I know that many of you probably wonder what makes me so outspoken about certain subjects. I take a lot of heat for some of my stands; I have been called self-righteous, arrogant, a Pharisee, cynical, critical, dangerous, ignorant and even had my salvation questioned and all by brothers and sisters in Christ. There are more, but I can't remember them all off the top of my head. I want to explain why I am so adamant about some things.
The bottom line is Jesus Christ. As a child I asked Jesus to forgive me and be my Lord and Savior and I loved Him dearly. The problem was that I loved Him with a child's love. I did not really understand Him, nor did I truly understand what He saved me from. Oh, I understood that I was a sinner and that I was under God's judgment and that Jesus died in my place, but it did not really mean much to me.
I wanted to serve Him, but it was a day to day struggle. I remember hearing about the rapture. I remember the older folks in church saying they could not wait until Jesus came back for us. Well to tell you the truth it was hard for me to get excited about the rapture. I was young and had a lot of living to do yet. It was okay for those 50 year old people, they had lived their whole life, who wouldn't want Jesus to come back at that age? I on the other hand would be just as happy if He waited another 50 years or so.
I struggled with all the fun I wasn't suppose to have as a Christian. It all didn't seem fair somehow. I joined the Marine Corps and quickly walked away from the Lord. I do not want to go into my whole testimony here, but I wanted to make the point that I loved Jesus but walked away to pursue my own pleasure. It took nearly 20 years for me to come back to Christ. In order to keep this short I won't go into the details, but when I came back to Him this time, it was different. I had hit bottom, I had contemplated suicide, I had done many other things for which I was deeply ashamed. I finally understood at least to some extent what Jesus died for on that cross. I understood how unworthy I was of His love. I am no longer under any illusions about why Jesus died for me. It was not because of my great worth, it was not because He needed my love in return, it was not because I fulfill some need in Him. No, He died for me because even though I was totally unworthy He loved me. (Romans 5:8 NIV) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I decided that I wanted to know God better. I wanted to know why He loved me, why He would care about someone like me, who had profaned His name so badly, by claiming to love Him while deliberately serving myself and not caring about His will for my life.
When I started looking I found Jesus on almost every page of my Bible. I found Him on the very first page: (Genesis 1:1 NIV) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
I also found Him on the last page. (Revelation 22:12-13 NIV)  "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."
I saw Him in places that I never thought about before. Now, granted some of these are the pre-incarnate Jesus, meaning before He was born as a human, but yet they are definitely Jesus. He was the One who walked in the garden with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. (Genesis 3:8) He is the One who talked to Abraham. (Genesis 18:1-2) He was the One who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. (Exodus 3:2-5) He was the One who Isaiah saw sitting on the thrown. (Isaiah 6:1) The list from the Old Testament goes on and on. Of course in the New Testament we see the incarnate Jesus spoken of on almost every page.
This Jesus that the Bible describes is from everlasting to everlasting. He has no beginning and will have no end. He is awesome, He is fierce, a mighty warrior, yet He is loving and compassionate. He is strong, yet meek. He tells us that He does not have to answer anyone, yet He graciously gave Gideon two signs. (Judges 6:36-40) He was immortal (God) but He willingly laid down His life for us. (John 10:17-18) He is the only way to heaven. (John 14:6)
There are hundreds more, but I won't take the space here to list them. They are all in your Bible. As I learned about my Lord and Savior my love for Him grew and grew. I am sure that I still have misconceptions of Him, but many of the old ones that I had are gone forever. I don't see any weakness at all when I think of Him taking the verbal and physical abuse that rightly belonged to me, or when the Father poured out His wrath onto Jesus even though I was the one who deserved it. I no longer think of Him as being detached and unaware of what is going on in this world. Instead I know now that He allows sin to continue because He loves us and wants all mankind to come to Him and be saved. (2 Peter 3:9) I know now that He hates sin, sickness, disease and suffering more than I can ever hate them.
I want to scream from the roof tops and let people know who He really is. He is not the pitiful Jesus portrayed so often in this world. He does not need me to defend Him, but I can't stand to sit by while people preach a Jesus who is not the Jesus of the Bible.
Let me explain what I mean by 'not the Jesus of the Bible.' I don't necessarily mean that all of these people are teaching a false Christ, but that they are not teaching the biblical Christ in His fullness. Many Christians needlessly suffer because they do not understand who their Lord and Savior really is. They understand enough to be forgiven of their sins but not enough to know that their hope, their joy and their freedom are all in the hands of their Savior.
That is why I get so upset when I read things in popular books which tell people that they should forgive God for the wrongs they have held against Him. I will agree that many people are holding things against God. I hear from people all the time who claim that God has done them dirty and that He should ask for their forgiveness instead of the other way around. I have only one answer to a person like that. They need to find out who God is. If you think that God is to blame for the bad things that happen to you then you are showing your ignorance of His word. He sent His Son to die for you while you were still in rebellion. Yet that statement was in a best selling book by a very popular Christian radio personality. He went on to explain that God was not to blame and that we should not blame Him for anything, but if you do then you should forgive Him.
So what happens when a person thinks that they should forgive God because they have felt that He was to blame for things that happened to them? It takes that person's eyes off of Christ. It puts their eyes on themselves. That is the danger from all of these new teachings.
There are a lot of inner healing heresies out there today. What they teach in one form or another is that the person is in bondage of some kind, either spiritual or emotional, due to something that happened in the past. It might be past abuse, or it might be a "lie" they believed in the past about themselves. There are many variations of this theme, but they all do the same thing. They take the person's eyes off of the one Person who can heal them and put them on the person them self.
Before I go on, let me remind you that God's word says that Satan can come disguised as an angel of light. I believe that is what he has done with some of these so called Christian healing ministries. Oh you will hear the name Jesus used often, but you have to think about how it is used. For example, one of these healing ministries claims that you, with the help of a counselor (trained by them of course) need to go back into your memory until you find the emotions which equate to the emotional pain you now feel. Once you find that dark hurtful area, you are suppose to face it, but to help you through it you are to imagine Jesus standing there ready to help you. You are even to imagine Him telling you it is okay etc...
You may be thinking, what is wrong with that, Jesus is a central part of that ministry. Is He? I don't think so. Who is doing the healing? It is the person with the help of the "trained counselor." Jesus is just a prop used in the therapy. For all that it matters the person could be told to imagine their own physical father or mother standing there telling them it will be okay.
Where is the glory due Jesus? Where is the admission that the person need not have even gone through this 'inner healing' if they had gone first to Christ? This imaginary Jesus is not the healer, he is just the helper, standing at the ready, at the beck and call of the person who is healing them self by facing the past.
Then there is the name it and claim it crowd. Again there are many variations of this. It might be the prayer that the person is told to pray faithfully day after day. Or it might be the 'seed' the person is to plant in order to reap a 100 fold gain. Or it might be the faith that the person is to confess with their mouth so that God will do what they demand. Of course the faith is not in God it is in their own faith to make things happen. Again where is the glory to Christ? Where is the honor due Him? It is totally missing.
What about the outrageous things which are called the out pouring of the Holy Spirit these days? Things like Super Holy Spirit glue, which has been said to glue people to the floor for hours? Or the reports of people being thrown across the stage and slammed against the wall by the power of the Holy Spirit? Should I ask? Where is the glory and honor to Christ in this? God's people are taken in because of their lack of biblical knowledge. Jesus told us what to expect from the Holy Spirit and I believe He did so because He knew this type of thing would occur in our time. This is what He had to say: (John 16:12-15 NIV)  "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."
If the spirit is not bringing glory to Christ, then it is probably not the Holy Spirit!!
How about the gold fillings which are reported to appear in people's mouths by the power of the Holy Spirit? Does that bring glory to Christ? Now you might say, yes it does, but you better think about it carefully. Who gets the credit, Christ or the Holy Spirit or even the pastor who laid hands on the person? Remember the passage above and answer the question again. While I am on the subject of gold fillings, let me ask you a question. Does that sound like God's work? If you don't think too deeply maybe it does, but if you really think about it, I don't think it does. Who made the person's teeth to start with? God of course. What material did He use? Gold or enamel? So if God was going to do a miracle in a person's mouth, why not just give them new enamel? Also if you have ever looked at some of the pictures of these people's mouths you will notice something disturbing. Many if not most of them have other teeth which are in bad need of repair also. Why would God only give them one gold filling, instead of taking care of all their dental problems?
Again we see what I think is the reason these things happen, they tend to take the person's eyes off of Jesus Christ. Satan could care less if you chase after the Holy Spirit or the ghost of Christmas past, as long as you are not chasing after Jesus Christ, the Way the Truth and the Life!!
There are hundreds of other examples I could give but they all come down to the same thing. They tend to take the person's eyes off of Jesus Christ and onto something or someone else. That is why I get so upset about all of these fads and outrageous happenings. Why can't people see that these things are not of God? Why are people so defensive when someone dares to question these things? I get called names. I am told that I am putting down the body of Christ by saying that they are undiscerning and lack even the most basic biblical knowledge. It is not my intention to put anyone down, but rather to call them back to Christ.
Jesus told the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:4 NIV) Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. We as the body of Christ are in danger of leaving our first love. God sent Jesus to die for us and He ordained that man could only come to Him through Jesus Christ. If our focus is not on Jesus then it is misplaced, no matter where it is. Anything which makes Jesus less than equal to God the Father or God the Holy Spirit is dangerous and from the pit of hell. Anything that elevates self goes against the clear words of our Lord and Savior: (Matthew 16:24 NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
Many churches today do not preach that a person needs to deny themselves, they preach that a person needs to elevate them self so that they can better understand God. Popular books and study guides try to make Jesus out to be just one of us, instead of the incarnate God/man; fully God and fully man. Why does Satan try so hard to get our focus off of Christ or to portray Christ as someone who He isn't? Because He is the ONLY way to obtain salvation and only the "real" Christ will do. Any Jesus who is less than the biblical Jesus won't save anyone.
Why am I so touchy about the teachings of today? Because they deny my Lord and they cause people to miss heaven by missing the only true Way to get there. (Matthew 7:13-14 NIV)  "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.
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