UK Prosecutor During Trial That Found Preachers Guilty: ‘Jesus Is Only Way to God Cannot Be Truth’
BRISTOL, UK — The U.K. prosecutor who presented the government’s case last week against two preachers who were found guilty today of “intentionally alarming” the public with their open-air preaching had argued before the court that the men’s speech declaring Jesus as the only way “cannot be a truth.”
“To say to someone that Jesus is the only God is not a matter of truth. To the extent that they are saying that the only way to God is through Jesus, that cannot be a truth,” prosecutor Ian Jackson declared, according to a press release issued on Tuesday by the Christian Legal Centre.
He contended that Michael Stockwell and Michael Overd had crossed the line by stating that those not following Christ are on the broad path to destruction.
“[Stockwell preached that] people were on their way to Hell because of their failure to adopt the worldview of Christianity,” Jackson told the court.
“If you are trying to come through Catholicism, through Jehovah Witness, through Mormonism, the Bible says you’re a thief and a liar, and a thief comes to steal and destroy. But Christ came that we may have life,” Stockwell had explained during the outreach.
Jackson said that it was also wrong for the preachers to include homosexuals in a list of sinners that included drunkards and thieves, contending that doing so “must be considered to be abusive and is a criminal matter.”
But attorney Michael Phillips of the Christian Legal Centre noted to the court that the men were simply citing 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which reads, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived: Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
The Daily Mail reports that Jackson “told the court some of the statements made by the preachers may have been in the King James Bible, translated in 1611, but that did not mean they were acceptable in 2016.”
As previously reported, Overd and Stockwell, along with Adrian Clark and Don Karns, had been taking turns open air preaching outside of the Bristol shopping center on July 6, as well as engaging passersby in conversation and/or holding gospel signs.
Two of those involved in the evangelism effort, Stockwell and Karns, were American citizens visiting the country to share the gospel. The men allegedly preached on a variety of issues, and took questions from those who stopped to listen—questions that ranged from Islam, Buddhism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuality and other moral and religious issues.
Police state that some became offended by the men’s preaching and/or responses to the questions, as statements reportedly included remarks such as “Allah is the greatest deceiver—that’s in the Koran,” “David Cameron is no more a Christian than my dogs” and that false religion leads men to “the gates and the very depth of Hell.”
An online video shows the moment the men were arrested.
“The purpose of mankind is to worship God and enjoy Him,” declared Overd, who was preaching at the time. “You need to obey God and obey His commands. I hated His commands once and I remember what that mind frame is—it is like banging your head against a brick wall.”
Seconds later, Overd was approached by a police officer, who ordered him to leave the area.
“Look, you are causing a disturbance now,” the officer stated. “You are not welcome.”
“Go home! Go home!” a few men nearby chanted.
The officer warned that if Overd did not stop preaching, he would be arrested.
“For God so loved the world, guys, that He gave His only begotten…” Overd declared, advising that he was not going to leave.
The officer consequently grabbed Overd by the arm while he was speaking and pulled him away. The crowd clapped and cheered enthusiastically.
“There’s a line of freedom of speech,” the officer told Overd. “[I]t’s when you’re causing a disturbance, that is, aggravating people, anti-social behavior, which you were causing.”
“How were we causing it?” Overd asked. “What did we say?”
“People were getting angry. You were challenging [homosexuality]. You were challenging Muslims,” the officer replied.
“But just saying what the Bible says,” Overd noted.
“That’s fine,” the officer said.
“Well, if it’s fine, why are you arresting me?” Overd asked.
Stockwell, Karns and Clark were also arrested, but the charge against Karns was later dropped and the charge against Clark was dismissed last week at trial.
On Tuesday, Justices Robert Stacey, Gerry McDermot and Josephine Ramsden declared Overd and Stockwell guilty of violating the Crime and Disorder Act, which prohibits speech or behavior causing “intentional harassment, alarm or distress” that is “racially or religiously aggravated.” They were fined nearly $2,500 each.
“Men should be able to proclaim the truth and have diverse differences in the public forum, agreeing to disagree without harm or repercussions. Truth today is the new hate,” Stockwell said in a statement following his guilty verdict.
“[I]t is extraordinary that the prosecution, speaking on behalf of the state, could say that the Bible contains abusive words which, when spoken in public, constitute a criminal offense,” also remarked Andrea Williams, who leads the Christian Legal Centre. “Today’s ruling, in effect, states that Bible is offensive and contains illegal speech which should not be shared in public. This is a very serious state of affairs and the men will be considering next steps to challenge this decision.”
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorporated an image of a U.K. solicitor of the same name, who was found not to be involved in the matter. The photo was amended shortly after posting.
A special message from the publisher…
In the Apprising Ministries piece On Contemplative Spirituality and Charismania I told you that the ongoing evangelical fascination with corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM)–along with its parallel track of charismania–is a major reason why we see the mainstream of professing Prostestant Christendom opening itself up for full fellowship with the apostate Roman Catholic Church.
For example, evangelical megapastor Rick Warren is on record embracing apostate Roman Catholicism as a viable form of the historic orthodox Christian faith. As I documented a while back in Southern Baptists Assist the Roman Catholic Church to Infiltrate Evangelicalism, Warren is hardly the only one aligned with/promoted by the Southern Baptist Convention openly and actively involved with this particular apostasy.
However, concerning Rick Warren’s compromised embrace of the Church of Rome, you can see it for yourself e.g. in Rick Warren Endorsing Catholics Come and Rick Warren on the Roman Catholic EWTN Network. The latter piece features a transcription of an interview conducted by Roman Catholic apologist Raymond Arroyo where Warren refers to Rome’s current Pope Francis as “our new pope.” Sadly, scores of people listening to leaders within Ecumenical Church of Deceit (ECoD) are now being led along the broad ecumenical road back to the Roman Catholic Church, the mother of this evil ECoD.
As it pertains to the Church of Rome’s papacy, for our purposes here, in that aforementioned Arroyo interview we find Rick Warren praising the late Pope John Paul II. Now let me bring you back to the Christianity Today article The Pope We Never Knew, which I first cited in The Deceivers of Roman Catholicism. CT author David Scott tells us that Pope “John Paul II’s biggest accomplishment was his ecumenism,” and further, that John Paul II:
is the same pope who called evangelicals in South America “rapacious wolves” for their evangelism of Catholics…
The pope who in his 1995 encyclical Ut Unum Sint invited input from non-Catholic Christians on the primacy of the office of Peter, is the same man whose Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1999 declared the primacy of Peter “immutable.” (source)
For your edification I have linked Ut Unam Sint right from the Vatican library itself. Now, as I’ve said before, anyone familiar with Vatican I could have told you that the Roman Catholic Church sees its Pontiff as the successor to Peter and that his office is never-changing, i.e. immutable. As we turn to Chapter 2 of Session 4 from the official record of the decrees of Vatican I we find that it begins with these words:
On the permanence of the primacy of blessed Peter in the Roman pontiffs.
(source, emphasis mine)
As such, it would certainly appear that John Paul II was acting as a hypocrite in 1999 and never had any intention of altering the supposed primacy of the Roman Catholic papacy–for Rome will never surrender this permanent man-made office–which is the very zenith of human pride! In our look at Rome’s official dogma concerning its papacy, let’s take a quick moment to consider the following from the Second Vatican Council held by the Church of Rome in the mid 1960’s.
This would be some 30 years before Pope John Paul II would have “invited input from non-Catholic Christians on the primacy of the office of Peter.” Please look very carefully at the following quote from Lumen Gentium – “Solemnly Promulgated By Holiness Pope Paul VI On November 21, 1964” where we’re told:
just as the office granted individually to Peter, the first among the apostles is permanent and is to be transmitted to his successors, so also the apostles’ office of nurturing the Church is permanent, and is to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops. (14*)
Therefore, the Sacred Council teaches that bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, (15*) as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ. (149)(16*)
(source, emphasis mine).
We must ask ourselves an important question here: If – “the office granted individually to Peter, the first among the apostles is permanent and is to be transmitted to his successors” – then do we really think that Pope John Paul II had any actual intentions of changing this dogma, which is the very reason the Church of Rome exists–period? And do you seriously think that Pope Francis is going to relinquish this position in his quest for unity?
If you are of such a mind, then you are a dreamer. The fact is, the Roman Catholic Church cannot change that dogma because the teachings of its popes has always been considered infallible. Although the declaration of papal infallibility as such wasn’t made until 1870 at Vatican I, Rome has always seen her pontiffs as teaching with infallibility when it comes to faith and morals:
While the the First Vatican Council defined papal infallibility in 1870, you must understand that the date on which a doctrine is officially defined is not the date on which it becomes true. Rather, it was always true.
It’s just that different aspects of the Faith are challenged at different periods of history, and when a challenge occurs or a serious concern or question arises, then the Church will settle the difficulty by formally stating what the truth of the matter is — to end the confusion.
So papal infallibility has always been true, and, moreover, was accepted and practiced from the earliest times. (source)
It’s vital for you to understand that the Roman Catholic Church sees its Pope as the head of all Christian churches everywhere; and this regardless whether they would be considered Roman Catholic or Protestant. Again, from Vatican I Session 4, it now becomes clear beyond any reasonable doubt that the Church of Rome is telling us this office of Pope is not simply a designation within their own communion.
On the contrary–we are specifically being told in no uncertain terms that this office, the Bishop of Rome, i.e. the Roman Pontiff–or the Pope–is truly intended for the entire Christian community. The Roman Catholic Church decrees that their Pontiff is the final and absolute authority within all of Christendom and that his role was forever instituted when:
4… [Jesus] set blessed Peter over the rest of the apostles and instituted in him the permanent principle… 6. of the sacred and apostolic primacy, upon which…the whole Church depends. (source)
Next we are further instructed that:
7. This doctrine is to be believed and held by all the faithful in accordance with the ancient and unchanging faith of the whole Church…
Chapter 1 On the institution of the apostolic primacy in blessed Peter
We–[the Church of Rome]–teach and declare that, according to the gospel evidence, a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the lord. [sic] (source)
For such are the empty words of the deceitful spirits and their teachings of demons in apostate Roman Catholicism (cf. 1 Timothy 4:1). And remember, Jesus already told us about such as these – You will recognize them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16). So, you really need to keep this information (from primary Roman Catholic sources) in mind as you consider that right now Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church is wooing his fellow charismaniacs into a supposed “unity.”
You need to know that he’s already making influential converts within evangelicalism, e.g. James Robison to Pope Francis“In Christ We are Brothers.” Now you have been properly positioned upon the battlefield from which to view the below message from Richard Bennett of Berean Beacon–himself a former Roman Catholic priest for 22 years–as he compares the Protestant Reformation to the papacy of the apostate Roman Catholic Church:
- POPE FRANCIS SAYS WE “CANNOT BE CHRISTIANS WITHOUT THE [ROMAN CATHOLIC] CHURCH”
- THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH HASN’T CHANGED ITS CONDEMNATION OF THE GOSPEL
- MARTIN LUTHER: THE REFORMATION VIEW OF ROMAN CATHOLICISM
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit. (Jude 1:20)
As you might imagine, considering my ongoing health issues adversely affecting the writing and financial support here at Apprising Ministries, we’re spending a lot of time in prayer. No doubt you’re heard the phrase, “there’s power in prayer,” which is so popular right now in our postmodern culture ripe with silly superstition and self-centered “spirituality.”
That’s why it’s important to remind people such as this, who don’t know God through Jesus Christ, that there’s no power whatsoever in the mere act of prayer. No, the power in prayer resides strictly with God Who answers prayer; and not in prayer itself. Just as in the same way, we need to instruct them that faith doesn’t save anyone.
Saving faith is given by God by His grace alone, through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone on the Cross; and this is what leads to a saving relationship with God and repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ Name. Only faith in Christ saves; you can jump out of a plane without an actual parachute believing that you’ll land safely, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
With all of this thus understood, as Christians, it’s entirely appropriate that we can now look at the power of prayer. You need to know that in your witness for Christ, you are only going to be as effective for Jesus as you are active in your prayer life with Him. No matter how learned we may become, or how good our ability to testify and/or debate, no one ever accepts the Lord Jesus as their Savior apart from God the Holy Spirit empowering our witness.
And here we discover what was lost in this whole seeker sensitive and emerging evangelical ecumenical religion of social work. One simply cannot convince someone into the Kingdom of God through guilt trips that they’re not active enough in social causes. Nor can someone bring them into God’s Kingdom through excellent argumentation; because they are not in the Kingdom of Heaven apart from being regenerated, or born again, through faith in Christ.
Now, you can give your testimony; you can answer questions; you can share reasons why a person ought to surrender their lives to Jesus; but, if they ultimately accept Christ, that decision must originate with God Himself. As usual Dr. Walter Martin, a well-respected defender of Christianity, put it quite well in his little book Essential Christianity, one which I do highly recommend:
the human heart is like a locked door, but the lock is on the inside of the person. It must be unlocked by God the Holy Spirit.
If we really do love those in our family who are still locked out of the Kingdom of God by their sin, then aided by the Spirit, we’ll make the effort to seek the Lord’s favor and to develop a close relationship with Him through prayer. If we are earnest, and diligent, then remember the promise in Hebrews 11:6, God said He will reward those who earnestly seek Him.
While those rewards may be material at times, the Lord is always ready to reward us with spiritual blessings; a stronger awareness of His glorious presence, and a fresh filling of the power of God through the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 4: 23-31). If you’ll just ask the Lord, He is always ready to empower you in the Holy Spirit, and it is God Who is the Source of your power, not you.
If you wish to see loved ones saved, and other people you witness to come to Christ, then you need to develop a good working relationship with God the Holy Spirit. The original Greek of Ephesians 5:18 conveys to us that we should – be continually being filled with the Holy Spirit. This brings us around to our text verse – But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, (Jude 1:20).
It’s important that we understand what Jude is trying to tell us here. The following from the classic Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary is helpful and edifying in regard to what is means to pray in the Holy Spirit:
praying in the Holy Ghost–( Romans 8:26 ; Ephesians 6:18 teaches what we are to pray for, andhow. None can pray aright save by being in the Spirit, that is, in the element of His influence. CHRYSOSTOM states that, among the charisms bestowed at the beginning of the New Testament dispensation, was the gift of prayer, bestowed on someone who prayed in the name of the rest, and taught others to pray.
Moreover, their prayers so conceived and often used, were received and preserved among Christians, and out of them forms of prayer were framed. (source)
Now you should be able to understand that there’s no power in the act of praying itself; the only effectual prayer answered by God is that which is prayer by those who are born again in Christ and thereby indwelt by His Spirit. As one who has spent nearly 25 years in apologetics and the study of Comparative Religion, I can tell you that all religions pray. For that matter, there’s the old saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”
In closing this, for now, while I do not agree with all of his theology, I think it’s safe to say the 19th century evangelist D.L. Moody loved the Lord. So, as it concerns this little encouragement on the power of prayer, which also leads to having a close relationship to God by spending time with Him, let me share the following wisdom from Moody:
Those who have left the deepest impression on this sin-cursed earth have been men and women of prayer. You will find that prayer has been the mighty power that has moved not only God, but man…
[Truthfully] there are many Christians in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, but upon whom He has never come in power; we need this secret power.
To those words, let me add — Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (cf. Revelation 22:20)
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ “ (John 3:3-7)
Read The Signs Of The Time In Which You Live
One of the critical functions of online apologetics and discernment ministries like Apprising Ministries is to scour the Internet for developing trends within Christendom and then point them out to you. For you see, because of its immediacy, the Net is moving at least six months or so ahead of what you’ll read later in Christian literature. Surveying the rising ecumenical spirit found in much of the visible Christian church right now, with its sordid love affair with man-centered church methods and corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, there is much reason for concern that the Protestant reforms of evangelicalism are not so subtly being reversed in order to find stronger fellowship with the Roman Catholic Church.
I discussed this not so long ago e.g. in On Contemplative Spirituality and Charismania and James Robison to Pope Francis “In Christ We are Brothers”. This is arguably the most important issue facing the Christian faith in our day. And we’re not talking about isolated incidents on the fringes of the professing Christian community either; for this kind of nauseating compromise is also glaringly obvious within the Southern Baptist Convention with some of its ministers and people they are actively promoting.
Take for example, the evidence documented within Southern Baptists Assist the Roman Cathoic Church to Infiltrate Evangelicalism, Rick Warren And Teachings Of Demons, and No Tears for Lost Roman Catholics, Beth Moore? But is this drift away from proper doctrine, e.g. sola Scriptura, the solution to true Biblical unity or is it rather a very dangerous compromise? In this generation all of us who are attempting to follow the Lord Jesus are going to be brought face to face with a couple of very crucial issues. There are a couple of vital areas that are certainly of prime importance as we attempt to share the true Gospel of Jesus Christ within a perverted postmodern society that is literally drowning itself in a sea of relativism and misguided tolerance.
Not necessarily in order of importance—the first one being the idea of “unity” in the Body of Christ. As in: How should we approach people of different faith traditions who would claim Jesus as their “Savior”? And the other issue would be the dogmas and the false gospel of the Roman Catholic Church. So, as you can probably see, these issues are, in fact, already intertwined. We who would call ourselves Biblical Christians will need to decide–once and for all–just what is the proper stance concerning the Church of Rome for those of us who are truly Protestante.
In other words, how should those of us who are Protestants view the Roman Catholic Church? For example, should we simply consider those who would claim to be Roman Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ who are worshipping in another Christian denomination that merely happens to have some doctrines we just disagree with? As one who monitors intel along the Internet I can tell you this is precisely the idea that the vast majority of evangelical writings I’ve captured lately would be trying to convey. They’re essentially charismaniac Protholics.
It can readily be seen that there are segments within the genuine Body of Christ that do have some fairly serious differences with each other and yet fellowship doesn’t completely break down among them. They still join together because they agree on the correct understanding of justification—the doctrine at the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself. And because these differences involve “non-essential” matters, in the interest of the correct understanding of unity within the universal (Greek—katholikos) Church, they are still willing to accept each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
However, a key question for our discussion here then becomes: Should this be the case with the Church of Rome? And in this generation we will need to come to an agreement as Protestants in our answer to that question because the Roman Catholic Church is a fundamental subject for those of us who are in the Body of Christ to come to grips with. This is especially true right now as major Progressive Christian leaders e.g. Living Spiritual Teacher and Emergent Church guru Brian McLaren—in fact virtually all in the Emerging Church movement—are expressing more than an eagerness to put aside all “doctrinal differences” in seeking to make peace with Rome.
And by the way, you need to know that the EC is busy putting the old band back together for its upcoming Christianity 21 (C21) apostasia-palooza this coming January. As you can see from the C21 Facebook page, through their excited announcement below, among the speakers will be the entire of the unholy EC trinity of apostates. That would be McLaren himself along with universalist EC pastor Doug Pagitt and his close friend Dr. Tony Jones, the progressive “theologian in residence” at Solomon’s Porch headed by Pagitt:
My source who was there when the EC was originally launched tells me that the two most influential voices at the time were Mark Driscoll and Chris Seay. Notice that Seay is indeed among the C21 speakers; and even though the embattled Driscoll won’t be there, Driscoll’s former associate Darrin Patrick, Vice President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, will be. You’re kidding yourself if you think that these early EC leaders no longer wield any evil influence within evangelicalism; the truth is their spiritual cancer can be seen through how their teachings over the past decade and a half have actually infected quasi-contemplative charismaniacs like James Robison, and Beth Moore.
Those of us who would call ourselves Protestants must ask ourselves a very tough question: Have we lost confidence in the historic orthodox Christian faith that Luther and the Reformers risked their very lives to recover and defend? The time has clearly arrived to decide whether or not we are going to be obedient to God in representing His true Gospel to this lost world, or for the sake of tolerance, will we acquiesce to it to avoid conflict. For you see, the Roman Catholic Church undoubtedly is an organization which claims direct and unbroken Apostolic succession from Peter to their current Pontiff, the charismaniac Pope Francis; and it most assuredly does directly relate to the mandate that Christ gave to His true Church to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3, NKJV).
An Examination Of What Unity In The Church Means According To God’s Word—The Bible
The first thing we need to do is to look at the question: What do we mean by unity in the Body of Christ? Today it’s imperative that we define our terms to those we are witnessing to. And we obviously can’t do this if we’re not sure what these things mean in the first place. Sadly, right now this is the case with the average person who would see themselves as an evangelical Protestant. In order to discover what is meant by unity in the Church of our Lord, we will first need to find out the kind of unity Jesus was praying for in the Upper Room. For the root of all the confusion over this issue of unity comes from a fundamental misunderstanding about just what the Master meant by unity in His High Priestly prayer in chapter 17 of John’s Gospel.
As we examine this passage of Holy Scripture we will see Jesus praying for all those who would come to know God through the witness of His Apostles who were there with him in that Upper Room:
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
Here is Christ Jesus praying that all those who would surrender their lives to Him as Lord and Savior would then be united—that they would be one. This brings up another issue that we don’t have space to deal with in-depth here. What does it mean to “believe” in Jesus as Savior and Lord? Putting it simply, it means to totally commit oneself to Him alone. This encompasses what the historic orthodox Christian Church has always meant when we say we believe in Christ.
Let me now draw your attention back to verse 20 above—the middle of the verse. Jesus tells us He is praying for those who will believe in me through their word. The Greek word here for “believe” is pisteuo. The key to understanding what someone regenerated by God the Holy Spirit, which we also refer to as being “born again,” must do as far as believing is concerned would be this word pisteuo. By the way, pisteuo is most always translated as “believe” when it appears in the New Testament.
To the western mind to believe essentially means to acknowledge something intellectually. As in, “I believe in my heart that such and such is true.” It’s kind of a thought that you feel strongly about. But the word—pisteuo—in the vernacular of its culture actually means to totally trust in—and to “place confidence in.”1 So you can see that it’s really much more of a commitment than we in the West would normally associate with our believing something.
Now let’s look at verse 20 one more time for a different focus. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” The footnote in the famous Geneva Bible used by the Pilgrims, who played a part in the founding of this nation, is helpful at this point:
Secondly, [Jesus] offers to God the Father all of his, that is, all those who will believe in him by the doctrine of the apostles: That as he cleaves unto the Father, receiving from him all fulness [sic], so they being joined with him may receive life from him,… (source)
What applies here in relation to our discussion of unity in the Body of Christ is the phrase – “all those who will believe in him by the doctrine of the apostles.” This would be someone who believes in Christ according to what His Apostles taught. And this “doctrine of the apostles” is what we Protestants now refer to as Biblical doctrine. Someone who believes in Jesus Christ according to what Holy Scripture teaches is the one brought into that unity the Master is talking about in John 17:23 — “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
Since the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t teach proper Biblical doctrine, someone who holds firmly to the dogmas and sacramental system of the Church of Rome has excluded themselves. When you read this passage of Holy Scripture carefully it becomes obvious that this prayer was completely fulfilled in Acts chapter 2 as God the Holy Spirit came upon the believers on that Day of Pentecost when the Church officially began with power. In our text of John 17:20-23 Jesus is talking about what the Holy Spirit would do inside genuine believers; but at the time of Jesus’ prayer, God the Holy Spirit was still yet to come. In John 17 our Lord is praying for Him to come and indwell all people who will pisteuo.
And we must keep in mind here again that this would be all those people who will place their complete “confidence in” and “totally trust in” Christ the Lord alone as their Savior. This is why the doctrine of justification is without a doubt a most central subject to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a key factor as to why the Reformation had to happen in the first place. If you look at John 17:23 carefully you will see that first Jesus says — “I in them and You [Father] in Me.” And then He says — “that they may become perfectly one,” i.e. perfect unity. One would have to be in Christ as the Father was in Christ to ever even have this kind of unity. If one does not pisteuo in Jesus—that is to “believe” by fully trusting in Him by God’s grace alone; through faith alone, in Christ alone—then he has not been born again.
And, if he is not born again, then God the Holy Spirit does not indwell him (cf. Romans 8:9-11). As such then, he cannot possibly have this unity with God or believers in Christ that the Master is praying for here. Dr. Herbert Lockyer’s insightful comment brings out a critical point here:
Regeneration brings the Holy Spirit into the believing sinner. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9, KJV). “None of His.” How emphatic! Such a serious statement demands attention. Where the vital bond does not exist between the soul and Christ, the divine Spirit is not to be found.
Whatever virtues a person may possess or whatever attractions and qualities may adorn his character, if unsaved, he is destitute of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit unites us to Christ, making us “accepted in the beloved.” We are joined unto the Lord by one Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17).2
Spiritual Blindness Is Increasing And The Return To Purity In Christian Doctrine Is Imperative
Indeed it is a bit involved to understand, but as I said earlier, all of this is what was/is at the very heart of the Reformation itself. However, somehow this seems to have been forgotten by so much of the lukewarm evangelical community as well as within the visible Christian community at large. I think it’s very important for you to understand a couple of things here: 1) We are living in a world that’s filled with every kind of blatant sin imaginable because there is no fear of God in our immoral culture; and 2) the unbelieving world also sees a Christian church world-wide, which has also all but lost our own fear of our Lord’s awesome presence.
And unfortunately, in addition, the church of Jesus Christ has apparently even lost our fear of being a disappointment to our Master as well. It’s become obvious to those with eyes to see that too many in the seeker sensitive Church Growth Movement are striving to live in peace and in harmony with the world, when instead we should be the salt and light within it. As Christians we are to be the fragrance of the knowledge of [God] (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:14) as we stand with Jesus against this world system, just as He once did when He was upon His earth. As Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) used to say: The Christian faith was nurtured on the controversy it produced, and Jesus of Nazareth was the most controversial figure who ever lived.
Tragically, Satan has been able to deeply embed a twisted lie concerning tolerance into the very soul of our society. Of course we should be tolerant of other cultures and religious views here in our pluralistic world. However, the feigned tolerance of this society is in actuality quite aggressively hostile to the historic orthodox Christian faith. And the time has now arrived where we must confront false doctrine within our Lord’s church visible, and return to Gospel purity. And at the same time, Christ’s Christian community also needs to stop being wishy-washy and to make a firm commitment to start exposing the veritable cornucopia of false religious systems that are all around us. This also means that we are going to have to prepare ourselves intellectually to be able to confront their erroneous teachings, such as those of apostate Roman Catholicism.
Yes, we must face a hard reality here. It is true that many people infected by today’s Purpose Driven/Seeker Driven so-called attractional churches aren’t going to like it. They, with their fellow apostates, will cry that we are “intolerant,” and they will call us “narrow-minded.” But this type of self-centered people said the same kinds of things about Christ Jesus of Nazareth; so we are in the best company. For this is what He said — “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own” (John 15:18-19). You may draw strength from this: If someone who claims to know Christ hates you, then according to what our Lord and Master Himself just said, who is it that they actually belong to? Answer: The devil; whom God the Holy Spirit calls the god of this world (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4).
The Fact Is The Body Of Christ Does What Jesus Did
For the sake of our ongoing discussion here, it’s important to note that Dr. John MacArthur pastors a church in Southern California with members in the multiple thousands, all the while having nothing in common with the compromises of the Purpose Driven churches or the Emergent Church—one of its seeker sensitive Church Growth counterparts. Grace Community Church happens to be made up of more than 50 percent former Roman Catholics who have come to know Christ under MacArthur’s ministry.
So, regardless of what we may think about everything he may teach, MacArthur does know from first-hand experience what he is talking about when he says:
it’s so important to know this. In a time like this of tolerance…false teaching will always cry – “intolerance.” It’ll always say — “you’re being divisive; you’re being unloving; you’re being ungracious” — because it can only survive when it doesn’t get scrutinized. And it cries against any intolerance; it cries against any examination; any scrutiny, “just let us embrace each other; let’s love each other; let’s put all that behind us.”
False doctrine cries the loudest about unity. [So] listen carefully when you hear the cry for unity; because it may be the cover of false doctrine encroaching. And if ever we should follow 1st Thessalonians 5 and examine everything carefully (v.21) — it’s when somebody is crying unity, love, and acceptance.” (source)
While I don’t agree with everything he did, in his book What If America Was A Christian Nation Again? the late Christian statesman Dr. D. James Kennedy brings up an indispensable reality for the Church of our Lord in this timid and tepid generation we are currently living in when he says:
Jesus confronted sinners and we are to do it as well. But the day is coming when we might suffer persecution for doing so. For far too long Christians have been afraid to state their faith for fear of offending somebody.3
The seeds of what Dr. Kennedy is talking about have already been planted within the Christian church here in America. Sadly many evangelical leaders, misled by men like Rick Warren and his erroneous semi-pelagian (at best) Purpose Driven religion and former EC pastor turned spiritual guru Rob Bell—once a leader of the Jesus the social reformer movement—have been already taken in by this horribly mistaken delusion that love doesn’t confront wrong. And this is an especially false idea when it comes to wrong views about God Himself.
But Ask Yourself, Are You In The Body Of Christ?
In fact, in the Gospels we see Jesus of Nazareth confront false beliefs and man-centered religious leaders on a regular basis. Our Lord even made them so angry that they had Him nailed to a cross and then left Him to die! Keep in mind as well that Scripture tells us Jesus is God Himself in human flesh; and further, that God is love (cf. 1 John 4:8); therefore, Jesus is love in human flesh. The absolute truth is—and Christ Jesus told us that He is Truth—that while the Master was never offensive in how He confronted evil—the incontrovertible fact still remains—that our Lord offended many by what He taught, and by what He claimed.
There’s an interesting riddle about making decisions in life that goes like this. There were five frogs sitting on a log; and, suddenly four of them decided to jump off. So how many frogs are left on that log? The answer is all five. That’s because making a decision to do something is simply not the same as really doing it. For one to actually accomplish something an effort is needed, and it also requires a commitment. And so it is with the true Christian; making a decision to follow Christ is not the same as actually following him. As for those who are caught up in the self-absorbed seeker sensitive spirituality of the Ecumenical Church of Deceit, considering a minister of God’s Word, I must tell you the truth.
Please understand that mentally acknowledging Jesus as your consumer friendly “Savior” simply is not the same as being born again into the true historic, orthodox, holy and catholic (means “universal”) Christian Church, and believing—really trusting—in Him alone to save you from your sins. The sad and pitiful fact is, there are so many of those today who consider themselves Christians because they attend the Mass, keep the sacraments, do nice things for the poor, or once walked down an aisle, said a little prayer and they think — “I’m in, so now I can just do whatever I want to.” You know—the Gospel perversion often referred to as “once saved; always saved.”
However, those who would have this eternally fatal view need to consider the following from Jesus of Nazareth lest they be deceived:
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word — [of the message of salvation] — and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word — [as he learns of the cost of following Christ] — immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21)
It’s imperative as the spiritual darkness grows during this time of apostasy for us to realize that it is one thing for someone to claim to be a Christian. It is, however, quite another thing to have the life to back it up. For truthfully Holy Scripture clearly reveals that a claim in itself really means nothing. The Apostle James asks us:
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him… So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead… But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:14,17,18)
The aforementioned John MacArthur tells us the truth when he says:
Shallow acceptance of the Gospel can be encouraged by shallow evangelicsm that promises blessings of salvation but ignores the costs of discipleship. If people just “make a decision” for Jesus Christ without accepting all His claims on their lives, they can become insulated from genuine salvation.
When superficial hearers first hear the Gospel, they have a euphoric religious experience, believing that at last God has met their felt needs. They are often zealous and energetic in church activities and eager to tell others about their new happiness.
But sadly for such people, all the change is superficial rather than deep-down in the heart. Their feeling are changed, but not their souls. There is no repentance, mourning over sin, or humility, which is the first trait of real conversion (cf. Matthew 5:3). Such a person has placed his or her religious house on the sand, and when the storms of trials and persecution come, the house crumbles and washes away (Matthew 7:26-27).
For the superficial hearer, God’s truth has penetrated only on the edge of the mind, but not the heart. That is why, when the high cost of salvation does confront the person, the Gospel can be as quickly renounced as it was once seemingly accepted. Spiritual reality has no root and thus can’t produce true spiritual fruit, which as Jesus soon makes clear, is the only sure evidence of a transformed life.4
No, this isn’t a popular message; but it is God’s truth for those who have ears to hear what the Spirit says. Yes, the doctrines of grace include the perseverance of the saints. However, this fact remains; according to the Bible, and despite what we are so often told by these false prophets of the inward-turned emerging church movement and their sinner sensitive counterparts in the PD/SD aka attractional section of the Church Growth Movement, the person who continues on in willful sin and prolonged self-ishness while professing to be a believer in Jesus Christ is demonstrating before the world that he never became a true Christian.
In other words, he was never even saved in the first place, and with such as these the true Christian has no basis for unity. And if you haven’t seen your own life change since you made your “decision” to follow Jesus, then it is you who have every reason to question whether you simply made a decision, or whether you have actually made the commitment to truly trust in the Lord Christ alone as your Savior. For it is written:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
(2 Corinthians 13:5)
If you truly are in Christ…then…you will know what I have just told you according to the Spirit is the truth…
- ON CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY AND CHARISMANIA
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- POPE FRANCIS SAYS WE “CANNOT BE CHRISTIANS WITHOUT THE [ROMAN CATHOLIC] CHURCH”
- Joseph Thayer, Thayer’s Greek–English Lexicon [Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996], 511.
- Herbert Lockyer, All About The Holy Spirit [Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995], 137, emphasis mine.
- D. James Kennedy, Jerry Newcombe, What If America Were A Christian Nation Again? [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005], 80.
- John MacArthur, Daily Readings From the Life of Christ [Chicago: Moody, 2008], December 10.
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