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Edwin Christiaan
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The struggle of single vs married

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There is a correct usage of "Judging"

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Reasons in black and white...

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Clear Scriptures on the case....

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God allows or disallows everything, not human beings!

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Come away from delusional false prophesies that never happen!

AN INDICTMENT AGAINST THE CHURCH

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 1. Timothy 2:1-2 NLT

The Church, or the Body of Christ if you will, is supposed to have the power through prayer to be able to change the spiritual condition of this nation, or any nation for that matter. The frequently quoted scripture, where God says: If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2. Chronicles 7:14 NLT) has not had an impact on this land of America at all!

The Church has been praying for revival for years and yet nothing is really happening, despite the many so-called prophetic promises given over the years saying that we will see a great move of God in America that we will cause a multitude of sinners to come to repentance. A real revival! Instead, we see an increase of sin in the Church, like the Bible says in the book of Romans chapter 2, verse 24: No wonder the Scriptures say, “The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.”

God showed me that there are three major areas of sin in the Church that needs to be addressed and immediately stopped in order for God’s revival power to move among His children, and make the world (the Gentiles) see that the Church is a true follower of Jesus Christ.

The first area of sin in the Church
The Church needs to STOP selling merchandise in the church! Stop the selling of books, CD’s, and DVD’s. Also, it needs to stop charging for conferences, teachings, prayers, prophecies, and meals!

The Church is supposed to follow the example of her Savior and Provider Jesus Christ!

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 1. Peter 2:21 NLT

Jesus Christ NEVER charged anybody for his teachings or conferences. Neither did he charge anybody for meals. As a matter of fact, Jesus miraculously fed thousands of His followers with only five loaves of bread and two fish! (See Luke 9:10-17) Jesus trusted the Father for the provision, so he could give it free of charge to the people.

Jesus said: Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8 NKJV

The Church justifies the selling of merchandise and the charging of teachings and conferences with the argument that they need the money to cover expenses, and in doing so keeping the ministry afloat. But the Church doesn’t understand that if God is the one who builds the Church, it can trust God to take care of it! A Church ministry is never dependent on the donations from people, but on God, who will take care and build what is His! Church leaders must lean on God for provision, and not on people!

For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God. Hebrews 3:4 NLT

Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Psalm 127:1 NLT

One day, Jesus went into the temple and drove out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He also knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He stopped everyone from using the temple as a marketplace.

And He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” (Mark 11:17 NLT)

The time has come for the Church to throw out the bookstore and merchandise tables with the sale of books, CD’s, DVD’s, crosses, jewelry, banners – you name it – out of the Church, and instead make the Church a house of prayer, what it’s supposed to be!

The second area of sin in the Church
The Church needs to STOP imposing tithing on its parishioners, which is obligating them to pay 10% of their gross monetary income to the Church. It is even a fact that many well-known pastors are guilt-tripping their church members by telling them not to even think about coming to the front of the church for prayer if they are not tithing to their church, because they are robbing God! These pastors shamelessly use the Old Testament Law scripture in Malachi 3:8-10, which was actually meant for the Israelites so they could take care of the Levite priests by giving them 10% of their fruits and vegetables. This tithing principle cannot be translated to a modern day giving of monetary tithes to the Church!

There are also other Church leaders, who are telling their congregants that they would never accept anyone to their ministry team who is not a tither. They tell them that Abraham also paid tithes, but fail to point out that the Bible says that Abraham, in a onetime event, gave a tenth of all he had captured in battle, a tenth of the spoil, to the king and priest Melchizedek. (See Hebrews 7:1-2) Again, this has nothing to do with giving tithes to the Church and cannot be adopted as a church practice today! As matter of fact, in the same chapter it is said that our High Priest Jesus Christ came to set the old requirements of the law aside:

Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:18-19 NLT

That’s why neither Jesus Christ nor His disciples ever taught the Church to tithe! EVER!!!

Here are the only requirements the disciples told us believers in Christ not to do, and it did notinclude tithing:

Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. Acts 15:20 NLT

The first church in the book of Acts should be the greatest example for the modern-day Church, asthey sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need and they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. (Acts 2:45, 4:32 NLT)

As a result, there were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need. (Acts 4:34-35 NLT)

The first Church really put the words of Jesus Christ in action, who said: It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35 NLT)

It is no wonder that this first Church experienced true revival. In one day, about 3000 people gave their lives to Christ and were baptized. (See Acts 2:41.) And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47 NLT)

The apostles NEVER taught the Church to tithe. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church the following: You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. (2. Corinthians 9:7-8 NLT)

The third area of sin in the Church
The Church needs to STOP mixing and confusing the gifts and fruit of the Spirit! There is an epidemic of spiritually illiterate Church leaders, who are not able to discern gifting from fruit, and therefore they are not able to know what comes from God or from the Devil. Their “spiritual discernment” often comes from a Google search of people to find out whether they are from God or not, and they end up being deceived. They are the ones the apostle Paul talks about, who don’t have any godly discernment, when he said:

You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. 2. Corinthians 11:4 NLT

These Church leaders are absolutely oblivious, and don’t understand that having the gift of an evangelist, pastor, teacher, prophet, apostle, or healer is not same as obediently walking in the fruit of the Spirit, which produces a character and behavior of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)

In other words, you can be a gifted evangelist for instance, and yet be unloving, restless, unkind, unfaithful, rude, rebellious, selfish, jealous, have lustful pleasures and outburst of anger, impure, sexually immoral, abusive, a drunkard, cause quarreling and division, and so on. All of these are bad fruits and anyone who is living this sort of lifestyle will not enter Heaven. (See Galatians 5:19-21)

We need to understand that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance; it is freely given to us. But, the fruit of the Holy Spirit deals with our character that needs to be walked out as part of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. (Philippians 2:12 NLT)

Here is the way Jesus taught how to discern people whether they are coming from God or coming from Satan:

Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Matthew 7:15-16 NLT

Jesus explained further saying that a good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. (Matthew 7:17-18 NLT)

Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. Matthew 7:20 NLT

Jesus also made it very clear that being gifted and doing miracles for God does not mean you will enter into heaven, but producing good fruit through obedience in God does! Just look at these scriptures:

So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 7:19 NLT

Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.‘ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ Matthew 7:21-23 NLT

Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good. Titus 1:16 NLT

The powerless Church is busy praying for revival, but in the eyes of the world, the Church is nothing but a joke and a laughing stock.

It’s time for the Church to step up and learn to discern light from darkness and bear good godly fruit for the world to taste and see that the Lord is good! (Psalm 34:8 NLT)

I rest my case!

HOW TO RECOGNIZE A RELIGIOUS SECT

By Sophia Christiaan

“And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.” Romans 16:17-18 NLT

Just like we distinguish different kinds of animals within one species by describing the difference in length, width, type of legs, wings, color, and so on, so it is also by distinguishing characteristics of others things, that we find out what exactly something is.

In this second article in the series of articles on sects and cults, I want to share what a religious sect is and how to know when you’ve bumped into one. This list will ring true to the many who has already had some experience with cultic or secteric activity, and it will be a reference list to those who haven’t.

A sect is actually a word that merely describes a group of people, who have separated themselves from society to devote themselves to practicing a certain belief. This doesn’t have to be dangerous in itself, but when control enters the mix, things will get ugly. And that’s usually what happens to most sects, who start out with idealistic zeal to live in a certain way that is controversial to society.

Here are some things that characterize a religious sect:

A religious sect has one strong leader, who is increasingly adored and revered by every member. Usually, this leader has had some kind of profound life-changing effect on the member, who has become devoted to the leader in return for whatever the leader has given the member, whether it be purpose with life, a certain value system, rescue from bad circumstances, a sense of belonging to a group, or this leader’s love and support.

In a religious sect, the sect leader plays the biggest part of the members’ everyday life. All instructions for the sect and for the individual member are passed down from the leader and the leadership. Over time, the sect leader establishes him or herself as a spokesperson of God, and usually develops his or her influence to a higher divine position, including calling him or herself God, Jesus Christ, the Bride of Christ, the spouse of Christ or God, a highly enlightened spiritual being, a God-like character, a special apostle of God, a special prophet of God, a messenger of God, the Messiah, a reincarnated God, or more of the likes. Sect members come to accept whatever the leader professes to be, and finds confirmation in the common belief of the other sect members.

In a religious sect, there will be use of Bible teaching in some way. Usually, there will be an emphasis on scriptures that confirm the leader’s personal doctrine and repetitive studying leads to a member’s conviction. Usually, a sect leader has little problem persuading people of his/her doctrine, because people are already in awe of the leader and will accept anything he or she preaches.

In a religious sect, it is very dangerous to be a critical thinker and voice those opinions. There is a systematic breakdown taking place of the individual’s previous beliefs, to the point that every member must abandon his own rationalization and become unified with every belief of the sect. If the member fails to submit to the surrendering of his individuality and independence, he will receive correction by the leadership until he agrees to replace his previous ideals with those of the leader’s. This is a process each new member enters into, almost like a kind of boot camp, and he is cheered on by other members to complete the surrendering process.

For outsider’s, who have never experienced the kind of pressure there is to change within a sect, it can be hard to understand how an intelligent person can agree to leave his previously held beliefs for the sake of another. It’s quite another situation though, for the person inside the sect who is faced with the challenge, because he will constantly be influenced by his surrounding friends and circumstances that all tell him how successful and happy he will be as soon as he gives in. He will look around him and see smiling, content, relaxed people, who all claim they have gone through the same process, and are now free.

After the initial surrender, more of the same breaking down is taking place. The member is now ready for the real brainwash, and will be subjected to personal coaching and indoctrination. He will be challenged in all areas of life to embrace his new lifestyle and mindset. He will receive instructions on what to wear and no longer wear, how to speak, how to behave, and who to marry. Furthermore, he will be required to turn over his personal assets in the form of money, possessions, and income for the leadership to control.

If the member has any questions or is considered rebellious or uncooperative, he will be strongly corrected and/or punished by the leadership and his personal mentor, who is set to closely watch over his progress. He is continuously told that he has to submit to whatever the leaders decide, whether he agrees or not. If he continues to disagree and show a contrary attitude, he will reprimanded further, and more psychological force will be utilized to make him submit to his leaders. After many counseling sessions, a member will start feeling doubtful about his own standpoint, and he will start to agree with the disciplining he is under, and accept that the leadership knows better than he does. He will doubt himself so much that it becomes easier to give in than to hold on.

When a member has finished his initiation process, he will start to blossom in his new belief and environment. He will worship the leader like the other members do, and he will start to find great satisfaction in being a devoted member. At this point, he has figured out what is smart and what works, and he will start becoming a player of the game. He will seek to outdo others in radical devotion to the leader and to the sect, he will seek to be an example by following protocol to the tee, and by reporting on others when he sees the same rebellious behavior he used to have.

By now, he has become a devout member, who will at all times defend and protect his leader. He will crack down hard on any negativity or critical statements, and at this point, he has most likely also cut all ties with family members and his previous network of friends and colleagues and other associations. He has accepted that he is now committed to spend his life with the sect in whatever location that may be. His highest purpose is to please his sect leader, who is now showing him a favor he never enjoyed before he reached this level of commitment.

He is promoted within the sect to a higher position of influence, he is in training to become someone else’s coach and mentor, and he enjoys a great amount of time close to the sect leader and the inner core. If his development continues, he even has a chance of being accepted into the inner core group of the sect leaders personal advisers.

Some of the methods a sect uses to gain control over individuals include forcing them to confess sins. This includes not only sins already committed, but also thoughts that are considered sinful. Thoughts count as much as actions in a religious sect, because the leaders know that behavior and attitudes come from the mind. If they can gain control over not only actions but also the mind, they have the key to take complete control over an individual. The sect’s goal is to make everyone think and act uniformly and erase any critical thinking in a member that might cause other members to start doubting the sect leader and the way of life within the sect, thus threatening the absolute power of the sect leader.

Another method of control is subjecting the member to a lifestyle of complete openness at all times. A member’s privacy is subject to invasion at any moment, and all his assets are considered property of everyone. A member is often moved around in different sleeping quarter in the community housing, and he learns to live simple and transparent. It is also required that a member practices militaristic obedience to the sect leaders. If there is the slightest hesitation on his part, he will be subjected to strong correction or punishment. If that’s the case, he will also most like be accused of having demons, which will need to be exorcised. Depending on the sect, they will operate with various demon-exorcism programs where some include blasting, which is a practice where the individual gets surrounded by other members for about an hour, who scream at the top of their lungs at the member in the middle, who then gradually breaks down under the pressure. Merely tolerating to be blasted is already such a border overstepping allowance, that the member puts himself in the position of abuse of his personal borders and self-respect, causing his self-esteem, self-respect, dignity, and sense of self-worth to be completely annihilated.

Other methods seen used by religious sects are the constant use of psychological scare tactics to get control over members, including warning people that they will go to Hell if they disobey their authorities, telling people that God is angry with them, telling people how sinful and dirty they are, calling them names, convincing members they are demon possessed, threatening with ex-communication of the sect if they don’t submit, forcing members to be grateful for all the sect and the sect leader has done for them, using members for manual labor to keep them activated and not thinking and having public humiliation ceremonies where a person’s wrong doing’s are exposed and displayed for all members.

Many religious sects move to suburban or remote areas where they can isolate members further from the inflow of information from the outside world. Members are disallowed from listening to secular music, visiting stores that play secular music, going places that is considered a secular influence like restaurants, café’s and malls. The way they prohibit the members is usually not by saying “You are not allowed to do such and such,” but they will bash and talk so negative about these things, that members not only come to fear this influence, but also develop a strong distaste for whatever it is that is not allowed, sinful, or not considered “from God.” Members must travel in groups when they visit grocery stores or other “outside” places for the sake of supervision. No one is allowed to venture out on his own.

Members are prevented, either psychologically or forcefully, from using personal public communication items like cell phones, computers, facebook profiles, and email accounts. They are also restricted from watching television, or are only allowed to watch certain programs. They are brainwashed to believe they don’t need to keep up with news or other information about the society “outside” or the world. They are encouraged to only read religious books and magazines published by the sect itself that propagates only the viewpoints of the sect. All secular and other religious books are destroyed along with any personal items that remind the individual of their past life, such as decoration items, books, instruments, music, clothing, notebooks, letters, pictures, or any other item that has emotional value to the member.

Sidenote: Secteric influence in a church can be detected by the pastor or leadership disallowing members to visit other churches or home groups or conferences, telling the people they need to be faithful in their own church. In a church like that, the pastor believes he “owns” the members of the church, also called “sheep,” because they have committed to being part of the church and serve and receive under this particular pastor, also called “Shepherd.” He will also control the people further by demanding their faithful giving of tithes and money offerings. He will do anything to make sure his “sheep” don’t go to other churches and see other ministers and get tempted to leave the church or give their money there instead of to his church.

In a religious sect you will find the mentality that they believe they are the only group on earth that is right and will go to Heaven, and everyone else is wrong, belong to Satan, and will go to Hell. Many sects have an over-emphasis on the apocalyptic end times of the world that is said to come. The sect leader extorts the fear the members have of going astray and believing in the Anti-Christ, or missing out on Christ’s second coming, and use this fear to make the group strong from within. Also, as the sect gradually isolates itself from the outside communities, the sect leaders will demonize the outside society, and create a sense of survival mentality within the sect. This survival mode actually strengthens the group from within because of the perceived idea that their value system is in danger of being attacked by others.

A religious sect will always prey on a member’s desire to serve God, and will convince the member that they are serving God by serving the leader. In this way, there is nothing a member would not do for a leader, even things that would normally be considered a sin or inappropriate, like for instance, believing God speaks through the leader and everything he or she says is straight from God’s own mouth and God’s will, which can lead to all kinds of manipulation of the member that he would normally not accept. If a member really believes God speaks when the leader speaks, he can do anything the sect leader would request, such as having a sexual relationship with the sect leader, working to clean and cook for the leader, running errands and doing special favors for the sect leader, and investing his whole life into doing what the leader says, all the while believing he is doing it for God.

Copyright©2012 Edwin & Sophia Christiaan
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