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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Duped by Religion

I am very sorry for the faithful followers of Harold Camping who believed fully in his prediction that the world would end on May 21. Many are reported to have spend their savings, quit their jobs and eliminated their belongings because they believed that Jesus would return and an earthquake would destroy the earth.

How does anyone keep from being duped by religion if they believe they already have a faith in God? How do they know what to believe? The Bible gives us guidelines.

Don't follow a person. A person is fallible. Anyone can do what is wrong and even believe it is right. I have seen people blindly follow televangelists. They give without question. They believe the person on the other side of the microphone or camera is completely sincere when he says, "God has told me." Many of these statements are merely manipulating those hearers. Many of them are skilled con men who know how to turn a phrase and elicit a response. Take a look at their finances before you give a dime. The way they spend their money will reveal where their hearts are.

Know the Bible for yourself. Some followers only know what a cult-like leader tells them. These leaders have carefully told the followers that there is no one giving the same information as the believers are hearing from them. They craft their words to make all other preachers look like apostates. A cause for alarm should go off when the preacher says, "I am the only one telling you the truth." They typically throw in statements about how they have been persecuted for their faith. A person who knows the Bible would have known that Harold Camping was wrong.

Test the spirit of the person who is preaching. Does this ministry revolve around this person? Does it truly point toward Jesus? The person preaching the truth will point only toward Jesus rather than toward himself.

Look carefully into the past. The Bible has a long history. Those who interpret it have a long line of teachers and preachers to follow. There will be nothing new in its interpretation. Even the heresies will be recycled. Therefore, look at what trusted saints of long ago have said about the scriptures. There will be a contingency of people who say essentially the same thing about any scripture. Look to them for confirmation of what is being said.

Pray for yourself. Scripture is understood when the Spirit of God speaks to your own spirit. Anything said must be spiritually discerned. It will not be fear of destruction nor the personal advantage that following may bring that will instruct you in the Word. It will be the Spirit who speaks to your spirit.

You will find that walking with the Lord will result in believing what is right. Make sure that each day is a part of that walk. Let the scriptures speak without bias. Let them instruct you without a predetermined outcome.

A few years ago a good friend told me that I needed to prepare my church for the turmoil that would be brought to our society because of the "millennial" bug. That was when all the computers were supposed to stop because the programing was only set to a two digit year. Some predicted that the utilities would shut down, people would not be able to buy things and the banks would close because none of the computers would work.

I went to some computer programmers at Compaq and asked what the possibility was. They told me that it was very slim. I prayed that God would tell me to do something if I needed to lead my church thus. God was silent. I told my friend that I wasn't going to do a thing. He responded with, "But what if it happens? Wouldn't you rather be prepared?" I told him that I was absolutely confident that it wouldn't. I didn't believe that my God would lead me astray.

I am sure there were some disruptions of which I never heard. However, I know I did the right thing. I know because I followed God and not those who were claiming doom.

Too many people are duped by religion when they could know for themselves what they need to do. I ask all who read this to pray for the followers of Harold Camping. They are wondering what they believe today.

1 John 4:1 (ESV)  
1  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

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