An Expose of Disturbing Trends and How to Avoid Them
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Scripture twisting is prevalent. It seems to be in perpetual motion-diluting, reinventing and confusing God's holy Word, especially when it comes to prophecy. One prophetic fad after another fades into obscurity and another one emerges. I recently spoke with the leader of a highly-respected Christian organization. He expressed his concern and disappointment regarding the disturbing contents of the emails he receives from some widely-promoted prophecy "teachers" and authors. He mentioned that one in particular sends him "the most convoluted nonsense." He added, "I think they come up with this stuff just to sell books."
And we have the "prosperity" gospel preachers (con-artists) getting richer by the day by fleecing their followers...Creflo Dollar.
Are you kidding me?
How can anyone be taken in by a charlatan with a name like that? Yet, thousands of gullible people follow him like brainwashed robots. They foolishly give their hard earned money to him, naively waiting for their "seed" money to sprout into riches. While they are waiting for the big payout, Creflo Dollar and his wife use the "harvest seed" money of their followers to live an extravagant lifestyle-which includes two multi-million dollar homes, expensive high-end cars, and even a private jet. 
One of Creflo Dollar's popular mantras which should catch your attention is this one: "Harvest responds only to seed not to prayer, not fasting." Then he pleads with his followers to send their "seeds" (money) to his ministry.
If you watch him on YouTube in any video, he looks and sounds so shady it is tough to imagine how he can continue to get away with his charade. (He also considers himself to be one of God's "prophets.") Senator Chuck Grassley did attempt to investigate him but his ministry was very uncooperative.  
A Christian British publisher with whom I worked for many years related to me her personal interactions with some Christians-how her experiences motivated her to start her own company publishing Christian books. She died unexpectedly last October; it was not long before she died that we had one of our lengthy discussions about the dynamics that are crippling the Christian church today.
I distinctly remember one of the first things she ever shared with me early on in our working relationship. She said she had been harmed by Christians more than anyone else-that the prevalent lack of trust and backstabbing amongst Christians had become heartbreakingly commonplace. She was very grieved by this. Every time she sent me a manuscript to edit and prepare for publishing, she was hoping and praying that one more person in the world would see goodness and kindness coming from a Christian ministry.
The treatment experienced and expressed by my colleague from those not-so-Christian Christians-is right on target, all part of the end-time scenario-just as the apostle Paul warned in 2 Timothy 3:1-4:
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God."
Last week while I was shopping for produce at my favorite local grocer, one of the cashiers, apparently on a break, walked by and greeted me. I asked her how she was doing and she replied, "My schedule is so hard, I never know my hours until the beginning of each week. But God will take care of me."
As soon as I heard the words, "But God will take care of me," I jumped on the opportunity to speak with her about the Lord. She said she was raised as a Christian but no longer has anything to do with other Christians and never goes to church-because she has been disappointed too many times and has found Christians to be hypocrites. When she said the word, "hypocrites" her eyes bulged out as in disgust.
She poured her heart out to me right there in the produce aisle. After hearing some of her experiences I could totally understand why she did not want to be around other so-called Christians. We talked about having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus; she seems very sincere and believes she is a Christian.
I hope to be able to speak with her again soon, and give her some of my books and a Bible. She did say she reads "spiritual things" but has stopped reading the Bible-which really concerns me. She could drift into some "New Spirituality" types of false teachings without meaning to. It is in instances like this when people are vulnerable-that the devil hurries to the rescue!
"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
Many wonderful Christians and ministries steadfastly stay faithful to the Lord and His teachings. But unreliable teachings open the door wide for some people to ultimately lose hope and faith. When "prophecies" and "teachings" fail time and time again, and professing Christians behave like heathens, people get discouraged. They begin to question what they believe, which sometimes causes them to completely "fall away from the faith."
"But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak" (1 Corinthians 8:9).
"Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?" (1 Corinthians 5:6b).
We must be careful as to what we accept as truth; a man or woman who is an effective speaker and acts like a friend may be very convincing but may not be worthy of your trust. As President Ronald Reagan used to say, "Trust but verify."
"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:6).
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:11).
For example, if we hear about prophetic proclamations from self-appointed "prophets" who think God has given them a special "calling" and their predictions fail to come true, then of course we know they are false prophets and their prophecies are not from God-just as the Scriptures teach.
The situation becomes worse when these false prophets will not take responsibility for their failed predictions, when they don't think they need to repent, and instead, smugly flaunt spiritual superiority. Do these false prophets suffer from serious mental disorders with grandiose delusions thinking that they can accurately predict the future or are they on a power trip? Maybe both.
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matthew 24:11-12).
Adding insult to injury-false prophets may irrationally blame the very people who entrusted them when they proclaimed that they are "never wrong." They cry foul as if they are being unfairly persecuted for being called out for their own failed "prophesies." One must wonder how many lives are harmed by these emotionally unstable and delusional false "prophets." People like this clearly cannot be trusted and are in serious need of spiritual counseling and repentance.
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Ephesians 5:11).
When the unsaved witness this type of hypocrisy, the cause for Christ is significantly damaged. Maybe these purveyors of falsehoods forget that God will hold them accountable for their unrepentant egregious behavior. Somehow I don't think that ever enters their minds; they are too obsessed with being self-righteous and attacking others to try to detract from their own failed predictions. Disgraceful.
"Thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:16 emphasis added).
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit" (Matthew 7:15-17 emphasis added).
In order to avoid becoming a victim of various questionable teachings and false prophecies, every believer would be wise to regularly study the Bible-with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and see if what is being taught is in keeping with the Scriptures. But be sure it is the Holy Spirit guiding you and not something else. Seek out Bible teachers who are true systemic Bible expositors who can also help guide and teach you.
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15)
"But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer" (2 Timothy 2:16)
What does it mean to study the Bible?
Some people "study" for decades yet do not understand that there are specific teachings that are God's truths. Their beliefs are often based on emotions and feelings rather than sound doctrine. The abundance of "Christian" cults are prime examples of this; they claim to study the Bible but have many erroneous teachings.
We must consider the literal meaning of a passage, its historical and grammatical context, and how it harmonizes with the rest of Scripture. If we are perplexed by some Scriptures, we must keep studying until the intended meanings can be determined.
Bible prophecy found in Scripture is God-breathed. It gives us hope and glimpses of the future.
To say "We can't know Bible prophecy" shows a lack of willful understanding, a lack of solid biblical teaching resulting in poor discernment-reminiscent of a lukewarm church.
If we are to buy into the idea that "We can't know" then we must never take a strong stand on any prophetic truths, which would include the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, that the nation of Israel would be reborn as written, and that God is going to wipe-out the Russian-Muslim confederacy in the Gog-Magog war, etc.
God and His holy Word are intentional-not incidental.
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation" (2 Peter 1:19-20 emphasis added).
Why would God give us the Bible with so many prophetic Scriptures if we are not meant to understand them? We know that prophecy makes up about one third of the Bible and we are admonished to watch for signs taking us to the end of the age.
"Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21:36).
The "golden" rule for interpreting Scripture is a reliable guideline that takes us to the intended meaning of the Word of God. All Scripture must be taken literally with some exceptions. When something is obviously unclear that is when we can say, "We don't know."
Common sense tells us when Jesus is called the "Lamb of God" (John 1:29), that does not mean He is a literal lamb. It is symbolic of the fact that He is the Paschal Lamb sacrifice for the sins of the elect.
The late Dr. David Cooper, a brilliant scholar, taught a very precise reliable method of interpreting Scripture-the Golden Rule of Interpretation. In my book, Israel's Guaranteed Future Glory, I have a lengthy section titled "Understanding Bible Interpretation" which is a very useful guide.
The Golden Rule of Interpretation
When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicates clearly otherwise.
An example to show how this principle works can be found in Revelation 12:
"And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth" (Revelation 12:3-4a).
There is not, and there will never be a literal dragon with seven heads and ten horns. If there were such a creature it could not sweep a third of the stars in space, and cast them down to earth. Therefore, the dragon and the stars are symbolic.
To further support this premise, later, in Revelation 12:9, the verse says that the devil-who is called a "great dragon," and his angels were cast down to earth. We can determine from this that the devil is the dragon and the angels are the stars.
We know that a physical dragon cannot cast one-third of the stars in space down to earth (Revelation 12:3-4), but the devil who is called the great dragon (Revelation 12:9) can lead one-third of the angels in heaven (Daniel 8:10) to rebel against God and wreck havoc on earth.
In chapter nine of Revelation there is a detailed description of demonic creatures. These demonic-like creatures are real and not symbolic. It is not impossible for there to be creatures as depicted in Revelation nine; they do not portray actions that are physically impossible for a creature to do.
The book of Revelation has often been referred to by many people as a book that cannot be understood. That belief is simply not true if we apply ourselves and understand basic principles of biblical hermeneutics.
Here is a helpful guide to study God's Word:
- Determine who the message is being given to and why.
- Determine if the message is to be understood as being literal or symbolic using the Golden Rule of Interpretation.
- Determine the context (what is the subject).
- Determine the dispensation and if the message is for us today.
- Find as many passages dealing with the subject as you can.
- Put together the message of all the passages to determine what is being said.
- Give clear statements far more importance than unclear statements.
- Base the message of an unclear statement on a clear one.
It is evident that many people who claim to study the Bible for even a lifetime often do not grasp the intended meanings of God's Word. All we have to do is look around and see one contradictory confusing teaching after another.
Pastors would do well to preach sound doctrine derived from the Word of God; sermons on repentance, sanctification, sin, heaven, hell and eternal punishment in the lake of fire. Too many sermons are "politically correct" so as not to offend anyone.
What about not offending the God of the universe who holds our lives in His hands?
"If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness" (1 Timothy 4:6-7).
Fulfilling the Great Commission can be greatly hindered when professing Christians and pastors offer weak testimonies due to their compromised behavior and lack of biblical acuity. Pastors and teachers who are true to God's Word are a greater blessing than they may realize. We need more of them to guide congregations with good solid teaching.
Recently I discovered an outrage going on amongst some ministries because some previously traditional pastors are now defending Muslims. Evangelist Brannon Howse is up in arms as are some others that no one is challenging Minister James White, who has foolishly given a Jihadi Imam a platform to speak Islamic lies.
Brannon Howse considers this type of behavior a very serious threat to our country and is trying to bring attention to the problem. He refers to this growing dilemma as the "Coming Ecumenical Jihad." This situation is very much a part of the apostasy which is accelerating at record speed as we move toward the end of the Church age. 
A prerequisite for biblical discernment and understanding is a contrite heart without malice:
"And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
Some well-meaning individuals who sincerely want to learn God's truths are confused because they were never taught how to study the Bible. They totally rely on others to teach them. They search the Internet instead of their Bibles. Some latch onto the most talked about theories (group think) without even knowing if those ideas can pass a hermeneutical litmus test.
This is from where much of their confusion stems. Much of what they are being taught in this way is not true to the Word of God. The Internet is a great tool for researching topics related to the Bible, but then it is up to each individual to take that research and see how it conforms with the Bible in its entirety.
"...these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the scriptures daily, whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).
Surely at some point in every believer's life he or she will come across Scriptures that advocate biblical veracity-so there is no excuse for laziness. We are to study the whole counsel of God to become better equipped to grasp the true meanings of Scripture (Acts 20:27).
We should always keep in mind that every passage in the Bible is empowered by the Holy Spirit and has only one primary meaning. We are blessed to know that God offers absolute truth and therefore it follows that every passage of Scripture has only one intended meaning, and only one correct interpretation. However, there can be many applications.
That a single passage has one meaning and one meaning only has been a long-established principle of biblical interpretation. Among evangelicals, recent violations of that principle have multiplied.
The single-meaning principle is of foundational importance in understanding God's communication with mankind, just as it has been since the creation of the human race. The entrance of sin in Genesis 3 brought a confusion in this area that has continued ever since.
Bernard Ramm was a Baptist theologian who wrote prolifically on biblical hermeneutics. He advocated the same principle in different words, "But here we must remember the old adage: 'Interpretation is one, application is many.' This means that there is only one meaning to a passage." 
Divide and Conquer
We must be mindful not to be caught off-guard by teachings that appeal to our flesh but cannot stand up to careful biblical scrutiny. The lack of discernment and irresponsibility in the Body of Christ is alarming at times. But then again, many who profess Christ are not authentic Christians; they only think they have discernment, but in truth they are biblically weak-lacking a genuine intimate enduring walk with the Lord Jesus; they cause divisions and have hidden motives that do not glorify God.
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:17-18).
It is important to be extremely cautious every day choosing friends and associates wisely, and not be "tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14). Jude had this to say about self-serving people in the last days:
"But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, 'In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts. These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit'" (Jude 17-18).
Years ago, I wrote an article titled, "He Must Increase, but I Must Decrease." After we published it on Rapture Ready, someone who considers herself to be an upstanding Christian was bothered by it. She asked, "Why would you write something like that?" I was shocked by her lack of understanding regarding one of the most basic teachings of Christianity. The Lord Himself admonishes us to live lives placing Him first; at the very least we should aim for that kind of life.
Later, I learned that this same person is heavily into the teachings of T.D. Jakes. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey Jakes stated, "There has to be many paths to God." 
It is no secret that Oprah Winfrey believes the same thing. She has said so publicly many times. She and T.D. Jakes are indeed kindred "spirits" and those spirits are not of the true God of the Bible:
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6) emphasis added).
T.D. Jakes epitomizes self-love along with a long list of other very troubling teachings. This very famous mega-church pastor teaches that there is nothing "more essential" than falling in love with yourself in his book titled, Falling in Love with Yourself, p.15. 
"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves" (2 Timothy 3:1-2a).
The worldly wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:19) taught by T.D. Jakes is totally contrary to the doctrine of Christ, 2 John 9-11:
"Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds."
If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23 emphasis added).
Not all who are compromised individuals are obvious disrupters. Many are pretentious people who profess Christ, but have ulterior motives and have infiltrated the Christian church-usually to gain some sort of self-empowerment.
These irreverent wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15) use biblically recognizable words and piously proclaim God in their lives-but what they are advocating is shallow "spiritual" fluff. The living God is a stranger to these unrepentant purveyors of confusion; what's worse-they are strangers to Him:
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).
Another very sad, troubling trend which feeds the apostasy and damages a Christian's witness is when we observe troublesome individuals seeking special attention by hovering around Christian ministries/churches with a groupie-like mentality-fawning over those who may or may not be reliable teachers-perhaps hoping that by some sort of osmosis they will become enlightened and popular; they may even cause disturbances if things don't go their way.
These are often hyper-emotional co-dependent professing Christians who function by latching onto others in unsettling ways. Good solid Bible teachers, ministry leaders and pastors would never enable and encourage such dysfunctional behavior; they would reject flowery words of gushing adulation (idolatry). This happens in small ministries as well as much larger ones. I believe some people who create problems in ministries have varying degrees of mental and emotional illnesses, which cause them to be mean-spirited and behave irrationally.
Idolizing a church leader has taken precedence over the Lord in many ministries. Take a look at some videos of mega-church services, especially those that teach the "prosperity" and "feel-good" messages; the congregations seem to be mesmerized-as if hypnotized, in awe of the person preaching at the pulpit.
You won't see much adulation for Jesus, if any. It's all about tapping into your own "instincts" or "awakening that power within you" to "get more" and "be more of you." These are New Age precepts that have infiltrated the Church, dangerously taking people away from the true Living God of the Bible.
The motives of imposters, of counterfeit Christians are selfish and insincere; many of them believe their own impaired ideas that they are "saved" and are "doing the Lord's work." The born-again benefit of 2 Corinthians 5:17-maturing into a "new creature in Christ" has somehow eluded these demanding, haughty histrionic-whiners.
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (2 Corinthians 13:5; Romans 12:2).
Individuals who peddle questionable and confusing Scripture-twisting ideas are dedicated to their own advancement, although they want people to believe they are sold-out for Christ. Tragically, huge numbers of people cannot discern false teachings and are deceived. The corruption is intensified when false teachers proclaim the "doctrines" of other false teachers, and those man-created doctrines become widely accepted as "truth."
In such cases that stamp of acceptance and approval is really a sign of the soaring apostasy,
and another giant step toward the Rapture and the Tribulation. As that time draws near, we can expect the apostasy to dramatically escalate. We should not be surprised and dismayed but rather encouraged-for our redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:28).
When we keep an eternal perspective on life we will not be dragged down by matters that will be of no value or concern to us when we are finally with the Lord. If we are honest with ourselves, and choose balanced godly living over daily worldly distractions, the peace of God will surpass all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
We should never assume someone is a true believer or has honorable intentions just because he or she seems cordial, and can give a speech referencing material relating to the Bible, or is popular.
Some of the wealthiest preachers who teach the "prosperity" gospel and the "feel-good" ecumenical universal god messages do not seriously teach the Word of God. Yet they are very popular, and have huge followings. Their followers for the most part live very ordinary lives, while the pastors live lavish lives of self-indulgence. These pastors are very skilled in soliciting money from their congregation for personal gain. In secular terms, I think that would be called a "snow job."
When professing Christians think they can live unscrupulously in private, mask their unsavory motives and actions with spiritual jargon, then use God's grace to rationalize and excuse their disingenuous shady behavior-it is a direct affront against the Living God and His precepts.
"These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me" (Matthew 5:8).
The points that have been made here are the same warnings that we find throughout all of Scripture-to be careful as to what we accept as God's truths-to learn what they are, and to pay attention to what kind of people are in our midst. Genuine believers who take their faith seriously must pray for the deliverance of those who are confused and misled, and also for the deliverance of the deceivers-the imposters, the false teachers and false prophets, the backstabbers who take advantage of others to further their own agendas to boost their already over-inflated egos.
The basic tenants of Christianity have been hijacked and perverted by the deceivers; their lives will end in tragedy when they find themselves shut out of heaven. Counterfeit Christians play fast and loose with God's Word in order to achieve their selfish agendas, knocking over all those who are in their way. They too, will pay a high price for their perverse ways.
God did not step out of eternity and suffer a horrific torturous death so those who play games with our faith can claim some kind of cheap grace as an excuse for their reprehensible behavior. Integrity-including biblical integrity-is far more important than pleasing people and being popular.
The spiritual war is heating up on many levels. Be sure you are well-armed and on God's side.
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).