closely related is the argument that points to the fruit of this experience. People are “happier, freer, loving each other, praising God, etc.” The reasoning follows: “Surely Satan wouldn’t cause people to praise God.” This argument is powerfully convincing to those who look “on the outward appearance.” I Samuel 16:7.
As to the fruit, I believe that people are being seduced by the sweet-smelling fragrance of blossoms. I fear that the real fruit is yet to come.
TAKE AWAY THE NOISE
Imagine two people side by side. One is moving in God’s Spirit, genuinely worshipping God from the heart. The second is outwardly doing all that the first is, yet the inspiration behind it is not God at all, but a religious spirit, a demon.
You say, “Why would a devil praise God?” The answer is that a devil can appear to praise God as part of his strategy to deceive. Remember, Satan doesn’t appear as a devil of darkness but as an “angel of light” (II Cor. 11:14).
The question is not one of appearance. We are all too easily deceived by that, but how does God see a thing? What is its true nature? Would God recognize and receive the “praise” of the second person in our example above?
Amos 5:21-23 is another picture of apostate Israel outwardly serving God, walking in the law, singing and worshipping God. In verse 23, God says, “Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.”
The truth is that people can be very emotional and sincere in expressing their religious feelings and beliefs and be dead wrong. Most of the Pharisees went to their graves absolutely convinced that they had served the cause of God by instigating Christ’s crucifixion. They were very emotional about it and also about what they considered to be Stephen’s blasphemy (Acts 6:8-7:60). Until God intervened, Paul, then known as Saul, agreed with them (Acts 8:1).
Only when our hearts are genuinely turned to the Lord can we begin to see past the outward appearance and recognize the inspiration behind a thing. Just remember, however, that God’s Spirit is not given to equip us to walk alone but to fitly join us together (Eph. 4:16).
One thing I’ve observed, not only in this movement, but also in many others is a real lightness, a casual flippancy, in the way they speak of God and the things of God. Judging from the “flavor” of many things I’ve heard said, a lot of folks think of God almost as their “great buddy in the sky,” someone “really neat” to know.
I’ve heard people use the word “awesome” concerning God in virtually the same way they might use the word to describe a slam dunk in a basketball game. “Awesome” without any true awe!
I’ve heard more than one person’s strong experience spoken of as God “blasting” them (ha ha) as though God were playing games with people and they found it amusing.
If such expressions make you cringe, good! This religious generation has lost all fear of God. If they knew Him they could not speak of Him as they do. What is called “the fear of God” is a human sentimentality taught by the precept of men (Isaiah 29:13).
Neither Job nor Isaiah were what we would think of as “sinners,” that is, they were among the more godly men of their respective generations. Yet hear their words upon a genuine personal encounter with the presence of God: “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6); “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5.
Contrast their words with a T-shirt I saw recently on which Gabriel was portrayed as “the original Bugle Boy!” A lot of religious people today get a real kick out of seeing how clever and “cute” they can be about God. In reality devils are mocking God through the very people who profess to be His followers.
CAN YOU IMAGINE?
Imagine the following if you can. Jesus is sitting on a hillside teaching the people. Suddenly He is overcome by a fit of laughter and falls to the ground whooping uncontrollably. Peter quickly steps forward and says, “Not to worry, folks, He’s just being blessed and filled with the Spirit. See how happy He is. You can be filled too: just let us pray for you. Some may laugh, some weep, and some may feel weak and fall down under the power. Don’t worry, though, we’ll have ‘catchers’ assigned to help you when you fall.”
Pretty soon the hillside is littered with people laid out like cord wood, some giggling, some laughing out loud, most just immobile “under the power.”
If you can find such a scene believable you might as well stop reading! Yet folks believe that this same Jesus is today responsible for similar scenes!
Another argument put forward is that these manifestations are not unique but that they were experienced in historical revivals. Rather than causing me to believe in what’s happening now, this causes me to question some things that happened back then!
I can say from personal observation that whenever God’s Spirit is genuinely moving, the devil will try his best to plant his people and manifest a counterfeit to corrupt and confuse. Just because strange manifestations may have attended genuine revival doesn’t guarantee that they are of God.
One thing this experience does is to seemingly offer people a spiritual shortcut. As we indicated earlier, folks are supposedly getting it all through an experience: no need for repentance, the Word, learning patience through tribulation, being disciples of those God anoints to minister the Word. Our flesh hates all of those things -- the very things God has ordained to deliver and transform us -- yet we love experiences! They feed our egos and deliver us from the need for faith.
One characteristic that afflicts great numbers of religious people is a spirit that aspires to be and do something they consider to be spiritually important. An experience such as this is very appealing to these people. It offers a shortcut to ministry. The only qualification necessary to be able to lay hands on people and have phenomenal things happen is to first partake of this experience.
Jesus encountered such people in John 6:28. They wanted to know what they had to do to “work the works of God.” Verse 29 shows us what God wants: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” What God wants is for us to recognize and receive both His messenger and His message.
People with all kinds of motives flock to see phenomenal manifestations who would not stay five minutes where they had to walk by faith and be disciples under the living word that “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Heb. 4:12.
The manifestation of people falling down or being caused to fall down “under the power” has become a great sign to many of this present generation. When this “sign” appears in the context of sincerity, sympathetic sentiment, emotional arousal and some actual miracles it becomes powerfully convincing to empty, needy souls not grounded in the living word of God.
Jesus never used his anointing to knock people down! He didn’t need “catchers.” There were cases where people fell down (Mark 9:17-27, Luke 4:33-36), but in every instance it was caused by demons. Jesus’ response was to cast out the demons and to lift the people up.
I’d like to pose a question concerning the deception Jesus referred to in Matt. 24:24 to anyone who claims to believe the Bible. He said it would involve “great signs and wonders” and would all but deceive “the very elect.” What do you think that deception will be like? How would you recognize it if you encountered it?
The emphasis was not on how false it would be but on how deceptive. If you were the devil and were trying to deceive Bible-believers, you certainly would be very careful to do and say things that looked and sounded genuine. You would be a careful student of everything that professing Christians found convincing and then you would employ that knowledge to get them to receive lies along with a skillful counterfeit of what they believed.
THE HOLY GHOST
Another thing that needs commenting on concerns the continuing unscriptural emphasis on the Holy Ghost. I recently heard a message on TV by one of the leading “sign and wonder” preachers. His message was such a distortion of the truth that I almost could hear someone saying, “Well, praise the Holy Ghost! -- and, by the way, thank you, Jesus, for your minor role.”
Every false doctrine allows Satan to divide, confuse, and bring people into spiritual bondage. Truth, in every area of doctrine, brings understanding, faith, rest and deliverance. I believe that the Remnant Church will experience a great measure of deliverance and freedom as she begins to understand the truth concerning our great sovereign God and the Son He brought forth to be Creator and Lord of all as well as Savior and Elder Brother to the redeemed of all ages!
THE COMING OF CHRIST
One of the greatest areas of doctrinal deception continues to concern the coming of Christ. Even more so than twenty-five years ago the airwaves are filled with radio and TV preachers preaching some form of those teachings popularized by the footnotes in the Scofield Bible. I am persuaded that the Scofield Bible has long been one of Satan’s greatest tools to pervert the understanding of professing Christians -- including many who are genuinely part of God’s remnant.
Let’s play a game of “what if” for a moment. “What if” I were to tell you of a new understanding of the coming of Christ that is coming forth even as we speak? “What if” I were to tell you that the first appearance of this new understanding occurred about 40 years ago in the unpublished writings of a Spanish Jesuit Priest? “What if” I told you that his ideas, recently translated into English, are now being enlarged upon in an unusual spiritual visitation in which people are supernaturally compelled to utter unpremeditated prophesyings, sometimes for as long as two hours at a time? “What if” I told you that these prophesyings, while warning of the imminent return of Christ, also are serving to establish many brand new doctrinal interpretations of the scriptures concerning the end of the age?
What do you suppose would be the reaction of today’s dispensational teachers were I to approach them with this information? Would they leap for joy? Would they rush to embrace these new ideas, believing that God was intervening to correct their theology?
You know as well as I do that these teachers would “lead the parade” in denouncing any new ideas that would arise in such a manner, especially if these ideas differed from their own, yet what I have described in our little game of “what if” would have been entirely accurate had I been writing in the year 1831! The Spanish Jesuit Priest was named Lacunza. The strange spiritual visitation occurred in the congregation of a minister named Edward Irving in England, who, coincidentally, was the translator of Lacunza’s manuscript.
The totally novel doctrine, never before suggested in the history of the church, was the two-stage theory of the second coming of Christ, the idea that Christ would first “rapture” believers out of the world, pour out judgments for a period of time, and then return for a “second” second coming to reign.
From this dubious beginning has evolved the popular dispensational teachings of today! Satan understands the power of tradition. He has spent two centuries establishing this system of falsehood and deception so that today’s generation would embrace it without question as time-honored truth.
The scheme of having it built into the footnotes of a popular edition of the Bible has proved a stroke of genius. It is much easier for people, preachers included, to consult these ready-made “answers” than it is to seek God and wait upon Him for true revelation. Take that fact and add several generations and it is easy to see how these ideas have become so enmeshed in people’s minds. When they read the Bible, they read it with “dispensational glasses.”
On top of this there have been a whole range of political developments, especially concerning Israel, that have strengthened the dispensational theories in people’s minds. In the light of the word, especially the New Testament, are these developments a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy or are they elaborate lying signs? If you are reading this apart from the book, Lying Signs and Wonders, I hope you will get the book, read it with an honest heart and seek God about what you read.
There is apparently even some talk about plans to build a temple in Jerusalem. If this happens it could very well prove to be one of the greatest lying signs of all. In the light of the word, we can safely say that Christ will never reign there and that God will never sanction a return to bloody animal sacrifices for sin. That people can believe such stuff and claim to believe the word which says that Christ “offered one sacrifice forever,” (Heb. 10:12) is a pretty clear indication of the power of deception.
THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD
All of this preoccupation with world events and the supposed fulfillment of scripture has served to divert the attention of multitudes from the voice of the Son of God who is gathering His Remnant Church and teaching her in preparation for His return and the end of this present world.
A little over a year ago there was a special stirring in our midst as the Lord re-emphasized the nearness of Christ’s coming and the fiery end of the world. Also emphasized was the fact that we are in the tribulation now and religious tradition is blinding men to what is happening even as it did at Jesus’ first coming. Incidentally, this stirring began the day before the Los Angeles-Northridge earthquake.
I found it very significant that just at the time this was occurring in our midst, at least two prominent TV preachers went out of their way to pause and say, “One thing we know for certain: the world is not about to end!” The devil was very aware of the emphasis of God’s Spirit and made a special effort to counter His message. Of course the preachers said what they did because of their belief in a coming millennial reign of Christ.
These subjects have been well covered in earlier chapters, yet a few comments are in order.
Something rises up in me when I hear someone speak of how wonderful it will be when Christ finally returns to set up his kingdom and reign. Through this false doctrine Satan has not only held out a false hope of salvation after Christ’s coming but has subtly implied that Christ is not reigning now. He is supposedly in heaven somewhere biding His time, waiting for the opportunity to begin His reign.
I have news for you: Christ’s reign is not about to begin; it is about to end. Before He went to the cross He said, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” John 12:31.
His reign began at the cross where He broke the power the devil had had over man through sin. It has continued nearly 2000 years as He has faithfully gathered an elect remnant from every nation through His word.
The climax of His reign will occur at earth’s darkest hour. When the last of the elect is brought in and the work He has purposed to accomplish in this earth is complete, He will return to gather His elect to Himself, to destroy all else by fire, to preside over the final judgment and to hand over the Kingdom to His Father. Rom. 9:28, Matt. 24:29-31, II Thess. 1:7-10, II Peter 3:10-12, John 5:22, I Cor. 15:24.
Believers don’t need to hear a fairy tale of some future reign. They need to know the simple truth that Christ is reigning now! He is actively in charge, carrying out His Father’s will to prepare His brethren for the world to come.
What Lucifer does, he does by permission. He and his demon host have been loosed upon unbelieving man as never before in our day. This is simply a further sign of the end of this present age when, as it was in the days of Noah, God’s Spirit will not always strive with man. Matt. 24:37. Gen. 6:3. Satan knows his time is short. Rev. 12:12.
Even as Satan’s stranglehold upon lost mankind deepens, the light of God’s truth grows brighter for the Remnant Church. She, with Christ’s presence and leadership, is the ark of safety for God’s people in the final flood of darkness.
At the very darkest hour, when it will appear that Satan has won, his kingdom will be utterly crushed by the sudden return of our Lord in power and great glory! II Thess. 2:8.
Are you ready?
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