Ex. 13:17-18 π Song 8:5 π Dan. 11:32-33 π Dan. 12:9-10 π Mt. 4:6 π Mt. 5:13-14 π Mt. 13:30 π Mt. 24:10; 2nd π Mt. 25:10 π Mt. 25:11-12 π Mt. 26:56 π Mk. 14:49 π Mk. 15:28 π Lk. 9:1-2 π Lk. 22:37 π Lk. 24:27 π Lk. 24:44-46 π Lk. 24:46 π Jn. 5:39-40 π Jn. 8:44 π Jn. 17:20-23 π Jn. 19:24 π Jn. 19:28 π Jn. 19:36-37 π Jn. 20:9 π Acts 17:2-3 π Acts 17:30 π Acts 18:24 π Acts 18:28 π 1 Cor. 15:3-4 π 2 Cor. 5:10 π 2 Cor. 6:14 π Eph. 4:11 π Eph. 4:12-13 π Eph. 4:16 π 2 Ths. 2:3 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4 π Heb. 3:12-18 π Heb. 4:10 π Heb. 4:11 π Heb. 5:9 π Heb. 8:10 π Heb. 10:16 π 2 Pet. 1:5-7 π 1 Jn. 3:15 π Rev. 13:7 π Rev. 20:13 π Rev. 22:11
In his preface to his translation of the New Testament, William Beck wrote, "Starting with God in His Word, we have a striking power. 'Publicly and vigorously Apollos proved the Jews were wrong as he showed them from the Bible Jesus is the promised Savior.' ( Acts 18:28 ) That's the kind of man and woman God wants. That's what the church must have. That what the world needs desperately." (The New Testament in the Language of Today, Preface, Concordia Press, 1963)
Likewise, "Paul, as his custom was, went into [the synagogue of the Jews in Thessalonica], and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, 'This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.'" ( Acts 17:2-3 - emphasis added) Paul's writings clearly demonstrate his complete reliance upon Scripture to support what he was saying and his presentation of the foundational truths of the gospel stressed "that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..." ( 1 Cor. 15:3-4 - emphasis added; top)
Each of the four gospels attest to the life, death and resurrection of Christ as being an express and exact fulfillment of Scriptural prophecies. ( Mt. 25:56 , Mk. 14:49 , 15:28 , Lk. 22:37 , 24:46 , Jn. 19:24 , 28 , 36-37 ) But the records also reveal the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit of truth in making it even possible to truly grasp and understand the full significance of the gospel message. Though Christ's disciples and apostles had been taught by Him for years and He had even sent them out to preach the gospel of the kingdom, granting them authority to cast out demons and heal the sick ( Lk. 9:1-2 ), even as Peter and John stood in Jesus' empty tomb after His resurrection, "as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead." ( Jn. 20:9; top )
The two disciples (Cleopas and an unnamed disciple) on the road to Emmaus were likewise confused and befuddled regarding the Scriptures until a "stranger" comes alongside them and "beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." ( Lk. 24:27 ) Jesus later appeared to all of His disciples and "said to them, 'All things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day...'" ( Lk. 24:44-46 - emphasis added; top) Apollos, Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Peter, Jude, Stephen, Cleopas and all the other unnamed disciples and followers of Christ each had to have their minds opened by the Spirit of truth so as to grasp the spiritual significance of the facts and events they had each witnessed and experienced.
Beck's affirmation is that God wants men like Apollos who are "mighty in the Scriptures." ( Acts 18:24 ) There is certainly place for such men and women today but there is a deeper need than to know and wield the Scriptures. Jesus said to the Jews of His day, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. But it is these Scriptures that bear witness of Me and you are unwilling to come to Me that you may have life!" ( Jn. 5:39-40 - emphasis added) One can know the Scriptures forward and backward - Satan does! - and still possess neither eternal life nor any truth. ( Mt. 4:6 , Jn. 8:44 , 1 Jn. 3:15 ) God's laws and ways must be written in and lived out from the heart ( Heb. 8:10 , 10:16 ) so that, in these last days, "the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits, and those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering." ( Dan. 11:32-33 - emphasis added; top)
Beck proclaims that men like Apollos are necessary for the people of Christ, what he called "the church." Beck probably never fully understood the full nature of the apostasy, the great falling away from the faith which happens just prior to Christ's return. ( Mt. 24:10 , 2 Ths. 2:3 ) And indeed the fullness of its nature is one of the things that has been sealed until the time of the end (see Dan. 12:9-10 ) so that the wheat and the tares could both reach maturity and clearly demonstrate their true identity. ( Mt. 13:30; top ) If the many "church" practices which foster the fallen, apostate condition of so many who claim to follow Christ had been clearly identified as sinful, fleshly, lawless, corrupt and unrighteous (as they are now being exposed), what person desiring godliness would participate in "church"? Beck, as has almost everyone in the past, has severely misunderstood how powerful and how successful Satan's end-time deceptions would be upon the spiritually untrained masses who have absorbed knowledge of the Scriptures at "church" but who have failed to achieve the personal relationship and interactions with the God of the Scriptures so that they might attain to the life which only He gives.
The "church" - with its monolithic (unScriptural) authority structure, its (unScriptural) monologue teaching method, its (unScriptural) passive learning mode, its (unScriptural) open-ended voluntary participation plan and its (unScriptural) sick, symbiotic emotional-financial co-dependent relationship between a false head (the "pastor") and the people - has no ability to bring the people into spiritual maturity.
- God grants five giftings - messengers, proclaimers, heralds, shepherds and instructors ( Eph. 4:11 ) - and eliminating any, most or all of them (as most "churches" do either by exclusion or subversion) short circuits God's prescription of bringing about spiritual maturity. ( Eph. 4:12-13; top )
- God equips and enables each part of His body and expects each part to do its own share. ( Eph. 4:16; top ) Herding in and out of a lecture hall, tuning in to a radio program or popping one's favorite teacher into the tape deck is not doing one's share and Christ's body is not built up and it does not grow in love.
- God has proscribed a certain order by which an individual believer will progress toward spiritual maturity. ( 2 Pet. 1:5-7; top ) Many "churches" systematically teach, practice or assume that faith is the same as saying a "sinner's prayer" (which isn't found anywhere in the Scriptures) and, rather than having a new believer simply practice good works for those already in his life, the "church" often shuttles them into a "new believers class" (which isn't found in the Scriptures either) and proceeds to add to their "faith" knowledge and those who remain faithful to this "church" never guess how they've been derailed away from genuine spiritual maturity in Christ.
- God's offer of eternal salvation is made to those who obey Him. ( Heb. 5:9 ) and God still commands all men everywhere to repent of their sin and selfishness and (ultimately) service to His enemy the devil. ( Acts 17:30 ) The "church" issues a mild, weak and very polite invitation to "come on in" and listen to their particular speaker and evaluate their methodology and "theology" and - if it is acceptable to one's individual tastes and preferences (the New Testament calls this lawlessness, doing what is right in one's own eyes, and warns us that it has nothing in common with righteousness, what is right in God's eyes - 2 Cor. 6:14; top ) - then one can come "fellowship" there and participate to whatever degree one wants to. Lawlessness is substituted for obedience and it's all done in the name of Christ.
And the list could go on. But let us look back at Beck's affirmation that the church must have men like Apollos. The fallen, apostate "church" indeed needs them desperately - but they don't want them or their message. Men like Apollos or Stephen are to be slandered, gossiped about, reviled, persecuted, ostracized, excommunicated and ultimately murdered because their fiery messages are too intense and disruptive to the ear-tickling and ear-scratching they've grown accustomed to and become so fond of. (see 2 Tim. 4:3-4; top )
Beck's last affirmation was that the world desperately needs men who, like Apollos, wield the striking power of God in His Word. The world, like the fallen, apostate "church" indeed stands in desperate need. The writer of Hebrews tells us,
"Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encouraging one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,' lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: 'Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.' For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?" ( Heb. 3:12-18 - emphasis added; top)
The people of Christ and God are supposed to act as salt and light in a decaying, dying, dark world. ( Mt. 5:13-14 ) That the world has grown so dark and so stifling for life and godliness is the best objective evidence of the existence of the apostasy that one can point to. If the vast numbers of people involved in the "churches" were being salt and light in the world around them (instead of being absorbed by the philosophies, practices and darkness that in truth is the world), the world would not be as dark and vile as it is. But because the vast majority of the people of the "church" are deceived into practicing their own works (which those who have entered into God's rest have ceased from - Heb. 4:10 ), the world is not being impacted by the salt and light which true followers of Christ are. Disobedience to the Spirit of God is the bottom line characteristic of those who are fallen and falling away from the faith. Those who want to remain partakers of Christ must "be diligent to enter [God's] rest" (wherein we do His works by His Spirit according to His will and plan and purpose), "lest anyone fall through following the [Israelite's] example of disobedience." ( Heb. 4:11; top )
As more and more people fall away from the faith but continue to suppose themselves to be followers of Christ, the world will grow darker and darker. In the time of the end, the beast (government) that rules the world will be given power to overcome the saints ( Rev. 13:7; top ), in part, to demonstrate that Satan's government and rule, even at full strength and unrestrained, is only evil, vile, murderous and incapable of sustaining life, especially the life that God gives.
And as more people abandon the false, counterfeit "church" and begin their own spiritual journey of actively and actually following God, they are usually led into some kind of wilderness experience. These need to equally exercise caution because their bodies could yet fall in the wilderness through their own disobedience. The wilderness experience is a time of following the pillar of fire and smoke (the Holy Spirit) wherever He leads. It is a time of preparation for the warfare that follows the time in the wilderness. (see Ex. 13:17-18 ) It is an essential step in the maturation process (and one which is unpopular in "churches" because it entails suffering and because the process cannot be institutionalized) and one must endure it for as long as He says is necessary. Only when one's time is complete will the world look in wonder and ask, "Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved?" ( Song 8:5; top )
As Jesus said,
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be One in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one; I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." ( Jn. 17:20-23 - emphasis added; top)
Those who truly following only Christ will be characterized by their oneness with God and with one another. But those who are truly those who are offended, stumbled and fallen from the faith "will betray one another and will hate one another." ( Mt. 24:10; top ) By their fruit you will know them.
A fiery hero of the Scriptures is not going to be sufficient to cure either the world or the apostasy or stem the tide of darkness in these last days. The only remedy for these is the soon and sudden return of the real and true King of Righteousness. As we draw nearer to the day of His return, only those who routinely and habitually draw near to Him now will be ready and waiting for Him then. ( Mt. 25:10 ) Those who obey and rely on their own opinions and practices but who fail to rely on and interact with Him who is supposed to be their very life will not be ready and will be turned away when they try to catch up with Him later on. ( Mt. 25:11-12 ) In this day, it is time for the unjust to remain unjust, the filthy to remain filthy, the righteous to remain righteous and the holy to remain holy ( Rev. 22:11 ) so that each will be judged according to what he has done. ( Rev. 20:13 , 2 Cor. 5:10; top ) Those who feel challenged to change the direction of their life toward God and away from the darkness of this world should do so now while there is still some window of opportunity remaining.
Let he who has ears hear.
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