All posts by Chris Beard

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Treasures on Earth: Why I Despise Prosperity Teaching

“The Church used to be a lifeboat rescuing the perishing. Now she is a cruise ship recruiting the promising.”

-Leonard Ravenhill

With that one quote, Leonard Ravenhill perfectly captures the dilemma facing the Church today.

We’ve lost it.

We’ve traded in our heavenly treasure for earthly trash, and we’ve been paying for it ever since. Pastors have become swindlers. Prophets have become fortune tellers. Bishops have become bartenders. Our pulpits have traded in the glorious Gospel of our Blessed God for pyramid schemes meant to keep the leadership’s pockets lined with the same cash that will be used as tender on the Day of the Lord.

I realize that may sound jarring to you, but it’s just true. Not since the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church has the Body of Christ been so ravaged by the desire for worldly gain.

Why is this such a problem? Well, let’s take a look at some reasons…


 It’s Unbiblical

Firstly, the entire foundation on which the so called “Prosperity Gospel” stands is completely separated from Biblical truth.

Think about it.

Isn’t it a little bit hard to believe that the same Jesus who told the rich young man to sell all his belongings and give the money to poor now wants His followers spending lavish amounts on themselves? Am I the only one having trouble with this? (Matthew 19:21)

How about the treasure hidden in a field that caused a man to sell everything he owned in order to buy that field? (Matthew 13:44)

Who could forget the merchant that sold all he had in order to purchase the pearl of great value? (Matthew 13:45)

Now, some of you are surely thinking, “But Jesus is talking about the love of money. The money itself isn’t the problem, we can have as much as we’d like as long as we don’t love it!” Indeed, Jesus is talking about the love of money. However, if you don’t love money, why would you keep it all for yourself? Why not give all your money away if you don’t love it? After all, John Wesley made a lot of money for his time, yet gave most of it away.

There are countless verses found in God’s Word concerning the relationship between Christians and money; nearly all of them speak negatively of it’s impact on our lives.

Paul hammered the proverbial nail in the prosperity coffin when he wrote to Timothy:

9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:9-11)

It’s Not the Gospel

It’s called the “Prosperity Gospel” for a reason.

We know from scripture that there is no other gospel we should be following other than the one proclaimed by Christ and His apostles.

In fact, in his letter to the Galatians, Paul was quick to point out that there is in fact no other gospel. Period. (Galatians 1:6-9)

Jesus said that we cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24)

Turn on your television and watch TBN. Chances are, there is a Praise-a-thon asking for people to give them money. If it’s not a Praise-a-thon, it’s probably a false teacher telling you how to get money by giving him or her money (I’m looking at you Joyce Meyer and Gloria Copeland).

Notice something?

There is very little, if any, emphasis given to Christ’s saving work on the cross. If anything, you may hear that Christ died to make you rich. All of the scripture used in defense of this idea is taken completely out of context in order to suit the message of these prosperity peddlers.


Beloved, do yourselves a favor and turn off the televisions. Stop paying exuberant amounts to head to one of Benny Hinn’s (Fake) Healing Crusades.

Instead, open up your Bibles. Test and examine the things you hear in light of God’s Word. I think you will quickly find that these false prosperity teachers fail to meet the standard.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/947e22756f2733559b1f9e98d2745e9f?s=64&d=http%3A%2F%2F1.gravatar.com%2Favatar%2Fad516503a11cd5ca435acc9bb6523536%3Fs%3D64&r=G[/author_image] [author_info]Chris Beard is a lay minister, writer, and worship leader residing in Southwest Virginia. His passion is the study of God’s Word, and the preaching of the Gospel to all nations. He serves as a co-host and article contributor at Truth and Freedom Radio.[/author_info] [/author]

EmptyPew

If There is No God: Atheism’s Moral Implications

There was a time when I was so offended by the idea of God that I would literally take pleasure in rubbing my atheistic belief system in the faces of my evangelical family and friends. I took joy in dismantling their arguments for a Creator, and would boast in myself, “Finally, someone in this family has stopped following such nonsensical irrationality, and has shed off the binding chains of religion.” I was adamant in hailing religion’s ignorance, and at some points, even reasoned for it’s complete annihilation.

If you’re reading this now, you may be surprised that the man who currently takes such joy in reading, discussing, and writing about God’s Word was also the man that counted it as folly in the paragraph above.

That’s right folks; your brother in Christ used to be a fire breathing, religion berating atheist.

But, that same logically based mind that plunged me into a world of Nietzsche, Marx, and Dawkins, eventually led me straight to the foot of the cross on Calvary.

How?

Well, it all comes down to a little something called morality…


Do Atheists have Morals?

That subtitle was only meant to grab your attention. Of course atheists have morals.

That has never been the question. They hurt, they cry, they feel pain when they see someone they love in pain, and they are given over to random acts of kindness. Atheists care.

But, why?

Why do they care?

That’s the issue. You see, coming from an atheistic worldview leads to this progression in rationale:

  1. There is no God.
  2. I have morality.
  3. You have a different morality.
  4. Morals are relative to the individual, because there is no such thing as absolute truth or a divine law giver.
  5. Therefore, what’s right for you may not be right for me, and likewise.
  6. We must tolerate our differences in morality.

That looks fine doesn’t it?

Well, no actually.

If you come to the conclusion that morals are relative, you just created a logical hole big enough to drive a Mack truck through.

If morality is relative to the individual; murder, rape, child molestation, thievery, adultery, and every other act we consider heinous are ultimately up to personal conviction, and are therefore, not actually wrong for everyone.

Atheists must deal with that. When they go to bed at night, they must be willing to accept that if someone were to murder their loved one in their sleep, it isn’t wrong. How could it be? Wrong and right are categories that do no exist in reality. They are only constructions of the human mind.

When we take the secular atheistic worldview out to it’s furthest conclusions, we end up with absolute chaos. Don’t believe me?

Atheist and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer said this:

“If a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges?”

 

Disclaimer: I do not believe that atheists as a whole are anything like Dahmer. This quote was used to merely demonstrate his reasoning.

 

In addition, look at Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, or Pol Pot, and the atrocities that were committed during their regimes.

We are talking about the taking of human life on a massive scale.

Sadly, in atheism, none of those atrocities are inherently wrong, because “right and wrong are illusions.”


That is why I cannot be an atheist.

Can you live with the moral implications of atheism?

In closing, hear the words of Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias,

I am thoroughly convinced that when the last chapter of humanity is written, we will find that the implications of atheism, i.e., living without God, if consistently carried through, will have made life plainly unlivable within the limits of reason or even common sense.”

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/947e22756f2733559b1f9e98d2745e9f?s=64&d=http%3A%2F%2F1.gravatar.com%2Favatar%2Fad516503a11cd5ca435acc9bb6523536%3Fs%3D64&r=G[/author_image] [author_info]Chris Beard is a lay minister, writer, and worship leader residing in Southwest Virginia. His passion is the study of God’s Word, and the preaching of the Gospel to all nations. He serves as a co-host and article contributor at Truth and Freedom Radio. [/author_info] [/author]

Spiritwar2

Can Christians be Demonically Oppressed?

In the first article, I tackled the question of whether a Christian can be demonically possessed, and the answer was a resounding no.

But what about oppression?

On a personal note, I have sometimes been confronted with unusually strong attacks on my belief; from extreme circumstances to devastating setbacks, it seems as though every now and then my problems take on an other worldly persona. I quickly jump to Romans 7, rationalizing that these things are merely manifestations of the remaining sinfulness of my flesh. But is that really all that’s going on?

Everyday it it seems we hear of a brother or sister enduring spiritual battles, or struggling against temptation. Are such things related to demonic activity?


There is a War

I’m sure we can all agree that there are struggles Christians go through.

Scripturally, we know that we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. (Ephesians 6:12)

Now, the term “principalities and powers” only occurs in the King James Version, along with it’s derivatives (NKJV, MKJV). The English Standard Version translates this to “rulers and authorities”. So, we know the struggle is against rulers and authorities that aren’t made of flesh and blood.

Looking back to Ephesians 6:11, we see the context Paul is placing these terms in:

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

 

What is the Holy Spirit trying to say here?

Well, let’s look at this entire thing in context.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 1For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

 

From this passage, we get a clear picture of the struggle, and what we’re struggling against.

The Enemy is Satan

Satan is the enemy of God; therefore, he is also the enemy of those of us who are in Christ. How does the enemy attack us?

Look again at Ephesians 6:11, focusing on the phrase “schemes of the devil”. The Greek word that is  translated into “schemes” is methodia. That should look familiar to you, because it’s where we get the English word methodMethodia refers to cunning, deception, and stealth.

Now, deception can manifest itself in several ways, but one example can be found in 1 John 2:16. Notice that John seems to be pointing out a general focus on worldly things. Afterwards, John goes on to talk about antichrists, so we can assume this falls into the realm of Satan’s deception.

But is Satan personally assaulting believers?

The Battle is Against Demons

As we can see in our example found in 1 John 2:16, one of the most damaging ways in which Satan manipulates believers is by elevating the flesh while downplaying the spiritual war. We cannot fall into this trap, because to do so can cause us to lose zeal and lead to indifference in the Christian life. After all, why should we be warriors if there is no war?

As a recap, look again at Ephesian 6:11-12. We see three key points in the text:

  1. There is a war.
  2. The war is against Satan.
  3. We fight against demons.

Paul spends much of verse 12 showing us that Satan isn’t the only one fighting on behalf of evil.

In the words “rulers… authorities… cosmic powers of darkness… spiritual forces of evil”, Paul seems to be laying out a hierarchy for the supernatural powers of darkness. We see this evidenced by his use of the word “against” prior to each escalating reference.

I am not suggesting that the Holy Spirit’s intention is to give us a primer in demonic ranking systems. However, we should come away from this passage with a firm understanding that we face an unfathomably evil, organized enemy.

Stand Firm

We see that Satan and his demons are to blame for much of the adversity we encounter.

But, that’s no reason for alarm. After describing the enemy, Paul launches into Ephesians 6:13-18, where he gives us specific and applicable strategies in our battles against Satan and his army. Through these instructions, all of us who are in Christ can be well prepared to face off against the demonic powers as we see the Day of the Lord drawing near.


Victory in Christ

There is such a thing as demonic oppression in the Christian life.

However, oppression is what occurs when we do not stand firm. War is what occurs when we bear up arms in offense against the powers of darkness.

In closing, I want to leave you with this picture of the returning Christ whom we love and and trust in:

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:11-6)

 


[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://truthandfreedomradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/photo9.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Chris Beard is a lay minister, writer, and worship leader residing in Southwest Virginia. His passion is the study of God’s Word, and the preaching of the Gospel to all nations. He serves as a co-host and article contributor at Truth and Freedom Radio.[/author_info] [/author]

 

Christians and Possession

Can Demons Possess Christians?

So often in the more charismatic circles seen today, we hear stories about Christians coming under demonic attack, and in some cases the claim is made that these individuals have actually become demonically possessed.

But is that possible? Can we, as follower’s of Christ, actually be invaded by a demonic entity?

Firstly, let’s come to a few preliminary conclusions:

  1. God’s Word is the ultimate authority on all aspects of the Christian life. Period. Only after laying that foundation can we hope to come to any reasonable answer concerning this subject. This also means that we must do away with personal experiences, spiritual epiphanies, and “new” teachings that don’t have a biblical basis. I know that this will upset some of those who believe that prophecies today are just as reliable as the prophecies found in the Bible, but I will appeal to Galatians 1:8 in response to that crowd.
  2. If you have been genuinely born again, the Holy Spirit resides in you. Hopefully this is something we can all agree upon. There are some that argue for a second, supplemental “filling of the Spirit”, but that idea doesn’t hold up in light of passages such as Romans 8:9-10.

Now that we have those out of the way, let’s examine God’s Word and get to the bottom of things.


 

Let me first go on the record to say that there are no examples in the Bible of a believer coming under demonic possession. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

This fact alone makes a strong case against the demonic possession of Christians. But, we wouldn’t have need for an article if that was the end of the story, would we? So in order to be thorough, let’s begin building as case from scripture.

Christ Protects Those Born of God

According to 1 John 5:18, Christ is faithful to protect those whom have been born again; not just from the clutches of sin, but also from the evil one. So, in order to maintain the belief that a Christian can come under the influence of a demonic entity, one must essentially say that the power of Satan can usurp the power of Christ. And that, brothers and sisters, is simply untrue. Hebrews 2:14 affirms that through Christ’s death, Satan is rendered powerless. Isaiah 63:1 prophetically and powerfully displays Him as being both great in strength, and mighty to save.

This is cause for much celebration in the lives of believers. Why should we fear the power of the one whom Christ has already conquered?

We’re not afraid of smallpox anymore because it was deemed eradicated in 1979 due to vaccination campaigns. In the same way, believers shouldn’t fear demonic possession anymore because roughly 2000 years ago, the Son of God eradicated the power of Satan.

The Holy Spirit Doesn’t Cohabit

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 makes some strong arguments against the belief that demons and the Holy Spirit can occupy the same vessel. As we asserted at the beginning, every true believer has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This fact alone prevents anything ungodly from taking a Christian captive.

As Paul states, “Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Light, by it’s very nature, cannot share a space with darkness. In fact, the very idea that a demonic entity can be roommates with the Holy Spirit violates the Law of Non-contradiction.

In addition 1 John 4:4 famously states, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” So, not only will the Holy Spirit not share you with an unclean spirit, but the Holy Spirit is also more than capable of keeping unclean spirits out.


 

In conclusion, we can confidently state no, a demon cannot possess a Christian. The scripture speaks clearly on the subject, and no amount of personal belief in such things can take precedence over the Word of God.

However, this is not to say that demonic entities pose no threat to those in Christ. Indeed, scripture is full of references concerning an ongoing struggle against the powers of darkness.

Join us next time as we examine this struggle, and learn how Satan still attempts to deceive and oppress the Church today.

Glory to Christ

Clarification on Calvinism

 

If you have watched the recent Truth and Freedom Radio Show episode entitled “Predestination” (if you haven’t, click here to check it out), you may have noticed that I have some issues with being labeled a Calvinist.

(Side Note: If you need a primer, John Piper does an excellent job of explaining Calvinism in this series.)

As far as my personal belief’s go, I fall pretty close to the traditional TULIP understanding, with some back and forth when it comes to Limited Atonement.

So, why would I be uncomfortable with being called a Calvinist?

Well, let’s take a look at a few reasons…


Scripture

In 1 Corinthians, Paul begins by describing  divisions that took place in the Church at Corinth. These divisions seem to be based on doctrines taught by the apostles, and Paul is quick to rebuke the Corinthians for their disagreements and quarreling, arguing instead that Christ is the only one worthy of recognition as the head. (1 Corinthians 1:10-17)

Fast forwarding to today, what do we generally see taking place in the Church at large? Division.

We have five-point Calvinists and Arminians, along with everything in between. We have Anglicans, Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants.

Move into Protestant circles, and the divisions get even more absurd and trite. All of these sects claim some amount of truth, and point to their contemporaries’ falsities.

Each denomination usually has a banner it flies under, and more often than not those banner’s are more derived from fleshly, vain, superficial doctrines than they are the Word of God.

The seeds of this practice have been planted as long as the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has been preached, and I believe this comes from a common error that has it’s base in idolatry.

We must get this straight. It is all about Christ, and Him crucified.

All kinds of men throughout church history have come to some understanding of the greater glories of God, but we must not follow those men. We follow Christ! Let us move on from this saint worship that has taken hold of our church. If not, we may find ourselves on the wrong side of another reformation stemmed from a generation of believers crying out, “We just want to follow Jesus!”

Paul doesn’t stop in Corinthians though. Looking in 1 Timothy, we also see him echoing the same warnings to a young preacher. Only now, the concern isn’t so much on church division. Now Paul is concerned with the rise of false teachers, and he urges Timothy not to get caught up in vain discussions as an extension of this concern. (1 Timothy 1:6-7)

Now, I am not suggesting that the sovereignty of God is a vain discussion. But, I am willing to put forward that while John Calvin had a high sense of God’s role in salvation, he himself was a man capable of sin. We see this in his dealings with Michael Servetus.  There are many arguments both against, and for Calvin’s role in Servetus’ burning at the stake, but the main issue is this; why would we even entertain the thought of flying under a man’s banner when we have believed in the perfect one? By following Christ and Christ alone we never have to worry about such matters.


So, in conclusion, I am not a Calvinist. I am a follower of Jesus Christ.

John Calvin, along with many others, have made great strides in advancing a high view of Christ. But it would do us well brothers and sisters, to hold man as lowly, and to revere the Lamb as the only one worthy of glory.

Perseverance

The Temptation of Christ – Seven Lessons in Perseverance

I’ll admit it.

I was this close to titling this article “The Temptation of Jesus, and Why We’re All Wussies”.

Luckily, cordiality and meekness won out, and so we have been left with the current title of this piece.

Still, the main point stands. In comparison to Christ, we are an extraordinarily weak, shortsighted, and impatient people. So often we fall into the trap of expecting life as a follower of Christ to be an easygoing and leisurely affair. Then, when hardship comes our way, we are left shrugging our shoulders and scratching our heads.

This is so pronounced in Western Christianity that we even have entire ministries built around the “Health, Wealth, and Prosperity” movement.

(Note: I will not be discussing the flaws found in such ministries in this article. But, stick around for awhile. I promise, I won’t be able to bite my tongue for long.)

But, what does the Word of God say?

If you would, please join me in this verse by verse study of Christ’s temptation as it is found in Luke 4:1-15. I will be using the ESV Bible as my primary reference, but you can feel free to use whichever translation most suits you.

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