Doctrine Through Disinformation

Disinformation and Self-righteous Judgment

The General Conference of The United Methodist Church met April 23 through May 3, 2024, in Charlotte, NC. Prior to the conference the College of Bishops, Philippines Central Conference, issued this statement.

“We strongly admonish all efforts that sow divisions in the United Methodist Church through disinformation and self-righteous judgment to stop, in particular, those of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and the Global Methodist Church, their affiliates, and supporters in the Philippines. Their disinformation campaign using social media platforms says that the UMC is changing its doctrines and beliefs about Christ and the Scriptures.

“These issues have long been refuted by the Restrictive Rules under Section III, ¶17- Article I, and ¶18- Article II of the Book of Discipline, emphasizing that ‘The General Conference shall not revoke, alter, or change our Articles of Religion or establish any new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine,’ including our Confession of Faith. These groups have been using these made-up doctrinal issues, including that of human sexuality, to gain support to leave the United Methodist Church.”
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aHVaP0FNcGsrtpcKbbKdB34GJSpJPBt2/view

Doctrine: The basic meaning of the term doctrine is “teaching.” Christian doctrine, accordingly, is the attempt to state in intellectually responsible terms the message of the gospel and the content of the faith it elicits. britannica.com

The Word of God

“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1 Timothy 6:2-5)

During the 2024 General Conference delegates approved the proposed Revised Social Principles which reads as follows:

“Human sexuality is a healthy and natural part of life that is expressed in wonderfully diverse ways from birth to death. It is shaped by a combination of nature and nurture: heredity and genetic factors on the one hand and childhood development and environment on the other. We further honor the diversity of choices and vocations in relation to sexuality such as celibacy, marriage and singleness. We support the rights of all people to exercise personal consent in sexual relationships, to make decisions about their own bodies and be supported in those decisions.”

Key portions of the document suggest the UMC went further than simply affirming same-sex marriage and ordination.

“We honor the diversity of choices and vocations in relation to sexuality.” This statement could open the way for affirmation of sexual vocations of all types, including prostitution where legal.

“We support the rights of all people to exercise personal consent in sexual relationships.” Without qualifying language, this declaration appears to affirm consensual sexual relations with multiple partners and between family members and or with neighbors (Leviticus 18).

Final Word from the One Whose Name Is the “Word of God”

He who has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. I am coming soon! My reward is with me. I will give to each person according to what they have done. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood (Revelation 3:6, 22:12-14).

Who Are Those Jesus Never Knew?

Jesus is the Word of God (Revelation 19:13)

How is it possible that many who think they are saved by Jesus will find themselves on the outside of God’s kingdom? Who are those Jesus never knew? Let us hear what Jesus says to those who have ears to hear.

Who Are Those Jesus Never Knew?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy, testify, and preach in your name? In your name did we not drive out demons? In your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

We can know a great deal about a person and never know them.

Though during the time of Jesus, some commanded demons to be cast out Jesus says he never knew them. Some preached the word of God and Jesus and didn’t know him. Today some teach in universities and seminaries and testify to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God, but Jesus says he does not know them.

How can we know if Jesus knows us and we know him? The evidence is the fruit we produce for him in our lives and the lives of our neighbors. The evidence is in the love we have for the Father and our neighbors. 

For example, Paul writes, “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry rather than out of love. They preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not from the heart.” (Philippians 1:15-17) Even so, the message of Jesus is greater than the man or woman who profits off his character and words. Though the person may not be saved, the truth of the gospel stands apart from those who proclaim it for selfish gain.

Listen again what Jesus says.

“Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.” (John 17:21)

If we are born by the Holy Spirit of God — if we have the Spirit of Jesus in us — we will do the works of Jesus (John 14:12). He will come into us and we will go into him.

If Jesus lives in us we will speak the words of Jesus and reflect his glory by loving the Father. We can know that we intimately know Jesus when, in any situation, we understand what Jesus would do and say.  This requires trust, prayer, silence, and often moments of solitude. This requires we first listen to the Father and read his word before seeking the opinions of others. 

If we have his Spirit, we will begin to act like Jesus.

  • Jesus forgives.
  • Jesus has compassion on all.
  • Jesus obeys the Father.
  • Jesus keeps the commands.
  • Jesus shows mercy.
  • Jesus gave all.
  • Jesus is humble.
  • Jesus is peace.
  • Jesus encourages and exhorts.
  • Jesus convicts and comforts.

To be born of the Spirit of Jesus is to know with certainty that we are in the kingdom of God now — that we are saved now.

In Jesus we “have new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:3)

To be born of the Spirit of Jesus is to know Jesus so intimately that we have full confidence that what comes after the grave is far greater than what comes before the grave. When we are in Jesus and he is in us, we willingly give away all we have now for a promised future we can only see with dim eyes.

This intimate relationship with Jesus is so important that he says, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3)

No one — not even those who preach, teach, or heal in his name — will enter the kingdom of God unless they are born by his Spirit. 

“To all who receive Jesus, to those who believed in his name, he gives the right to become children of God — children born of God.” (John 1:13)

In law, a right is a power or privilege held by someone as the result of a constitution, statute, regulation, judicial precedent, or other type of law. Governments give rights to citizens. For example, the right to freely assemble or speak without fear of retribution is a right Americans possess. But if we do not act on these rights we can be silenced and scattered. To all who receive Jesus, to those who believed in his name, we have the right to become children of God and should act upon that right by asking to be born new by his Spirit.

If indeed the Spirit of God lives in us, we are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ, but remain in the realm of the flesh and are controlled by the flesh (Romans 8:9). This new birth is so important that the early church considered it clear evidence that someone was saved by the blood of Jesus.

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Through the living and enduring word of God, you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable. You have purified yourselves by obeying the truth. (1 Peter 1:22-23)

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Do this and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

God saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5)

The person without the Spirit cannot accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. In fact, the things of Jesus and the Father seem foolish. Without the Spirit of Jesus, we can read the word of God but cannot understand its meaning. Only through Jesus’ Spirit can we hear and discern what the Father says to us through his word (1 Corinthians 2:14). The evidence someone is “in the word of God” and the word of God is “in” them is found in the fruit of their lips. 

Do they profess Christ as Lord and Savior? Do they declare Jesus to be God in the flesh? Do they affirm that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one?

Jesus IS the Spirit that gives us new life (Philippians 1:19). Jesus IS the word of God made flesh. 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among mankind (John 1:14).

“I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law.” – Paul (Romans 7:7)

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now that I have come, they have no excuse for their sin.” – Jesus (John 15:22)

Jesus is the Word of God (Revelation 19:13).

If you have the Spirit of Jesus within you, his Spirit will affirm his words and the words of the Father. If you do not have the Spirit of Jesus within you, you will struggle to grasp the full revelation of God’s word and understand its meanings and implications for your life. In fact, you may reject it outright. Many who claim to be followers of Jesus reject his word.

Who are those Jesus never knew? Don’t wonder if it’s you. Be born again by the Spirit of Jesus. Then be in the Word of God  — which is Jesus himself preserved for us in written form. 

 

 

Abomination that Causes Desolation — 66 AD- Jesus’ Olivet Discourse

The Fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the Time of the Gentiles

Some of Jesus’ disciples remarked about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said:

“As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”

“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”

Jesus warned:

“When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

In 168 BC, Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, sacrificed a swine at the image of Moses that stood in the outward court and sprinkled the altar with blood from the sacrifice. He likewise commanded that the holy books should be sprinkled with the broth made of the swine’s flesh. Further, he put out the lamp (called by the Jew “immortal”) which burns continually in the temple. Lastly, he forced the high priest and the other Jews to eat swine’s flesh. All this triggered outrage against his rule and led to the Maccabean Revolt.

Andrew and Simon, James and John would have known the history of the Temple’s desecration and clearly associated Jesus’ warning with an event so profane that no Jew in Jerusalem would miss its significance.

[When this happens . . .] “Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

In 63 BC, the Roman general Pompey the Great profaned the Temple by entering the Holy of Holies, which no one but the High Priest was allowed to do. He did not remove anything, neither its treasures nor any funds. In fact, the next day, he ordered the Temple cleansed and its rituals resumed. Crisis averted. But his callous act would have served as a warning to those who recalled Jesus’ words.

In fact, Pompey’s insolence preceded a similar event one hundred years later. Between 39 and 40 AD, the Roman emperor Caligula sent orders to Petronius, the governor of the Roman province of Syria, to install Caligula’s image inside the Temple of Jerusalem, “using whatever military force was necessary to see his orders through.” As they had when Antiochus IV Epiphanes profaned the Temple, Jews responded with riots.

In response, “Publius Petronius, the Roman governor of Syria, traveled to Jerusalem to quell the unrest. He asked the Jews if they were willing to go to war with Caligula over the matter. The Jews replied that they offered sacrifice twice daily for [Caligula] and the Roman people, but that if he wished to set up these statues, he must first sacrifice the entire Jewish nation; and that they presented themselves, their wives, and their children, ready for the slaughter.” — Jewish historian Josephus

In the end, the threat of the abomination passed without the installation of Caligula’s image and the crisis was averted. The purity of Jewish worship in the Temple, however, remained under threat.

63 BC . . . 40 AD . . . Another event could not be far behind.

In May AD 66, a Gentile mob, profaned a synagogue in Caesarea.

Josephus writes, “A Greek, who was aware of the strict laws held by the Jews in regard to ritual purity and cleanliness, placed a chamber pot” [toilet pot] “upside down at the entrance [to the synagogue] and was sacrificing birds on it.”

Author Tim Miller writes in his July 2018 article, “The Fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE: A Story of Roman Revenge, “Similar provocations had taken place in the previous decade; for example, Roman soldiers had exposed their buttocks to Jewish pilgrims. They” [Roman soldiers] “also had seized and burned sacred Jewish scrolls.”

According to Josephus, in reaction to the desecration in Caesarea in 66, one of the Jewish Temple clerks Eleazar ben Hanania ceased prayers and sacrifices for the Roman Emperor at the Temple. As far as Romans were concerned, the refusal to carry out the daily sacrifice was an overt act of rebellion.

In this moment Jews who remembered Jesus’ words, should have gathered their loved ones and fled for history seemed to be repeating itself. Had not the prophet Daniel warned?

From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits and comes to the days of 1,335.”

Had not the Temple remained desecrated from 167 BC until 164 BC? If Jesus referenced a previous discretion as an inflection point, now would be the time to escape.

“When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

Past . . . then . . . and now?

“How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.” — Jesus

Protests over taxation joined the list of grievances and random attacks on Roman citizens led Rome to respond harshly. By order of the procurator Gessius Florus, the Jewish Temple was breached by Roman troops who had seventeen talents removed from the treasury of the Temple, claiming the money was for the Emperor. In response to this action, the city fell into unrest. This led to Roman troops marching on Jerusalem.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.” — Jesus

Before this final siege, in September AD 66, Gallus Roman proconsul of Syria, sent detachments from the three other legions based in Syria to put down the Jewish Revolt. After suffering losses amongst his baggage train and rearguard, Gallus reached Mount Scopus and penetrated the outer city, but was unable to take The Temple Mount. After a siege of nine days, Gallus decided to fall back to the coast. His decision appears to have been based on the loss of siege equipment by ambush and the threatened cutting of his supply lines as the October and winter rains began.

From the perspective of Jesus’ warning, the retreat of Gallus would have been the time to heed Jesus’ warning.

“How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.” — Jesus

And still, it appears few in Jerusalem fled. In fact, many assumed they had defeated Rome and celebrated. But the retreat and defeat of Gallus only emboldened Rome to strike back harder, with greater forces.

In August of 70 AD Roman general Titus conquered Jerusalem. Perhaps as a nod to Antiochus Epiphanes, one of his first acts was to sacrifice a swine near the eastern gate of the Temple. The destruction was complete, just as Jesus predicted.

“They will fall by the sword. They will be taken as prisoners to all the nations.” — Jesus

The end of Jerusalem had come. The Jews were scattered. Those who failed to heed Jesus’ words lay in the streets beheaded, run through, or dead from starvation brought upon them by the great siege.

Not until July 30, 1980, was Jerusalem once more restored and declared capital of Israel — the seat of power for its president, government, and ruling religious leaders. In passing “Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel,” Israel promised to protect all Holy Places.

“The Holy Places shall be protected from DESECRATION and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places.”

“Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

“Then there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish. They will be perplexed at the roaring and tossing of the sea.” [Something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood. (Revelation 8:8)]

“People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

He who has ears to hear, hear what our Lord is saying. Jesus is coming . . . and soon.

Korah’s Rebellion In Today’s Church

The Great Falling Away

“Korah said, ‘It is not from God that you have received these commandments; you have invented them yourself.’ Korah then assembled 250 men to lead a rebellion. When Moses learned of this, he went to the house of Korah to be reconciled, but the rebels refused to acknowledge the authenticity of God’s word.”

Consider these words from Scripture:

Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me.” (Numbers 16:28-29) “But if they go down alive into the grave, you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt.”

Because they shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man,” King Herod was struck down and died. (Acts 12:23)

Jesus: “You say by the prince of demons I do great works. But I tell you this, whoever gives credit to the devil for works done by the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.” (Mark 3:29) “I drive out demons by the Spirit of God.” (Matthew 12:28) “Therefore, anyone who speaks a word against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:32)

King Nebuchadnezzar said, “I BUILT… by MY power… for My glory… all that which I HAVE DONE is great.” God replied, “Acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign.” Seven years later, when King Nebuchadnezzar came to his sense, he responded, “No one can hold back the HAND of the Most High. No one can say to God, ‘What have you done?’ For everything He does is right. All His ways are just. Those who walk in pride, he humbles'” (Daniel 4:28-37)

Jesus: “David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared…” (Mark 12:36)

Scripture presents the holiness of God, which sets it apart from all other religious texts. But today, as in the days of Korah’s Rebellion, men and women show contempt for God by declaring, “Our congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them.” (Numbers 16:3)

Perhaps you have heard someone say:

Scripture was not dictated by God. Instead, it was written by men who were trying to express what they believed was God’s will. They wrote in a specific time and culture, and they wrote to meet the needs of the people of their time. While they may have at times written at the prompting of the Spirit, this did not mean that God chose each and every word of scripture or that every word was equally inspired by God. Some parts of the Bible are simply the thoughts of men.”

When we claim that men wrote their ideas of God—rather than saying men transcribed what God said—we are very close, right on the edge, of giving credit to man a work of the Holy Spirit. This is especially the case in the writings of Moses where you find God quoted throughout. In chapter one of Deuteronomy, more than five times God speaks to the people through Moses.

Jesus says when you give to the devil, to man—to anyone credit for a work done by the Holy Spirit—you have crossed a line from which you cannot return.

If someone should advise you that God’s words are not His words but the words of men, please, be careful how you respond. When we make casual comments about the Bible, suggesting its stories and ideas were passed down by men—that men wrote things about God based on their best understanding of Him at that time, we are very near the place where the earth beneath our feet might open its mouth and swallow us, for this is what happened to those in Korha’s camp who showed contempt for God’s words.

If you doubt the authenticity of God’s word, ask to be saved by Jesus. Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and be born by His Spirit. If you receive His Spirit into your heart, His Holy Spirit will teach you all that He said—even the things Jesus said with the Father during the time of Moses.

God cannot lie.

God’s Spirit cannot lie.

And God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one in three. All three testify that God’s word IS His word and not the words of men. If you have the Holy Spirit you will know this to be true because He, the Spirit, proves the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).

Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).” Peter said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).” Do this and you will know the one who is Truth and the Truth will set you free from your sins and blindness.

Paul Wrote Some Hard Things

Paul Wrote Some Hard Things

“Paul wrote to you with the wisdom that God gave him. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort. To their own destruction such people do this with other Scriptures. Dear friends, do not be carried away by the error of such lawless men. Rather, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. ” — Peter

(2 Peter 3:13-18)

Seeds that Feed!

The Pirate Gospel

“In the beginning of all things the land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. My Father said, ‘For food, I give you every seed-bearing plant and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.’

“But after Adam and Eve sinned, my Father said to the serpent, the enemy, ‘I will put hatred between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.’ To this day the enemy sows seeds of wickedness among my Father’s seeds. The word of my Father is good seed. When his seed finds good soil — those with a noble and good heart … those who hear his word and retain it, — they, by perseverance, produce a crop. Those who hear his word and mine and believe in me, are born anew, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of my Father. Thus by your fruit you are recognized.

“Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. By our fruit we are recognized. My Father’s seed will produce fruit of its kind. The seed of the enemy produces fruit of confusion and conflict, destruction and death. Sow my Father’s seed in your heart. Sit under those who sow, believe, and expect a harvest from my Father’s words.” — Jesus

Genesis 1:12, 29, Genesis 3:15, Matthew 13:24-30, Luke 8:11,15, 1 Peter 1:23-25, Matthew 7:16-20, 23

if we claim we have not sinned, we make God out to be a liar

“God is light. In Him there is no darkness at all. This is the verdict: Light came into the world, but men love darkness because their deeds are evil. They walk in darkness and refuse to come into the light for fear that their deeds will be revealed as sin. Whoever lives by the truth — by the One who is the Word and the Word of life — comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

“If we walk in the light, Jesus’ blood purifies us from all sin. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

”But if we claim we have not sinned, we make God out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives. Jesus tells us to pray like this: ‘Forgive us our sins and lead us not into temptation.’ If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves. If we claim to be without sin, God’s truth is not in us.

“The light of man is good, true, and holy. The darkness of men is evil and false (John 3:19-21). This is how we know those who walk in the light: God’s truth and His word is in them.

John 3:19-21, 1John 1:5-10, Luke 11:4