EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH
Paul says, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, . . . preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 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 truth, and shall be turned into fables.” 2 Ti. 4:1. “Reprove” means to refute, admonish, convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke. “Rebuke” means to censure, admonish, forbid, charge or accuse. “Exhort” means to beseech, entreat. (Strong’s Concordance) We are to be guardians of the truth and watchmen on the wall. We are not to smile and say, “I love you brother. I accept what you say for the sake of unity and I will not judge you.” In instructing elders, Paul says,
. . . Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers . . . for there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers . . . whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake . . . Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. Titus 1:9,10,11,13. (Underlining added)
We are to challenge for the truth and rebuke, refute, reprove, tell a fault, censure, forbid, charge and accuse, so that others will be saved from deception and destruction. We speak in love, but earnestly contend for the faith. Jude says, “. . . ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3. We are not to compromise the truth that God entrusted to us, especially the elders. Titus 2:15 says, “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” (Underlining added) Let no person find fault with you for earnestly contending for the faith.
A COMMAND TO SPEAK OUT
Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15,
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition, which he received of us. . . And if any may obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. . . Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (Underlining added)
We are commanded to note and withdraw from those who preach false doctrines and walk not according to the pattern taught by the early apostles. To “note” is to identify. At the same time, we are not to count him as an enemy. In Titus 3:10, Paul says, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Harsh words are sometimes necessary to preserve the faith.
Elders are instructed as follows: “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” (Underlining added) 1 Ti. 5:20. Paul tells us to make public the sins of others. If a brother is in grave error and is being used to deceive others, is it love to rebuke him? or is it hate? For the sake of unity and misguided “love”, will you allow him to be accursed? Ezekiel 3:20,21 says,
Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.
Does an earthly father not have the duty to chasten, point out errors and even take the rod of correction to his children in order to drive sin and unrighteousness out of them and to guide them in paths of righteousness? (“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”) Pr. 13:24. Is a father’s chastening of his sons and daughters wrong? No, it is love. In order to correct, there is a need to judge. More so must an elder in the Body of Christ warn and correct brothers in Christ who stray from righteousness and truth. Once again, we are commanded to rebuke publicly in 1 Timothy 5:20-22: “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge (command) thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things, without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” (Parenthesis added) An elder is strongly commanded (“I charge thee before God”) to rebuke, chasten, point out errors and correct publicly. Love demands correction. Hatred allows compromise and lies, the end of which is apostasy. Speak out or disobey God.
Sincerity by the person uttering false doctrines is not the issue. The issue is - is it truth? Most false prophets do not know they are false. Balaam did not know; the 400 prophets of Ahab did not know; the many false prophets and priests in Jeremiah’s day did not know; many modern-day “prophets” do not know. They vigorously defended their lies. All were probably highly respected, admired and loved in their day. How will they know and change unless someone tells them in love?
The refusal to judge and discern has eroded the foundations of the Church and defiled the very essence of the Church - truth. How else can one explain why many in the Church do not believe there is a Satan or evil spirits? or believe that Jesus was only a man? or that the Bible is not accurate? or that Jesus did not resurrect physically? or that the Holy Spirit is only to explain God’s power and is not a real individual? or that Jesus sinned while on earth? or that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and was having an affair with her? or that it was really Judas who died on the cross? (Survey Results by the Barna Research Group) What apostasy!
In Acts 20:28,29, Luke named Ananias and Sapphira as liars. Paul likewise never hesitated to defend the truth, even to the extent of naming names publicly and in his written letters. In 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul named Demas as one who forsook Paul and went back to the world. In verse 14, he named and accused Alexander the coppersmith of doing much evil. In 2 Timothy 2:17,18, Paul named Hymenaeus and Philetus as having erred in preaching false doctrines (“profane and vain babblings”). Even fellow apostles were not exempt. In Galatians 2:12,13, Paul accused and rebuked Peter and Barnabas before all (verse 14). Did it violate the scripture that says, “Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm”? I Chr. 16:22. Surely, Peter and Barnabas were anointed of God. Is questioning a prophecy harming the prophet? Are we not instructed to judge prophecies (I Co. 14:29), and taught to test (judge) the spirits, even the Holy Spirit? “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try (judge) the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” 1 Jn. 4:1. We are instructed not to automatically accept any prophecy or word that comes from a prophet. Test and judge it. Prophets are to judge what the other prophets say (1 Co. 14:29,32), to discern if it comes from the Holy Spirit or some other spirit. 1 Jn. 4:1. It is love, not harm. But great relief someone would have if he knows that his prophecies will be tested and if found true, will be endorsed by all the others. He will also find much comfort in knowing that any false prophecy will be excluded from publication and thus prevented from doing damage to the Body.
There is a movement to squelch all opposition to the introduction of false doctrines and movements by claiming that we should “touch not mine anointed” and “judge not, that ye be not judged.” Mt. 7:1. But if you look closely at Matthew 7:1 and the verses that follow immediately thereafter, Jesus was talking about hypocrites and people who unfairly criticize, gossip, condemn and slander people when they themselves are sinning in a bigger way. (“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Verse 3) Jesus was talking to hypocrites, not the guardians of truth. If one wrongfully interprets these passages, claiming that we are not to judge, he will be in direct opposition to scriptures that say that we have the responsibility to judge and discern good and bad and to protect the cherished and precious truths God gave us. As has been said many times, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” Rebuking, reproving, censuring, forbidding, charging and accusing can be done in love and concern for both the deceived and the deceiver. We are instructed to name names and instruct the sheep to avoid them and the doctrines they espouse if they persist in distorting the truth. Shepherds must protect the sheep against wolves in sheep’s clothing. Mt. 7:15.
There is a difference between unwarranted criticism, gossip and malicious slander as compared to an impersonal censure, rebuke and accusation for the purpose of correction and guidance. For example, one can properly point out errors in doctrine by some famous televangelist without calling him a devil, or a creep. If the intent is to maliciously and falsely slander to build up self at the expense of another, it is unrighteous. But, if it is to protect the sheep and to point out errors for the purpose of avoiding deception, it is righteous obedience. It depends on the heart’s intent. Sometimes the person pointing out doctrinal error is himself in error, but his heart is right. Romans 16:17 says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
The Amplified Bible’s interpretation of Matthew 7:1 is, “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves.” This rendition is slightly more accurate than what some Christians claim it to mean, in my opinion. Matthew 7:1-5 applies to undue criticism and slander of others and have nothing to do with protecting the faith from false doctrines and beliefs. God will not give two commandments that directly oppose each other. Matthew 7:1 is not contrary to scriptures telling us to guard the faith and note, rebuke, reprove, accuse, correct, refute and withdraw from those who preach a adverse gospel. It speaks of hypocrites finding fault in others while they have worse faults.
1 Corinthians 5:12, 13 says, “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” We are to judge those in the church, and correct where needed, especially those who would pervert the gospel or who are deceived.
In truth, elders (and all Christians) are watchmen on the wall against those who would distort truth and preach a different gospel. If they do not blow the trumpet, the blood of those who are destroyed because of the enemy’s lies will be on their head.
Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: if when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; then whoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I required at the watchman’s hand. Eze. 33:2-6.
When the watchman’s trumpet is blown, it is dangerous not to take warning. Jesus is coming for a bride that is pure, unadulterated, “a glorious church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Eph. 5:27. If the watchman fails to blow the trumpet, it is even worse.
SOME TOUGH SITUATIONS
Imagine if the pastor brought a Catholic priest to service, put his arm around the priest and declared, “This is our brother and I love him. Listen to him - we can all learn from our Catholic brothers and sisters. We love Catholics and we all belong to the same family of God. We may not agree on everything, but Catholics love Jesus too. We are on the same side!” Would you stand up and cheer? Would you hug the priest and say, “We love you and we are one with you.”? Billy Graham did. He kissed the Pope’s ring and proclaimed that the Pope is one of the greatest and holiest Christians in the world. Many other famous Christian leaders support the worldwide ecumenical movement to unite Evangelicals and Pentecostals with the Roman Catholic Church. The following is a list of famous Christians who are supporting the ecumenical movement of the Catholic Church. Please note that you have the responsibility to research these people to see if it is true.
Benny Hinn is famous for his support of the Catholic Church as was his predecessor, Katherine Kuhlman. Rick Joyner was recently knighted by the Knights of Malta, a Catholic organization operating out of the Vatican and dedicated to supporting the Pope. Pat Robertson, Paul and Jan Crouch, J. I. Packer, Jack Hayford, Jack Van Impe, Robert Schuller, David Yonggi Cho, Dr. Cecil M. Robesh, Jr. (A leader in the Assembly of God hierarchy), Paul Cain, Bill Bright (head of Campus Crusade for Christ), The Salvation Army, Jerry Falwell, Jack Hayford, Chuck Colson, John Arnott of the Toronto Blessing, among many others, have come out in support of the ecumenical movement of the Catholic Church. Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, Robert Schuller and David Yonggi Cho have participated at Catholic Masses. Rodney Howard-Browne prophesied that if the Charismatics and Pentecostals refuse to join the Catholics, God would abandon them and choose the Evangelicals to bring worldwide unity. Will you join them? Why not? After all, these are the “anointed” of God and can perform signs and wonders and we love them. As saints begin to join the movement, will you warn them or join them? This is a crucial question. Certainly, as you read the names of some of the people in this paragraph, all kinds of emotions and thoughts are going through your mind and not all of them complimentary to this writer. But, if you are a lover of truth, you will understand that truth cannot be compromised, even for those you love.
Sometimes, the stress and pressure of preaching to an audience can cause a speaker to unintentionally blurt out something that is not biblical. Later, they don’t remember saying it and never intended to say it in that manner. I’ve done it too. But, it is a one shot deal, accidental and not embraced by the person who said it. We’re not talking about one-shot, inconsequential or immaterial errors made under stress. We’re talking about falsities that affect the purity of our faith and cause people to accept false doctrines to their detriment. One can waste years or even an entire lifetime pursuing a false movement or doctrine.
Do you believe that holy laughter is the beginning of worldwide revival? Richard Roberts, Marilyn Hickey, Charles and Francis Hunter and Kenneth Copeland do. I don’t. I still believe that repentance, the blood of the martyrs and much prayer serve as the impetus of all revivals. I received books and tapes on the Toronto Blessing and Pensacola Revival from close Christian friends encouraging me to go to Toronto, bring our church into the fold and “not to miss this great and last move of God.” One brother went to Toronto, and came back convinced that the holy laughter movement was the move of the Holy Spirit to bring revival, and tried to persuade our Christian organization to join the movement. When I stated that I didn’t believe it would bring worldwide revival, he became very cold towards me. My purposes were pure but some labeled me a false and unloving brother and I am no longer part of that group. In the end times, those who cling to the truth will be persecuted and ostracized as being outdated Bible fundamentalists. Social and political acceptance are more important to many than the truth.
Yes, there are times when the defenders of truth are themselves deceived, but their intentions righteous. We are all in the same situation. Our beliefs are subject to scrutiny too. We all have the responsibility to be as the noble Bereans and search the Scriptures diligently, to see if those things spoken are true. Ac. 17:10,11. Should we accept a doctrine that says that we are already gods on earth? Many Christians, including the Pensacola and Toronto leaders, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland have accepted this doctrine called the “Manifest Sons of God” (we are Christs on earth) and the “Latter Rain Movement,” (similar outcome) and few have spoken up against it, having been awed by the famous prophets that are promoting it. What about “Once saved, always saved?” or “pre-tribulation rapture,” or the “prosperity” doctrine, or “Christians cannot have demons,” or “tongues is of the Devil”? Beware the spirit behind many other movements and doctrines that do not line up with the Word of truth. I’m not saying that everything these Christians say are lies. Many are great speakers and perhaps 95% of what they say is true; but beware the 5%. It is leaven. We have a duty to search and see that everything is true. See Attachment “O” regarding the false gospel of salvation.
Please understand that the writer does not have any personal problems with any of the individuals and organizations above and has no intention to slander, defame or libel any of them. I love them all. The allegations were taken from various public writings and articles published by various Christian organizations as supposed truth. I cannot vouch for their authenticity and truth since I was not part of their research. Some individuals may have reversed their stand or clarified certain positions. You should do your own research on this matter.
Perhaps we have been too lax in our attitudes towards Bible and Christian truths and too condescending to challenge those we love when they spout false doctrines that bend the truth, or support movements with untruths as their basis. Maybe we tend to “worship” famous Christians because we admire them and are awed at their “power” and when they do or say something contrary to the Bible, we blithely forget and dismiss it. This is extremely dangerous. It is putting people above the truth. Not only are we allowing Satan to plant his lies in our hearts, we are disobeying God. Certainly, we need to avoid presenting a “I’m right; you’re wrong!” face and an arrogant, prideful attitude when speaking out for truth. Truth coming from a critical heart of self-righteousness becomes a lie too. We need to speak the truth in love.
Now that you know what God says about false doctrines, will you earnestly contend for the faith? or will you sit back and disobey God’s command for the sake of false unity? It’s your choice (or do you have a choice?).
“FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY” TEAMS
There are no five-fold ministry teams or apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers today that are universally recognized by the Body of Christ. (Eph. 4:11-14) Some Christians may be doing some of the work of a five-fold minister and have some anointing, but no one is fully operating in the power and office of an apostle, prophet, evangelist, etc. as described in the Book of Acts and the epistles. Therefore, we do not presume that we can call anyone by the titles given to five-fold ministers, with the obvious exception of a pastor and a teacher, although even this is subject to question. We can only mimic some of the characteristics of the five-fold ministry for the time being.
When it comes to pastors and teachers, we assume that a pastor in the five-fold ministry is one who travels to teach other pastors - a kind of pastor to pastors. A five-fold teacher is one who goes from place to place teaching and being a teacher of teachers. Their anointing is on a higher and different level from the pastors and teachers in a local church. Quite a few Christians can act as local pastors and teachers, but only a few have the anointing to be recognized by the church universal as five-fold pastors and teachers.
It is our belief that God will restore the power and office of the five-fold ministry since the Bible speaks of a Bride of Christ, a true and perfect church for the end times. This true church will have all the markings and truth of the early church, as well as most of its structure. The true church is probably the “woman in the wilderness” out of which the “man-child” spoken of in Revelation 12 will be birthed.
Five-fold Ministry Teams
Notwithstanding the absence of true five-fold ministers, there will be a definite need for teams of mature leaders who will provide the impetus and leadership for a house church movement, whether in the Philippines or elsewhere. For the sake of simplicity, we will focus primarily on the Philippines with an eye towards developing a prototype that can be used in other countries and cultures, including Hawaii and other Western countries.
These “five-fold” leaders should be of one accord, one vision and one goal - to promote and nurture house churches and strive to keep them non-denominational and united. These should be all born-again, tongue-speaking and mature Christians who have absolutely no self-promotion or glorification in mind. We need to remember that these five-fold leaders will become largely independent and “on their own” once the revival/harvest is in full bloom and during times of persecution. Therefore, we must all be of one heart and one mind from the very outset. (The author is not against denominations in the sense that they are false churches or enemies of God. None of the present-day churches are true yet, denominational or otherwise. However, God’s true church must be totally united in doctrine, practices and heart.)
These “five-fold” leaders must be tested and proven by God in order to become “apostles,” “prophets,” “evangelists,” etc. When God restores the true church, some will actually receive an incredible level of anointing such as the original apostles and other leaders had. Miracles, signs and wonders will be wrought by the apostles once again. Ac. 5:12. For this reason, choosing the right people from the outset is vital. We need to pray hard that God will show us who have been chosen by Him. This step is essential and cannot be glossed over or influenced by friendship, politics or social correctness.
As in the first century, the five-fold ministers must lead the church in pureness of doctrine and practices, with a desire to form the Bride of Christ. Watchman Nee, in his book entitled Spiritual Authority, claims that a true prophet always has in mind the Bride of Christ for the end times. These must be the greatest examples of what a saint should be like. They will pay a heavy price for doing so. If Bible history repeats itself, the apostles and other five-fold leaders will be hunted down and killed by the enemy first. It is conjectured that the two groups of witnesses (martyrs) spoken of in Revelation 11, will be the apostles and other five-fold ministers of the end times, although perhaps not all five-fold people will go this way. Some will end up in the Woman in the Wilderness or the Army of God (man-child) spoken of in Revelation 12. At any rate, the love factor in a candidate for the five-fold ministry teams will be crucial. Is he willing to die for the sake of the Gospel and the sheep entrusted to him?
What is the purpose of the five-fold ministry teams? The answer is found in the Bible pattern, especially the book of Acts. They will be the heads of the Church directly under Christ. The job of each member is specially outlined in certain manuals and books we have already studied and will not be repeated here. Five-fold ministers will be expected to be field generals who will travel all over the land to visit house churches and leaders in every locale. The older ones who cannot travel as easily as the younger ones will function closer to home and will serve as administrators as well.
These are some of the functions of the 5-fold ministry teams:
1. Act as the “glue” that holds the Church universal together.
2. Be the guardians of pure doctrine and practices in the Church.
3. Teach, lay hands on, ordain house church leaders and put them into their respective offices.
4. Serve as icons, examples and models for the Church, that others may follow (Paul often said, “Follow me.” He was not saying that we should be like him, but to follow his example of seeking to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.).
5. Supervise the house churches within their respective jurisdictions.
6. Assist other five-fold ministers and cooperate with all leaders.
7. Work as a team along with other leaders and other five-fold ministers with unity and singleness of mind.
8. Be responsible for the welfare of the Church.
Unity of vision and purpose is a “must.” Eventually and especially during times of persecution, five-fold ministers will find themselves isolated and having to act on their own. Unless a person is totally committed to unity and the doctrines and visions as agreed upon, it is easy for such a person to stray, especially if he becomes self-promoting.
Five-fold ministers must have a direct line with God and have almost daily communion with the Lord. Everything they do must come out of the will of God. They must be spiritually mature in every sense of the word. At this point, we don’t know how God is going to accomplish the restoration of the five-fold ministry, but we know He will in His own time and according to His own plan.