Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are some questions that I’ve gotten over the years and via email for this column.
Dear Father Paul: In light of Matthew 7:22 – 23 don’t you believe that today there are manifestations purported to be of the Holy Spirit that are actually non-scriptural, devised by men and even Satanic? — Allen
Dear Allen: Yes I do, and these false manifestations of God will continue until Jesus, the one and only Son of the Living God, returns to the earth to put all things right through his righteous judgment. The passage you note from Matthew 7, essentially says as much. Jesus himself is speaking and (to paraphrase) he says that on the day of judgment many will cry out to him … “But we prophesied in your name … we even did miracles and drove out demons.” To which he will reply, “Away with you evil doers, I never knew you.”
Ministers who fill huge auditoriums, are on TV and have world-wide miracle ministries may well be from God. But again, they may not be from God. Back in Matthew 7 verse 15, Jesus call those not from God “wolves dressed up as sheep.”
The Apostle John warns us in I John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” John goes on in verses 2 and 3 to tell believers “how you can recognize the Spirit of God.” He says that a person who is really from God will acknowledge Jesus as God in the flesh. Finally, again back in Matthew 7, Jesus points out that we will recognize those who are “false” by the fruit they produce. In other words, does their “ministry” produce fruit for them exclusively … great wealth, a private jet, vacations at five star resorts, fame, expensive cars and houses? Or does their ministry produce fruit exclusively for the Kingdom of God, including the poor, the lonely and the downtrodden?
I would caution all of us, however, to be careful not to label things that may seem strange to us as unscriptural or Satanic simply because they don’t line up with our likes, dislikes personal experiences, etc. Even a casual study of the Bible will reveal that God can and does do some things that can seem pretty strange to our earthly experiences and ways of thinking. Things like tongues of fire alighting on the heads of the believers on the Day of Pentecost, water being turned into wine and the dead being raised to life to name just three out of the literally hundreds found in the Bible.
Dear Father Paul: What do you think of New Year’s resolutions? Do you plan to make any? — Bill
Dear Bill: I think making New Year’s resolutions can be a really good thing … I’ve probably made somewhere around 10,000 or so in my lifetime. Just kidding.
But seriously Bill, New Year’s resolutions are a good thing … if we keep them, which most of us don’t. New Year’s resolutions are mostly about changing habits, and that’s the rub. Social scientists tell us that in order for an old habit to be broken and a new habit to be formed, we must not do the old habit, and must do the new habit for a minimum of six weeks. Most of us give up on our New Year’s resolutions after just two or three weeks, sometimes even less. That’s a real shame. If we could somehow just persevere for a short time longer, our old bad habits would be broken and new good habits would be formed.
My resolutions for 2010 … lose 11 pounds. I have a “major” high school class reunion coming up in August and I fully intend to go there looking every bit like a “Greek God.” Tell my precious wife I appreciate her more. Thank God for all my blessings more and, lastly … pray for Fayette County more … its people, businesses, schools, churches and leaders.
Do you have a question? I will try to answer your question in the paper. Email me your question at firstname.lastname@example.org
Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. Church of the Holy Cross is Evangelical, Sacramental and Charismatic…all three streams of the ancient, historic New Testament church … together … in one church. Visitors are most welcome. More info. service times and directions are at www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com