Friday, January 18, 2013

True vs. False Church

"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." Matthew 24:24

Some read the above Scripture and think, "The deception in the last days will be very strong, so much that it could almost fool the elect!"  And that is true.

However, when I read that verse, one thing stands out for me: "There is no protection from deception apart from being one of the elect of God."
elect: eklektos, picked out, chosen by God for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus
A person recently commented on how to discern between the true and false church, wondering if the distinction between the two might not be as clear as people think.  While externally (in terms of outward appearance), the difference can be hard to decipher, internally (what happens on the inside) the difference is literally night and day.

First, let's establish that it is God's will to protect His people from deception. He is not nonchalant about this, leaving us to the whims of the Satan.  We belong to God and He is jealous for us (Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24; Nahum 1:2; II Corinthians 11:2).  He would not send His only Son to be butchered for the lost, only to have them carelessly swept away by a delusion.

Just consider the many things God does to keep us from deception:
  • He has ensured an enduring record of His living word, to reveal to us His mind and instruct us in righteousness; 
  • He places witnesses in our lives who can testify of Him and disciple us in the faith
  • He gives if the mind of Christ so that we can understand and know Him
  • He gives us the Holy Spirit who can lead us into all truth
If we fail, if we fall away into apostasy, it is not because the Lord was remiss, but because we have not availed ourselves of the resources He has provided to nurture and perfect us in our walk of faith.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

There is nothing on the external which will help you to identify what is the true vs. false church (Luke 17:20-21).  It is not the number of members, for according to Scripture the masses will follow the road which leads to damnation.  It is not the recitation of Scripture, for even the Devil knows the word of God.  It is not the existence of supernatural signs and wonders, for Satan is able to give his ministers lying signs & wonders.  Even the false church will have fellowships, ministries, bible studies, good works, choirs, "nice" people, etc. 

"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7:20

While things may look similar on the outside, the mark of the true church is that individuals are being transformed to bear the life of Jesus Christ within. We can beat our heads against the wall debating doctrine until the cows comes home, but at the end of the day all that matters is whether you personally are being conformed into the image of Christ.

Are you gaining victory over sin? Is your appetite for the things of God increasing and the things of the world decreasing? Are you more able to walk in peace & joy, in spite of the ciscumstances around you? Are spiritual gifts being stirred within you so that others are drawn to Christ by the light within you? Are you becoming more concerned for others than you are for yourself? A sound ministry will produce these results in the lives of sincere believers; it will bring forth evidence of spiritual rebirth and maturation in your life.

"Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." II Corinthians 4:1-2

The truth "manifests" itself. This will happen, not merely because the truth is being preached, but because the ministers themselves have been transformed into vessels of truth (not simply hypocrites). When you see the truth - who is Jesus Christ (John 14:6) - being made manifest in your life, then you can know that you have found one of the churches of God.

The significance of being able to discern the false is not for the benefit of finger pointing or criticizing others.  The importance is so that you (and others) are able to abide in truth. It has been said that to know the false, one should study the truth.  The Scriptures however indicate that if we want to discern the false, we must become the truth.  For this we need the Holy Spirit.

A Manifestation of the Truth

"These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." I John 2:26-27

The point of any ministry is to bring about a manifestation of the truth.  The Holy Spirit works in every born again believer to reveal Christ within us (Galatians 4:19). As this happens, we will naturally be able to decipher between the truth and the false by the Spirit.  As you atune your ears to be more sensitive to the Spirit of God, He will let you know when things are not right. You might not even be able to put your finger on why, but there will be an unsettling in your spirit when you are seeing that which is the wrong spirit on display.

"And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." John 10: 4-5

Your best protection against error is to make sure that you are being transformed into the truth; that you become a manifestation of truth.  For this to happen, we need not only the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but we need to be continually filled.  It is the sanctification of the spirit which makes us members of God's elect (I Peter 1:2).  Apart from this continual working of the Holy Spirit within us, we will be deceived.

How do you protect yourself from deception?  Make your calling and election sure, by staying filled with the Spirit of God.

"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall." II Peter 1:10


  1. "The significance of being able to discern the false is not for the benefit of finger pointing or criticizing others. The importance is so that you are able to abide in truth. It has been said that to know the false, one should study the truth. The Scriptures however indicate that if we want to discern the false, we must become the truth. For this we need the Holy Spirit."
    This is an excellent point. Unfortunately, instead of being conformed into the image of Christ, many enjoy researching and criticizing "Churchianity" and the "Charismania" kingdoms. To those, Matthew 7 (Hypocritical judging) applies. Praise God for this ministry!

    1. thank you eric nixon for your post because it is the truth indeed but unfortunately it is a truth that is overlooked and undervalued by those reveling in their percieved "truths" pointing fingers at both the sinful world as well as at "churchanity " and the "charismania" kingdoms. absolutely matthew 7 does indeed apply. love your much needed post and may the Father help us all to be found faithful to His truth not biting and devouring or hypocriticaly pointing out the faults of sinners.WONDERFUL post!!!!

    2. Hi Eric,

      Brother, I agree. I know you are aware of the importance of exposing and refuting error, for the Scriptures call us to. However it is all about what spirit this is done in. Is it done in love so as to protect others from error or self-righteousness in order to make ourselves look better by pointing?

      Knowing what is wrong, and even exposing what is wrong, will only guarantee us a place in Hell next to the ones we are "exposing" if we do not ourselves become that which is truth. As you have so rightly identified, that is hypocritical judgment. The purpose in exposing error is to make plain the way of truth so that we all may abide in it.

      The sum total of our existence is to each obey God so that the life of Jesus Christ may manifest in us. As He does, then He will live and work in us to accomplish the Father's purposes and reach the lost.

      God Bless you brother and please give the family a hug for me! :-)

    3. Hi Anonymous,

      It is always interesting to me how God works. His ways and thoughts are so much higher than our own.

      I mean to cause no offense in this comment and hope that you will consider prayerfully what is said, for it is said in love.

      I believe it is very significant that you have posted here. This is a perfect example of what I mentioned in the article; how the "spirit" of something can be wrong, even if the words themselves don't seem out of order.

      If you have issue with sin being pointed out, then my friend you probably need to repent. Those who are walking uprightly with the Lord are not offended by the exposing of error for they are seeking to be purged themselves from all evil. It is only the hypocrite who does not want sin pointed out because they want to appear outwardly righteous to men (Matthew 23) - and I am not calling you a hypocrite, merely making a distinction about the attitudes towards error being exposed.

      Jesus addressed the sin of sinners and so did His disciples. Being a follower of Christ doesn't mean not speaking about sin, but doing so in love and without hypocrisy or partiality (as Bro. Eric was stating). Don't let a desire to cover sin become a stumbling block, but turn your whole heart to the Lord and let Him complete the work He has started in you.

      Again, of course I don't know who you are and do not mean to be presumptuous, but I had to address the spirit of your post. If there is something in your life that you know God is dealing with, just repent. Let it go and let Him continue to clean you by the blood of Jesus.

      Praying for God's awesome power to deliver you from any bitterness or resistance to His awesome work in your life.

    4. trust me when i write to you that you do indeed assume and presume have no idea just how very wrong you are in this matter. i was simply agreeing with the brother and also agree with your response to the brothers post. now why you felt "led" to respond to my post in the way you did is really something you should consider. i am not offended by your response to my post but i do hope you go before the Lord about how very very far off you were in responding to me. what i sincerely hope for is for you to take your own advice and for you to be careful in how you take things and how you respond to the precious people of God.

    5. Hi Anonymous,

      I am so glad to hear no offense was taken, as none was meant. Please know that it was no assumption or personal take which led to my response. It was the content of your post itself.

      Addressing sin is not "finger pointing"; neither is it an example of biting, devouring, or being hypocritical. While exposing error can be done with insincere motivation, it is very much a part of standing for the truths of God. In fact, the word of God commands us to expose and refute deeds of darkness.

      As with all members of the Body of Christ, my responsibility in all things is to respond to as God leads me (even when the message is not one of "smooth things"), and so I did here. Nonetheless, if you feel my comments were without basis, I can only hope that is true. May we all walk in truth before the Lord first and each other as well.

      Thank you for responding.

    6. who said addressing sin was finger pointing?? i wasnt talking TO you i was responding to eric's post. what is wrong with you? and if a god led you to respond with those lies aimed at me i assure you it wasnt the Holy and Almighty God as He doesnt lead us into the path of lies.i dont know what you were trying to do with that last post but clearly you have issues and i dont know if you are a sister or not but these responses of yours make me question it for myself. i will be praying for you that God will free you from the deception you clearly are in. i will no longer view your blog so no response to me will be read by me. i am not offended but you needed to be told about yourself though you wont listen. i pray that the Most High place you and keep you on my heart and mind to hold you up before Him in prayer and agape love. you are decieved indeed if you really believe the things you wrote in your responses to me. may God help you as well as the rest of us.

    7. Hello Anonymous,

      You ask, "who said addressing sin was finger pointing??"

      In your initial post you stated, "thank you eric nixon for your post because it is the truth indeed but unfortunately it is a truth that is overlooked and undervalued by those reveling in their percieved "truths" pointing fingers at both the sinful world as well as at "churchanity " and the "charismania" kingdoms. absolutely matthew 7 does indeed apply. love your much needed post and may the Father help us all to be found faithful to His truth not biting and devouring or hypocriticaly pointing out the faults of sinners."

      No, you didn't direct your comments to me, but if they may be in error, should I not say so? Particularly if we share a love for the saints as we all should. There is usually a reason why people do not want sin exposed. That is something to consider.

      Think what you will of me; I have no impetus to defend myself. However, seeing how this conversation has affected you, perhaps there is more to what has been shared with you than you are willing to consider right now? Either way, it doesn't matter. My purpose here is not to point out someone else's issues; I have enough of my own (as you so kindly pointed out).

      Whether you ever read this blog again is not important. Rather, I hope and pray that anything shared of the Lord in this discussion will take root in both of our hearts.

    8. You posted the following verse:
      "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." Matthew 24:24

      It is verses like that and many others that warn us of deception that will happen in the name of Christianity and Christ! This is some of the most terrifing news, how many souls will be lost? will it be you? or me? your family members? whole nations?

      Let us all be watchman and protectors of the gospel.

    9. Hi Anonymous,

      This is true. Deception is rampant in the name of Christianity and Christ. As the quote from Charles Spurgeon says in the article, it is the difference between right and "almost right" which is most deceptive. We must all be watchman and protectors of the true Gospel if we are to stand and if we are to be effective witnesses to others.

      God Bless!

  2. Hi Latterdays,

    I was wanting your intake on the controversy about how Bishop Wayne T. Jackson prayed over his two new bishops. I used to attend his church when I lived in Detroit and I always thought of him as a powerful man of God. I saw the video and I felt a little uneasy about it. I read his response to the controversy and that when he became a bishop he was covered the same way and that it was not sexual and was biblical. I haven't read anything about have a man lay on top of another man as a form covering. I am always careful about criticizing a man or woman of God. I still talk to none of the members from his church and when I asked them about the controversy they said people blew it way out of proportion and took it out of context. One mother from the church said not to touch God's anointed and do his prophets no harm and that the people who criticize a man of God open themselves up to curses. I asked her what if the man of God does something wrong or sin. She said it is not our place to tell them if they sin that God will let them know when they sin, but if she or I sin then we can be corrected but we are not to correct leadership, only God can correct leadership. Thanks for your input. Be blessed.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I actually didn't know the name of the man involved (sorry, I cannot call him a Bishop), but I did see the video. It turned my stomach.

      I honestly think it was religion at its best (no life of God within so a grand performance of showmanship to try and look holy). Consider even how he pounced upon the man; turning quickly, running, and jumping on top of him (I didn't watch anymore after the first man). Great flare and show, but no Holy Spirit. I wonder if his great ability to perform is why you thought he was so powerful?

      "But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one." Acts 8:9

      Nothing is biblical unless it has its basis in Scripture. Having been done to him does not make it "biblical"; it merely makes him a victim of the same perversion he initiated on those men. The only time I know of anything like this in Scripture was when Elijah laid over the child of the woman with little oil to bring him back to life (I Kings 17:17-24). This however was no ceremonial rite to anoint persons to ministry. Further, the evidence of Scripture seems to indicate that this was a small child because Elijah took the boy out of his mother's bosom (verse 19).

      Your comments are interesting because the thing which stood out most was how many people sat and watched this as if it was okay. I was reminded again of Acts 8:9; the people have to be bewitched to sit and justify that.

      Those who come against God's people certainly do bring curses upon themselves, but first one must be one of God's people. :-) However, righteous correction is not coming against someone, it is an expression of God's love. We are all brothers and sisters first in spite of how God may use the various members to build up the Body. Do you know of a Scripture which says only God can address sin or compromise in a minister's life? I don't.

      The following article may also be helpful for you as you consider this topic: Cover Yourself With My Title

      Please pray for the people in that church. I was once bewitched by religion as well. While it was a different institution (the Catholic Church) it is all still Babylon. The people need the spell of that sorcerer broken off of their minds before they can see the truth and come out of that delusion. May God have mercy.

    2. Thank-you for your response. When I attended his church I was a new Christian and I didn't have discernment. I am so thankful I'm not under that ministry anymore and I probably should stop talking to many of the members from that ministry. When I saw that video I knew there was something wrong, but I'm glad for your response. I read your article and the new article you posted. It has blessed me and I will probably continue to go to God and seek His wisdom and discernment and relationship with Him. Thank-you Latterdays.

    3. Hi Anonymous,

      I too am glad you are no longer there. Please do keep going to the Lord for wisdom. We must all do that. He will even guide you on who to talk to (and who not to).

      Thank God for the Holy Spirit in letting you know something was wrong in that video. It goes to show how God is faithful to open our eyes to that which is false if we sincerely seek Him. I pray that He will continue to open eyes for those who remain there. What do they say? "There but for the grace of God go I."

      Remember, all who seek after righteousness shall be filled (Matt. 5:6). If there are any there who truly desire to serve the Lord, He will open their eyes, just as He did yours and mine.

      God Bless!

  3. I would like to know your opinion on churches that want members to sign covenant agreements. I heard this for the first time yesterday and was a bit puzzled.


    1. Hi J,

      I actually haven't heard of that. Now, one thing to consider is that the members of the Body of Christ are in covenant with each other simply because we are in covenant with Jesus Christ and made one Body to Him.

      Maybe the following will help: Covenant Relationships are Horizontal, Too

      Now, to the extent that a church is putting this principle into practice so as to help its members understand that concept, I guess that is fine. However, I guess I would have to know more about what type of covenant agreement you are speaking of before I could really comment further.

      God Bless!

  4. Hi,
    Here are a couple examples of covenant agreements:


    1. Thanks ~J,

      I have not seen this before. Actually, I rather liked the Lighthouse explanation of covenant membership. I think it explained it quite well.

      Today, there is lots of talk about who/what is the church and how we need to be in fellowship with other believers. Information on the covenant we have with each other is a great balance to those discussions.

  5. I read the Derek Prince article you posted for me. I don't believe I have ever heard this before. Now, I have been given something to think about. I am not sure why God has brought this to my attention.


    1. Hi ~J,

      I don't know why God brought this to your attention either. :-) However, I am sure He will reveal it to you in time.

      God Bless!


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