Earnestly Contend | thebereancall.org

Hunt, Dave

Hundreds of fulfilled prophecies prove God’s existence, that the Bible is His inerrant Word, the Jews His chosen people, and Jesus of Nazareth the promised Messiah who died for our sins, has resurrected, and is coming again. Yet prophecy is neglected by most Christian preachers and writers. No wonder that the “last-days” apostasy warned of in God’s Word is now upon us with a vengeance!

The few who do teach prophecy, when referring to “last-days signs,” seldom mention apostasy. Yet when asked by His disciples, “What shall be the sign of thy coming...?” (Mat:24:3), Christ three times warned that the major sign would be apostasy, with false prophets and false Christs using false “signs and wonders” to deceive (24:4-5,11,24). That warning was echoed by Paul (2 Tim:3:8) and by Jude, who said we must “earnestly contend for the faith...once delivered to the saints” because “certain men [have] crept [into the church] unawares...ungodly men...denying...God, and...Christ” (Jude 3-4).

“False Christs”?! There have been many in our day, from Jim Jones to David Koresh. Numerous gurus in India claim to be “Christ.” The false “Christs” presented by novels, videos, and movies have multiplied since Jesus Christ Superstar. The “Jesus” of The DaVinci Code is a fraud. The “Jesus” of ABC-TV’s Judas confessed that he “blew it” in chasing the moneychangers out of the Temple. The media bombards us with false Christs!

That evangelical leaders called Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ “biblically accurate” is distressing. It was almost entirely unbiblical: A sinful man pretending to be the One who declared, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” and whom Paul described as “God manifest in the flesh”; this Hollywood “Christ” stomping on a huge serpent slithering into Gethsemane, and Satan tempting Him there; the two Marys wiping up “Christ’s” blood with linens supplied by Pilate’s wife; “Christ,” knocked off a bridge on the way to Calvary, dangling from a chain and confronting Judas hiding beneath; “Saint Veronica” giving her veil to “Christ” to wipe his face, and the image of his face remaining on it as the first icon; a raven plucking out the eye of a thief on an adjoining cross; the endless beatings by Roman soldiers, giving the false impression that Christ’s physical sufferings paid for our sins, etc. None of this is in the Bible! Nor was there even a hint of the true payment for sin: “The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all...it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,” etc. The Passion portrayed a false gospel of mostly myth!

The Bible is being “improved” by script writers, movie directors, and actors, who are replacing the actual “incorruptible...word of God” by which we are “born again,” with dramatic representations. The entire New Testament is now on video, which may soon be the only “Bible” youth know. Who will earnestly contend?

For three years, “night and day with tears” (Acts:20:31), Paul warned the Ephesian elders about coming apostasy. Who warns about apostasy today? Rick Warren wouldn’t dare for fear of losing his following. A prophesied apostasy doesn’t fit Warren’s plans and popularity, nor does it fit the mushrooming growth of other mega churches—or does it? Is the Bible wrong—or is this the apostasy foretold? What is the real condition of the church? A recent Barna poll revealed that 71 percent of Americans, 64 percent of “born-agains,” and 40 percent of “evangelicals” reject absolute truth.

Paul faithfully declared “all the counsel of God [holding] back nothing” (Acts:20:20, 27). But the church today, like the world it mimics, believes the lie that to be “successful” one must always be “positive.” Thus, most of the Bible is avoided. Were Jeremiah or any other prophets “positive”? Was Jesus “positive” when He said, “...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk 13:3,5)? He repeatedly warned about hell. From which Christian leaders do we hear such warnings today?

Watching TBN, or reading James Rutz’s MegaShift (“A megashift of spiritual power...is about to...put [the world] into vastly better shape....A whole new form of Christianity promises to bring a far greater impact than the Protestant Reformation”), would lead one to believe that the real sign of the last days is a worldwide revival (the “latter rain outpouring of the Spirit”) fueled by miraculous “signs and wonders.” The Bible, however, calls it a deadly delusion led by false prophets.

Peter Howard, executive assistant to Bishop Michael Sheridan, head of the Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs, warned Catholics not to attend Protestant services. In “positive” response, Ted Haggard, Senior Pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs and president of the 30-million-member National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), said, “New Life doesn’t try to ‘convert’ Catholics” and would never discourage its members “from becoming Catholic or attending Catholic Mass.” The 16th-century Reformers would be aghast!

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) was the response of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) to the Reformation. It pronounced more than 100 anathemas against the true gospel, damning to hell all who believe it. For example: “If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law [Catholic rituals] are not necessary for salvation but...men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification...let him be anathema.”

On December 31, 1995, honoring Trent’s 450th anniversary, Pope John Paul II declared: “Its conclusions maintain all their value.” Those who claim that Christ paid the full penalty for sin on the Cross, who deny the necessity of suffering for one’s sins in purgatory, and who reject indulgences to shorten that suffering are still anathematized by Rome. Yet in The Body (1992), Charles Colson denied that indulgences are still offered by Rome. I sent him the seventeen pages on indulgences from Vatican II, including Pope Paul’s anathema upon those who deny indulgences today. Colson never acknowledged his error, which has led multitudes astray.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association published a special “Crusade Edition” (1962, 1964, 1969) of Halley’s Bible Handbook and boldly removed Halley’s careful documentation of the evil of the popes and the slaughter of true Christians. Zondervan published a revised edition of Halley’s Bible Handbook in 2000, which likewise eliminated references to the RCC’s heresies and the millions of evangelical Christians slaughtered by Rome. Instead, it says: “The Roman Catholic Church responded to the Protestant Reformation by reforming and renewing itself.”

When challenged about its lies, Stan Gundry, Zondervan’s Vice President and Editor-in-Chief responded, “The purpose of the rewriting was...to give a more balanced portrayal of the history of Christianity.” Whitewashing Roman Catholic doctrine and practice and leaving out the slaughter of millions of Christians gives a “more balanced” history?! And who owns Zondervan, publisher of The Purpose-Driven Life?

In 1988, Zondervan and its NIV Bible were purchased by Harper & Row Publishers (now HarperCollins Publishers), who put out pro-homosexual books such as Making Out, The Book of Lesbian Sex and Sexuality (“Beautifully illustrated with full-color photography...”) and others! HarperCollins is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s The News Corporation which owns Twentieth Century Fox and Fox Broadcasting. The latter produces some of the most immoral, anti-family shows on television. Murdoch—to whom Pat Robertson sold the Family Channel (paid for by CBN donors) for $1.9 billion—was knighted by the Pope after donating $10 million for a new Catholic cathedral in Los Angeles. And Rick Warren claims to be Murdoch’s pastor.

Christian publishers have put profits ahead of sound doctrine and have made a lot of money by giving customers what they want instead of the biblical truth they need, selling out to the world monetarily as they already had morally. Isn’t this the opposite of contending for the faith?

On October 31, 1999, in Augsburg, Germany, representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and of the RCC signed a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ). The Reformation was overturned! Colson says, “Justification by faith alone...doesn’t mean today among evangelicals what it meant in the reformers’ time.” The gospel has changed?!

For 1.1 billion Roman Catholics nothing changed. They still pray to Mary for salvation and wear her scapular, which declares, “Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” What an insult to Christ! The very doctrine of indulgences that sparked the Reformation remains a mainstay of Catholicism. Mocking JDDJ, John Paul II opened four “holy doors” in Rome and offered plenary indulgences for walking through them. (Catholic pilgrims came by the millions to do so, rejecting Christ as the only door to eternal life!)

Kneeling beside the Pope in front of the first “holy door” opened was George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the Church of England. John Stott said, “Evangelicals should join [the] Church of England in working toward full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.”

Do we believe the entire Bible or just the “positive” parts of it? Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see [or enter] the kingdom of God” (Jn:3:3,5). Peter said that a man is “born again...by the word of God...which by the gospel is preached” (1 Pt 1:23-25). Without believing the gospel one is lost eternally (Rom:1:16; Acts:16:31, etc.). Haggard affirms “the necessity of being born again....” Yet he accepts Catholics as Christians who have been born again by infant baptism!

What is the faith (gospel) for which we are to “earnestly contend”? Paul defines it as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ according to the Scriptures. Surely that involves who God is, who Christ is, the problem between God and man, the only means of man’s forgiveness by God, and the eternal consequences for those who reject the biblical gospel—all according to the Scriptures.

The entire Word of God is foundational to the faith. Sadly, the church and world are being robbed of the pure Word of God by professing evangelicals. Eugene Peterson’s The Message (NavPress, 1993) changes God’s Word into the “social gospel,” downgrading salvation to earthly improvement. (See TBC Oct ’95 ; Feb ’04 .) The Renovaré “Bible” rejects divine inspiration and prophecies about Israel and Christ. (See TBC Aug ’05 .)

The subject of Israel takes up most of the Bible. Its history and prophets lay the foundation for the Messiah’s identity and mission. If the Bible is not 100 percent true about Israel (as many evangelicals claim), we cannot believe what it says about Christ and our “redemption through His blood.”

For decades, Billy Graham has declared that his beliefs are “essentially the same as those of orthodox Roman Catholics....” He praised Pope John Paul II as a preacher of the true gospel and for “his strong Catholic faith,” hailing him as “the greatest moral and spiritual leader of the last 100 years....I don’t know anyone else that I could put as high as he is. He’s traveled the whole world...spreading the Catholic faith....He and I agree on almost everything.”

It is indisputable that John Paul II, though praised by evangelicals, trusted Mary instead of Christ for his eternal destiny. (See TBC May ’05 .) Yet, like Graham, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, emphasized that any disagreements Protestants may have had “with John Paul II are [irrelevant] to the foundations of the faith.” Land praised the Pope’s “staunch defense of traditional Christian faith....” Pat Robertson enthused, “Pope John Paul II stands like a rock...in his clear enunciation of the foundational principles of the Christian faith.” Jack Van Impe has hailed the Pope as a staunch Christian and defender of the faith. J.I. Packer, a signatory to ECT, called John Paul II “a fine Christian man” and declared, “Catholics are among the most loyal and virile brothers evangelicals can find these days.”

Who will obey Jude’s injunction to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints”? Not Rick Warren. Nor has Billy Graham ever raised a voice against those who deny the faith. Charles Dullea, Jesuit Superior of Rome’s Pontifical Biblical Institute, urged Catholics to attend Graham’s crusades because “A Catholic will hear...no word against Mass or Sacraments or Catholic practice.” Graham called the Mass “a very beautiful thing...straight and clear in the gospel I believe....” He recommended a biography of Pope John XXIII as “a classic in devotion.” Yet it contains page after page of John XXIII’s devotion to Mary and the Saints, worship of the host, and trust in the sacraments for salvation.

Billy Graham hailed Bishop Fulton Sheen as the “greatest communicator of the 20th century.” Though Sheen preached a false gospel, Billy exulted in their “common commitment to evangelism” and thanked Sheen “for his ministry and his focus on Christ.” Yet Sheen’s hope of heaven was in his 40 pilgrimages to Marian shrines at Fatima and Lourdes. When Sheen died, Billy said, “I...look forward to our reunion in heaven.”

Many evangelical leaders who generally preach the true gospel, commend, approve of, and praise those who preach a false gospel. Is it any less damning to souls for Billy Graham to praise and endorse Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, Pope John Paul II, and others who preach a false gospel than to preach it himself?

In The Body, Chuck Colson called for union with Rome. In an article titled, “Why Catholics are Our Allies,” he wrote: “And let’s be certain that we are firing our polemical rifles against the enemies, not [allies] fighting in the trenches alongside us in the defense of the Truth.” It would shock the Reformers (especially the millions Rome tortured and slaughtered for their faith in Christ) to learn that the enemies of the gospel were actually their allies “in defense of the Truth”!

Just as His people Israel, to whom He sent His prophets to warn them of their apostasy and its dire consequences, would not listen, so it is today in the church. Glad to follow any pied piper who plays an enticing tune, and unwilling (and one day unable) to hear the Lord, millions dance merrily on to judgment. Time on this earth will soon end. Let us earnestly contend for “the faith once delivered unto the saints”—and thereby rescue many before it is forever too late. And may our example give renewed courage and conviction to many others. TBC

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