The Sword Of The Lord ~ Dr. Shelton Smith, Editor ~ May 4, 2018

Judges 7:20 King James Version (KJV)
And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.

An Independent Christian Publication, Standing for the Verbal Inspiration of the Bible, the Deity of Christ, His Blood Atonement, Salvation by Faith, New Testament Soul Winning and the Premillennial Return of Christ; Opposing Modernism (Liberalism), Worldliness and Formalism.

Amen Corner

When Jeremiah decided not to make mention anymore of the Lord nor to speak in His name, he found a seething volcano within him, a fire shut up in his bones!  When he ceased to testify for the Lord, it was like a stream damned up within him that must burst forth.  Jeremiah was not only in the ministry; the ministry was in him!  He was like that man who had the billy goat by the horns and was crying out, “Someone come and help me turn this animal loose!”  -John R. Rice

It is better to be a good housewife or nurse or domestic servant than to be a powerless preacher or a graceless leader.  -Charles Spurgeon

You had better not pray to be conformed to the image of God’s Son unless you mean business!  It may be anything but the delightful experience you had in mind.  God uses strange ways to make us more like Jesus.  -Vance Havner

From the day of the Declaration [of Independence]…[t]hey [the American people] were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of the Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledge as the rule of their conduct.  -John Quincy Adams

It is one thing to trust Jesus Christ as Saviour and quite another to surrender one’s life to the Lord.  There is such a thing as the dedicated Christian life.  And there are carnal Christians (I Cor. 3) who have never yielded their lives to Christ.  The yielding of one’s life or making Jesus Lord of one’s life is not a requirement for salvation.  That is Lordship salvation and a perversion of the Gospel.  -Curtis Hutson

It appears that too many Christians want to enjoy the thrill of feeling right but are not willing to endure the inconvenience of being right.  -A.W. Tozer

It is not the possession of extraordinary gifts that makes extraordinary usefulness but the dedication of what we have to the service of God.  -Frederick William Robertson

May you who are already saved meditate upon [Hell] in its practical, personal bearings until your heart is so burdened by the awful peril of the wicked that you will rush out to spend the last dollar, if need be, and the last ounce of strength in saving those imperiled men from the certain, awful Hell of conscious agony and shame to which they are fast hurrying.

People don’t miss church because they live too far from the building but because they live too far from God.

One way in which a Christian shows what he is, is by what he does with what he has.

 

 

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Apostles Today ~ Part 3 of 4, March 2, 2018 By ELLIOTT NESCH

Apostles Today Part 3
March 2, 2018 By ELLIOTT NESCH
What are the proof texts for apostles today? It is our duty to examine the claims of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) in light of the Scriptures. On pages 10-12 of his book Apostles Today, three verses are given by Wagner as the Scriptural foundation for recognizing the ongoing office of apostle:
There are three Scripture verses that serve as the primary proof texts for recognizing the gift and office of apostle. Many other texts support this, but these three are core: Ephesians 4:11, Ephesians 2:20, and 1 Corinthians 12:28 (Peter Wagner, Apostles Today [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group: 2012], 10-12).
Let’s consider each one of Wagner’s proof-texts and then examine his interpretation.
Ephesians 2:19-20
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19-20).
Commenting on Ephesians 2:20, Wagner writes,
The foundation of the Church through the ages is to be made up of apostles and prophets. . . . If a church has Jesus without apostles and prophets, it has no foundation from which to initiate solid building. The two go hand in hand; there cannot be one without the other.
The wording of this verse—’built on the foundation’— is another reason why I call apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers the ‘foundational’ offices. (Apostles Today, 11).apostles-today-wagner                                      apostles-today-wagner
Here Wagner assumes that modern apostles and prophets are to govern the church through the ages. As noted above, it is based upon Ephesians 2:19-20 that C. Peter Wagner alleges that “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers the ‘foundational’ offices.” Contrary to Wagner’s interpretation, the “foundation” is actually a reference to the past period within the church’s history, not “foundational offices” which are ongoing through the ages.
The apostles are the foundation of the church. According to Ephesians 2:19-20, the apostles were the foundation upon whom the church is to be built. The apostles and prophets are identified as the church’s foundation in a sense secondary only to that of Christ Himself. By definition, the foundation is the lowest load-bearing part of a building which is first laid and built upon thereafter. But laying the foundation is not an ongoing process. A foundation is laid only once. The superstructure of the household of God already has its apostolic foundation and thus excludes the office of apostles today. Thus the foundational office of the apostles was unique and isolated to the first-century church. Their foundational role is based upon being personally chosen by Christ, having eyewitness authority of the risen Christ, and the power to perform miracles.
Jesus also said to the apostle Peter, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The church was built upon Peter, being one of the foundational apostles. Also similar to the imagery of the foundation of a building in Ephesians 2:19-20, the apostle John wrote at the end of the Apocalypse, “Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the name of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14). All the apostles were in this foundation of the church, but the figure excludes successors, who are of the superstructure, necessarily.
In addition to Ephesians 2:19-20, the New Testament apostles and prophets are uniquely grouped together elsewhere in the Scriptures. Speaking of the revelation of the gospel, Paul the apostle wrote, “which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:5). In other passages, Paul recognized the apostles as “first”and thereby further recognized their historically foundational role in Ephesians 2:19-20. In two of his epistles, Paul identified the office of apostle as the first gift that Jesus appointed to serve His churches, followed by prophets (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28).apostles-prophet-clipart
apostles-prophet-clipartThough Ephesians 2:19-20 refers to New Testament prophets, the New Testament also connects Old Testament prophets with the New Testament apostles. Speaking of the apostles and prophets, Jesus prophesied: “Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’” (Luke 11:49-51). It appears that Jesus was speaking of the Old Testament prophets who were persecuted by apostate Israel in times past and the New Testament apostles which He chose and sent to preach the Gospel. It is evident that the prophets refer to those of the Old Testament because Jesus said, “For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them” (Luke 11:46). Specifically the “blood of all the prophets” that will be “required of this generation” (Luke 11:50) is “the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah” (Luke 11:51), the accounts of Abel and Zechariah being the first and last martyrdoms recorded in the Jewish canon (Genesis 4:1-9; 2 Chronicles 24:20-22). The parable of the wicked vinedressers (Matthew 21:33-41) is also about God’s judgment upon Israel for having beaten, killed and stoned God’s servants, and “last of all he sent his son to them” (Matthew 21:37), thus indicating that the servants who were sent prior to the Son are the Old Testament prophets.
Peter the Apostle exhorted, “that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:2). Once again, the “prophets” and the “apostles” have a unique foundational role in the church for all time. One example within the New Testament itself of how the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets is the Jerusalem Council. The apostles convened to determine whether or not the Gentile believers should be circumcised and commanded to keep the Law of Moses. The apostle Peter was the first to speak at the Jerusalem Council and he testified of how Gentiles believed the Gospel and their hearts were purified by faith (Acts 15:7-11). Second to speak at the Jerusalem Council, Paul and Barnabas declared how God had worked many miracles and wonders through them among the Gentiles (Acts 15:12). Lastly, the words of James, the Lord’s brother, led the apostles to conclude the council with a declaration that Gentiles should not be commanded to be circumcised or keep the Law of Moses (Acts 15:13-21). As the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:19,20), James quoted from both Peter (an apostle) and Amos (an Old Testament prophet) in order to lay this stone in the established doctrine of the early church.
Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-16
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. . . And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 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; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Epehsians 4:7-8, 11-16)
As the verse indicates, the five foundational, governmental, equipping offices are apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. . . . He subsequently gave gifted people to the Church on two levels: (1) the foundational or governmental level (see Eph. 4: 11), and (2) the ministry level through the saints (see Eph. 4: 12). . . .
Many people refer to them as “the fivefold ministry.” However, this may not be the best term, because “ministry” is not mentioned in verse 11 but in verse 12, as the role of all of the saints, while apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are those who equip the rest of the saints to do their ministry. This may seem like a minor point, but it is the reason I refer to the five ascension gifts as “foundational” or “governmental” or “equipping” offices. (Apostles Today, 10-11).
Wagner says this verse indicates the five “foundational” and “governmental offices.” These gifted men are “foundational” or fundamental to the body of Christ, but only the apostles and prophets are foundational in the sense of Ephesians 2:19-20. And there is actually no indication in the passage to suggest that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are “governmental.” Neither would it be fair to say that Paul is talking about “offices” in the church here. Ephesians 4:8 says that Christ “gave gifts unto men,” not offices.
In the interpretation of Wagner, there is an underlying assumption that the apostolic and prophetic offices were ongoing, but this is a false premise. Paul was writing at a specific and unique time during the apostolic era when there were indeed apostles and prophets in the church. At that time, God did give some to be apostles and prophets in order to lay the foundation. The twelve apostles and the apostle Paul continue to govern the Church today through the Scriptures. Wagner continues:
A major stumbling block in the minds of many who first hear this news of the Second Apostolic Age has been the assumption that once the apostles and prophets completed their work of laying the foundation of the Church in the first couple of centuries, that ended the divine assignment of apostles on Earth— as if they were no longer needed. This deeply entrenched notion cannot be biblically sustained, however, given the statement of Ephesians 4: 11. After saying that Jesus gave to the Church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, the length of time they would be needed is then stated: “Until we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4: 13). Who in their right mind can claim that we have arrived at that point? The only reasonable conclusion is that we are still in need of all five offices (Apostles Today, 12-13).
In his book Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God: God’s End-Time Plans for His Church and Planet Earth, Apostle/Prophet Bill Hamon argues for perpetual apostles and prophets.hamon-apostles-prophets               hamon-apostles-prophets
Ephesians 4 declares that the fivefold representation, manifestation and personified ministry of Christ in mortal bodies will continue until every member in the Body of Christ is fully matured and equipped in their ministries so that the whole Body is edified, built up and matured (Eph. 4:11-13). Only as all five of the ascension gift ministers function fully and equally in the Church will she enter her predestined purpose of coming into the “unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: … [and by] speaking the truth in love, [she] may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:13,15) (Bill Hamon. Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God: God’s End-Time Plans for His Church and Planet Earth (Kindle Locations 791-795). Kindle Edition).
This NAR concept is known as Five-Fold Ministry, which is the belief that five governmental offices mentioned in Ephesians 4:11, namely those of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, continue in the contemporary Christian church.
According to Prophet Rick Joyner, the fivefold ministry is the Ephesians 4 Mandate. Joyner expresses the same type of argument as Wagner when he asks, “Do you know of any church on the planet that fulfills this? Any church on the planet which has yet attained to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ? … We need apostles. We need prophets. … And I believe we have many right here in this congregation.”

Likewise, Prophet Kris Valloton, Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church in Redding, spoke on the role of the five-fold ministry in this way: “God wants to restore the five-fold ministry: the apostle and prophet because He said He gave them until we all attain the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to the measure of the stature that belongs to Christ.”

But today’s apostolic and prophetic movement neglects the fact that the first-century ministries of both the New Testament apostles and prophets did not cease with their death. The church continues to be ministered unto, continues to come to unity of the faith … and to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ by the writings of the apostles and prophets. Through the inspired New Testament, the apostles and prophets continue to perfect the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. And it is this “perfecting of the saints” and “edifying of the body of Christ” that continues until “we all come in the unity of the faith.” But nothing in Ephesians 4 indicates that apostles and prophets will be present throughout the entire church age. This conclusion against the continuation of apostles and prophets is strengthened by the context of Ephesians, since Paul has already explained that apostle and prophets are “the foundation” (Ephesians 2:20).

1 Corinthians 12:27-28
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:27-28)
Wagner writes,C-Peter-Wagner          C-Peter-Wagner
The numbers in the verse, proton (first), deúteron (second), and tríton (third), indicate that this not simply a random selection of gifts and offices. Proton in this instance should be interpreted to mean that apostles are first in order or sequence, not necessarily in importance or hierarchy. Hierarchy is an old-wineskin concept. To put it simply, a church without apostles will not function as well as a church with apostles. . . .
It is fascinating that even though we have had church government backward over the past two centuries according to 1 Corinthians 12: 28, we have evangelized so much of the world! Think of what will happen now that church government is getting in proper order. Administrators and teachers are essential for good church health and will function much better once the apostles and prophets are in place (Apostles Today, 12).
The reference of apostleship in 1 Corinthians 12 is within the context of spiritual gifts, not the governance of the church. From the opening verse: “concerning spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:1) to the closing verse, “But earnestly desire the best gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31), Paul is discussing the gifts of the Spirit. In this way the spiritual gift of apostle is first because the apostles laid the foundation for the church throughout history. Second is the spiritual gift of prophecy and so forth. But Wagner falsely teaches “church government . . . according to 1 Corinthians 12:28.”
It is important to understand that Paul was talking about spiritual gifts and not church government. As I pointed out in Part 2 of this series, the spiritual gift of apostle was never encouraged to be desired. Paul said, “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). And he specifically encouraged them to desire the git of prophecy: “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:1). In spite of the fact that Paul’s list of spiritual gifts includes apostles and sets them first (1 Corinthians 12:28-29), he never encourages the gift of apostle to be sought. Why didn’t he say, “desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may be apostles” if the spiritual gift of apostle was perpetuated in the Church? The clear implication of Scripture is that the spiritual gift of apostle was not available to anybody else except those men specifically chosen by the Lord.
Conclusion
After studying the proof texts used by the NAR for the office of foundational apostles today, it is evident that those passages actually teach the opposite. Wagner goes on to say, “To put it simply, a church without apostles will not function as well as a church with apostles.” Again, none of these passages are a prescription for ongoing church government. The governance of the church has always historically been bishops and deacons (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1; Philippians 1:1). The Christian faith is preserved in the Church by those bishops or teachers who proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ based upon the authoritative and apostolic authors of the Scriptures.
See Also:
Apostles Today Part 1
Apostles Today Part 2
Apostles Today Part 4
Filed Under: Apostles, Bethel Church, C. Peter Wagner, Five Fold Ministry, Kris Valloton, New Apostolic Reformation, Prophets, Rick Joyner

Sword Of The Lord ~ Dr. Shelton Smith, Editor ~ April 20, 2018

Judges 7:20 King James Version (KJV)
20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.

An Independent Christian Publication, Standing for the Verbal Inspiration of the Bible, the Deity of Christ, His Blood Atonement, Salvation by Faith, New Testament Soul Winning and the Premillennial Return of Christ; Opposing Modernism (Liberalism), Worldliness and Formalism.

Amen Corner

Those who win souls go when it is convenient and when it is not convenient.  “Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters” (Isa. 32:20) is just another way of saying, “Blessed is the soul winner who tries to reach every sinner.”  -John R. Rice

The highest type of heroism is not the courage and nerve of the warrior facing the foe but the courage to face the daily issues of life, opposing wrong, and upholding right.  -Roswell Long

Pastors must all contend with the urge to get away from where they are to the next pasture where the grass looks greener.  This is a day of two-year preachers who cannot stay anywhere long enough to build an enduring edifice.  The work is too hard, the wife is unhappy, the weather is bad, so whether the reason be the church, the companion or the climate, away they go!  -Vance Havner

It must be felt that there is no national security but in the nation’s humble, acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling providence.  -Franklin Pierce

A man had better be shut up with a bear robbed of her whelps than live with an accusing conscience.  No racks or fires can equal the misery of being consciously guilty and seeing no way of escape from the sin.  -Charles Spurgeon

Being humble involves the willingness to be reckoned a failure in everyone’s sight but God’s.  -Roy Pearson

Modernists and false religions have perverted the Word as to remove the fact of Hell.  Many sinners scoff at the preaching of Hell.  They turn aside any warning of judgment.  They think the idea of Hell has passed away with the last generation.  Sixty seconds after death, they shall find out the truth of the Word, there is fire in Hell.  -Harold Sightler

Liberty must at all hazards be supported.  We have a right to it derived from our Maker.  But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.  -John Adams

I wonder how so many present-day Christians can consider an hour of worship Sunday morning as adequate adoration of the holy God who created them and then redeemed them back to Himself.  -A. W. Tozer

We should not separate from a Christian brother over an isolated incident or some mistake he has made.  It is wise to wait until one is able to identify a trend or a pattern that is unscriptural.  However, when it becomes apparent that a Christian brother has taken an unwise and unscriptural position and has no intention of changing, then we are justified in separating from him.  -Curtis Hutson

Robb Thompson – Life Changing Testimony

Radically Saved

Robb Thompson’s abridged testimony on his battle with schizophrenia and how he was rescued by finding Jesus.

 

This blog author graduated next to Robb Thompson at Harold L. Richards high school in ’71, in a class of over 700 in the Chicago suburbs.  I also had a locker right next to him in P.E. class.  He was wild, without restraint, and without clear direction, headed for a mental institution shortly thereafter, having issue with multiple personalities.  I remember him asking me about the meaning of life, and since I was not saved at that time, I had no answers.  Notice how his above testimony tells us that he was TOTALLY delivered from the strongholds in his life.  He did not go to classes for recovery.  He was not reformed, he was regenerated by the Lord Jesus Christ.  Pure and simple.  Many today do not understand that this is a miracle and work of God.  That is why they are always “getting saved and giving their life to Christ” over and over and over.  When one is truly saved, there is no need for a repeat performance.  2 Peter 1:10 King James Version  “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure….”  Make sure of your salvation.  When one is truly born from above, God does all the work as we throw our entire being at His feet in FAITH.  (Galatians 5:16 King James Version  “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”)  Robb is the founding pastor of Family Harvest Church in Tinley Park, Illinois.  Their distinction is that they are a racially diverse church with over 4,000 members.

From Wikipedia        photograph

Early life[edit]
Thompson grew up in Oak Lawn, Illinois where he was raised a Roman Catholic and worked for United Parcel Service for the majority of his early adulthood.[1][5] He moved to Homer Township, Illinois, where he sought “practical answers to life’s problems and a real personal relationship with Jesus Christ”, and began considering other denominations.[1] He stated that he had a transformative experience on October 28, 1975 where he was “unplugged and reengineered and then plugged in again to Christ” and became a Baptist for several years.[1][6]
Thompson earned his doctoral degree from Life Christian University, an unaccredited institution[7] based in Tampa, Florida.

Church leadership[edit]
As an ordained minister,[8] Thompson founded Midwest Christian Center in 1983,[5] which later grew into a large worship center.[9] He remained the pastor of the center through the late 1990s.[9] He also pastored the House of Glory church in the 1980s, in Orland Park, Illinois,[8] and held regular Bible study groups. It was during these study groups in 1999 where the name “Family Harvest” was conceived.[3]
Thompson is the founder[10] of the nondenominational Family Harvest Church[11] in Tinley Park, Illinois,[12] a member of the Family Harvest International network. Family Harvest Church, which can hold over 3,000 congregants in one service,[4] has been called a megachurch, noted for its theater chairs, projection screens, polished singing performances, stage lighting, amplified sound, and TV and web shows.[3] In 2004, the church had nearly $10 million in assets.[13]

Church activities[edit]
In 1986, in an effort to promote that Halloween is “historically evil” and harmful to children, Thompson’s church scheduled a “Hallelujah Party” in its place on October 31. The church has made it an annual tradition ever since.[8]
Family Harvest Church’s ministers preached regularly about the risk of a “Y2K apocalypse” during 1998, relating it to Thompson’s published interpretation of the Bible.[9] On January 2, 2000, with Y2K essentially a nonevent, pastor Rev. Doug Boettcher’s message was about not letting go of one’s preparations, urging members of the Family Harvest Church to be prepared “for any kind of natural disaster” and to help their neighbors in such a situation; but many locals had already returned generators and space heaters the day before.[14]
In 2005, Family Harvest Church opposed Tinley Park’s decision to zone an off-track betting facility, as destructive of local ideals.[15]
For Christmas 2005, Thompson arranged the donation of over 100,000 articles of clothing, toys, and other goods to Miracle Centre Cathedral, a Ugandan cathedral run by senior pastor Robert Kayanja that is claimed to be the biggest auditorium in East Africa.[16] The items were distributed to displaced persons’ camps and orphanages in northern Uganda.[17]
In 2009, Thompson founded “City Harvest”, a Family Harvest Church ministry in northwest suburban Chicago.[2]
In early 2011, the Robb Thompson Ministries hosted the “Dancing for the Stars” dinner-dance fundraising event in Orland Hills, Illinois. The proceeds of the event were to go to underprivileged children around the world and to funding Family Harvest’s global missions.[18] Over 400 attended the event which helped raise $25,000.[19] With these funds, two medical and dental trips are being organized in 2011, to the Petén Jungle in Guatemala and later to Haiti, where children, orphans and adults will be offered free medical and dental checkups and treatment.[19] The ministries also announced that a portion of the funds will be donated to help Japan after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[19]

International College of Excellence[edit]
Robb Thompson is Founder of the International College of Excellence, a Christian university dedicated to teaching and training of new pastors “to maximize their personal potential and equipping tomorrow’s leaders”. He serves as the institution’s President. The college is headquartered in Tinley Park, Illinois, a suburb south of Chicago.[cit]

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Final Note:  On a late Saturday afternoon, I was studying for a message to preach at a church I served at in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia nearly twenty years ago.  The Christian program I was watching on television went off, and on came Robb Thompson and his ministry “Winning In Life.”  I thought nothing of it at first, until I noticed he was based near Chicago, and then I learned he was a pastor in Tinley Park.  I went and found my high school yearbook and thought THAT JUST COULD BE HIM.  I finally got a hold of him, and he sent our church a large offering that we put towards our sound system.  I mentioned above about our high school graduation class of over 700, and how we were next to each other.  As we endured the long wait for our diplomas, I distinctly remember Robb saying to me:  “Steve, someday we will meet again.”  He spoke near where I serve in southwest Florida about ten years ago, and I could have fulfilled that prophetic utterance at that time, but I was unable to attend.  Regardless however, since Robb and I are now both born from above, someday we WILL meet again!

Life is full of surprises, Pastor Steve <><

The Sword Of The Lord ~ Dr. Shelton Smith, Editor ~ April 6, 2018

Judges 7:20 King James Version (KJV)
And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.

An Independent Christian Publication, Standing for the Verbal Inspiration of the Bible, the Deity of Christ, His Blood Atonement, Salvation by Faith, New Testament Soul Winning and the Premillennial Return of Christ; Opposing Modernism (Liberalism), Worldliness and Formalism.

Amen Corner

A cruel book will produce cruelty.  An unclean book will produce uncleanness.  Out of all Christendom and out of all the ages, fetch me a victim whose heart has been hardened to cruelty or whose life has been made impure by the Bible.  Show me one.  -T. DeWitt Talmage

Those who teach Lordship salvation say that it is not enough to trust Jesus Christ; you must also make Him Lord of your life in order to be saved.  This kind of teaching frustrates the grace of God and is called in the Bible “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6).  -Curtis Hutson

I suppose, indeed, that in public life a man whose political principles have any decided character and who has energy enough to give them effect must always expect to encounter political hostility from those of adverse principles.  -Thomas Jefferson

It is the profound conviction that we are wholly unworthy of future blessedness, that we are indeed by nature fitted only for destruction, that leads to true repentance.  The man who inwardly believes that he is too good to perish will certainly perish unless he experiences a radical change of heart about himself.  -A.W. Tozer

Our Lord lost many a prospect because He would not mark down the price of utter devotion.  -Vance Havner

I was one day walking along a street in Springfield holding the hands of my two boys who were crying lustily.  “What’s the matter with the boys, Abe?”  asked a neighbor.

I replied, “The matter with them is the matter with the world: one has a nut, and the other one wants it.”  -Abraham Lincoln

I am sometimes startled at the power of a feeble prayer to win a speedy answer.  -Charles Spurgeon

I certainly stand in awe and marvel when it comes to the matter of Hell.  It is such an awful fact.  I pray it may dawn upon you that there is a Hell to which sinners go.

I am not merely concerned with impressing the fact of Hell upon the hearts and minds of the unsaved; but Christians need to be constantly reminded that Hell is no myth, no fable.  Hell is an awful reality, as taught in the entire Word of God.  -Tom Malone

If God loved you as much as you love Him, where would you be?

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Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) Wins Permanent Injunction Against Indiana School District

The Social Engineering Agenda Of “Social Emotional Learning”

California Public School Caught Working With Islamic Terror Front Group

Walgreens Gives The Green Light For Men To Use The Women’s Restrooms

Oregon Legislature Passes Bill To Allow Starving Mentally Ill Patients To Death.

YouTube Quietly Relies On Far-Left Organization To Help Police Content

U.S. Embassy In Jerusalem To Open In May

Quotable Quotation ~ Donald Grey Barnhouse On Satan’s Counterfeit Trinity

Taken from “The End” by  Mark Hitchcock, Tyndale House Publishers, 2012, page 270:

As Donald Grey Barnhouse says, “The devil is making his last and greatest effort, a furious effort, to gain power and establish his kingdom upon the earth.  He knows nothing better than to imitate God.  Since God has succeeded by means of an incarnation and then by means of the work of the Holy Spirit, the devil will work by means of an incarnation in Antichrist and by the unholy spirit.”  In hell’s trinity, Satan is a counterfeit Father (anti-Father), the Antichrist is a counterfeit Son (anti-Christ), and the false prophet is a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit (anti-Spirit).  This is the infernal trinity.

Study: Churchgoers Say Sharing Faith Essential, Many Never Do ~ Three Articles

By Jon D. Wilke by Monday, August 13, 2012

When it comes to discipleship, churchgoers struggle most with sharing Christ with non-Christians according to a recent study of church-going American Protestants.
The study conducted by LifeWay Research found 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.
These distressing results came from an extensive discipleship research project focused on measuring spiritual maturity in individuals. Overall, LifeWay Research found eight biblical attributes consistently evident in the lives of maturing believers. Of those eight, “Sharing Christ” has the lowest average score among Protestant church attendees.
Three-quarters of churchgoers say they feel comfortable in their ability to effectively communicate the gospel, while 12 percent say they don’t feel comfortable telling others about their faith.
Despite a vast majority believing it’s their duty to share their faith and having the confidence to do so, 25 percent say they have shared their faith once or twice, and 14 percent have shared three or more times over the last six months.
The survey also asked how many times they have personally, “invited an unchurched person to attend a church service or some other program at your church?” Nearly half (48 percent) of church attendees responded, “zero.” Thirty-three percent of people say they’ve personally invited someone one or two times, and 19 percent say they’ve done so on three or more occasions in the last six months.
“Many times we’ve been told new Christians are most active in sharing their faith,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research.
“In reality people who have been a Christian longer have higher responses for Sharing Christ than newer Christians. While new Christians may find it natural to share their new experience, mature Christians do it intentionally,” said Stetzer.
According to Stetzer, “praying more frequently for the status of people who are not professing Christians is the best indicator of more spiritual maturity in the entire Sharing Christ factor.”
In the study, 21 percent of churchgoers say that outside of church worship services they pray every day for people they know who are not professing Christians. Twenty-six percent say they pray a few times a week. One-fifth (20 percent) say they rarely or never pray for the spiritual status of others.
“If you are going to be intentional about sharing your faith, praying for others is a great way to start. We often acknowledge the importance of prayer in people coming to faith in Christ, but we also found it has an impact on the person praying,” he said.
These findings are part of the largest discipleship study of its kind. Results from each of the eight attributes of spiritual maturity will continue to be released over the coming months.
To help pastors, churches and individuals measure spiritual development, LifeWay Research used the study’s data to develop a questionnaire for believers, called the Transformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA). This online evaluation delivers both individual and group reports on spiritual maturity using the eight factors of biblical discipleship. The TDA also provides helpful and practical suggestions on appropriate next steps for spiritual development.
“The Transformational Discipleship Assessment not only captures the literal action of verbally sharing one’s faith, but also measures how ready and willing a person is to do so. While most believers accept personal responsibility to share their belief in Jesus Christ with non-Christians, far fewer are seeking these opportunities,” Stetzer explained.
To learn more about the transformational discipleship research visit LifeWayResearch.com. The TDA is available at tda.lifeway.com.

Footnotes
Methodology: The survey of 2,930 American adults who attend a Protestant church once a month or more was conducted October 14-22, 2011. A demographically balanced online panel was used for the interviewing. Respondents could respond in English, Spanish or French. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +1.8 percent. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.

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Why Don’t More Christians Share Their Faith?
by Jack Wellman

Christians share their faith with others, don’t they? Believe it or not, this happens less frequently than you might think.

Jesus’ Commands

Perhaps the one thing that most disciples struggle with after they’re saved is sharing their faith with an unsaved person. They might love to serve in the church, they might regularly attend worship services, and they might even teach a class, but when it comes to sharing their faith with family or friends, it appears that they might be ashamed of the gospel. Obviously, the Apostle Paul wasn’t shy about telling others about Christ, writing, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16). Jesus told the disciples to go into all the world to make disciples, teaching them the same things that Jesus taught them (Matt 28:19-20), but not only if they felt like it…they were to go, despite how they felt about it. The things that they were to teach others are found in the four gospels today, and in other letters written by the apostles in the New Testament. We may not be able to go into all the world, but we can go next door, or to the person standing in line behind us, or by any other means God may divinely place us. Why don’t more obey this imperative command from our Supreme Commander? There are reasons, but none of them very good.  Go into all the world to make disciples.

Fear of Man

The Bible teaches that the fear of man is a stumbling block proves to be a snare (Prov 29:25). It prevents us from doing what we know God wants us to do. This self-inflicted fear muffles our witness, mutes our testimony, slost o many who know us might not even know we’re believers. We naturally tend to do things that will make people like us, rather than do what we know God wants us to do, and one thing is to present the gospel to people. The Apostle Paul had no choice but to preach the Word, writing, “if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor 9:6). Paul asks a few rhetorical questions like, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news” (Rom 10:14-15)! God opens doors that no man can (Rev 3:8), and the church knew that, gathering “together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they stayed there a long time with the disciples” (Acts 14:27-28). There is never any mention of any believer being silent about their faith; only rejoicing at how God was saving many hundreds and later, thousands. Being fearful about sharing their faith never occurred to them. They were more fearful of neglecting God’s commands than being afraid of rejection, scorn, and destroyed relationships.

Current Trend

Jon D. Wilke, in writing about churchgoers silence about Christ, said that 80% of churchgoers believe they are commanded to share their faith but only 60% of them (3/4ths of them) have done it only once over the last six months, and just about half the Christians who responded said that they have never once invited someone to church. [1] Does the fact that we don’t witness for Christ connect to the fact that only 21% of Christians pray for someone who is lost. Barna Research questioned believers and 73% are sure they’re commanded to be witnesses, yet less than half do…and less than half that group (48%) has never witnessed at all! [2] Since Barna has been tracking data on evangelism (in 1966), there has been a steady drop in the number of Christians witnessing, and this given the fact that there are more Christians today than in 1966. [2] One interesting fact was that the poorer the Christian was, the more likely they were to be evangelizing. I’m not sure why that is, but those who are richer tended to witness less. Perhaps it’s due to having more financial comfort and security than the poor, and the poor can more easily identify with those who are struggling.

Knowing the Gospel

You can’t share what you don’t know, so you must know the gospel well enough to share the gospel without a Bible. You might not be able to carry a Bible with you everywhere you go or have it at every moment you need it, so memorize key Bible verses and you’ll always have them with you. Maybe this is what’s keeping some from sharing their faith more, or it might be they’re living in sin and feel like hypocrites by witnessing for Christ. But it could be they don’t know what to say. A couple of verses destroy the false idea that most unsaved people have. Most believe they’ve done more good than bad, and that should be able to get them into heaven, however, Romans 3:10-12 puts a stop to that thinking. It says that none are good; not even, meaning there are no exceptions (Rom 3:10-12). Every one of us have fallen infinitely short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23), and the wages of eternal death will be paid out at Christ’s coming or after we die (Heb 9:27), “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). Jesus offers every one of us, one of two choices: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36), so people must know the gospel well enough to know that being a self-proclaimed “good person” is not good enough on Judgment Day (Matt 7:21-23). They must be able to tell others that only through Christ (Acts 4:12) can we have the righteousness that is required to enter the kingdom and escape the wrath of God (2 Cor 5:21).

Conclusion

It’s easier to witness when there are two of you. One can be praying while the other is speaking. Today, there are really good Bible tracts that you can hand out to people, leave in public places, and put in the places where people will be, but I believe it’s most difficult of all to witness to family because you stand to lose the most in relationships, however, let me remind you (and me!) that Jesus said the cost is high, and showing that said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). If we stop for a moment and look at people…look intently upon our lost family and friends…, and now, think about their eternal state without Christ, and that their eternity is forever fixed and will never, ever change. We might have more compassion and courage to tell them about Christ. When the founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth, wrapped up a class on evangelism, he said if these men could spend 5 minutes in hell, they wouldn’t need this training. They’d likely be jumping out of their chairs and running as to rescue someone from a burning house…which, in a way, it is. Like we once were, a stick snatched out of the fire, twice burnt, once saved; but only by the grace of God (Zech3:2). The stick couldn’t have saved itself. It needed someone else’s help. God doesn’t need us to save anyone, but He is pleased to use us as a means to do so. Who went to that trouble for you? Aren’t you glad they stepped out of their comfort zone?
1. Wilke, Jon D. Churchgoers Believe in Sharing Faith, Most Never Do. Lifeway.com. http://www.lifeway.com/Article/research-survey-sharing-christ-2012 (Accessed Dec 20, 2017).
2. Kinnaman, David. Is Evangelism Going out of Style? Barna.com/research https://www.barna.com/research/is-evangelism-going-out-of-style/ (Accessed Dec 20, 2017).
Here is some related reading for you: How to Evangelize Door to Door
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®

Read more: https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/why-dont-more-christians-share-their-faith/#ixzz5Fu25HwUG

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Churchgoers Believe in Sharing Faith, Most Never Do

Sharing Faith, Most Never Do

by Jon D. Wilke by Monday, August 13, 2012

When it comes to discipleship, churchgoers struggle most with sharing Christ with non-Christians according to a recent study of church-going American Protestants.
The study conducted by LifeWay Research found 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.
These distressing results came from an extensive discipleship research project focused on measuring spiritual maturity in individuals. Overall, LifeWay Research found eight biblical attributes consistently evident in the lives of maturing believers. Of those eight, “Sharing Christ” has the lowest average score among Protestant church attendees.
Three-quarters of churchgoers say they feel comfortable in their ability to effectively communicate the gospel, while 12 percent say they don’t feel comfortable telling others about their faith.
Despite a vast majority believing it’s their duty to share their faith and having the confidence to do so, 25 percent say they have shared their faith once or twice, and 14 percent have shared three or more times over the last six months.
The survey also asked how many times they have personally, “invited an unchurched person to attend a church service or some other program at your church?” Nearly half (48 percent) of church attendees responded, “zero.” Thirty-three percent of people say they’ve personally invited someone one or two times, and 19 percent say they’ve done so on three or more occasions in the last six months.
“Many times we’ve been told new Christians are most active in sharing their faith,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research.
“In reality people who have been a Christian longer have higher responses for Sharing Christ than newer Christians. While new Christians may find it natural to share their new experience, mature Christians do it intentionally,” said Stetzer.
According to Stetzer, “praying more frequently for the status of people who are not professing Christians is the best indicator of more spiritual maturity in the entire Sharing Christ factor.”
In the study, 21 percent of churchgoers say that outside of church worship services they pray every day for people they know who are not professing Christians. Twenty-six percent say they pray a few times a week. One-fifth (20 percent) say they rarely or never pray for the spiritual status of others.
“If you are going to be intentional about sharing your faith, praying for others is a great way to start. We often acknowledge the importance of prayer in people coming to faith in Christ, but we also found it has an impact on the person praying,” he said.
These findings are part of the largest discipleship study of its kind. Results from each of the eight attributes of spiritual maturity will continue to be released over the coming months.
To help pastors, churches and individuals measure spiritual development, LifeWay Research used the study’s data to develop a questionnaire for believers, called the Transformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA). This online evaluation delivers both individual and group reports on spiritual maturity using the eight factors of biblical discipleship. The TDA also provides helpful and practical suggestions on appropriate next steps for spiritual development.
“The Transformational Discipleship Assessment not only captures the literal action of verbally sharing one’s faith, but also measures how ready and willing a person is to do so. While most believers accept personal responsibility to share their belief in Jesus Christ with non-Christians, far fewer are seeking these opportunities.”
To learn more about the transformational discipleship research visit LifeWayResearch.com. The TDA is available at tda.lifeway.com.

Footnotes
Methodology: The survey of 2,930 American adults who attend a Protestant church once a month or more was conducted October 14-22, 2011. A demographically balanced online panel was used for the interviewing. Respondents could respond in English, Spanish or French. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +1.8 percent. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.

 

Is America A Christian Nation?

Is America a Christian Nation?
May 26 2018
Written by: Prophecy in the News

Many of our political leaders over the years, not only believed that America was founded on Christian values, but were also devout Christians.
In 1787, twelve of the original 13 States sent delegates to meet together at the Philadelphia Convention, where they drafted the U.S. Constitution (Rhode Island boycotted the Convention.)
The 55 delegates who wrote the U.S. Constitution belonged to the following denominations:
-26 Episcopalian
-11 Presbyterian
-7 Congregationalist
-2 Lutheran
-2 Dutch Reformed
-2 Methodist
-2 Quaker
-2 Roman Catholic
Benjamin Franklin, who called for prayer at the Constitutional Convention on June 28, 1787, stated:
“In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection.
Our prayers, Sir, were heard and they were graciously answered.
All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor. ..”
Franklin continued:
“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God Governs in the affairs of men.
And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? …”

New Hampshire Governor John Langdon called for a Day of Fasting, February 21, 1786, to pray for the new government:
“That He would be pleased to bless the great Council of the United States of America and direct their deliberations …that he would rain down righteousness upon the earth, revive religion, and spread abroad the knowledge of the true God, the Savior of man.”
New Hampshire’s annual Fasting Day, a date fixed by the Governor, was observed April 10, 1788:
“to be observed and kept as a day of fasting of humiliation and prayer.”

Our 2nd U.S. President, John Adams once said, “Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company — I mean hell.”

Our 6th U.S President, John Quincy Adams, chastised “the liberal class who consider religion as merely a system of morals.” He celebrated the Bible because “when duly read and meditated on, it is of all books in the world, that which contributes most to making men good, wise, and happy.”

Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President, was raised in his parents’ Baptist faith. The toll of the Civil War led Lincoln to undergo a profound spiritual journey; before the war, Lincoln had imagined Providence, the power sustaining and guiding human destiny, as a remote and mechanistic force. When he was president, however, Providence began to emerge in his mind as an active and more personal God, a mysterious presence whose purpose eluded human understanding. Lincoln received the casualty lists and toured military hospitals. In February 1862, his son Willie died of typhoid fever.
In September 1862, one of the darkest moments of the conflict, Lincoln committed his thoughts about God on a small piece of paper that his secretary later titled “Meditation on the Divine Will”:
“The will of God prevails. In great contests, each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. … I am almost ready to say this is probably true — that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet — By his mere quiet power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest — Yet the contest began — And having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day — Yet the contest proceeds.”

The 20th president, James Garfield, was known as the “preacher president.” He converted to Christianity at a camp meeting in 1850. The next day he was baptized in the Disciples of Christ Church. “Today I was buried with Christ in baptism and arose to walk in the newness of life,” he wrote.

The son of a Presbyterian minister, Stephen Grover Cleveland, our 22nd and 24th president, attended Sunday school and multiple services in his father’s church each Sunday. He would remain a member of the Presbyterian Church his entire life.
In a letter accepting his nomination to run for president in 1884, Cleveland promised to rely “upon the favor and support of the Supreme Being Who, I believe, will always bless honest human endeavor in the conscientious discharge of public duty.” He became more visibly religious while in the White House and attended the First Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., throughout his time as president.

Harry S. Truman, our 33rd president, was a member of the First Baptist Church in Grandview, Mo. As president, Truman made frequent references to religion and Christianity in his public speeches. On April 16, 1945, in a statement before a joint session of Congress, Truman asked God for guidance, saying, “I ask only to be a good and faithful servant of my Lord and my people.” Truman repeatedly referred to America as a “Christian nation” and declared that it “was established by men who believed in God. You will see that our Founding Fathers believed that God created this nation. And I believe it, too.”

Our 35th president, John F. Kennedy, wrote to Brazil’s President, Janio da Silva Quadros, on January 31, 1961:
“Once in every 20 years presidential inaugurations in your country and mine occur within days of each other. This year of 1961 is signalized by the happy coincidence… To each of us is entrusted the heavy responsibility of guiding the affairs of a democratic nation founded on Christian ideals.”
On October 28, 1961, Kennedy proclaimed the National Thanksgiving Day these words, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.”
Let us go forth to lead this land that we love, joining in the prayer of General George Washington in 1783:
‘that God would have you in His holy protection, that He would incline the hearts of the citizens…to entertain a brotherly love and affection one for another…
And finally that He would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with…the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, without an humble imitation of whose example we can never hope to be a happy nation.”

Ronald Reagan, our 40th president, was raised and baptized in the Disciples of Christ Church, Reagan did not shy away from encouraging Christianity as president. Early in his presidency, he wrote a letter saying: “My daily prayer is that God will help me to use this position so as to serve Him. Teddy Roosevelt once called the presidency a bully pulpit. I intend to use it to the best of my ability to serve the Lord.”

Sources:
William “Bill” Federer/American Minute
PBS.org/God in the White House

After Baseball Park Declines to Play National Anthem, Fans Rise to Sing it Anyway

After Baseball Park Declines to Play National Anthem, Fans Rise to Sing it Anyway

When a crowd at a Fresno, California, baseball game was told that the park had no intention of playing the Star-Spangled Banner prior to the game, the crowd rose to their feet and sang it anyway.
A video of the incident shows the crowd breaking out into boos when they collectively realize that the national anthem is not going to be played. But soon the boos give way to voices rising in unison to sing the anthem whether the park planned it or not, Fox News reported.
The incident happened at a high school softball championship game at Fresno State’s Margie Wright Diamond on Friday night as the Clovis High Cougars faced (and later defeated 6-3) the Buchanan High Bears.
Baseball fan Tiffany Marquez told the Fresno Bee that she was shocked when the announcer said the anthem was canceled. “Within seconds, you could hear people in the crowd singing and the volume of their voices building. There I was, standing in the middle of a true testament to unity and patriotism,” she added triumphantly.
Event coordinator Bob Kayajanian insisted that “normally” the anthem is only played at the earliest game if there are several games played during the same event on the same day.
“It’s all a learning experience for everyone and (going forward) we’re playing the national anthem at every game,” Kayajanian added before saying he thought it was “obviously a wonderful thing” that the crowd sang the song anyway.

Let freedom ring and ignore political correctness.  Thank God for our police officers and armed forces because they daily protect the great freedoms we enjoy in our nation.  Thank Jesus Christ for dying for our sins, and for becoming both Lord and Savior to every Christian who is truly born from above.  Have a blessed Memorial Day.  All Because Of Him, Pastor Steve  <><

 

Memorial Day 2018

Apostles Today ~ Part 2 of 4, February 19, 2018 By ELLIOTT NESCH

 

C-Peter-Wagner
C-Peter-Wagner

Apostles Today Part 2
February 19, 2018 By ELLIOTT NESCH
Today’s apostles of the Charismatic movement or New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) claim to be foundational and governing apostles wielding spiritual authority in the present-day church. This claim is exactly what Paul warned the church about regarding false apostles in 2 Corinthians 11:12-13. For example, C. Peter Wagner adopted the official definition of apostle for the International Coalition of Apostles (ICAL):
An apostle is a Christian leader, gifted, taught, commissioned, and sent by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly for the growth and maturity of the church and for the extension of the kingdom of God. (C. Peter Wagner. Apostles Today [Baker Publishing Group], Kindle Edition, 27).
In fact, Wagner claimed that he wrote his book Apostles Today for the following purpose:
The major purpose of this book is to affirm that there are individuals today who have been given the gift and office of apostle just as there were in biblical times. This implies that, among other things, they have been entrusted with an extraordinary amount of spiritual authority in the Body of Christ. (Wagner, Apostles Today, 120-121).
However, in consideration of the three qualifications for the office of apostle (in the last post), the historic limitations for the apostolate are obvious. Moreover, the cessation of the apostolate is conveyed by the following biblical reasons:
(1) The apostles occupy a foundational position in the church.apostles-today-wagner                                               apostles-today-wagner
Wagner argues that one of the roles of today’s apostle is, “They govern.” He says: “Apostles are skilled in setting things in order. Along with prophets, they lay the biblical foundation of the Kingdom (see Eph. 2: 20)” (Wagner, Apostles Today, 28). Here Wagner is claiming today’s apostles of the NAR possess the same role as the New Testament apostles of Ephesians 2:20, which says that the church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” In other words, today’s apostles of the NAR are not simply missionaries sent by the church, but leaders in an apostolic office with spiritual authority to govern the churches like those New Testament apostles which are the foundation of the church.
The following three passages teach that the New Testament apostles are the foundation of the church:
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone (Ephesians 2:20).
Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the name of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:14).
According to these texts, the apostles are the foundation upon whom the church is to be built. The apostles and prophets are identified as the church’s foundation in a sense secondary only to that of Christ Himself. By definition, the foundation is the lowest load-bearing part of a building which is first laid and built upon thereafter. But laying the foundation is not an ongoing process. A foundation is laid only once. The superstructure of the household of God already has its apostolic foundation and thus excludes the office of apostles today. The foundational office of the apostles was unique and isolated to the first-century church. Their foundational role is based upon being personally chosen by Christ, having eyewitness authority of the risen Lord, and the power to perform miracles. Another foundation cannot be laid on top of the roof of the building of the church, that is, in the end times. Laying the foundation for the building of the church is limited to the apostolic era in history.
(2) The gift of apostle was never encouraged to be desired.
C. Peter Wagner acknowledges the spiritual gift of apostle, but attributes that gift to today’s apostles within the church. He wrote,
Apostles have a spiritual gift. There is such a thing as the spiritual gift of apostle. Part of this gift is strong influence. Knowing that they are apostles because God has chosen to give them the gift of apostle obviously provides apostles a solid foundation of authority (Wagner, Apostles Today, 23-24).
However, Paul said, “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). And he specifically encouraged them to desire the git of prophecy: “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:1). In spite of the fact that Paul’s list of spiritual gifts includes apostles and sets them first (1 Corinthians 12:28-29), he never encourages the gift of apostle to be sought. Why didn’t he say, “desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may be apostles” if the spiritual gift of apostle was perpetuated in the Church? The clear implication of Scripture is that the spiritual gift of apostle was not available to anybody else except those gifted men specifically chosen by the Lord in the first century.
(3) Paul saw himself as the last eyewitness and apostle.
C. Peter Wagner discusses the biblical characteristics of modern apostles, one of which is “seeing Jesus personally.” Wagner said,
Of course the original 12 saw Jesus, but so did Paul, when Jesus appeared to him on the Damascus Road, and as he indicated in 1 Corinthians 9: 1: “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?” According to an informal survey of the apostles whom I know today, about 20 percent have actually seen Jesus personally (Wagner, Apostles Today, 30-31).
When reporting about the appearances of the risen Lord Jesus Christ to the apostles, Paul wrote: “And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:8-9). Paul indicated that “last of all” Christ appeared to him, so that he was one-of-a-kind “as of one born out of due time.” Though Paul never questioned the authenticity of his apostleship, he certainly did not see it as setting a pattern for apostles of future generations. In Scripture, Paul noted that he was the “last” eyewitness and “least” of the apostles to see the Lord as “one born out of due time.” All of this implies that the apostolate was set and closed to those apostles of the first-century church.
(4) The apostles instituted bishops and deacons, but no qualifications are given for ordaining apostles.
C. Peter Wagner says that modern apostles are to be “commissioned.” Wagner wrote,
[A]n office, such as the office of apostle, is not given by grace alone, but is given as a result of works that have demonstrated faithfulness in stewardship of the gift. If God has chosen to give a man or woman the gift of apostle, the fruit of that gift will be evident to others, and in due time the Body of Christ will confer the office of apostle on that person. This act is most often termed “commissioning,” and it is performed by peer-level apostles, as well as prophets, representing the church, and by laying on hands. The title “apostle” is ordinarily used only by those who have been duly commissioned into the office; although in some situations this principle has not yet been formalized (Wagner, Apostles Today, Kindle Locations 1647-1653)
One such apostolic commissioning was that of Todd Bentley. In the ceremony, Bentley was blessed by the leading apostles in Charismatic movement like C. Peter Wagner who presided over Bentley’s apostolic alignment ceremony with the apostles Che Ahn, Rick Joyner, John Arnott, and Bill Johnson (also Chuck Pierce Fed-Exed his special revival oil for anointing Bentley).You can watch his commissioning in full online: part one, part two, part three, and part four. Not long after his apostolic alignment, Bentley was exposed as an adulterer, a liar, and an occasional drunkard.

Yet the model for church leadership prescribed in the New Testament is bishops and deacons, not apostles. The Bible speaks of pastors, elders, bishops or overseers which all refer to the same office. For example, there is: “the office of a bishop” [Gr. episkopē]” (1 Timothy 3:1); “elders” [Gr. presbyteros] (1 Timothy 5:1, 2, 17, 19; Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23; 20:17; 21:18; 1 Peter 5:1); “pastors” [Gr. poimēn] (Ephesians 4:11; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25); “bishops” or “overseers” [Gr. episkopos] (Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 2:25). There is evidence in the New Testament to demonstrate that all of these terms are synonymous for the same office:
First, bishop and overseer refer to the same Greek word (Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 2:25).
Secondly, Peter uses the word for pastor/shepherd synonymously with the word for bishop/overseer: “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).
Third, Peter describes the elders as those fulfilling the role of a shepherd/pastor and overseer when he says, “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly” (1 Peter 5:1,2, NKJV).
Fourth, Paul uses the terms “elder” and “bishop” interchangeably: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: . . . For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre” (Titus 1:5, 7).
Fifth, consider Paul’s encouragements to the Ephesian elders: “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. . . . Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Elders and overseers refer to the same office which is characterized by feeding the flock, i.e., shepherding or pastoring.
Thus, the apostles instituted that a plurality of elders and deacons should lead the church. The qualifications of the elders and deacons is found in the pastoral epistles (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9). Moreover, the concept of commissioning apostles is totally unbiblical. No qualifications are given in the Scriptures for later apostles, and no biblical instructions exist for ordaining (or “commissioning”) apostles!
(5) A closed canon of Scripture goes hand-in-hand with a closure of the apostolate.
As I pointed out in the last post, apostle Brian Simmons (translator of The Passion Translation), in an interview with Sid’s Roth, claims he was translated into the library of heaven where he saw more books than you can imagine. One book stood out called John 22. Simmons claims, “I believe the John 22 generation will be a people that do the greater works of Jesus. They will not add to the scripture, and that’s a sealed book. But it is a book that is unfolding and the works of Jesus will be replicated by an entire generation of people that believe fully in the power of God.” He claims to not be adding to the Scripture, yet he acts as an inspired apostle with the authority to receive a new chapter of the Bible. By implication, our current New Testament canon is not complete.
In Scripture, there is a direct connection to the New Testament apostles and the writing of Scripture. Jesus promised specifically to the apostles, “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26; cf. John 15:26-27); “[W]hen he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:12-15).
To receive Christ’s apostle is to receive Christ Himself. Jesus said to His apostles: “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (Matthew 10:40); “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (John 13:20). Therefore, the apostles spoke as infallibly inspired men and direct representatives of the Lord. For instance, the apostle John wrote: “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6). This is a claim that only an inspired apostle of Christ can make. The apostle Paul could say to the Corinthians, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37). This is a clear claim to speak authoritatively for the Lord in the apostolic office. Paul also said, “Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you” (2 Corinthians 3:13). Paul is referring to the fact that in his apostolic office he is the inspired representative of Christ. To reject an apostle of Jesus Christ is to reject Christ himself and thereby forfeit His salvation.
Being uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit, the apostles’ instructions are authoritative and understood to be on par with the Old Testament Scriptures (1 Corinthians 14:37; Ephesians 3:5; 2 Peter 3:16). The apostolic tradition was inspired revelation to be received as the Word of God. Paul said, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). Likewise, Jude wrote: “But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 17). Today the New Testament Scriptures are the only true apostolic authority in the church today. But if there are foundational apostles today with the same authority as the New Testament apostles, how could we claim the canon is complete? But the doctrine of a closed canon of Scripture is based upon the fact that the apostles were unique and they are no longer here!
(6) Paul called them false apostles who regarded themselves as apostles of Christ.
Those that claim to be equal to the foundational New Testament apostles are, by biblical definition, false apostles. Yet many of the modern apostles of the Charismatic movement claim to be even greater than the biblical apostles!
For instance, Paul Cain said, “No prophet or apostle who ever lived equaled the power of these individuals in this great army of the Lord in these last days. No one ever had it, not even Elijah or Peter or Paul, or anyone else enjoyed the power that is gong to rest on this great army” (Bob Jones and Paul Cain. “Selections from the Kansas City Prophets,” audiotape (tape: 155C) http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/quotes.html)
Bob Jones said, “The anointing of the end-time prophets and apostles will be ten times the anointing of Moses” (Bob Jones, “An Interview With Bob Jones by Mike Bickle,” Kansas City Prophets, Kansas City, MO 1989, audiotape, quoted in Sandy Simpson, “False Apostles! The False Apostles of the NAR” 10/13/04).
Rick Joyner said, “In the near future we will not be looking back at the early church with envy because of the great exploits of those days, but all will be saying that He certainly did save His best wine for last. The most glorious times in all of history have not come upon us. You, who have dreamed of one day being able to talk with Peter, John and Paul, are going to be surprised to find that they have all been waiting to talk to you” (Rick Joyner, The Harvest [Pineville, NC: MorningStar, 1990], 9).
Those that proclaim to be apostles of Christ are, based upon that proclamation, actually false apostles and ministers of Satan. Paul wrote,
And what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may eliminate any opportunity for those who want a chance to be regarded as our equals in the things they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions (2 Corinthians 11:12-15, NET).
If those who wanted to be regarded as apostles are on that very basis to be regarded as false apostles, then we know that the apostles of Christ were limited to the Twelve and Paul.
Conclusion
There is absolutely no biblical evidence to suggest that the apostles were replaced after their deaths or that their office was to be continued throughout church history. The claims of the NAR that apostles would be restored to the church in these latter times are even more absurd. The apostolate was historically limited to the men specifically chosen by the Lord in the first century church.

See Also:
Apostles Today Part 2
Apostles Today Part 3
Apostles Today Part 4
Filed Under: Apostles, Bill Johnson, Brian Simmons, C. Peter Wagner, Che Ahn, Chuck Pierce, John Arnott, New Apostolic Reformation, Rick Joyner, Uncategorized