Magazine July 2017


Emphasis: Do Not Be Deceived -Paul Alberts
Worship: Under His Wings -Curt Darling
Feature: Aquarius: An Age Of Peace And Love -Roger Penney
Feature: Current Events And The New Age Movement -Alfred Bouter
Issues: Are You An Idol Worshiper? -Timothy P. Hadley
Uplook: The Millennium -Brian Reynolds
YouAsked: People make wide claims of their experience in heaven near death. What should we believe? -Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
Response: Responses
Discover: Discover Questions -Alan Groth
Family: Using The Sword Of The Spirit -Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
Overview: Matthew -Leslie M. Grant
GoodNews: Drop Your Bucket!
Full Magazine PDF: Magazine PDF

“Drop Your Bucket!”

Many years ago a sailing ship set out from Europe toward a South American port. Due to the misfortune of storms and other difficulties, the voyage was prolonged to the point that the ship’s water supply was running low. In spite of careful conservation, the crew eventually found themselves with no drinking water.

A few days later as they were in a quiet sea under suffocating heat they were overjoyed and greatly relieved to encounter another ship. As they approached they raised their message flags announcing their desperate situation: “We are dying for lack of water!”

The crew was shocked at the response, which appeared to mock their plight: “The water is all around you; drop your bucket!” They had no idea that in that moment they were crossing the powerful ocean current of the Amazon; all around them was sweet, fresh water, even though they were far from land. You see, the Amazon River sends so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that it makes several miles of the ocean completely drinkable.

Like the crew without water, perhaps you find yourself in a similar, difficult situation – without any hope. You may exclaim, “What must I do to be saved?” – not realizing that the current of God’s love flows powerfully in the ocean of your life all around you. Drop your bucket! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31 NKJV ).

“‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:8-9).

It is a simple thing, and very much within your reach. The Lord has made it all possible to you. He paid the very high price for your sins on the cross in order that you might quench your burning thirst for life and cancel your eternal death. In the words of the Bible that you just read is the key to your eternal blessing and joy. Read them again, aloud.

You may never have had so near to you the opportunity for salvation. Avail yourself of God’s promise and drink to the full now!

“Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn. 4:14).

“Jesus said, ‘… he who believes in Me shall never thirst’” (6:35).

“He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb [Jesus] … Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:1,17).

If you really want to, you can pray something like this: “Lord Jesus, I confess that you are Lord and that you took the punishment for my sins. I believe with all my heart that God raised you from the dead. Please save me. Thank you for doing this for me. Amen.” We can tell you more.


By Leslie M. Grant

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” –Matthew 11:29-30 NKJV

Matthew, meaning “gift of Jehovah,” the first book of the New Testament, is written from a Jewish point of view and preserves continuity with the Old Testament. It presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the long sought Messiah of Israel, their King. His genealogy, which is that of Joseph, is traced to David and Abraham, and it establishes Christ’s official title to the throne of David.

Matthew is the only book of Scripture that uses the phrase “the kingdom of heaven.” This shows us that, while under the law of Moses, the authority of the kingdom of Jehovah had been committed to the Jews. Jerusalem had been its headquarters, but because of Israel’s utter failure God was revoking this, headquartering His kingdom now in heaven. He had once spoken on earth among the Jews; now He was speaking from heaven. For this reason the book of Matthew often speaks of the kingdom of God as “the kingdom of heaven.” It marks a most striking and complete change in the dispensational ways of God, for the Christ, the true King, has come and has returned to heaven.

Consistent with this, Matthew insisted on thorough subjection and obedience to the sovereign authority of the Lord Jesus – not to law, but to One higher than law. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me.” Emphasis therefore is placed on works of faith because authority (not grace, as in Luke) is Matthew’s great subject. How good if such lessons implant themselves deeply in our hearts.

Using The Sword Of The Spirit

By Eugene P Vedder, Jr. (adapted from the “Prayer Calendar,” November 2015)

It has often been pointed out that the sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon on the list of the pieces of the Christian’s armor given us in Ephesians 6. In ancient times armies had many different weapons, a number of which are mentioned in the Bible. A sword, like a bayonet today, could be used at close range for both defense and offense. Likewise, God’s Word is our weapon against the enemy.

How should we use God’s Word against the enemy? God’s Word is not meant to be used as a club for the flesh. It goes without saying that we should not use our Bibles to physically hit someone. Swords are seldom used in warfare today, but fencing is still a skilled sport in the Olympics and otherwise. Using God’s Word against the enemy of our souls is not a light matter. It involves being able to use the right specific texts against our foe. God wants us to know His Word and use it with skill, but not with mere human skill. The Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible is willing and desires to aid us in how we use it.

As always, the Lord Jesus is our great example here. After His baptism He spent 40 days without food in the wilderness tempted by the Devil. Three of the temptations are recorded for us in both Matthew and Luke.

To resist Satan, our Lord, who repeatedly refers to Himself as “the Son of Man,” did not make use of His divine power as Son of God. Rather, He was here as the dependent Man, the Holy One of God, not doing His own will. According to Isaiah 50:4, He was guided by God the Father’s direction morning by morning in every word and deed. He countered each temptation by quoting a verse of Scripture refuting that temptation. He was thoroughly acquainted with even what we might think of as obscure Scripture passages. “It is written” was how He warded off every thrust of the enemy.

As we study the Acts and Epistles we find the apostles often quoting from the Old Testament in their messages and writings. Those who know Greek tell us that some of these quotations are from the Septuagint, a translation into Greek of the Old Testament that had been made more than 200 years earlier. Other quotations are very literal translations from the Hebrew, and some are very free renderings of or allusions to the passage referred to in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles in all that they said or wrote. We appreciate too that the Holy Spirit led the New Testament writers, thereby providing us with an absolutely accurate record of the apostles’ teaching.

We also know, but often do not bear in mind, that in scriptural times every copy of any portion of God’s Word was written by hand. Scrolls were bulky and costly, and very few people would have possessed their own copies of such books. Printing was not invented until the mid-1400’s. We are enormously blessed to have in our language personal copies of the Bible that we can read and carry with us wherever we go! We can even store the entire Bible on a cell phone.

In the days of the Lord and His apostles many people were illiterate, a problem that even today has not been completely overcome. To be able to use the sword of the Spirit meant that a person had paid careful attention when hearing the Word read, had taken it in, digested it and, in all likelihood, memorized portions of it. Likewise we are to hide God’s Word in our hearts, the center of our beings. This is more than just having an intellectual knowledge of the Word.

Memorization is something that many of our educational systems no longer promote. We can understand this in terms of the things of this world. All sorts of information is readily available to us with a few clicks of the fingers on the internet. God’s Word, however, is not just for the mind.

Technology has made it easy to count how many times a word or phrase occurs in the Bible or in a portion of it, whether in our own language or in the original Hebrew or Greek in which God’s Word was written. But what does this mean to our heart? How do we grow in our appreciation of the preciousness of the Lord Jesus or of the privilege of being a member of the body of Christ? How do we grow in our longing to please Him and to make Him known? Such joys and desires are matters of the heart rather than merely of the mind!

One way we give assent to the value of memorization is by having our children learn verses and recite them in Sunday School. Yet we tend to be rather half-hearted in this. Often we commend a child who stumbles through or even reads a single verse that he began to learn a few minutes earlier, and which he will in all likelihood forget before the end of the day. We seldom explain the meanings of words and concepts which the child does not understand, and we most often expect the verses to be memorized in an antiquated translation to which children have difficulty relating. We would help our children and new Christians better to hide God’s Word in their hearts if they would be taught the meanings of the verses they learn. In Nehemiah’s day God’s earthly people rejoiced “because they had understood the words that were declared unto them” (Neh. 8:12), not simply because they had been at a big, unusually important meeting. Following this meeting they were interested in learning more of what God had to say to them!

Hiding God’s Word in our hearts is more than merely memorizing Scripture. God has given most of our children excellent minds. It is amazing how much they can take in and how well they can learn! God gives them credit for wanting to learn too, and He tells parents to answer their questions. One of our biggest mistakes in teaching our children the Word is to ask school age children to learn only one verse a week. Most are capable of learning longer passages, far more than we usually expect them to do. It pays to take time to answer their questions, encourage and challenge them to learn to use and become proficient in the use of the sword of the Spirit. How greatly we can help them by taking time to read God’s Word to them and with them, teaching them to understand what God says and helping them to hide these things in their hearts. We too will be helped as we help them! God’s Word is a rich mine of treasure. There is no limit to how much we can enjoy it and be benefited by seeking to understand and hide it in our hearts, making it part of our inmost being.

By Eugene P Vedder, Jr. (adapted from the “Prayer Calendar,” November 2015)


Thanks for sending bulk copies of the magazine to our book room in Tenali. We are personally blessed through the magazine while we pass copies out to other believers in Bombay. – India

Thank you so much for all the good work you have been doing in the vineyard of our Lord. Thank you for all the precious articles you have been writing to win souls for Him and strengthen those who are already in His hands. – Germany

I just want to testify that your magazines are like spiritual medication to my Christian life. Whenever I read your articles I feel like a dose of medication has been administered on me. As a result, I gain new insight into the major topic discussed, which prompts me to share the new lessons with the students in my class. I always look forward to receiving the next edition. – Nigeria

You continue to produce an excellent magazine. It is not only God centered, it is easy to understand – yet with deep, rich truths. – USA

I am so glad and blessed to receive your magazine. I translate some topics and make summaries to share with my brothers and sisters. You are a torch of the Truth in a world so filled with lies. I pray that you might be blessed and provided for in every aspect, spiritually and materially. – Cuba

QUESTION: People make wide claims of their experience in heaven when near death. Considering 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, what should we believe? “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows – how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” –2 Corinthians 12:2-4 NKJV

ANSWER: We do well not to be deceived by claims of near-death experiences made outside of the Word of God. When we read this Scripture passage in its setting we see how carefully the apostle speaks of this near-death or after-death experience. Going back to the previous chapter we find Paul defending his ministry against the attacks of “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (11:13) who were seeking to discredit him and his ministry. He does not want to boast about himself, but led by the Holy Spirit, he spoke about what he had suffered for the Lord’s sake up to that point – a list of sufferings at which we marvel.

Paul went on to say, “If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity” (v.30). He spoke first of the humiliation of having had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the wall of Damascus to escape arrest. Then he came to the subject of visions and revelations of the Lord. He spoke very carefully, referring to himself simply as “a man in Christ.” Fourteen years earlier, probably at Lystra where he had been stoned (v.25; Acts 14:8-20), he had had the marvelous experience mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12. He could not say whether he had been in the body or out of the body – God knew; but this man in Christ had been caught up to the third heaven – the abode, or dwelling place, of God. There he “heard unspeakable things said which it is not allowed to man to utter” (JND).

Unlike those who today claim to have had wonderful near-death experiences, we do not find the apostle Paul mentioning his experience until 14 years later. Contrary to such claimants, what this “man in Christ” heard he was neither able nor was he allowed to express in words. In fact, to keep him from being puffed up by his experiences, he says he was given “a thorn in the flesh” to buffet him (v.7). This was evidently a painful humbling physical ailment or weakness of some kind, the nature of which is not told us. It was from Satan, but Satan can only go as far as God permits him to go against God’s people. It may well have been one of the things others pointed to as they attacked Paul, seeking to belittle him.

Paul wrote that he had prayed three times, pleading with the Lord that it might depart from him. The Lord did not take the problem away. Instead He had told His suffering servant, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (v.9 NKJV). This the apostle found precious. As a result he said he would gladly boast in his infirmities that the power of Christ would rest upon him. He went on to say, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (v.10).

Paul’s experience when caught up to the third heaven was not a cause for boastfulness on his part. What he experienced there he was not able or allowed to speak about. Has God changed His ways or His principles since then? Should we now accept the claims of those who profess to have made beautiful near-death experiences? Are they believers? We cannot deny that God is able to give His children wonderful experiences, but for what purpose: to boast, make money, write books about heaven or surpass the apostle Paul?

In these chapters in 2 Corinthians Paul pointed out that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light and that Satan’s servants similarly try to pass as ministers of righteousness. When unsaved people make claims about their near-death experiences, these experiences are usually presented as wonderful scenes of light, beauty and serenity. God’s Word does not speak of such scenes as the future of the unsaved. These experiences doubtless come from another source altogether, from the father of lies who transforms himself into an angel of light.

We have little understanding of how great his power of deception is, but God’s Word makes plain that Satan’s power surpasses our understanding. Our Lord Jesus defeated the Devil at Calvary, but this Evil One still has power in this world. Only God can set the limits beyond which he cannot go. Let’s remember too that God forbade His earthly people Israel to have anything to do with the realm of spirits. Such things are dangerous for Christians as well.

Again, Paul did not seek to capitalize on his experience. He was humbled by it and the consequences which God saw necessary to keep him from prideful exaltation thereafter. But he also gained the precious experience of learning that God’s strength was made perfect in his weakness. God has placed this experience of the apostle Paul in His Word that we might learn from it and be kept from getting occupied with satanic deceptions – no matter how alluring they may appear to be.

Answered by Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.

The Millennium

By Brian Reynolds

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection … they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” —Revelation 20:6 NKJV

It is a curious fact that there are many Christians who adamantly oppose the thought that there will be such a thing as a millennial reign of Christ over the earth. But the Holy Scriptures are unmistakably clear as to both the certainty and the character of the future kingdom of Christ.

The word “millennium” comes from the Latin and simply means “a thousand years.” Six times in Revelation 20 we find a period of time described as “a thousand years” (vv.2-7). This age follows the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ but precedes the “new heaven” and “new earth” (21:1-4). The “thousand years” is to be understood as a literal period of time. We have no divine warrant to spiritualize it into something other than an actual age of 1,000 years.

There are various terms that the Bible uses to describe the coming millennium. The Epistle of Hebrews calls it the “world to come” (Heb. 2:5). In several passages it is simply called “the kingdom” (Acts 1:6; Lk. 19:11). The Lord said the righteous will shine forth in “the kingdom of their Father” (Mt. 13:43) and called it “the regeneration” (19:28). Peter called it “the times of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21). Paul described it as “the glorious liberty”1 (Rom. 8:21) and also as “the dispensation of the fullness of the times” (Eph. 1:10). In both Testaments it is called, “the day of the LORD” (Joel 2:1; compare with 1 Th. 5:2).

The millennium will be a blessed time in which believers “shall reign” with Christ (Rev. 20:6). The promise to believers is that we are to have “power over the nations” (2:26 KJV) and we will sit with Christ on His throne (3:21). Today is training time, but then it will be reigning time!

The Millennial Kingdom Will Not Happen Until After The Second Coming Of Christ
“Because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.” —Luke 19:11 NKJV

As the Lord Jesus neared Jerusalem, His disciples were in great anticipation. They sensed something “big” was about to take place: Was the Lord Jesus about to restore the kingdom to Israel and deliver them from the yoke of Gentile rule (24:21)? They were already arguing among themselves which of them should “be greatest” in the coming kingdom (22:24)! In response the Lord told them a parable of a man going into “a far country” to receive “a kingdom” (19:12), meaning that a visible millennial kingdom on earth would not happen any time soon.

Only a few days prior to this the Lord had told the Pharisees that the kingdom of God was not going to come “with observation” (17:20). It would come, rather, in a more “invisible” form because the King would be rejected on earth and return to heaven; thus the kingdom in Matthew is called the “kingdom of the heavens” (Mt. 13:11 JND). Christ’s kingdom will appear in visible display and power, but only in the “times or seasons” that the Father has determined (Acts 1:6-7 NKJV).

Although the millennial kingdom will not come with “observation” until a future time, this does not mean that the kingdom of God is irrelevant for us today. God has delivered us from Satan’s power and “conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). We were conveyed or translated into this kingdom when we were saved! The “kingdom of the Son of His love” continues during the period that the Son sits upon the Father’s throne (Rev. 3:21). Although not yet visible in display to the world, the “kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). It now is the believer’s privilege and challenge to walk in the good of these things by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Restoration Of All Things
“Jesus Christ … whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began.” —Acts 3:20-21

Heaven has received the Lord Jesus, and He is seated at God’s right hand until the time comes when His enemies are “made His footstool” (Heb. 10:12-13). Then, at His second coming2 He will introduce the “times of refreshing” which the prophets spoke of since time began (Acts 3:19). This is where Peter called this coming age “the times of restoration of all things” (3:21). It will be a restoration, literally meaning “to set in order again,” because it will be an age of healing and renewal for the earth.

Creation itself looks forward to that day of deliverance, for it presently “groans and labors with birth pangs” (Rom. 8:22). There will be remarkable changes in the physical creation when this world experiences deliverance from much of its suffering and is brought into “the glorious liberty” (v.21).

Our passage in Acts 3 teaches that all the prophets have spoken of the coming millennial age and its effects on men, the nations and the animal kingdom. But the books of Ezekiel and Isaiah give the most detailed portrait of that glorious day. Ezekiel tells of waters issuing forth from the millennial temple (Ezek. 47:1-11). These healing waters divide into two rivers, one eastward into the Dead Sea and the other westward into the Mediterranean, and ultimately to the world’s oceans (see Zech. 14:8-9). The waters will bring healing and recovery to the fish stocks of the salty, lifeless Dead Sea as well as to the oceans of the world decimated during the Tribulation (Rev. 8:9, 16:3). Isaiah declares, “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad … and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (Isa. 35:1-2). Healing, restoration and life will characterize the millennial earth. What a relief for this sad world!

Peace On The Earth
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” —Isaiah 2:4

In a park situated on the east side of the United Nations Headquarters in New York is a stone monument donated in 1959 by the former Soviet Union. Carved into the monument are the words, “Let us beat swords into plowshares.” This quotation is based on the great prophecy of Isaiah 2.

However, it will not be the United Nations or any other institution of man that will bring peace to our world. The prophecy makes it very clear that this will “come to pass in the latter days” (v.2), only after the glory and majesty of the Lord humbles “the lofty looks of man” in the “day of the Lord” (vv.10-12). The Prince of Peace will judge the nations at His coming in glory first, and then He will establish His glorious kingdom, resulting in the end of all war. Families will never again have to grieve the loss of their sons, nor will innocent civilians have to face the horrors and suffering of war in their lands.

Not only will there be a cessation of war, but the armaments of war will be changed for the production of food. The King, Jesus of Nazareth, will completely dismantle the world’s military industrial complex (see Ps. 46:9). The prophecy states that the nations will not “learn war anymore.” How much of man’s time, energy, wealth and science are spent on weapons research and production – not to mention the maintaining of armies and waging wars. The world spends US$1.6 trillion per year on military budgets. This money is more than enough to feed the world’s poor! The focus will be turned from war to agriculture in the millennium. The true Psalmist has announced that “there shall be abundance of grain in the earth” (72:16) A New Heaven And New Earth
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” —Revelation 21:1

The apostle John saw a “new heaven and a new earth” that will come at the end of the millennium. This eternal state is an entirely new creation, whereas the millennium is a renewal or restoration of the first creation. It is important to see this distinction because some deny that there is a millennial reign of Christ and confuse the prophecies that speak of it with the new heaven and new earth.

The millennium will be a time period in which righteousness “shall reign” (Isa. 32:1; Ps. 72:7). Sin and evil will still exist, but they will be greatly restrained and quickly judged (101:8). The righteous reign of Messiah will extend “from the river unto the ends of the earth” (72:8). But in the eternal state, or “the day of God,” righteousness will “dwell” because sin and evil will be entirely eradicated (2 Pet. 3:12-13). There will be no need for righteousness to “reign” because there will be no need for government as such. It will be God’s eternal Sabbath when sorrow, crying, pain and death will no longer exist (Rev. 21:3-4).

In the millennium death will occur, although it will be rare (Isa. 65:20). But at the end of the 1,000 years “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and all the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10; consider Rev. 21:1), then will come the new creation, and God shall be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).

The millennium will be for the vindication of God’s character, which has been maligned in the present evil age. But the eternal state will be for the satisfaction of His nature in which the glorified saints of all the ages will dwell with Him, and He with them (Rev. 21:3). They shall “be His people” and He “their God” forever! ENDNOTES
1. Or “the liberty of the glory” (JND).
2. First comes the rapture of the church which will be followed by seven years of “great tribulation”; then will come Christ’s appearing in glory.

Under Christ’s reign there will be a righteous government, lacking for so long in this world (Isa. 11:3-5). Creation will be set free, not groaning anymore (Rom. 8:19-22). The wolf and the lamb will dwell together (Isa. 11:6-8). The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord (v.9). Satan will be bound in the abyss (Rev. 20:1-2), unable to seduce men. Finally, the Prince of Peace will reign (Isa. 9:6). His reign will be a literal one on this earth with Israel re-gathered, fulfilling prophecy (Jer. 31:10, 32:37; Isa. 11, 24:23). These promises are not fulfilled in a spiritual way in the Church (see Acts 3:19-21; Rom. 8:19-23; 1 Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20; Phil. 2:9-11). Written after Pentecost, these passages show that this future blessing is still to come.
During His reign:
• Christ will be honored and vindicated in the scene where He was rejected (Isa. 52:14-15; Phil. 2:8-11).
• God’s plan with this earth will be fulfilled, namely that a man should have dominion over creation (Gen. 1:28). Man failed and creation was plunged into the greatest misery, but the true Son of Man will fill that place (Ps. 8:6-8).
• God will keep His promises to His people Israel to bring them back into the land from where they had been driven out and scattered, and that Messiah would reign over them there.

Are You An Idol Worshiper?

By Timothy P. Hadley

This may seem like a very strange question to ask believers, but it is a very important question for us to consider for ourselves. The aged apostle John ended his first letter by challenging us to “keep yourselves from idols” (1 Jn. 5:21 NKJV). Throughout this book John emphasized the tremendous privilege of having fellowship with God as our Father and His Son. John taught that fellowship is based on righteousness, love and truth. He outlined the conditions for fellowship and gave cautions to fellowship. This is followed by a description of the behavior that fellowship with God brings, showing us its characteristics and consequences.

So why did John end this letter with an exhortation to keep ourselves from idols? It is because idolatry is the enemy to fellowship!

Breaking It Down
The word “keep” in this exhortation expresses urgency and decisiveness, without any hesitation. It means to guard or defend. We are not to fool with false religion because of the serious damage it can do to our souls. Do not desert the reality of fellowship with the Father and His Son for an illusion. Anything or anyone that becomes a substitute for God is idolatry. Our hearts must be guarded!

First John 5:20 reminds us of Him who is true. He is the reason for a Christian life that is geniune. Because we have met the true God, through His Son Jesus Christ, we are in contact with reality. Our fellowship is with the God who is real. The word “real” speaks of an original or something authentic, rather than a copy or imitation. Jesus Christ is the true Light (Jn. 1:9), true Bread (6:32), true Vine (15:1) and Truth itself (14:6). He is the original!

What Is An Idol?
Expanding on what we have already said, an idol is any person, object or activity we give a higher priority in our life than our relationship with God. This of course can include a house, job, vehicle, pet and computer. Alcohol, drugs, immorality and other sins can be defined as idols. Things we view as good can also be idols, such as friendships and families. An idol can even be the work you do for the Lord if you lose sight of Him, being consumed by the work itself. Nothing should take His rightful place. Remember, God is a jealous God (Ex. 20:4-5; Dt. 4:25, 6:15, 32:21).

Jeremiah 44:2-6 says, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘You have seen all the calamity that I have brought on Jerusalem and on all the cities of Judah; and behold, this day they are a desolation, and no one dwells in them, because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke Me to anger, in that they went to burn incense and to serve other gods whom they did not know, they nor you nor your fathers. However I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, “Oh, do not do this abominable thing that I hate!” But they did not listen or incline their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense to other gods. So My fury and My anger were poured out and kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as it is this day.’”

Later, in Ezekiel 14:1-8, we find a group of elders whom God had cut off from speaking and making requests to Him because they had set up idols in their hearts. These elders, through the idols, had separated themselves from God. The idols were a stumbling block to themselves and others.

Not only does idolatry rob God of His place in our hearts, it involves the worship of demons (1 Cor. 10:20; Dt. 32:17). This problem is not limited to a specific people or group; it is a human issue – an issue of the heart! John Calvin once said, “The human heart is an idol factory.” Romans 1:21,25 declares, “… Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened … who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.”

Idols In The Human Heart
Let’s look at some idols that can establish a stronghold in the heart.

  • Pride. Isaiah 2:11 says, “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness [arrogance] of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.” Listen to Proverbs 16:5: “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; though they join forces, none will go unpunished.” Both James and Peter wrote: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5; see Prov. 3:34).
  • Lust or covetousness. The Lord Jesus reminded us that lust begins in the heart (Mt. 5:27-28). In Luke 12:15 He warned, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Paul wrote: “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph. 5:5).
  • Physical idols. As to these kind of idols, God was very clear: “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me” (Ex. 20:3-5).
  • Self. We live in a “me first” generation. However, the Lord Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt. 6:33). This world lives for self, thinking only of itself, but the Lord is to be our priority!
  • Entertainment. If the enemy can keep us entertained, keeping our minds off of Christ, he will. Entertainment is not necessarily wrong in itself, but we are told that “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17).
  • Traditions which become rules. The Lord addressed this while admonishing the Pharisees, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men – the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do … All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition … making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do” (Mk. 7:6-9,13).
  • Religion. Even religion can become an idol if Christ is left out of it by focusing more on the ritual and routines than on Him. The Lord Jesus emphasized this in Matthew 23:27-31, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.”
  • Hatred and bitterness. If we do not forgive, and we allow a matter to fester and consume us, the resulting feelings can become idols. This is why Paul said, “‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil … And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:26-27,30-32).
  • Fear and worry. The struggle about things that trouble us can also become an idol. Therefore we are encouraged to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
  • This world. John wrote: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15). If we live for this world, it can become an idol to us.

When giving instruction as to removing idols from our lives, Paul presented an infinitely great option: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:1-5).

We see a good example by the believers at Thessalonica when they were saved. They “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Th. 1:9-10). The object that they turned to was far greater than the object from which they turned away!

We ought to be just as troubled when we see idols in our lives as Paul was when “his spirit was provoked within him” as he saw that the city of Athens was given over to idols (Acts 17:16). Upon discovering and challenging the idols in our own hearts, we will need to be strong in the Spirit as Paul was in Ephesus (19:23-26). John Newton, the writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” also wrote: “If I may speak of my own experience, I find that to keep my eye simply on Christ as my peace and life is by far the hardest part of my calling … It seems easier to deny self in a thousand instances of outward conduct, than in its ceaseless endeavors to act as a principle of righteousness and power.”

How important it is for us to set apart the Lord God in our hearts (1 Pet. 3:15)!

Identifying Your Idols
David Powlison, in his book “Seeing With New Eyes,”* gave “12 Questions To Identify Your Idols.” They have helped me to search my heart and set the Lord apart. Here they are for your benefit:

  1. What do I worry about most?
  2. What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that I did not even want to live?
  3. What do I use to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?
  4. What do I do to cope? What are my release valves? What do I do to feel better?
  5. What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about?
  6. What makes me feel the most self-worth? Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?
  7. What do I lead with in conversations?
  8. Early on, what do I want to make sure that people know about me?
  9. What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?
  10. What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?
  11. What is my hope for the future?
  12. What do you blog, tweet or post the most about on social networks?

Idols In The Home
We have been mainly speaking about idols in the heart, but what about idols in the home? An old saying ties the two together: “Home is where the heart is!” The Bible mentions several people who possessed teraphim, or household idols. These were often kept with the thought that they brought blessing upon the home, but in the stories of Rachel and Michal they brought much grief!

Let’s look at the example of Jacob and Rachel. God instructed Jacob to leave the land of his father-in-law, Laban, and return to the land of his own fathers (Gen. 31:3). Jacob packed everything up and set out on the journey with his family, but Jacob did not know that his wife Rachel had secretly taken her father’s household idols (v.19). God had blessed Jacob and was preparing him for even greater things, however pagan idols had slipped into Jacob’s household.

We are not told why Rachel stole the household idols, but it would seem that Rachel continued to hold to superstitions and some pagan practices embraced by her father’s family. Today many Christians have difficulty letting go of non-Christian practices that exist as part of their family tradition. We have not turned our backs on God in the sense that we stopped worshiping Him or enjoying His favor, but we may have allowed idols in our homes. This should challenge the heart!

Michal, the wife of King David, also had a household god in her possession. At one point her father, Saul, sent men to kill David. Michal helped her husband escape through a window and then she took a large household idol and placed it in his bed. She disguised the image under a blanket to look like David (1 Sam. 19). This large idol was apparently already in her house, but no explanation for its presence there is given in Scripture.

In both cases the wife of a godly man continued to be influenced by pagan practices carried over from her father’s family. This shows that parents exhibit a powerful spiritual influence over their children, which often extends into later life.

Idols are not to be part of a Christian’s life in any form. Scripture is clear that there is only one God, and He alone is to be served. In Deuteronomy 7:26 God warned, “Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.”

During their many years in Egypt the Hebrews fell into idolatry. After leaving, a long time passed before they were delivered from it (Josh. 24:14; Ezek. 20:7). If you study the history of Israel you will see that the consequence of having idols was devastating.

A Lesson From Exodus
In Exodus 32 we find an incident that holds many important lessons for us today. In fact, the New Testament refers to it while exhorting us not to allow similar things to in our lives (1 Cor. 10:7,14).

Having already witnessed powerful signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea, the children of Israel were led to Mount Sinai by Moses. But when Moses went up the mountain to receive the Word of the LORD, the people asked Aaron to “make us gods” – apparently not realizing that the true God was present with them. Aaron collected gold from the people, fashioned a calf, built an altar to it and proclaimed a feast “to the LORD” (Ex. 32:5). He tried to mix worshiping Jehovah with idol worship!

When God told Moses about the sin the people were committing, he interceded for them, pleading for God’s mercy. Moses even stated that he was willing to die with them. Coming down from Mount Sinai, Moses had the authority and strength of a man who had been with God – and all Israel knew it. As he came near the camp, Moses broke the tablets of stone containing the law. He then destroyed the calf by grinding the idol into powder and putting it in the brook that flowed from the mountain. The people were then made to drink the water (Ex. 32:15-20; Dt. 9:12-21). Reasons for this action by Moses in judgment include:

  • To show that the so-called god was nothing and could be destroyed easily,
  • To completely obliterate this idol,
  • To make the people pay an immediate consequence of their sin, and
  • To make the gold of the idol absolutely unusable.

When we look over Exodus 32 we find at least four lessons as to why we might fall into idolatry. Knowing these things may help to keep us from idols. We can fall into idolatry when:

  • We are impatient with God. Sometimes we don’t want to wait, depend on and trust God. Leaning on our own understanding often leads us to produce idols in our lives because we are not enjoying or relying on His fellowship while we wait.
  • We do what is popular instead of what is right before the Lord. Conforming to this world will lead us to produce idols in our lives. This is why Paul urged us to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 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” (Rom. 12:1-2).
  • We invent our own image of God. We sometimes begin to create God in our image or according to our own imagination rather than the way the Word of God presents Him. This is why it is so important to be in the Word of God to learn more of who He is and what He is like!
  • We fail to remember just how faithful God has always been.

If we are unfaithful in our love and allegiance to Christ we will be made to “drink bitter water” like women who were thought to be unfaithful had to do (Num. 5:17,24). What a sad time.

What will draw our hearts away from the idols of this life? It is gazing on the beauties and greatness of the One who loved us and gave Himself for us (Gal. 2:20).

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace.” —Helen Howarth Lemmel (1863-1961)

May our hearts be drawn to Him – to Him alone! ENDNOTE
* Published by P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg NJ, 2003.

Current Events And The New Age Movement

By Alfred Bouter

The so-called new age movement is very old – its beginnings are found in the garden of Eden. There the serpent seduced Eve (Gen. 3:1-6), and Adam became disobedient having transgressed God’s command (Rom. 5:14). More than 4,000 years later the apostle Paul warned the recently saved believers in Corinth to be careful so they would not be deceived by the serpent and his tactics or wiles of subtle deception (2 Cor. 11:2-4). Today this warning is more relevant than ever, for the enemy continues to attack in many different ways.

We thank the Lord that the Devil cannot undo the salvation we have as believers. Despite this truth, the Evil One tries to capture and control us, seeking to prevent us from living for Christ in this world. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that we have the right attitude, in honest self-judgment, and make sure that we do not walk according to the flesh even though we still walk in the flesh (2 Cor. 10:3). We should be in tune with God, relying on Him and His Word in true obedience because of love for Him.

Instead of trusting self, following outward appearance, or pleasing man or self, we should follow Christ’s example and not give any room to the Devil. All of Satan’s wiles and efforts failed when he attacked the Lord Jesus (Mt. 4:1-11), and we learn from Him as we take His yoke upon us (11:29). That is why it is so important for us to cast down wrong things; even though they seem to be right, they are in reality human strongholds of thought, opinion and prejudice. For this purpose we need to make everything, including ourselves, subject to the obedience of Christ. Everything needs to be tested by that measuring stick. Rather than following human influence, position or honor, we must obey Him and Him alone (2 Cor. 10:4-5). That is why we need to put on and keep on the full armor of God (consider Eph. 6:10-20).

A Multi-Faced System
The new age movement has many different names, concepts and ideas. They are linked loosely together in apparent harmony, yet sometimes they oppose each other. At the same time all these forms have some things in common. It is like an octopus with many tentacles: if one tentacle doesn’t get you, another will try. Likewise, this dangerous movement has numerous faces, attracting a lot of people in the western world in many different ways.

One such way is yoga. The “2016 Yoga In America Study” conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance shows that the number of people practicing yoga in the United States has increased to more than 36 million, up from 20.4 million in 2012. These people spend US$16 billion per year on yoga classes, clothing, equipment and accessories. However there are other matters related to the new age practice of yoga of great concern.

Some Quotes From A Few Experts
Caryl Matrisciana was involved in yoga, but the Lord in His grace liberated her from its yoke. She described the dangers of yoga in this manner: To experience the stilling or emptying of the mind, yoga practitioners must first master the physical postures and movements of yoga meditation. The physical exercises, themselves a religious Hindu ritual, are designed to bring a person into contact with spiritual beings.

Speaking of her yoga sessions, Cindy Senarighi said she noticed she was “in the presence of God in a way that I had never been before. The more I practiced, the more I experienced God’s presence.”1 Yoga positions facilitate altered states of mind so one may experience a mystical presence. But does yoga facilitate God’s presence? Can the use of a mantra or yoga meditation really bring Christ into our lives? George Alexander, the author of Yoga, The Truth Behind The Posture, answers this important question: “You cannot force Jesus to come into your life. But [a] mantra is something that … force[s] a spirit to come into your life. [The] Bible very clearly teaches you cannot force the Spirit of God to come into your life by just repeating His name.”2

Scripture shows that the presence of God cannot be manipulated by man’s desire for His presence. One is granted access to the biblical God only through Jesus Christ His Son, who declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (Jn. 14:6 KJV). A born-again Christian has a personal connection with God because of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus has promised to abide with us as we abide in Him, through His grace and the power of His Spirit. There are no body movements or special positions necessary to bring one into communion with God’s Spirit. Jesus Christ made the only possible connection to God.

Demonic Influences
Satan’s servants, however, easily make contact with individuals using visualization, imaging techniques, mantras and so forth. In people’s minds, demons are able to make themselves appear as benevolent or superior beings – even as Jesus Christ Himself. Through Eastern meditation techniques, many mistake evil spirits appearing as Jesus for the actual Lord Jesus Christ. Yet the real Jesus is the only way to God the Father – no one else can also be a way to God: not Mary, an angel, a spirit claiming to be Jesus, nor any other being.

God is not deceived by appearances, and putting Christian labels on conjuring techniques does not change His mind about them. No matter what conjures up a spirit, it is always an offense to Him and sin for mankind. This includes ignorantly conjuring up a spirit by the “Kundalini” energy “released” by yoga exercises. Deliberately conjuring up spirit guides through meditation, the silence, or contemplative prayer is all part of enchantment or divination – “discovering things secret by the aid of superior beings, or other than human means.”3 God clearly forbids this kind of activity: “Ye shall not eat anything with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times … Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:26,31).

Interestingly, George Alexander also said that the serpent “is a very prominent deity” in Hinduism. He explained the significance: “If you look in the picture of Lord Shiva in Hinduism, you see a snake wrapped around his neck. They believe that the serpent power is in every person and the serpent power is sleeping in you. By practicing yoga, it awakens that Kundalini power in you … [W]hen the Kundalini power is awakened, that goes up to the brain and awakens the psychic power.”4 This is why the positions in yoga are so important; they are based on serpents’ movements to facilitate the flow of the Kundalini serpent energy. Western yoga practitioners think this energy is a neutral force. It is not. Yoga exercises do not release the energy from within a person’s own spine. The sensations of Kundalini energy and an altered state of consciousness are produced by a demonic presence.

Most cultures view the serpent positively and worship it for its “wisdom.” Only the Bible describes the serpent as man’s enemy, a usurper who wishes to take the Creator God’s rightful place in the mind of mankind. In Hinduism the serpent (Kundalini) is believed to be awakened through yoga meditation, grant-ing the practitioner an awareness of God, a stillness or a god-consciousness. But we remember that the Bible records that Satan, in the serpent, cunningly beguiled Eve and seduced her mind, corrupting her from a sincere, whole-hearted and pure devotion to God. He deceived her into believing a lie: that she, through her mind, could be like God (Gen. 3:5). Ironically, yoga, through arousal of snake power – the mind-altering experience of the Kundalini spirit in the body – continues to deceive its practitioners with the same lie.5

God’s Word Gives Many Warnings
The New Testament, especially in the Epistles, has unmasked many facets of this old movement, which today is sometimes called “New Age.” It is a counterfeit to God’s new age that He will introduce publicly through the Messiah, also called “the world to come.” The enemy’s counterfeit is a system of deception coming from the father of the lie (Jn. 8:44).

The Bible provides the needed help. First of all, we read about the Lord Jesus, who, as we already mentioned, said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6 NKJV). This excludes alternative routes suggested by the enemy or our own thinking.

The Lord Jesus is now in heaven, from where He has sent the Holy Spirit to guide the believers on earth: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (15:26). “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (16:13).

In accordance with this statement, the Lord in the glory, through the Holy Spirit, provided the needed help through His apostles. I quote, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). The Holy Spirit indwells all true believers, and He has given gifts so “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” (Eph. 4:14).

A Solemn Reminder
When people know the truth but reject it, they place themselves by default under the power of the enemy. That is what happened after Noah’s flood, when people fell into idolatry. According to Genesis 10-11, what took place in connection to the tower of Babel was itself a form of the so-called “New Age.” About this the apostle Paul wrote: “Although they knew God,6 they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21). The consequences of this development in God’s moral government7 are spelled out in the following quote and show the seriousness of such unconcern for Him: “… knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death” (v.32). He gave them over to wrong thinking because they gave up the truth for the lie (vv.25-32).

Our days are marked by a similar development of hardening and rejection of God’s truth as revealed in creation and redemption. For this reason, “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Th. 2:11). It will be in full bloom after the rapture, but in divine discipline we already see it today in various ways.

Even in the apostle John’s days the enemy was busy, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (1 Jn. 2:18). About twenty years earlier Paul had a similar word of warning: “From among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:30).

Therefore we need to cling to our Lord in heaven, who is sufficient for every challenge and able to provide help in every need. Let us always turn to Him and keep serving Him, until He comes to snatch us away from this scene of deception and turmoil, taking us to Himself (Jn. 14:3; 1 Th. 4:16; 1 Cor. 15:51-58). Praise His name! ENDNOTES
1. Yoga Uncoiled: From East To West, (Menifee, CA: Caryl Productions, 2007) quoting George Alexander, quoting Cindy Senarighi.
2. Ibid., quoting George Alexander.
3. Smith’s Bible Dictionary, /smiths/D/Divination
4. Yoga Uncoiled: From East To West, op. cit., quoting George Alexander.
5. From Out Of India. To understand the true spirituality behind Yoga, read Chris Lawson’s booklet tract, “Yoga And Christianity: Are They Compatible?” and Caryl Matrisciana’s book, Out Of India.
6. This is as He had revealed Himself as Creator and Sustainer to humankind, and as Judge in the flood. The memories of this catastrophe have been kept in many different records.
7. See the warning not to be deceived, “for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7-8).

Aquarius: An Age Of Peace And Love

By Roger Penney

A New Age Wish
New Age beliefs can be regarded as a hodge-podge of ideas from eastern mysticism, ancient shamanism and the spiritism of Madame Blavatsky. The Romantic Movement and the psychoanalysis of Carl Jung are mixed in as well, with some of the social evolutionary theory of Herbert Spencer. Added to the toxic brew are the anti-rationalism of some artistic movements and the hopes for a global society as expressed by people like H.G. Wells. Nietzsche’s longing for an “overman” and a dash of the peace and love protests could be included also. It would take too long to trace the histories of all these diverse trains of thought as they intertwine into the New Age ideas and, sometimes, diverge once again.

Many years ago I set up my Christian witness stall at an arts festival. Soon the grounds were filled with all sorts of stalls selling experiences, books, exotic foods and herbal remedies. This is all part of the New Age movement.

I had many conversations there, but my working class accent was decidedly out of place in what was mostly a gathering of people from the upper-middle class. I recited some of my poems until a man in a suit cut me down. Later, I had a long correspondence with this man who claimed to have the ability to mediate with the spirit world, or shamanic skills. Sadly, his skills at rational dialogue were not impressive and his understanding of the Bible was even worse, despite his claim to have answered an evangelist’s altar call.

The threads of belief and culture which run through most of what is called “The New Age” are ones Christians might recognize, but only to the extent that there is a yearning for something better in our personalities and self. This wish however is doomed among New Agers, for they strongly believe in self-improvement. They claim to need no help – and certainly not from God or the Lord Jesus. We cannot be sure what the gods are that New Agers mention, but we know they deny the true God.

Their ethical values are rather vague and formless, but they do include non-violence, diversity and community. They argue for global unification while rejecting the idea of a powerful central world government. A future happy “Age of Aquarius” is their hope – a time of doing whatever they please as they lounge around on the grass grooving in the sunshine. Alas, the sun does not always shine.

New Agers seek a sort of beneficial social evolution. Intriguingly enough, they take a leaf out of Vladimir Lenin’s writings, which are ideologies written in blood if there ever were, and hope for an elite mass of informed, committed and spiritually aware men and women to bring about the desired great social, religious and political changes.

Real Change
We who are Christians understand that we are a spiritual people working for the transformation of the human race, and we know that positive change in the world will not come through our efforts or by our commitment. On a personal level it only comes through faith in the Son of God. World change will only be by the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4:6 KJV). Before this prophecy of Zechariah is fulfilled, another spoken by Ezekiel will come to pass: “I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is, and I will give it to Him” (Ezek. 21:27). The LORD also spoke through Malachi, saying, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6).

We long for improvement in our lives and spiritual development, yearning too for the return of our “Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body” (Phil. 3:20-21). His eternal reign of peace, justice and love is our strong desire.

Churches – the local gatherings of believers – should be the nearest things on this side of eternity to a truly loving community, where there is both diversity and unity. At the same time we form a dedicated and well-informed band of spiritual envoys: the ambassadors of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 6:19-20). These things can only exist and take place through Him, in view of His death at Calvary and the sending of the Holy Spirit. God alone can make us fit for such things, having addressed our sin.

Liar And Deceiver
Satan has perverted the things of God in an attempt to make them his own. The testing of the Lord Jesus (Mt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:13) shows us clearly how Satan works, so we are “not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. 2:11). Satan presents himself as “an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (11:13-15). This is the case with the New Age Movement and its mixture of the occult, idealism and ancient superstitions. As of old the Devil’s promise, “ye shall be as gods,” has its ancient appeal (Gen. 3:4-5).

Fuelled by the arts, false science and worldly philosophies, modern man has no values – nothing on which to express his God-given moral nature. Nietzsche gave academia the lie that “God is dead.” Freud and Darwin supplied the falsehood that salvation is in the material world by one’s own efforts. Industrialization made man a servant of the machine and greed.

The lasting influence of the youth and protest culture of the 1960’s has turned man against God and the truth of the gospel. The violent values of survivalism have been turned to its own use by competitive commercial and industrial society. To a vast extent, many in the modern working class have become dull consumers of television and media – a far cry from the active, self-educating men and women of earlier times.

The Danish philosopher Kier- kegaard taught that faith is a leap in the dark. It is therefore no wonder that classes of people have been recruited to the pseudo spirituality and false fellowship of the New Age.

In the midst of the carnage of World War 1 a group of artists and writers in Switzerland formed a protest group. Since war seemed to them as madness, they decided that the world had gone mad. They then led the world into the abstract and absurd world of Modern and Post Modern Art, and into a whole celebration of the absurd until even that seemed ridiculous.

Workers of the world settle for things and entertainment. People choose the occult or other beliefs and practices while rejecting right institutions and values. These decisions are destructive to humanity, and their wide acceptance can be seen by recent decisions of nations and secular churches.

Aquarius is now alive and well in all denominations of Christendom, the professing Church. While some worshipers bow before the idols in their church, others fall on the floor after being given a mystic pat on the forehead. How grave things have become in that even born again Christians look for a euphoric experience given by a guru channeling the power of a goddess.

Be Steadfast, Looking
Churches are infested with searches for experiences and feelings, while Bible reading and understanding is at an all time low. Yet, we who are believers may commune with the Lord Jesus and our heavenly Father. We can read God’s Word and be truly enlightened by the leading of the Holy Spirit as He reveals to us the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the age for which we live. It is the true, new age of justice, peace, truth and love. We who are believers will live closely with the Lord Himself, enfolded in the warmth of His love and devotion for us. “God … hath highly exalted Him,” and the day is coming when “every knee should bow … and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [the sovereign God, Jehovah], to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).