by Paul Benson
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection… Hebrews 6:1
I once had a brother (let’s call him Brother B.) from the progressive Charismatic ‘signs and wonders’ crowd tell me I needed to get beyond the message of the Cross, and all my repentance preaching. He (as others also have) suggested I, as a saved believer, need to leave the Cross behind, travel past the Resurrection, past the Ascension, past Pentecost and the Upper Room, and move into what God is doing in this day and speaking to this generation. (He did supply a caveat of how wonderful and necessary the Cross was; but that I was hindered in my walk, and my ministry, by my insistence on ‘camping’ there.)
What point he was getting at was not lost on me. There is more to the message of God’s Kingdom than only what took place upon the Cross. We do need to embrace the Resurrection (and the promise it brings of our own resurrection) as well as the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit as detailed in Acts 2. We very much ARE called to go on to perfection.
I understand all of that!
And actually a recent article of mine was on the mistake of ‘camping out’ on a plateau of understanding, and not seeking a progressive revelation of the mystery of our faith. But, you see, I just have a bit of a problem with the notion of leaving the Cross behind to move forward. There is just something about those words that doesn’t set very well with me. And if you will permit me I will show you why I feel that my hesitation is totally justified.
What I hear from today’s neo-Charismatic preachers, teachers, and prognosticators is not a message that builds upon a proper understanding of foundational truths on salvation; but instead is a severely skewed message that presents these truths as irrelevant or old-hat, concepts that have been superseded by modern revelation.
People are actually being taught the ‘revelations’ of today’s supposed Apostles and Prophets are to be considered an upgrade that outranks the outdated teachings of the Bible. Most do not come right out and make that claim; they instead insinuate it with phrases like ‘deeper-revelation’ or ‘higher truth’. But the bottom line is still the same. Let me illustrate with a quote from Bethel’s Bill Johnson which greatly disturbed me (with my own remarks in italics).
From ‘Apostolic Teams’ by Bill Johnson: QUOTE: For centuries the people of God have gathered together around specific truths (you mean like perhaps the Word of God?). …While doctrine is vitally important it is not a strong enough foundation (ever read Matthew 7:24-27 Bill?) to bear the weight of His glory that is about to be revealed through true unity. …There are major changes in the ‘wind’ right now. For the last several years people have started to gather around fathers instead of doctrine (and you think this to be a GOOD thing?).
This is one of the hallmarks of the counterfeit ‘move of God’ which has swept this nation in recent decades. Apostolic authority and ‘new revelation’ is given precedence over the Word of God! As I have studied not only the *wayward teaching and preaching coming out of Redding California, but the message in general of those claiming to be the spearhead of what God is doing in this generation, I see a consistent trend of setting aside the Biblical standards of doctrine and ministry in favor of following the words of celebrity ministers (such as the apostles of the New Apostolic Reformation) as they proclaim the new path God is supposedly revealing to us in this new day. But the danger of following these clowns is they have forsaken the path of truth (many of them have actually gotten so lost they are on the road to ROME)!
*One of the most disappointing messages I have ever heard was a sermon by Mr. Johnson of which the focus was him (a former preacher of fundamental Christian doctrine) belligerently mocking repentance preaching as a necessary prerequisite or catalyst for revival.
Sorry Bill, without repentance there is NO true revival; only the carnal counterfeit you promote. (If any doubt my words, or think I am being unfair to Bill Johnson, just do a web-search on the errors of his ministry. There has been much outcry against the many false teachings promoted by him and his cohorts.)
I could spend a great deal of time here detailing what I see as serious error in not only the doctrinal teaching but also in the direction people are being steered by these deceivers. But my intent here is to focus upon the foundational truths that have been set aside in favor of modern revelation; and also why they have been set aside. And my concerns can be summed up in one sincere question:
Where is repentance toward God, and faith in the Cross of Christ (and his shed Blood) properly presented in this upgraded and improved ‘gospel’ being broadcast by the NAR and others claiming to be the spokespersons of God to this end-time generation?
I am just not hearing it!
And it’s not for lack of trying. I have spent (and continue to spend) countless hours listening to the preaching and teaching of these people; and there are critical elements of the Gospel of Christ which get very little (and more often than not ZERO) mention in their enlightened words of ministry. I am talking about the very heart of the Gospel i.e. Christ’s death upon the Cross, the power of his Blood, the demand for repentance, the call to separated living and sanctified behavior, and so on.
Years ago I began to question why this was true, and to examine the belief systems of many modern ministries. What I found left me very concerned for the spiritual safety of those looking to these movers and shakers of neo-Charismainia for instruction as to the path of God’s salvation. The beliefs and teachings of some of today’s most popular ministers will not even save they themselves; let alone any one following them and trusting what they are teaching! Outright and outrageous heresy is rampant among American Christianity at the highest levels!
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. Hebrews 6:1-2
The same passage here in Hebrews, that tells us to go on to perfection, also tells us the elemental truths of our faith are a FOUNDATION. These foundational truths must be presented as a primary focus of the Gospel a new believer hears (or as the base for anyone’s belief system), or there is grave danger they will build upon a foundation which will not stand. When the foundational truths of the Gospel are disbelieved or disregarded an insane amount of bogus teaching is allowed to run berserk. Sadly that describes the brunt of what calls itself ‘Christian Ministry’ in this nation!
Recognizing The Heresy Of Universal Salvation (Ultimate Reconciliation) In Today’s Preaching
A great share of the problem with what is presented as Gospel today involves a heresy that has plagued the Church since the beginning. A heresy shot down by the Church each time it reared its head in generations past, but has gained an unbelievable foothold in our day. I am talking about what is referred to as Ultimate Reconciliation aka Universal Salvation. The fact that most popular Charismatic or Progressive ministers are promoting some form or other of this nonsense speaks loudly of the state of the American Church; and also the lateness of the hour!
What is Universal Salvation? Here is a brief summary from Wikipedia:
In Christian theology, universal reconciliation (also called universal salvation, Christian universalism, or in context simply universalism) is the doctrine that all sinful and alienated human souls—because of divine love and mercy—will ultimately be reconciled to God. The doctrine has generally been rejected by Christian religion, which holds to the doctrine of special salvation that only some members of humanity will eventually enter heaven…
Universalists espouse various theological beliefs concerning the process or state of salvation, but all adhere to the view that salvation history concludes with the reconciliation of the entire human race to God. Many adherents assert that the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ constitute the mechanism that provides redemption for all humanity and atonement for all sins.
We need to understand that this is not an isolated or minor issue facing the Church. American Christianity is rife with this falsehood! In years gone by the big name and most influential ministers of this nation strongly rebuked the teaching of Universal Salvation. Now many of them promote that very falsehood (or some perverse derivative of it); though usually not overtly, but hiding their heresy behind a misrepresentation of God’s love which steers one’s beliefs in that direction. But this gross error is one of the main reasons behind the Christ-less, Cross-less, repentance-less Gospel we hear today that focuses so firmly upon the desires of man instead of the demands of God.
These people believe (in varying levels of application) that because Jesus died on the Cross now ALL sin (past, present, and future) is already paid for and forgiven! That regardless of whether a person repents or not; and regardless of whether a person places faith in the Cross and the Blood of Christ for salvation or not; and regardless of what lifestyle they embrace in this world, in the end ALL will end up reconciled to God and will inherit eternal life. No wonder they like to chime ‘It’s all good!’
Again, the level to which people embrace this error varies, as does the level it affects their preaching. But the bottom line here is the foundational elements of the Gospel are not being preached because they are increasingly viewed as irrelevant. Once, when I was exhorting on the need to turn from habitual sin to be cleansed of it and become ‘right with God’, this same Brother B. piped up with a sarcastic, ‘Haven’t you heard? Jesus died on the Cross and paid the penalty for sin!”
When I responded with some exhortation from Galatians 5, where Paul gives warning with a list of sins which will keep a person from inheriting the Kingdom of God, he actually thumped that page with his fingers and said ‘That’s NOT for us! That’s for the unbelievers! All OUR sins are forgiven!”
Further inquiry into his beliefs revealed he believes those who profess Christ, but are living in adulterous or homosexual relationships (as well as those feeding off the perverseness of pornography), are not defiled in God’s eyes, but securely saved because all that sin was paid for on the Cross. Shockingly, this view is shared by a large, and growing, portion of this nation’s professing believers! It is no wonder Brother B. and so many others I know have such unbiblical notions. It’s the false gospel they have been feeding on for years! The more I dig into the doctrine of today’s big name preachers the more of this garbage I find.
When we realize a large share of easily recognizable ministers are preaching either Ultimate Reconciliation, or Dominionism (Seven Mountains Mandate), or Unconditional Eternal Security (nothing could cause you to lose your salvation), or some combination of the three, we get a glimpse of why the message they preach does not seem to cause a crisis of conscience, or a change in behavior of the backslid or unsaved who receive their words.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1Corinthians 1:18
Paul taught the message of the Cross would be lowly esteemed by those who will perish; but the true followers of Christ would recognize it as the power of God at work. (Notice he says it IS the power of God, not WAS!)
And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. Galatians 5:11
As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. Galatians 6:12
(‘Hey there Apostle Paul! Why don’t you stop harping on about the Cross, and just preach like the rest of us? You are offending folks, and putting us in danger of persecution!’)
Although few would admit it, possibly the greatest reason the preaching of the Cross has been lain aside by most preachers today is the persecution involved in preaching it! The Cross is an offense to the carnal minded (professing believers as well as unsaved!), and always has been. People would much rather hear something (anything!) that does not confront them with the stark reality of their sinfulness; or a demand to submit to the grace of God, and seek whatever change might be needed to conform to his holy standards. Preaching the Cross will, most likely sooner than later, get you persecuted. Guaranteed!
FOOD 4 THOUGHT: Repentance preaching and the confrontational (He died for YOUR sins!) message of the Cross of Christ has fostered incalculable persecution, even to the loss of much life, over the years. But I have never once heard of anyone being beaten or killed for preaching the Cross-less, Christ-less, come-as-you-are-stay-as-you-are gospel that exalts the Holy Spirit and ‘signs and wonders’ instead of exalting our Lord Jesus Christ and his death on the Cross. Don’t you ever wonder why there is so relatively little persecution in a nation which claims to be so full of Christians? The persecution is missing because the offense of the Cross is missing! Plain and simple!
Glory Glory Glory; But Who Is Being Glorified?
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14
I see in our meetings and conferences today much glorying going on! Glorying in celebrities; glorying in their (supposed) giftings; glorying in their revelations and prophesies; glorying in signs and wonders! But so rarely do you hear anyone glorying in the Cross of Christ. Or his holy Name. Or the power of his Blood. And I think that is a real sad testimony to the state of modern ministry.
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. Mark 16:20
I don’t do a lot of prophesying; but I will speak a little right here and now: The coming end-time move of God will be a return to the message of repentance preaching and of placing faith in the Cross of Christ and the Blood he shed to wash us from our sins. There WILL be genuine signs and wonders manifest, but not because they, or the Holy Spirit, are being preached and exalted. They will be greatly manifest because a message greatly worthy of confirmation is being preached! God will confirm the true Gospel with true signs and wonders!
And as far as that silly notion of leaving the Cross behind, and going on to perfection? Well…
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Mark 8:34
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:38
Brother B. was quite right when he advised me not to camp out at the Cross; but he, and the majority of today’s progressives, have completely missed out on the crux of the matter. No, we should not camp out at the Cross; and, yes, we are called to go on to perfection. But we are not called to leave the Cross behind; we are called to PICK IT UP and carry it with us (a concept quite out of sync with most of today’s progressive Charismatic ministry)!
Yes, I know its cumbersome and bothersome. Yes, I know it irks folks, and causes a lot of poor behavior in those who would rather not hear about it. But I have absolutely no intention of leaving the Cross behind! My Lord and Savior has requested I take it up, and bring it along with me; so I intend on doing exactly that!
May he give me the grace and strength to never lay it down again; to carry it boldly until the day of my death, or until the day of his glorious Return.
May this cross-bearing, our personal identification with the sufferings of our Christ, once again become recognized as a hallmark of the true Body of Christ.
In Jesus’ name!
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