Christianity Today 11

November 16, 2019

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Mat 15:6 And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.7 “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 8 ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 9 ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'” 10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11 “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”

If we think about the Church in centuries past, it seems as if the professing Church has been attacked by great error from the times of the Apostles. Before that the nation of Israel seemed to have been afflicted with false prophets on all sides throughout the history of the nation. Since the time of the Apostles error and false teachers have been plentiful as well. It should not shock us that in our modern day there is a lot of noise and activity in the professing Church, but all of that helps hide the fact that the Gospel is hidden beneath ritualism and activity. God does not look upon the activity as such, but instead He looks to the heart. Not only does He look at the heart, He is sovereign over each and every heart. There cannot possibly be one good work that does not come from Him first, so all the activities and rituals which men do in the practice of their religions that come from self are idolatry.

The passage from Matthew 15 (listed above) is a devastating passage. The Pharisees were very orthodox regarding many things and they had the history as well. But, as with all people in all times, it is so easy to slide off into trusting in our traditions rather than Scripture. It is not that they could not have presented biblical evidence for their positions, but their interpretations and their rules and laws that they thought were biblical became nothing more than tradition. Some people don’t think that they are following tradition rather than Scripture, while others seem to be overcome by it over time. Anything we practice that is not fueled by a love of God in seeking God becomes a tradition. For example, we can have times of prayer that we do because of tradition and because we know we should pray rather than actually praying from the heart. We can offer a form of prayer with right words, but our hearts may not be in them.

When the focus is on the external actions, whether things we do that we call worship or perhaps what we think of as moral, we are more like the Pharisees than we are like Christ. There are major disagreements over which songs to sing and whether one should use instruments or not, but the real issue is and always has been the heart. When Jesus spoke about true worship, He said it was to be in spirit and in truth. He did not set out long guidelines and specifics, but worship must be from the inward man and it must be in accordance with truth. It is easy to focus on the truth and forget about the inward man. It is easy to say that worship must be lively and with flowing feelings and forget about the truth. The professing Church of the modern day seems to ignore the words of Jesus and fall to one side or the other. It is not that this is a minor issue, however, but to fall off one side or the other means that the practice is not biblical and true worship.

Christianity Today 10

November 14, 2019

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Mat 15:6 And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.7 “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 8 ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 9 ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'” 10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11 “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”

The words of the Scriptures above should awaken people to the possibility that they may not be converted. If salvation is indeed a rare thing, then people should begin to take notice of their own cold hearts and be awakened to their own dire need. People are taken captive by many things in the way of religion. We can be taken captive by systems of doctrine that are really nothing more than a religious philosophy. We can be taken captive by things that are nothing more than the deception of the devil though they are very religious. We can be taken captive by a religion that is really nothing more than the traditions of men. Our religion can also be built on nothing but the elementary principles of the world. We can also be quite deceived by our religion when it seems to be built on Christ, but instead is built on a false Christ.

We must always keep it in our minds and hearts that true Christianity has many counterfeits. There are many religions and idols that have been accepted into the professing churches and many are deceived by them. There are many human traditions that have been accepted and the Scriptures are set aside in order to follow those human traditions. Human traditions can pass into the professing church by the use of the Scriptures, though quite apart from the true meaning of the Scriptures. The passage above from Colossians shows us that the traditions of men are not according to Christ. But again, they can use the name of Christ and they can have many teachings and traditions about Christ, but that is quite another issue than having teaching that is according to the true Christ.

There are many sermons and Bible lessons that appear to be centered upon Christ because the teacher says a lot about a Christ, but Christ Himself and who He really is must be the true center of sermons and lessons. There are many sermons and Bible lessons that do not show the helplessness and inability of men, so in fact they are not centered upon Christ. Until man is emptied of himself there will be no true Christ-centeredness. A sermon or a lesson can be according to a creed or a confession but still be empty of a true Christ-centeredness. We can believe true things about Christ because we are supposed to believe them, but that is not the same thing as having those things taught to us by Christ Himself and our belief in them is because He has taught these things to the heart.

It is not enough to simply believe that things are true, but we must believe them from a heart that is taught by Christ and believe them from a heart that loves Christ and sees that truth in Christ. The great truths of Christianity are not simply propositions we think are true in our brains, because that is another way we would believe in a way that is not according to Christ. A true belief that is according to Christ is a belief of the whole person in a truth about Christ that comes from Christ in a Christ-centered way. It is one thing to believe a true statement because of reasons that do not come from Christ and are not centered in Christ, but it is quite another to have Christ Himself teach us in the heart because He is the life of that soul. A truth taught by Christ is not just a belief of the head, but it is the belief that flows from a heart that is conformed to that truth as it is in Christ. The professing church seems to be satisfied with teaching people things that an unregenerate but religious heart can believe.

Christianity Today 9

November 5, 2019

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Mat 15:6 And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.7 “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 8 ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 9 ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'” 10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11 “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”

It is quite sobering to read the verses above and then realize in a way deeper than the surface that there are many false prophets who speak according to “the deception of their own minds” and “of the deception of their own hearts.” These false prophets may use the Scriptures and be those who think that they are expositors of the Scriptures. It is not enough to read the Scriptures and use them in some way, but the Scriptures themselves are used by the false prophets to teach the deception of their own hearts and minds. True preaching is setting forth the truth of Christ and to expound the mind of Christ. When a preacher sets forth his own mind and heart, he is opposing the true God and the true Gospel. The preacher that is setting forth the deceptions of his own mind and heart is using the things of God and God Himself for the selfish and proud designs of the self. This is not preaching out of love for God, it is preaching out of love for self. This is not using self as an instrument of His glory, but instead it is using God as an instrument for the glory of self.

The Gospel is the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Regardless of whether a person is using orthodox language or not, to preach the true Gospel one must preach the glory of God in the Gospel. When a preacher is setting forth the glory of the preacher, whether in words or intent that is a false gospel and is an act of idolatry. Preachers can be proud of their orthodoxy and of their confession or creed and teach those things, but unless the glory of God is the focus and the intent of the teaching those men are preaching and teaching idolatry.

It appears that this is rampant in the modern professing “church.” It does not take a man who is obviously evil and obviously wants to mislead people to be a wolf, but instead a wolf can be a very orthodox man. A wolf can be a very nice man and even one who is concerned for the people. A wolf is a wolf because he is not preaching the glory of God as the very heart of the message. A wolf can have all the right words, but the heart is not truly there for the glory of God. The only difference between one who is preaching the glory of the Gospel of God and the one who is preaching the deception of his own heart and mind is the chief love of that person and what the heart desires. The selfish man will use orthodoxy, the Gospel, and God Himself as a way to exalt himself.

The modern day has seen a rise in entertainment and self-centeredness, but it has not seen a rise (discernible) in preachers with broken hearts who are setting out the glories of God in the face of Christ. God has been relegated to the task of helping men and fulfilling their desires. As a result of preaching that does not focus on God and His glory, men are focused on their own glory and as such they do not preach the hard things. In order to be saved men must be broken from their pride and self. Salvation is in the hands of God, not men. It is hard to preach and teach in a way where people begin to see that the Gospel saves them from themselves rather than provides a way for self to flourish. When men focus on self, it is not longer true Christianity that is flowing forth.

Christianity Today 8

November 3, 2019

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Matthew 7:15 (see above) warns people about false prophets in the context of there being but few who find the narrow gate and are on the narrow path. It gives the picture of a false prophet being a sheep who is guarding the other sheep, but underneath the sheep disguises itself is a wolf. The sheep, then, are in terrible danger. The one guarding the sheep is really a wolf and the wolf has no desire for the well-being of the sheep but instead the wolf wants the sheep for himself. He wants to eat them. This warning is from the mouth of Jesus.

It does not matter how right the words of the false prophet seem to be, the end of them is death. It does not matter how full of earthly wisdom the words of the false prophet have, the end of those words is death. It does not matter the degree of eloquence that the false prophet speaks with, the end of that eloquence is death. It does not matter how orthodox the false prophet is, the end of that orthodoxy is death. It does not matter how nice that false prophet is, the end of that niceness is death. It does not matter what accent that false prophet has, the end of that accent is death. It does not matter how evangelistic (false evangelism as a false prophet does) that false prophet is, the end of that evangelism is death. It does not matter how much evangelism the followers of a false prophet does, the end of their evangelism is death as well. It does not matter how wonderful the music is at the professing church where a false prophet is, the end of that music is death.

Simply put, all that a false prophet does is sin and whether the actions of the false prophet are religious are not, they are sinful. Jesus warned us to beware of these false prophets. The land of Israel was full of false prophets as well in those days. Could it be that the United States is full of false prophets as well? Could it be that the pulpits in our land are filled with a majority (vast majority?) of wolves and false prophets? Should it be such an enormous surprise if they are? Paul was dealing with false prophets in the professing church before he died. The nation of Israel, before that time, seemed to be taken over with false prophets at times and that included the time Jesus was on earth. People took the truth of the Old Testament and distorted and twisted it to make it acceptable to them. After the days of Jesus and Paul, the New Testament was twisted and distorted so it would be made acceptable to men. Could it be that in our day we have been so deluged with error that the truth seems strange?

Jeremiah seemed to be the only true prophet in his day. He was attacked by the false prophets and they would mock him. This is to say that the false prophets were in a form of unity against him and they were quite unified against him. False prophets may not always agree with each other on many things, but they will unite against the truth. False prophets will also speak in the name of the Lord as they did in the time of Jeremiah. They do not announce that they are false prophets, but they speak in the name of the Lord. Many if not most do not believe that they are false prophets. They are deceived as well. The message of the false prophet comes from the deception of their own minds and hearts (see Jeremiah 14:14; 23:26). When the false prophet speaks nicely, those are words of deception. When the false prophet speaks from the Bible, those are the words of a deceived heart and mind. When a false prophet speaks orthodoxy, those are the words of a deceived heart and mind that is using orthodoxy for evil purposes. Beware!!!!

Christianity Today 7

October 31, 2019

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

As we compare the verses in Matthew 7 with the verse in Proverbs 14:12, we can see one primary way that people have taken the wrong gate and are on the broad road. It is because they have chosen a way that seems right to men. The way that seems right to men may seem narrow, but it is not the gate of Christ. There are many ways that seem right to men, but the end of that way is death which is the same as the broad road leading to destruction. When we consider that the unregenerate hearts of all human beings are guided by self and the love of self, it is no wonder that men are so easily deceived. Men love themselves and as such do not want to go to hell, but since it is that very self that must be denied, the self will deceive itself into thinking it has denied self.

The way to destruction (not the narrow gate and not the narrow way) seems right to the proud and self-centered heart. The fallen heart will not be satisfied with the true gate that is narrow, though it may find a narrow gate that pleases it. It is not just the liberals who are on the broad road, but perhaps many of the very religious are on that broad road as well. When Jesus spoke these words to a crowd, He was speaking to the most religious people of that day. He speaks those same words to the most religious people of each and every day. It is not always the most obvious people that are deceived, but it can be and often is the very religious folks. It is far easier to get an advanced degree in theology than it is to deny the very self. It is far easier to hold to an orthodox creed than it is to deny the very self. It is far easier to be a pastor of a church than it is to deny the very self. It is far easy to be a very strict person in all the things of outward religion than it is to deny the very self. That is because it is impossible to deny the very self unless the heart is regenerated by God.

Nicodemus was amazed at the teaching of Jesus regarding the new birth in John 3. He was also looking at things from a way that seemed right to men. He was told that he must be born again. This was something that was against his very self and against the orthodox religion of the day. Nicodemus had no power to cause his first birth or his second birth, but instead the second birth was by the working of the Holy Spirit as He was pleased to do. It was not in the power of the man to gain the approval of God in his old nature, but instead even the best things that the unregenerate man could do (that included the most stringent of religious activities) was at enmity with God. This was absolutely stunning to Nicodemus and it should stun the majority of us today.

In the modern day professing Christianity has brought down the exalted and God-centered glory of the Gospel and of Christianity to make it nothing more than a selfish religion which is at odds with the true Gospel. We can go on and on about our theology and how large our “churches” are, though some might be proud of how their strictness has kept them small, but a religion that is in accordance with what seems right to a man does in fact lead to death. The self-centered heart of man will always twist the Scriptures which are centered on God to where man can understand them or keep what they say (or man thinks they say). Christianity is a supernatural religion and the natural man (self-centered man) cannot keep it but will always strive to bring it down to his own level. The modern professing “Church” is full of people, but it is not full of God. The ways of men are not the ways of God and the way that seems right to men is the opposite of what is right according to God.

Christianity Today 6

October 15, 2019

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

The wide gate and the broad way can be paved with many orthodox doctrines and orthodox men. This is not to say that orthodox doctrines are unnecessary, but simply saying that holding to the doctrine is not the same thing as holding to the truth of Christ that is the essence of all true doctrine. True doctrine can be one set of blinders that we put on that can deceive us like other things as well. True doctrine can be held by the intellect alone, but it can also be held with real affections that deceive us. We can have affections toward the fact that we are accepted by the orthodox and we can have affections that we have essentially the same belief system that our heroes of the past had. We can proudly think (though we will not see the pride) that we are in the line of correct theology that extends all the way back to the apostles. What we must have, however, is Christ Himself and not just a system of truths that has His name attached to them.

This is to say that we must be exceedingly careful and cry out to the Lord to take the blinders off of our eyes and remove the blinders from our hearts. We cannot be satisfied with anything but the sovereign and powerful work of God bringing life into the soul and then that very life of Christ in us. Modern professing Christianity has many obvious heretics operating in her midst, but also has many with the outward words of truth and yet without Christ Himself. Peter knew the true Christ and yet he denied Him three times. Judas was a disciple of the true Christ who seemingly gave up everything to follow Christ, but he never gave up that heart of self. How many heard the very words of Christ and even saw His miracles and yet did not deny themselves in order to follow Him in truth and love? How many were willing to follow Christ if He would give them free food and perform miracles. They would believe something about Him, but their hearts were never changed and so they held on to self-interests and pride.

Oh how hard it is to have the words of Christ and yet to then have our hearts broken and humbled enough so that those words are driven into the heart and they become the very beat of our hearts. Modern professing Christianity has so many popular teachers and so many books that have many people on the covers saying how wonderful the book is. But where is God? Where is the life of Christ in the souls of men? Where are those who are broken over their sin and their rebellion and they are not interested in what they can do, but instead they are only interested in what Christ may do? Where are the preachers who preach as though to dying men and long for them to be awakened to the grace and power of God? Why are people so satisfied with trips to the front of a building and with little prayers said? Why do we have so-called services where it is all done for the people if only they will externally follow a few steps through the service? Where is the living and true God? Do we really think we have domesticated Him so that He will be satisfied with our external rites?

Where can one find preachers who are really preaching an unconditional grace? God saves by grace alone, they may say, but they are always adding conditions to that. God does not save because a person repents and has faith, but repentance and faith are what a person has once God has regenerated that person. Beware of false prophets who teach that you have a part and God has a part in the matter. Beware of thinking that God will respond to you based on what you do. Beware of anything or anyone who adds anything that comes before grace in reality. Must you have a broken heart? Yes, though some will deny that as well and give you other things to do. You must have a heart that is broken from self and pride, but those things are by the grace of God as well. We seek them from the hand of God, but only He can break the heart from pride and self as no one can soften a heart that God has hardened. So we go on with unbroken hearts following the ways of our religion while we use orthodox words to hide the state of our unregenerate hearts from ourselves. We are at ease in our religion while we eagerly follow the broad path to destruction.

Christianity Today 5

October 13, 2019

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

It appears that few people really believe that there is a narrow gate and a narrow path on the way to life. The Scripture tells us that there are few who find that narrow gate, and as such there are many who are on the broad road that leads to destruction. It is not just that there are many who are on the broad road that leads to destruction, but that there are many religious people who are on the broad road. Since the people have entered some form of gate, perhaps one that appears narrow to them, they think that they are on the road to life. Jesus tells us that there are many who have entered the wide gate and are on the broad road. But again, many of those people are religious people and think that they entered through the narrow gate and are on the narrow way.

Jesus Christ was and is truth Himself. He told the people these things and they were absolutely the truth of the matter. Those words were preserved by Jesus for His people in our day as well. Jesus tells us that the gate is narrow that one enters the narrow road to life on. False prophets, though many with orthodox credentials and perhaps many books to his or her credit, will say something opposite of what Jesus said. The false prophet, however, is going to be quite tricky. The false prophet will perhaps set out a very narrow gate and a narrow path and tell you that he is speaking the truth. However, the narrow gate of the false prophet will usually be something that is in the power of the human being though it may be very hard. The narrow path that the false prophet sets out may also appear very narrow, but in fact it is still part of the broad road.

The modern versions of Christianity are not all obviously wrong. Instead, they may have the name of a respectable denomination on the sign. They may have a respectable church creed. They may have a pastor with all the respectable credentials. They may have pastors who can do all sorts of miracles and all sorts of powerful speaking, but that does not mean that they are setting out the true narrow gate and the true narrow path. The path to destruction would not be so destructive if it is obviously the broad road. Just because a false prophet declares he is setting out a narrow gate does not mean that it is the true narrow gate. Just because a false prophet declares that he is setting out a narrow road does not mean that it is the narrow road. We must remember that the Pharisees had a version of a narrow gate and a narrow road as well. It was all based on their legalistic type of keeping the law that seemed like it was such a narrow gate and a narrow road. But they made it up and it was not the one Jesus taught.

False prophets do not always come as the face of evil, but instead they come as ministers of light. In fact, false prophets can also be deceived themselves. They can be earnest about their deceptions and truly believe that what they teach is true. As such, we should beware of false prophets. Both the true narrow gate and the true narrow path are Christ Himself. The soul that has Christ has to be turned from all hope in self and that includes entering the gate by any other power but Christ Himself and by His grace. Pride and self has a relentless grip and a powerful grip on us and unless we are brought to the end of that pride and self and give up and cry out to Christ to be delivered, we will always choose a gate that pride and self can retain something. Death to self is necessary to truly follow Christ out of love for Christ. A false prophet is known by giving people ways through a narrow gate that allow people to retain some little control of self. This is the majority report in modern professing Christianity. We are allowed to retain self whole or at least appear to retain just a bit. But that is simply, despite the narrow appearances, just another broad gate and broad road.

Christianity Today 4

October 5, 2019

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

I read a good illustration recently and I would like to use that illustration and build on it. We can imagine a man coming to us who was cold and did not have a coat and use that as a picture of an individual walking into a professing church. We can imagine that the man who was cold was told about a coat, he was given great lectures about a coat, and then he was urged to believe that there was a coat and that there was a coat for him. But we can also imagine that the man never tried the coat on despite his belief that there was a coat. We can imagine that the man tried to make himself believe that he had a coat on, but he never had a coat on. He remained unclothed and cold.

The above analogy is easy to apply to many in the professing church. They are told about the Gospel, they are told parts of the Gospel, and they are told to believe that they have a Savior. But the problem is that they are never told essential aspects of the Gospel and as such they believe that they have put Christ on and yet they do not have Christ. They only have some information about Christ. God has been left out and people are not told that they cannot believe in Christ of themselves, but instead they are told that all they have to do is believe (as believe certain information). But information about Christ does not save one single soul. Christ Himself is the Savior and not information about Christ. For Christ to be put on (as the coat must be put on) someone must put Christ on. Either the sinner is able to put the coat on or someone must put the coat on the sinner. How can sinners put a coat on when they are dead in sins and trespasses?

What seems to be doing on today in professing churches is that a practical Pelagianism has taken over. That is true in professing churches that have Reformed creeds and confessions as well. Men trust in themselves to put Christ on and they trust in themselves to keep Christ on. They can do this while holding to various creeds and confessions. The religion of self and the power of self continue to hold their hearts while they trust in self rather than Christ. They think of God as being focused on them because they are focused on themselves. They think that God loves them so they in return love God. They are told that as long as they believe some information that they are saved.

The analogy of the coat is also seen by analogies from the medical field. Men can be told the truth that they have a certain disease and they can even be told of certain ways they can be cured. But unless they take the medicine, have surgery, or take other steps all that information will do them no good. A person that has been poisoned does not just need to hear and believe the information about the poison and then the information about the antidote to the poison, but the person must take the antidote and it must be the proper antidote. If the antidote is not applied in the proper dosage and taken in the proper way, the antidote will not work either. We must not only tell people that the gate is small and the way to life is narrow, but we must tell them the specifics about the gate and how that gate is to be entered. Christ must be applied to the soul really and truly and yet He alone can apply Himself to the soul. No one can put on Christ as all are born dead in sins and trespasses. Christ did not come to help the righteous or partially righteous, He came to raise sinners from the dead. When people try to help Christ, even if it is just a little, they show that they do not understand that they are dead and that they do not look to Christ alone.

Christianity Today 3

October 3, 2019

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

The Scriptures are replete with words about deception of the souls of men and of those who deceive them, that is, false prophets or false teachers. In the nation of Israel during Old Testament times it seemed as if the nation was full of false prophets who spoke positive things and tickled the ears of the people, yet the true prophets were few and far between. During the time that Jesus walked on this earth it seemed as if He stood against the flood of false teachings set out by the Pharisees and the Sadducees. It did not take long before Athanasius had to stand virtually alone against what seemed to be the whole world in his stand for the truth of Christ. We had Augustine who stood against the flood of Pelagianism and then during the time just prior to the Reformation it seemed as if the Gospel was rare in that time.

It seems that in the providence of God that for the majority of time (perhaps even vast majority of time) error has ruled in the professing churches of the time. Could it be that we have wonderful statements of doctrine and yet true Christianity is rare on the earth today? Could it be that we have many denominations and many professing churches alive with religious activities and yet without Christ Himself? Could it be that once again the pulpits are full of men with much knowledge (and those without) and yet do not know Christ? Could it be that we are so intent on our organizations, our historical beliefs, and our historical practices that we have virtually forgotten what it is to seek Christ Himself?

The Scriptures tell us that Paul’s heart burned within him as he walked around and saw the idols on display in Athens. While there were physical idols in Athens, not all idols are physical. The Scriptures teach us that greed is idolatry. Pride is the idol of self. Yet we see so much of greed, pride, and self within the professing church that we have to wonder if Paul’s heart would burn within him as he went around to our professing churches of today. A false gospel comes from proud hearts and as such is a form of idolatry as well. A false gospel can come from the mouth of orthodox men and very learned men. A false gospel can be declared from the pulpits of conservative denominations. A false gospel can be declared by men who seem to burn with zeal for the souls of men, yet that can be a zeal without knowledge. A false gospel can be “preached” by those who speak highly of Christ and talk about Him a fair amount. One can even talk about the Gospel and use the word “gospel” but that is not the same thing as preaching the true Gospel.

If it is true that for the majority of history there have been more false prophets than true ones, and if it is also true that not only have there been more false prophets than true ones but most of the time there has been but few true prophets, then why do we think we are free from that in our day? We have men who do fairly good jobs of talking about the doctrines in terms of history and others who do a fairly good job of exposition of the Scriptures, but were are those who set forth Christ and the glory of the Father shining in and through Him? Where are those who are set on humbling the pride of men so that men can see the wonders of Christ? Could it be that in our day many that think they are on the narrow path are actually on the broad road and that men and women are content to tickle their minds with historical doctrines while their hearts are dead in the sin of pride and self? Could it be that our nation is primarily hearing the deception of the preachers own hearts?

Christianity Today 2

January 2, 2019

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

The prophets and the rest of the Scriptures are replete with examples of false prophets and those who deceive. Could it be that the professing Church is more or less at the same place of an apostate Israel? They kept the externals of the religion and yet their hearts went after other things. Could it be that the professing Church is also at the same place as the Pharisees in the New Testament in the sense that the heart of true religion had been replaced with the externals and the laws of men?

There are twin errors that are in the professing Church and yet drag it down with error rather than build it up. There is the intellectual acceptance of truth without love for the truth. Then there is the opposite side that has no regard for truth and simply accepts any form of experience as truth. The deception of the heart is rather easy work of the Deceiver in our day. On the one hand you have people firmly adhering to a creed or an orthodox statement of the truth and think of themselves as converted as a result of that. On the other hand you have people with large numbers of people in organizations that have a lot of religious activity and yet do not have the truth. For there to be a true Church there must be both the truth of Christ and the love of Christ.

A man can be a pastor in name of a large professing Church that has a lot of energy and numerical growth, but that does not mean that the pastor is preaching the true Gospel. If the pastor is not preaching the true Gospel, then he is deceived and is deceiving the people. It is something like Jesus spoke of which is the blind leading the blind. A man can also profess the orthodox truth and yet love himself as orthodox rather than the truth of God. This man is also deceived and is deceiving the people.

Scripture sets out many ways that people are deceived and one of the main ones it warns about is false prophets. A false prophet (pastor/preacher) can wear a white suit, have a white bible, and be the nicest and most sincere of men. Sincerity is not the same thing as being sincere about the truth. A false prophet can have a zeal for evangelism, but that can be a far different thing than a zeal for the Gospel. We must remember that the Pharisees had a zeal for evangelism and would travel on sea and land to make one convert, but Jesus said they were making their proselytes twice as much a son of hell as the Pharisees were (Matthew 23:15).

What are men in worship of when they sing songs in apparent worship? Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:46 that people love those who love them. In other words, sinners love to be loved (in appearance) and will “love” others just in order to be loved. Jesus said we are to love our enemies. The truth of the matter is that as long as a false God is presented people will think that they love that God and as such will be greatly deceived. People like that are really only loving a false god and what they think he will do for them. When the true God is set forth in true preaching, the natural heart of man will respond just like the hearts of the Pharisees responded to Jesus. They will hate Him. This is why men must be born from above by the power of God. Men cannot change their own hearts.