One World Religion
Over 300 evangelical Christians signed a response from ‘the Christian community’ and sent it to the Muslim Community agreeing to a partnership in religion. In October 2007 the Muslim community launched a website called www.acommonword.com. A letter was sent to the Christian community asking for an agreement among the religions on common grounds that we could agree on. In the letter, the Muslim writers offer a hand of partnership to Christians as long as we agree on the basic principles that unite us. While the open letter to Christians focuses on each person’s requirement to love God and love one’s neighbor, they also make it clear that loving God requires us to adhere to the following ‘Testimony of Faith’:
The central creed of Islam consists of the two testimonies of faith or Shahadahsi, which state that: There is no god but God [Allah], Muhammad is the messenger of God. These Two Testimonies are the sine qua non of Islam. He or she who testifies to them is a Muslim; he or she who denies them is not a Muslim.
The letter also states the following about Jesus Christ:
Muslims recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, not in the same way Christians do (but Christians themselves anyway have never all agreed with each other on Jesus Christ’s nature), but in the following way: …. the Messiah Jesus son of Mary is a Messenger of God and His Word which he cast unto Mary and a Spirit from Him…. (Al-Nisa’, 4:171). We therefore invite Christians to consider Muslims not against and thus with them, in accordance with Jesus Christ’s words here.
Since the Muslim letter only quoted part of Al-Nisa’ 4:171, I decided to look up this reference in the Quran to see the remainder of the verse. Here is the entire passage in context:
People of the Book, do not exceed the limits of devotion in your religion or say anything about God which is not the Truth. Jesus, son of Mary, is only a Messenger of God, His Word, and a spirit from Him whom He conveyed to Mary. So have faith in God and His Messengers. Do not say that there are three gods. It is better for you to stop believing in the Trinity. There is only One God. He is too glorious to give birth to a son. To God belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. God alone is a Sufficient Guardian for all. (Al-Nisa’ 4:171)
Muhammad called Christians the ‘People of the Book’ because they believed in the scriptures. The call for unity requires us to directly reject the following scripture in 1 John 5:9-13
9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
If you do not believe in Jesus Christ as He has been revealed in the scriptures, you do not, and cannot have eternal life for Jesus plainly warned that “if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Therefore, the Quran and the Bible are in direct conflict with each other and this foundational issue is irreconcilable. So in reality, the Muslim partnership extended to Christians has the following requirements in order to have common ground: accept the premise that “There is no god but God [which means Allah], Muhammad is the messenger of God”, do not be devoted solely to Christianity, and agree that Jesus is “only a messenger of God” but is not divine nor is God’s Son. According to Islam, Jesus was a messenger, but Muhammad is ‘the messenger’. Every Muslim will tell you that you must confess that ‘there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his prophet’. They say that Jesus was a prophet, but they will never say that Muhammad is ‘a prophet’. Every Muslim will strictly adhere to the belief that ‘Muhammad is the prophet’. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the prophets and that in these last days Jesus was the final word (Hebrews 1:1-2), but Islam teaches that Muhammad is the true messenger and the one chosen by God.
While one-world religion proponents argue that we can agree on most issues and therefore should not bicker over the few that we don’t agree on, the truth is that certain beliefs cannot be compromised. Look at Philippians 2:5-8
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
This is at the core of our Christian faith. You cannot compromise this truth and remain in the faith. Also consider 1 Timothy 3:16
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory..
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
John 1:10-14 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
This wasn’t controversial among those who held to the word of God, but in this era where Christians do not seek the Lord through the word, this has become a point of contention. The world has always denied Jesus as the only way and in these last days, the church has forgotten the truth of salvation in Christ just as the Bible foretold. Look at 2 Peter 2:1
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
Is this not exactly what the ‘open letter to Christians’ is asking us to do? I have quoted some of the most influential evangelical leaders and each one of them has denied that Jesus is the only way of salvation – which is a denial of the faith. On November 18, 2007, a response was posted to the acommonword.com website. The letter written was headed up by the seminary professors at Yale University and signed by over 300 evangelical Christian leaders and organizations. You can read the entire letter on the Common Word website, but I want to bring your attention to this excerpt:
We receive the open letter as a Muslim hand of conviviality and cooperation extended to Christians world-wide. In this response we extend our own Christian hand in return, so that together with all other human beings we may live in peace and justice as we seek to love God and our neighbors.
And to those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say that our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony.
The evangelical community received the letter and then implied that any who do not receive this are ‘those who relish conflict and destruction’. By stating that they receive the invitation, it is an acknowledgement and acceptance of the terms written in the letter as we examined above. Any who do not agree to this form of unity are identified as the cause of conflict. If you read the letter you will see that one of the overarching themes is the quest for world peace. It is not a jump in conclusion that those who do not agree with the plan for peace by compromising their faith in Christ are a threat to peace and will become the enemy of the world religions that are uniting.
Consider that Rick Warren has stated that those who refuse to change must die or leave. David Spangler stated in his writings that people who will not accept the new world spirituality (which he calls the Luciferic Initiation) will be removed from the world to an upper room to be retrained until they can be embodied and safely be returned to the social body; Leonard Sweet states that we must change or die and these each are endorsing each other. Leonard Sweet quotes David Spangler in his book ‘Soul Tsunami’. In this book, Sweet states:
I am grateful to David Spangler for his help in formulating this “new cell” understanding of New Light leadership.”
Rick Warren endorsed this very book and wrote the forward on the front and back cover. Ken Blanchard has been commissioned by Rick Warren to teach leaders who will teach evangelical churches and Blanchard spoke at the ‘Choices for the Future’ symposium with Barbara Marx Hubbard. In her book, Hubbard echoes the warnings of these evangelical leaders but adds chilling details that make it clear that the ultimate plan is to force the world into the New Age spirituality. Look at these excerpts from her writings found in ‘The Book of Co-Creation’:
Out of the full spectrum of human personality, one-fourth is electing to transcend… One-fourth is destructive…they are defective seeds. In the past they were permitted to die a ‘natural death’. …Now as we approach the quantum shift from the creature-human to the co-creative human – the human who is an inheritor of god-like powers – the destructive one-fourth must be eliminated from the social body. …Fortunately, you are not responsible for this act, we are. We are in charge of God’s selection process for the planet Earth. He selects, we destroy. We are the riders of the pale horse, Death”.
“This act is as horrible as killing a cancer cell. It must be done for the sake of the future of the whole. So be it; be prepared for the selection process which is now beginning. We, the elders, have been patiently waiting until the very last moment before the quantum transformation, to take action to cut out this corrupted and corrupting element in the body of humanity. It is like watching a cancer grow; something must be done before the whole body is destroyed…. The destructive one fourth must be eliminated from the social body.”
Is this not an exact fulfillment of John 16:2b-4?
…the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 “And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 “But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. …
Notice that Barbara Marx Hubbard has declared that the selection process is already underway and who do you think the ‘destructive one-fourth’ is? Based on the testimony of Hubbard and our own evangelical leaders, those who refuse to change must die. Hubbard may sound like a New Age flake, but she has a lot of backing. She has worked with the White House under two presidents including our current administration; she was a vice president nominee in 1984, she was an American Citizen ambassador to the former Soviet Union; she has founded two major global organizations (the ‘Global Association for New Global Thought’ and the ‘World Future Society’); she has written 5 books and delivered over 80 keynote speeches to colleges, leadership conventions, political organizations, and has direct ties with our current evangelical leaders.
Just consider how many times death is endorsed by our major evangelical leaders. In Tim LaHaye’s left behind series, the tribulation force of God fought against the lost souls by killing them. This was justified since their souls were supposedly already lost anyway. This is the overarching theme in their Left Behind game where ‘Christians’ are encouraged to kill those who refuse to be evangelized. You can find ample information on this game by doing a search on ‘Left Behind: Eternal Forces’. In the evangelical letter to the muslims, our leaders state that those who refuse to compromise risk their eternal souls. Rick Warren calls church leaders that resist the purpose driven movement ‘leaders from hell’ and compared them to Sanballat. Sanballat tried to prevent Nehemiah from building the wall around Jerusalem. Ironically, Warren is attacking those who are trying to build a wall between the church and the world while claiming that the true wall builders are the ones attacking. For the first time in history, the evangelical community has joined forces with the world to stand against those who stand upon the word of God. Now the political, world religions, and evangelical church are all calling for the destruction of those who refuse to be evangelized into the New World Order.
Also consider that in 2003 the White House announced its plan to perform mental health screenings on every American through the program called ‘The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health’. A national health screening is the perfect opportunity to determine the values, beliefs and identify the individuals that are a threat to the ‘new thought’. To read up on this plan, go to the following websites:
Do not overlook the connection between Hubbard and our evangelical leaders. Ken Blanchard was on stage with Barbara Marx Hubbard at the ‘Choices for the Future’ conference where this mindset is being instilled in the world leaders of today. Ken Blanchard is now the trainer for Rick Warren’s ‘PEACE Plan’ and instructing our evangelical leaders. Is anyone alarmed at these connections? Does it raise any red flags to hear each of our so-called evangelical leaders using similar terminology as Barbara Marx Hubbard as they warn that people must die or change? If you follow the relationships of any of our emergent church or church growth leaders, you will see that eventually all their connections cross paths and form a consistent partnership network. All these leaders echo each other, quote common sources and endorse each other and quote those who are completely opposed the Christianity – true biblical Christianity.
Finally, let’s look at the words of Erwin McManus. Erwin is a leader in the so-called Emergent Church movement which seeks to destroy biblical Christianity and replace it with a more tolerant, all inclusive world religion. Rather than starting a new religion, the Emergent Church seeks to transform the current church into a new entity. McManus is heavily promoted by the Church Growth movements and is highly praised by Rick Warren. He is introduced to the evangelical community through the endorsements of many evangelical teachers, preachers, conferences and also Saddleback’s pastors.com. McManus was a featured speaker at the Saddleback Worship Conference and David Jeremiah endorsed the book I am about to quote from as well. Warren gives him the platform in his podcast linked from http://blog.pastors.com/2007/05/31/how-to-stay-mentally-fresh-for-ministry/ or you can listen to Rick broadcast this joint message with McManus through this direct link to the podcast at
By Erwin McManus’ own admission, he is an enemy of Christianity and seeks to destroy it. Look at the quote below:
My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ. (Christian Examiner, March 2005)
Notice how these leaders insulate themselves from criticism by name dropping Jesus Christ while at the same time stating that they want to destroy the very church that Jesus founded. It is foolish to think that a man or group of men can begin a new movement of God for the church did not come into existence by the will of man. Only the church of scripture is called the bride of Christ. Anything that attempts to usurp that position is not of God. Jesus said that He would build His church and warned that a house divided cannot stand. God will never fight against the body of Christ that He purchased with His own blood and founded upon His resurrection. Consider these telling quotes from his book, ‘The Barbarian Way’:
“The way of Jesus is far too savage for their sensibilities (those who are “civilized”)… Why a reckless call to awaken the barbarian faith within us at the risk of endangering this great civilization we have come to know as Christianity? … It is time to hear the barbarian call, to form a barbarian tribe, and to unleash the barbarian revolt. Let the invasion begin.”
“The greatest enemy to the movement of Jesus Christ is Christianity.”
“Two thousand years ago, God started a revolt against the religion He started. So don’t ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear His name.”
Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right. (from his book, ‘The Barbarian Way’)
It is ironic that the very people who claim that we should not question bad doctrine because our highest calling is unity are the ones beating the drums of war against the church. Those who believe the Bible are told that they should not stand up but quietly go along with the changes of the ‘new vision’, but those who are in agreement should fight to destroy the church Jesus established and invade it like hordes of barbarians. If you believe God’s word is the final authority, you are to be intimidated into silence while their followers are called to begin the invasion. Consider these two passages from Proverbs:
Proverbs 12:26 The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.
If you want to know someone’s character, look at those he associates with. If you associate with the wicked, you will be led astray and if you are a companion of fools, you are headed for destruction. A fool is someone who turns from the truth and follows their own hearts or the heart of those who devise their own version of ‘truth’. If you look at those Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven movements call friends, the smoke screen of biblical Christianity fades away into a disturbing cult. If you follow any path that goes out from these leaders, the path goes straight into the ‘New World Order’ cults. If you follow the path through Leonard Sweet, you are led straight into the ‘Luciferic Initiation’ and hear the call of the destruction of those who will not submit. If you follow the path toward Ken Blanchard, you are led straight into the ‘Choices for the Future’ proponents who are calling for the death of the ‘defective seeds’ who will not submit to the New World Order. If you follow out through Erwin McManus, you end up in the ‘Emergent Church’ movement that calls for an invasion and destruction of historic biblical Christianity. Follow in any direction and see where you end up. I could go on about the anti-Christian connections of Bill Hybels, Robert Schuller, Fuller Institute, C. Peter Wagner, or any leader in connection with this movement. They all form a network of interconnected relationships that paint a disturbing picture as it leads directly into the anti-Christian world religion foretold in Bible prophecy.
As the new vision invades the church, the collective body will move away from scripture and begin following people rather than God. When the church leaders bring in ‘the new vision’, they are prepped before hand to prepare for conflict (See http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/default.asp?id=263&artid=4533&expand=1). The method follows a consistent pattern. Those introducing this begin by sounding orthodox as they drop terminology that points to the ‘new vision’ without explaining what these terms mean. For a time, they will continue to use scripture as they accustom the church to these terms. This mixed message can be confusing but it is necessary to build trust while building the bridge that will be used to usher in the ‘new vision’. The next step is to gain agreement. This is done by stressing the need for unity and portraying those who are alarmed or disturbed by the new vision as being unspiritual, being afraid of what God is doing, fearing change, or being ‘one of those’ who only want to stay in a comfort zone of tradition. The pastor or leader will then say, “I feel the spirit moving” and then ask the church to raise their hands if they feel it. This subtle interjection has a big impact through the power of suggestion. If you don’t feel the Spirit, you are made to feel like something is wrong with you. Everyone around you feels it and is agreeing; therefore the implication is that anyone who doesn’t is out of touch with the Spirit.
The next step of indoctrination is to set up a ‘straw man’ to kick around. The pastor or leader will describe a silly traditionalist and then mock that ‘hypothetical person’ and cause the congregation to laugh at such a man. Through mocking jokes and declarations that such a person is unspiritual, each person in the congregation is intimidated into silence without realizing that this is a carefully crafted method of bullying members into compliance. After setting the stage of intimidation, each person has been put into a position of being ‘the only one’ who disagrees. We then sit in the congregation and think, “How can these feelings be of God when I am the only one who sees a problem?” We are told that the discernment of the Holy Spirit is our own fear and that we should ignore and overcome it. Thus the congregation has been taught to reject the red flags of alarm and the warnings of the Holy Spirit in their heart. Through the methods of Group Think, many people turn away from God and follow the doctrines of man. Those who do not succumb to group think are ‘purpose driven’ from the church. Ironically, those who are driven away are the ones called the trouble makers.
Those who do not conform will find the church turning against them. Even though we have not moved or changed our doctrines, we will be called the ones who have turned from God. I have received many letters from people who have been driven from their churches when the pastor departed from the faith. The process follows a familiar pattern and usually starts with a pastor going to a conference. One person who was raised in a church and had been a member for over thirty years was vilified when the church made this shift. The pastor went to a conference and came back with a vision that he claimed was from God. This heartbreaking letter was mourning the loss of life long friends. A few weeks earlier, they were in the center of the church and had close relationships. When the shift began, they went to the pastor to raise concerns but were met with hostility. The pastor criticized them from the pulpit and friends began to turn on them for not following the new vision. The hostility from the leadership and the congregation grew to the point where they had no choice but to leave. Driving those who do not conform is taught by the ‘Purpose Driven’ movement and is highly encouraged by Rick Warren. In the Church Growth movements, unity is only for those who conform and the new vision is the highest priority. Anyone who does not buy into the Purpose Driven movement ‘are from hell’; therefore it is not considered a loss when Bible believing Christians are ‘encouraged to leave’. The Bible warns, “Woe to the shepherds who scatter the flock”, but the new vision pushes scripture aside. The warning of scripture is now irrelevant since the so-called new revelations replace the study of the word.
This should be no surprise for throughout history the masses have followed the leaders even when they are wrong – both in the church and in the secular culture. Rick Warren teaches that people like us “must either leave or die” (see the link four paragraphs back). Right now, the only option a church leader has is to make someone leave. You will be intimidated into leaving if you do not follow the ‘new move of God’, but the time will come when persecution will include the murder of those who will not go along with the New World Order. When political and religious power merges, persecution will be much more than words.
Each time that religion and political power have partnered together, God’s people have been persecuted. This happened to the apostles when religion controlled the Jewish government; when Constantine merged the Catholic church with the Roman Empire, the inquisitions killed millions of Christians who would not conform to the doctrines of men; even today, where religion controls political power, the church is persecuted. This will happen again when the one world church gains power in politics as foretold in scripture and is indeed in progress today. In 2006 Barack Obama was invited to and spoke from the pulpit of Saddleback church at their annual summit. In November 2007 Hillary Clinton was invited and spoke from the Saddleback church pulpit as well. The establishment of these partnerships is well underway and as Barbara Marx Hubbard stated, “We, the elders, have been patiently waiting” for that opportunity.
Jesus forewarned that the time will come when those who persecute and kill His disciples will believe that they are doing God a service. Now we see evangelical leaders openly declaring that they are preparing for a revolt against historic Christianity and plan to invade and destroy Christianity. Even while making this claim, they are telling you that God is the one starting this revolt. Perhaps the god starting this revolt is the god of this world and not the God of the Bible. Also take note that there is no biblical foundation for any of the statements used by these leaders. They claim to be spokesmen of God, but they do not point to scripture as the source of any of their new doctrines. The revolt is against the Bible, those who believe the Bible and the church that bears His name because they hold to His word – the Bible.
Anyone who believes in the Bible as the sole authority of God’s word is considered a cancer cell in the collective body of humanity which they erroneously call the ‘Christ’. You will be forced to choose which vision you will receive – the ‘New Vision’ of the New World Order, or the vision Jesus Christ gave to the church and each individual Christian. Your evangelical leaders have already made their choice. The partnership to the Muslim call for a common word has agreed to forfeit the claims that Jesus alone is our Divine Savior and they will not be solely devoted to ‘their form of religion’ but will ‘put aside differences that divide us’. The one difference that separates Christianity from all religions is the Lamb of God. Consider the warning of Jesus in Mark 8:
38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
You must choose His word or you reject Christ (John 14:24). The three main leaders of the church growth movements have signed this letter. These include:
Here is a shortened list of evangelical organizations that have representatives that have signed this document:
David Yonggi Cho
Billy Graham Center at Wheaton
The Navigators, Colorado Springs, CO
Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL
Youth With A Mission
Christianity Today Media Group
National Association of Evangelicals
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Fuller Theological Seminary
Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding: An International Coalition,
Protestant House Church Network, Istanbul Turkey
The Christian Century.
The Evangelical Alliance Mission, Wheaton, IL
World Evangelical Alliance
Evangelicals for Human Rights
Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL
Missional International Church Network
Regent College, Vancouver, Canada
Evangelical Fellowship of Asia
Over 300 evangelical organizations or individuals have signed this open letter in response to the Muslim partnership. They have signed an acknowledgment that they have thankfully received and have agreed to the conditions set fort to move ahead in the unity between the religions. Some of those conditions are to deny the divinity of Christ, deny He is God’s Son and to deny that salvation is in Jesus Christ alone. These are the trainers and most influential leaders in Christendom today. By their own words and endorsements they have agreed to cast aside the fundamentals of the Christian faith and will divorce themselves from and even fight against those who refuse to change. If you are not serious about your faith, you should heed the words of Jesus in John 9:
4 “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.
Night is coming when the door will be closed and the culture will no longer tolerate those who truly hold to Jesus Christ and the word of God. Not only are we threatened by the world, but our primary threat at this time comes from within Christianity. Our sleeping congregations do not even recognize the storm that is already on the horizon.
We were given our vision at the birth of the New Testament church. Nothing should take our eyes off this vision for it is grounded in the perfect will of God as stated in Romans 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The plan of God and the vision of Jesus Christ is already perfect. If you add to or take away from perfection, it is no longer perfect. Do not be afraid to be called a traditionalist for any who desire to live godly and hold to the traditions handed down from Christ and the apostles will be mocked. Consider this quote from Rick Warren posted at pastors.com :
I’m saying some people are going to have to die or leave. Moses had to wander around the desert for 40 years while God killed off a million people before he let them go into the Promised Land. That may be brutally blunt, but it’s true. There may be people in your church who love God sincerely, but who will never, ever change.
Since Jesus stated that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, how can Warren condemn those who love God sincerely? In the new vision, following the vision is more important than the commandments that Jesus said is the first commandment we must strive for in order to fulfill the law (Matthew 22:40). Strive to be one of those people for those are the ones who hear only the voice of the Good Shepherd. Those who died in the desert were not those who refused to change, but those who did not believe the word of God. Consider 2 Thessalonians 2:
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.
This command is not referring to the type of church hymns or man-made denominational traditions that often become the objects of false worship. This command is referring to the scriptural truths that were handed down to the church. We think of traditions as our order of service, but this is not the case at all. There is nothing wrong with trying to reach out to our communities and even having programs sponsored by the church. The problem only occurs when we take our eyes off of the vision given to us as individuals and the church as a whole. Look again at the vision and mission of the church found in Matthew 28:19-20
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
If you can bring an activity into the church without being distracted from this mission, scripturally this is permissible. There are many die-hard, fundamental, traditional churches that have lost sight of this scripture and have also succumbed to the belief that the pastor is the good shepherd. If you seek to fulfill this commission, you will be in God’s will regardless of your local traditions, style of music or other influences within the church. It is impossible to obey all things commanded and go astray. As long as Jesus’ commandment stays within the sights of the church or Christian, other things will be useful for ministry. It is when you have to turn away from the word of God and His commandments in order to fulfill your vision that you cease from being a follower of Christ and begin to be a follower of your man-made ministry or religion. Many claim to be ‘Christ followers’ but do not obey the word. Jesus made it clear that we can only abide in Him if we keep His word.
The pastor must always realize that he is a sheep of the Lord’s pasture and so is the flock. Those who try to make the flock follow them or their vision fall into rebellion against Christ. These cease from being overseers and have knowingly or unknowingly made themselves rivals committing mutiny against Christ. Since every knee will bow before Christ, it is a foolish decision to rebel against the Lord. Ignorance of the Bible only shows that we have abandoned the great commission for part of obeying all that is commanded is to study to show yourself approved. All of God’s commandments must be obeyed or we are disobedient.
The false shepherd who refuses to follow Christ and seeks to force the sheep into his pasture is in sin and will be judged. To fall into sin affects the individual, but to attempt to turn others away from the commandments of God carries a harsh judgment. 2 Peter 2 describes the severe consequences to those who draw others away from the truth. When the sheep refuse to be led away from Christ, the false shepherd will attempt to devour and scatter them. We have already viewed some of the New Testament scriptures, now look at this passage in Jeremiah 23:1-2
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD. 2 Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the LORD.
God has allowed these wicked men to rise to power to test men to see if they will hold to His word (Deut 13:3) and to fulfill the prophecy foretold in His word. Even though God puts the wicked in power (see Romans 9:17, Romans 13:1, John 13:18, John 17:12, and Acts 1:16), the time will come when He will hold them accountable for their sin against His people. God will use each person to fulfill His will. The sinner will be used according to their heart and those who submit will be used for His victorious work. God does not force sinners into rebellion but He does put His purposes into their hearts (Revelation 17:12-17). The Bible warns that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. We do not want to stand against the Lord and force ourselves into His wrath. No where is the pastor told to make the sheep his own. Consider Jesus’ instruction to the apostle Peter in John 21:
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
Jesus addressed this question and answer to Peter three times but I have only included the end of the passage. Notice that Jesus said, ‘feed My sheep’. When giving instructions to the overseers of the church, God states that we are to ‘shepherd the flock of God’. When a pastor claims that the sheep are his, he has fallen into the condemnation of the false shepherd who attempts to draw disciples after himself. While many do this unknowingly because this is what the leadership training teaches, they are still without excuse for we are commanded to study the word and lead by example. If a pastor does not know the word, he has already failed in his calling. Look again at Acts 20:28-30
28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Since vision casting is the belief that a pastor comes up with his own vision and tenaciously enforces that vision as he calls the church to follow him, isn’t this exactly what the Bible warns against. The vision caster is attempting to draw away disciples after themselves as they imagine their own vision and then formulate a church plan to follow their own vision. In most churches, when the follower of Jesus Christ cannot follow the false vision, the pastor has been conditioned to look at that person as rebellious against the church. In reality the Christian should be able to follow Christ and the church should be going in the same direction, but when the vision comes from the pastor, a conflict between the two is almost always inevitable.
The next time a pastor or a leader in the church growth ideology says that a pastor is the one who provides the vision for the church, ask which scripture supports this concept. You can search the entire Bible, but you will not find one scripture that supports this belief. You will find many scriptures that refute it. The closest reference you will find is the misused scripture of Proverbs 29:18
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
This is one of the rare times when the seeker sensitive churches will acknowledge the KJV. Even so, the question we must ask is, how do you bridge the gap between no vision (revelation of truth) and the belief that the vision comes from a church leader? If they were truly trying to follow this passage of scripture, why don’t they acknowledge what is written in the second half of the verse? They zero in on the word ‘vision’, but they ignore the point of this verse. The message of this passage is: where there is no vision (literally divine communication or revelation of God’s word), the people fall away but those who keep the law (God’s word) will be happy. The church growth movements have rewritten this verse to mean: where there is no vision, the people perish but the pastor who casts his own vision will be successful. This is a great error.
The leaders of the new paradigm realize that the Bible does not support their vision and they are dependent on the ignorance of the word among God’s people. That is why they devalue doctrine. If you listen to them preach, they will say things like “it is important to study the Bible”, but then they follow up by teaching that doctrine is not important. Why would anyone want to take their valuable time to study the Bible to learn doctrine that has no value? This mixed message gives them the ability to squelch criticism by claiming that they teach people to study while at the same time undermining any reason why the average member would want to study the Bible. This is followed up by saying that to take the Bible literally is damaging, causes people to become mean-spirited or is evidence that the person is irrational as we saw from leaders quoted earlier in this study. When you tell people that taking the Bible literally and as the final authority is idolatry as Brennan Manning, J.P. Moreland and other evangelical leaders have stated, you have only reinforced apathy or even rejection toward the scriptures. The new church movements devalue the Bible while exalting their own visions. The erroneous conclusion that must be drawn when you put all this together is that the Bible is not trustworthy but we should trust the pastor who claims to have a vision given by God.
In the passage above in Proverbs, the vision is the focus on the law – or commandments of God. This agrees completely with Jesus’ great commission. The great commission of Jesus Christ is the vision and that vision is to reach the people with the gospel and to teach them to obey all that has been commanded. Or as Proverbs states: he that keeps the law (obeys the commandments), happy is he. Man is not called to follow his own vision, but to follow Christ and the vision He gave to the church in the scriptures.
The vision of Christ must always be the focus of the church and the sheep of His pasture. Tools and resources can be good as long as they do not take our sights off the vision God has given in His word. We can determine if a tool is God focused by where our focus lies. As long as our sights remain on the vision of Christ’s commission, we can utilize different methods and programs. If our sights which are focused on the vision of Christ moves to follow a program or vision, the program is not of God. If you have to compromise any of God’s commandments or compromise obedience in any way, it is not of God.
God has indeed ordained authority within the church but that authority is based on Ephesians 4:11-16
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
The purpose of church leadership is to equip the saints for ministry so that they understand doctrine and gain unity by growing into the head – Jesus Christ. When someone tries to become the head or equip the saints to fulfill the vision that came from their own heart, the church is no longer growing into the true Head. Any who refuse to detach from Christ to follow a new head will draw hostility. Pastors deceived by these movements do not like sheep that are not dependent on the pastor and will not turn and look to him as their shepherd. Biblical church authority is ordained by God but must remain within God’s design. God appoints pastors and elders in the church to oversee and insure that the church stays focused on its true vision given by Jesus Christ. This is why the Bible gives very specific requirements for church leaders (see Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3).
If a leader shows that he is filled and led by the Holy Spirit and has faithfulness to the word, he will have the right heart to lead the congregation of God’s flock in the way God has instructed. Without a biblical foundation and the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit (which shows the individual is walking in the truth and empowered by God to keep His word), there can be no true, God ordained leadership in the church. If the church is not following God, the church is not of God but is in rebellion against Him. The purpose of the overseer is to insure the church is following the word of God and insures the ways of God are kept by the church. A godly man put into authority will point to Christ and put the sheep in constant remembrance of the word of God as he points them to the vision given by the head of the church – Jesus Christ. Follow the true vision given by Jesus Christ and stay in the word. If you prayerfully seek God through the word and keep it, you cannot be deceived. In closing, look at John 14:21-24
21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
The Bible clearly says that Christ is not manifested to the world, but is manifested to those who keep the word. God only reveals Himself to those who know and keep the word of God found in our Holy Bible. Keep the word and hold to the Head – Jesus Christ.