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False Prophets

by The Rev. Dr. Derrick Hassert


The Scripture for today’s sermon comes from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, chapter 24, verses 23-26.

“…if any man shall say unto you, `Lo, here is Christ,’ or `there,’ believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Therefore, if they shall say unto you, `Behold, He is in the desert!’ go not forth, or `Behold, He is in the secret chambers!’ believe it not.”

We are warned by Christ to beware of false Christs and false prophets. Of course, this seems like an immensely good idea. No one wishes to be led astray, no one wishes to pledge their allegiance to someone or something false or evil. There is a problem, however—very seldom do false Christs and false prophets come presented in brightly colored packages that clearly read “beware, false prophet” or “warning, anti-christ.”

Now, in certain times and in certain places there have arisen political or religious figures that have proclaimed themselves to be deities or messiahs. One has only to look to the recent past to find such figures as Adolph Hitler, who proclaimed himself the messiah to the German people and had copies of his political book Mein Kamph placed in the churches next to the Bible. The very frightening thing is that many German church leaders went along with this blasphemy, forming a “Reich Church” loyal to the teachings of Nazism rather than Christ. We all know the awfulness, the terror, the evil, and the death and destruction that resulted from the cult of Nazism. However, we must realize that there was something attractive in the person of Hitler and the system of Nazism that led so many to believe in him and in it. Satan can come to us telling lies that we want to hear mixed with elements of the truth to lull us into buying into the more terrible lies all the more completely.

More recently, in the United States, we had the spectacle of the Rev. Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre. At Bible study this past week I recounted how about ten years ago I’d watched a dramatization of the life and work of Jim Jones on TV, without knowing who or what the movie was really about when I began watching it. Here was a man working for justice, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, fighting against racism. There was a great deal that was attractive in his life and work, and it was easy to see how he had developed a following. It was only after I kept watching that I realized this was Jim Jones, who would move his followers out of the country and wind up killing nearly all of them. Again, Satan can make his work and his evil appear very attractive, even reasonable, even righteous. However, before long the awfulness of the lie and the tangible nature of the evil he has brought to fruition will become evident. “By their fruit you shall know them.” Regrettably, lives are ruined and lost before the lie is revealed for what it is and the poisonous fruit become visible.

So, sometimes people of power and influence do arise and proclaim themselves to be “the messiah.” I read a couple of weeks ago of a minister who proclaimed he was the second coming of Christ. Such people are easy to spot, easy to recognize, and easy to warn against. Oftentimes they are placed in institutions as being delusional. Far too often, though, they also develop followings of people willing to believe what is being preached.

However, as I mentioned, sometimes the false prophets are more subtle, more discreet, and therefore often more insidious and persuasive, and arguably perhaps more dangerous to the life of the Church. Why? Because such false prophets may arise from within the Church, like Jim Jones mixing truth with lies, until after a time there is very little of the truth left.

Saint Paul tells us in Second Corinthians that “…such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.”

St. John tells us in his first epistle, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the World.”

When those claiming to be ministers of Christ tell us that Christ is not God, is not the Way, the Truth, and the Life, but only one way among many, we must not be led astray. But we must acknowledge that such things are easy to hear; by saying that evil is tolerable-or even good-it means that we don’t have to judge ourselves, we don’t have to teach or uphold standards, we don’t need to examine our own hearts. When we begin to believe that Christ was not the incarnate Word of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, but simply a good man and a wonderful moral teacher, it takes the burden from our shoulders of preaching Him and being faithful to Him, and it makes us feel better that we are not being so “exclusionary” as to claim our religion is actually True with a capital T. But it also means that our hope of salvation is now gone, our once sure hope in the work of Christ is called into question. There is no reason then to be Christian instead of holding to some other religious system or “ism” which the world tells us might be just as good.

We are Christians because we have been called by Christ to be His own. We are Christians because we believe the Christian faith to be true. We are Christians because we believe Christ to be the ultimate revelation of God and that He died upon the Cross and rose again to defeat death and open to us the possibility of new life. Any prophet who claims a lesser role for Christ Jesus should be quickly rejected.

How else should we test the teachings of those who seem to be espousing new, yet sometimes appealing teachings? We must turn to the Scriptures. We must know the Scriptures. We must know how the Church has read the Scriptures in the past. Following the teaching of the 16th Century Anglican theologian Richard Hooker, we must examine the Scriptures, tradition, and right reason. The most important element of this trial is the Bible. We must know the faith of the Bible as it has been held in the Church always and at all times. This is where “tradition” come in. How has the Church answered, from the foundation of Scripture, such questions as “Who is Christ?” “What is the nature of God?” “What is the nature of man?” Thankfully the Book of Common Prayer presents us with orthodox teaching and worship, consistent with the teachings of the Scriptures and the ancient Church. But the false prophet will tell us that the old teachings of the Bible and the Church are incorrect and obsolete, that the Holy Spirit is leading us in this new age into a new way, a way distinct from the old way and the old paths. When we hear such things we must be wary.

When those in the uniforms of the Church, in pulpit gowns and surplices and white robes, begin to slowly call evil good and good evil, we must be trained to spot such things. I is the responsibility of the entire Body of Christ to hold firm to the teachings of Christ, to the faith we hold in Christ. When we see some part of the Church embracing heresy, or embracing false teachers, or denying Christ or the truth of the Scriptures, we all have an obligation to call for Reformation, bringing the Church back to the teachings of the foundation.


In Memory

Louis W. Buescher, age 80, went to be with the Lord January 23, 2007. Louis was a faithful member and former Vestryman at St. Andrew’s. He is survived by his wife Mildred, three children and six grandchildren.

Henrietta Rundle, age 89, passed away January 29, 2007. Henrietta was a long time member of the parish and former choir member. She is survived by her daughter Mary, son Frank and two grandsons.


Annual Parish Meeting

March 11, 2007 following church. A catered luncheon will be provided in the Parish Hall prior to the meeting.

Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday, March 11, 2007.


St. Andrew’s Senior Group Outing

Travelogue “Cherry Blossoms of Japan” will be presented by Elaine Spencer Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 10:45 A. M. Cost $6.00 per person. See Sue Horosinski or Edwina Greco for details.


Lenten Services

Wednesday evenings. Soup Supper at 6:30 P.M. in the Parish Hall. Service at 7:30 P.M in the Chapel

Palm Sunday April 1, 2007.

Good Friday April 6, 2007
Evening service in the chapel at 7:30 p.m.

Easter April 8, 2007

Easter Morning Continental Breakfast will begin promptly at 9:30 a.m.
The Service of Holy Communion begins at 10:30 a.m. We hope that all of you will be with us as we celebrate the Lord’s RESURRECTION!


Missionary of The Month

Bishop Oommen (Mary) Samuel & Family. Reformed Episcopal Mission, Lalitpur, India.


JUDGING OTHERS

Have you ever been critical of someone or said something about someone’s behavior, and then heard these words, “Don’t judge, or you too will be judged!” For example, one of the greatest and most important tasks of a parent is to teach a child right from wrong. Parents should rebuke a child for doing wrong, and they should praise a child for doing what is right. The child’s spiritual health depends on it.

Jesus does not imply here that we may never evaluate people or make assessments about them. Jesus illustrates by saying, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” We should be more concerned about the wrongs in our own lives and leave the judging of someone else to God, before whom everyone “will give an account” (Romans 14:12).

An unknown poet said:
Pray don’t find fault with the man who limps or stumbles along the road,
Unless you have worn the shoe he wears or struggled beneath his load.
There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt, though hidden away from view,
Or the burden he bears, placed on your back, might cause you to stumble too.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

-Article from “Today” devotional booklet.


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Happy Birthday!

Mar. 1 – Dale Muir
Mar. 3 – Holly Ardizzone
Mar. 5 – Ian Christenson
Mar. 9 – Allison Klingen
Mar. 12 – Amy Christenson
Mar. 17 – Rev. Derrick Hassert
Mar. 26 – William Burdette
Mar. 26 – Barbara Smith

 

Face All Situations
By Helen Kitchell Evans

Little birds of Springtime
Have courage…that’s for sure.
When the winter lingers longer,
They somehow manage to endure.

Let the blust’ry March winds blow!
All the world seems theirs.
They go about their chirping tasks
As though they know God cares.

Little Springtime birds teach
Us by example to stand tall;
Face up to all situations
Whether we be large or small.

 

 


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The Very Reverend Frank M. Levi, M.A., Rector    Bishop Franklin H. Sellers, D.D., Rector Emeritus    The Reverend Derrick Hassert, Ph.D., Curate    18001 94th Avenue   Tinley Park, IL 60487    (708) 614-7404    FAX (708) 614-7435 AndrewREC.org Home Contact the Webmaster Sign our guestbook View our guestbook

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