Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: September 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Heresy of Positivism

126 It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law. 127 Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. 128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:126-128).

Sir Isaac Newton discovered three basic Laws of motion and formulated them in concise words. Although these three Laws are Laws of Physics within the physical realm, they are also Laws that can be applied to the spiritual realm.

The Law of Inertia

“A particle will stay at rest or continue at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external unbalanced net force.”

The Law of Resultant Force and Momentum

“F = ma: the net force on an object is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by its acceleration.”

The Law of Reciprocal Actions

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

It is to this last Law of Physics that I want to apply its parallel spiritual Law. In order to maintain a balance within the world, we must understand that there are two forces within the spiritual realm that are operating in opposition to one another.

1. There is the force of evil (that which is wrong, untrue, sinful and contrary to the will of God).

2. There is the force of righteousness (that which is right, true, holy, and in alignment with the will of God.

The force of evil is the realm the Bible refers to as the “world.” It’s devices are orchestrated by the “father of lies,” deception, and half truths. Satan’s main tactic has always followed the pattern he set in the Garden of Eden, “hath God said.” In the evil influences of satanic corruption of Truth, Satan uses those whom he has deceived to lead souls astray, to ruin their lives with sin, and to defile them before God with doctrinal error and corrupted practices. The main influence of the forces of evil is those people who have been deceived by Satan with lies about God (false doctrine) and what God’s will is for believers. These deceived individuals then become the means through which these satanic deceptions are spread throughout humanity and within Christianity.

God works in an equal and opposite direction. God influences believers with the Truth of His Word through the divine influence of the Holy Spirit in the world. These believers are to become the equal and opposite force of righteousness to combat the evil and false doctrine that Satan has introduced into the world. If believers do not learn the intimate details of God’s Word (doctrine), they cannot be the equal and opposite force to combat the evil and false doctrine that Satan sows into the world.

Believers who are grounded in the Word of God and have the spiritual gift of discernment are divinely enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit to expose heresy (false doctrine) and warn other believers regarding its influence. If those believers that know the Truth are not willing to expose heresy, the spiritual force of righteousness will eventually become overcome with evil.

This is a contradiction against God’s purpose in saving us and teaching us His Truths. This purpose is the continual message of Christ in His seven epistles to the seven churches of the book of Revelation communicated to us by the words “him that overcometh.” Only to the Overcomers does Christ promise Kingdom rewards (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, and 21).

Satan introduced another subtle form of deception into Evangelicalism in 1965 intent upon keeping believers from combating the lies about God (false doctrine) that he introduces into humanity. It has come to be known as Positivism. Positivism is a radical philosophical and rationalistic psychological approach to the presentation of Truth. This approach understands that people psychologically resist negative statements and even statements that they view as being critical. Therefore this psychologically approach taught preachers to simply avoid or deemphasize any Scriptures or teaching that might carry a negative or critical connotation. It was not long before people were mentally (psychologically) conditioned to view any negative comments or critical teaching as offensive and judgmental. As a result of this psychologically conditioning, they immediately closed their spirits to anything that was being said in that their mindset categorized that preacher as a radical who did not deserve to be heard or considered.

The first question that we need to ask ourselves is this psychological approach to the presentation of Truth a justifiable approach? Can we find a pattern for such an approach ANYWHERE in Scripture or any example of such a philosophy or practice by any of God’s ordained prophets, Apostles, or even the Lord Jesus Himself? If we cannot find such a practice, it ought to be clear to anyone that it is not a Biblical approach to the presentation of Truth. What is the Scriptural pattern for the Pastor to follow in his teaching/preaching ministry?

17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:17-21).

1. In Acts 20:28,the first Pastoral responsibility is to “feed the church of God.”

We notice in Acts 20:20, that Paul says, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you.” Paul taught them “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” We also see that Paul did not withhold Truths that might be offensive or bring about conviction of sin and guilt of sin. 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”

In most Bible believing, Bible preaching churches, we would take these three areas of teaching for granted. We would expect a faithful pastor to teach people about turning from sin. We would expect a faithful pastor to “declare” (preach and teach dogmatically) all that the Word of God says. However, this is not true in progressive evangelical churches practicing the psychological manipulation of Positivism. To be able to discern those who are practicing the psychological manipulation of Positivism, a person must learn to listen for what they do not say. That is a very difficult thing to do for those who do not have solid theological foundations already established (which is true of the vast majority of professing Christians).

Although churches practicing the psychological manipulation of Positivism may preach against sin, they do so as a generality. They often avoid preaching against specific sins such as adultery, fornication, worldliness, or alcohol use. For those churches practicing the psychological manipulation of Positivism, those who do preach against specific sins and a strict, literal interpretation of Scripture are usually labeled as Legalists.

There is so much Political Correctness (neo-absolutes of Moral Relativism) in these types of churches that only those sins that are part of the social concern of that particular moment in history are mentioned. This is true because they are more concerned about social relevancy (how society views them) than they are about how God views them. This is due to their view of God as being predominantly loving and forgiving while deemphasizing the fact that God is also a God of wrath, justice, and holiness. This practice of the psychological manipulation of Positivism reveals a very distorted view of God and His holiness. These types of churches do not want to appear preachy or judgmental. They preach the unconditional love of God (which is true), but without the balanced teaching that God expects those who believe in Him to repent of all that His Word condemns and to begin to make radical changes in their lives that will reflect the image of Christ through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:13-16).

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:17-32).

2. In Acts 20:31 the Shepherd (Pastor) is instructed in his second main responsibility to “watch” over the Lord’s sheep.

According to the text, the Pastor is to “take heed . . . unto himself” and also to “all the flock.” What is the reason the pastor needs to “watch”? 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). The word “watch” is from the Greek word gregoreuo (gray-gor-yoo'-o). It simply means to stay awake. However, the context implies a constant alertness to doctrinal error creeping in to influence the sheep away from the Truths of the Word of God. The watchful pastor is always alert to the new “wind of doctrine” blowing forth from Satan’s deceivers.

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’'s sake, which is the church: 25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” (Colossians 1:21-29).

6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:6-8).

3. In Acts 20:31 the Shepherd is instructed in his third main responsibility, to “warn” the Lord’s sheep.

He is to warn about both false teachers and false teachings that will continue to arise periodically so as to keep his people from being led astray. The word “warn” is from the Greek word noutheteo (noo-thet-eh'-o). It means to fill the mind. The idea is to confront and expose false doctrine so thoroughly that the sheep will flee from it.

We find this practice throughout the epistles. The epistle of I Corinthians is 16 chapters with 14 of those 16 chapters confronting false doctrine, worldliness, and sinful practices going within the church. The epistle to the Galatians is 6 chapters of warning about allowing the perversion of the gospel by adding requirements other than simple faith (soteriological legalism). The epistle to the Colossians is four chapters warning believers against being “spoiled” by false doctrine warning against syncretism, legalism, Gnostic mysticism, and Asceticism. This is true of almost all the rest of the epistles.

Most of the time these warnings come in the form of generalities detailing various false doctrines. However, on certain occasions the Apostles named the individuals that should be avoided.

18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; 19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (I Timothy 1:18-20).

On one occasion Paul names both Peter and Barnabas for their unwillingness to take a stand against the Jews who professed to trust in Christ but were requiring believers to be circumcised and keep the Law in order to be saved. Peter and Barnabas were hypocrites because they allowed this heresy to go on without condemning these false teachers in order to keep peace (false unity) in the church. Those very harsh words to Peter and Barnabas are recorded in Galatians 2:11-21.

11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:11-21).

How does this practice of the psychological manipulation of Positivism impact Christianity and how people think and receive Truth? People become so accustomed and conditioned to never having specific sins preached against that anytime they hear someone do so, they are repulsed by it and they condemn that preacher as judgmental. Any proclamation of absolute Truth regarding moral issues or doctrinal Truth is immediately viewed as abstract and radical. Most people have become so accustomed to attending churches where the preaching is soft on sin and so light on doctrine that when they do attend a church where someone preaches hard on sin and presents the “meat” of God’s Word, they almost choke to death on it. They are so uncomfortable under the guilt of there own softness towards Christ and their own tolerance of sin that they flee from that kind of preaching intent upon never attending again.

Secondly, they are so accustomed to the minimalization of doctrine by the Pluralism and Ecumenicism that permeates and saturates most of evangelicalism today, that when they hear someone pointing out false doctrine, they are conditioned to condemn that kind of preaching as divisive, critical, and even cultic. The person conditioned by the psychological manipulation of Positivism becomes closed minded and hardhearted to anything other than Positivism.

The effectiveness of preaching, by which God has ordained to warn against false doctrine, false teachers, and satanic deception, has been compromised by the psychological manipulation of Positivism. Positivism has proven itself to be one of the most effective tools of satanic deception in the Twenty-first century. Yet most people are almost completely unaware that they have been psychologically programmed by Positivism. They have been covertly deceived.

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